Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Is Schizophrenia?

Is schizophrenia a mental illness or a brain disease? Do those who suffer from it have enough free will to choose the best treatment?

By now most psychiatrists believe that schizophrenia is not a mental illness. The most recent research has shown that it is a genetic disorder. It has nothing to do with bad parenting or childhood traumas.

Time Magazine reports:

Schizophrenia is actually eight different genetic disorders rolled into one, according to a new study released Monday.

The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that there are different gene clusters that contribute to eight different classes of the usually hereditary disease. The researchers at Washington University in St. Louis analyzed the genes of more than 4,000 people with schizophrenia, and tallied the symptoms of patients against the DNA of people with and without schizophrenia in order to identify the gene clusters.

In patients experiencing hallucinations and delusions, the researchers found that the interaction between genetic variations created a 95% chance of schizophrenia, while disorganized speech and behavior in another set of patients revealed a set of variations associated with a 100% risk. The hereditary risk of schizophrenia is known to be about 80%.

[Addendum: Samantha Allen has a far more comprehensive, excellent article about the new research in the Daily Beast.]


Jocker said...


Stuart Schneiderman said...

I don't know who she is, but all of the research has shown that schizophrenia is a brain disease. For my part I find the genetic studies far more persuasive than her suggestion that psychosis is caused by poverty, unemployment family disruption, low self-esteem and the like. No serious scientist would believe such a thing and no one who has spent time with schizophrenics can come away believing that it is not a brain disease.