Wrongly Labeled

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
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Some further comments, in addition to those by Nick Welsh on the plight of the “mentally ill.”

Everyone realizes that in or a near a jail is not a good place for them. But it seems to me that the same thing should also be said about in or near a hospital or doctor’s office. It is true that some symptoms are medical issues, but by my count only a tiny percentage. In our society, the title of “mental patient” is just as disparaging as jailbird. Furthermore, medical treatment has become a national disgrace: anti-depressives and other psychiatric drugs, “Wham bam, thank you sir or mam!”

What most of the symptomatic people need is individual and/or group psychotherapy. Needed even more is what might be called “it takes a village.” To see this latter idea beautifully spelled out, step by step, see the classic film Lars and the Real Girl (2007). – , professor emeritus UCSB Dept. of Sociology

Tom Scheff is a professor emeritus in the UCSB Dept. of Sociology


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Have you ever heard of schizophrenia?

Georgy (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2013 at 4:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes. I have been a sociologist of "mental illness" for 53 years, many books and articles. The symptoms of schizophrenia have never been defined clearly enough to allow them to be systematically studied. It still means what it has always meant:: miscellaneous craziness.

scheff (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 4:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Medical treatment has been the saving grace for the mentally ill population with schizophrenia. When schizophrenics go off their meds, their behavior is often erratic and unpredictable. This behavior often lands them into the expensive and unforgiving prison system.

Expanding the prison system instead of mental health facilities that treat schizophrenics is not the compassionate and economically wise approach to helping this population. That's the huge problem we face, especially when law enforcement doesn't request more mental health facilities, but instead lobbies for more prisons. If we separate the mentally ill population from the prison population, the pressure decreases within the over-crowded prisons.

The idea that psychotherapy can substitute medical treatment for schizophrenics is not realistic. Until a patient is somewhat grounded in reality psychotherapy is not beneficial. Without medication, schizophrenics have not been able to function in society. Medication is not the cure all. Side-effects can be drastic and various medications can be effective for only a given period of time. However, so far no other approach has proven to be as effective.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2013 at 8:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Medication of the "mentally ill" has never proven to be effective. Legitimate studies of effects show the opposite: more harm than good. Most studies of drug effects are not legitimate because they are funded and controlled by drug companies. There are several studies of groups of funded research that show that negative findings are not allowed publication. Especially after the first three months, during which most of the positive effects are placebo, they are a scam

scheff (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2013 at 4:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Schizophrenia is considered a form of "mental illness" by the public. If you observe behavior from schizophrenics without medication it is often dangerous to themselves and others, self-injurious, and suicidal. That is why medication is usually prescribed.

Try observing schizophrenics without medication versus with medication. Talk to families who have a schizophrenic member, or with mental health professionals who work with schizophrenics on a daily basis. I think you'll find the statistics will strongly support a continued medical treatment approach for the population with schizophrenia.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
May 6, 2013 at 5:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You haven't understood my comments. If you want to learn the actual statistics, please read this book before making further remarks.

The truth about the drug companies: How they deceive us and what to do about it

M Angell - 2005 -

scheff (anonymous profile)
May 7, 2013 at 2:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Georgy, don't think you have understoof Scheff's original point, which was about all the mentally ill and not only (though very serious, yes) those experiencing schizophrenia.
The Marcia Angell source is vital, and see also some of her articles in THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS. We all know the health care system in this country is overexpensive and underperforming, this is also true in mental health care.
Getting away from schizophrenia, I know several people who have benefited from cognitive therapy and other forms of talk therapy for the "mentally ill". It is a scandal how so many psychiatrists proffer pills onto their patients, Scheff is correct about 'wham bam, jam the pill in, next!' It feels like the psychologists are doing the better work here.
Thank you for your information, Mr. Scheff.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 7, 2013 at 4:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm not disputing the theory with other forms of mental illness. I'm specifically referring to just the schizophrenic population.

"What most of the symptomatic people need is individual and/or group psychotherapy."

Schizophrenics without medication do not function as well in society as those with medication. That is a fact. The behavioral data is undeniable. Psychotherapy for the schizophrenic population only is effective if the patient is first not hallucinating and is somewhat grounded in reality. Hopefully we both can agree on this.

Perhaps the terminology regarding "mentally ill" does not include schizophrenia in the scientific world. However the prison systems biggest problem is the management of schizophrenics.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
May 7, 2013 at 9:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Georgy (anonymous profile)
May 8, 2013 at 9:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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