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What is “schizophrenia?”

If you ask most people, they will tell you that schizophrenia is a specific “illness” which causes various “symptoms,” usually some combination of delusional thinking, hallucinations, “disorderly thinking” and demoralization.  They will usually say that this “illness” is biological and must be treated with medications.

The alternative view is that people get labeled with “schizophrenia when they react to life and life’s problems in certain troubled and troubling ways.  In this view, there is no “illness,” just a human reaction, though it may cause lots of problems! 

If it is a human reaction, then people can learn to not react in that way, though it is difficult to sort it all out.  Many people could recover relatively quickly without medication if given decent support (and have been able to do so in a number of experimental situations when such support was provided.) Most professionals will also tell you that schizophrenia lasts a long time; though if you read in the fine print you will find the only way they insure that no one gets labeled with schizophrenia for a short time is to have a rule than anyone with the same “symptoms” for less than 6 months gets a different label!  Actual research data shows that some people recover quickly, others slowly, and others not at all.  This does not imply that there is necessarily anyone who cannot recover, only that with current methods of treatment or “helping” only some are managing to recover.  The goal of the mental health system should be to find a way to insure that everyone recovers.

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