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The Believer - Toward a Pathology of the Possessed
From the Believer magazine.

TOWARD A PATHOLOGY OF THE POSSESSED

by ESMÉ WEIJUN WANG in the @believermag

SCHIZOPHRENIA’S EFFECTS ARE OFTEN DISCUSSED IN METAPHORS. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LIVE WITH THOSE METAPHORS?

DISCUSSED:

The Murder of Malcoum Tate, Victorian-Era Neurology, Atypical Antipsychotics, A Forest Fire in the Brain, The Elephant’s Foot, California Assembly Bill 1421, Ultimate Evil, The Burden of Care, A Stranger on Social Media, Poor Insight, Noncompliance, A Therapeutic Dose, Regan MacNeil’s Inner Life

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as someone who has been involuntarily hospitalized for severe psychotic episodes of mental illness, had a priest “called in” to try to “save me” from my “demons,” and then spent many years afterward dealing with the concept and reality of myself as a “burden” to those i love, and coming to a sense of articulation about my experience that both honors its disordered-ness and its self-mastery, i wept with recognition at the depth and smarts and heart of esme weijun wang’s latest article. a must-read.

jh 

When she was 22, Rachel Star Withers uploaded a video to YouTube called “Normal: Living With Schizophrenia.” It starts with her striding across her family’s property in Fort Mill, S.C. She looks across the rolling grounds, unsmiling. Her eyes are narrow and grim.

She sits down in front of a deserted white cottage and starts sharing. “I see monsters. I see myself chopped up and bloody a lot. Sometimes I’ll be walking, and the whole room will just tilt. Like this,” she grasps the camera and jerks the frame crooked. She surfaces a fleeting grin. “Try and imagine walking.”

She becomes serious again. “I’m making this because I don’t want you to feel alone whether you’re struggling with any kind of mental illness or just struggling.”

At the time, 2008, there were very few people who had done anything like this online. “As I got diagnosed [with schizophrenia], I started researching everything. The only stuff I could find was like every horror movie,” she says. “I felt so alone for years.”

She decided that schizophrenia was really not that scary. “I want people to find me and see a real person.” Over the past eight years, she has made 53 videos documenting her journey with schizophrenia and depression and her therapy. And she is not the only one. There are hundreds of videos online of people publicly sharing their experiences with mental illness.

Would You Tell The World You Have Schizophrenia On YouTube?

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Star 

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A genetic breakthrough could help treat schizophrenia 

Experts have long struggled to pinpoint schizophrenia biological roots — until now. After a widespread genetic analysis of 65,000 people, researchers from the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital found an increased risk of schizophrenia among people with a particular variant of a gene called “complement component 4,” or C4. C4 plays a role in a biological process called “synaptic pruning.”

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Genetic study provides first-ever insight into biological origin of schizophrenia

A landmark study, based on genetic analysis of nearly 65,000 people, has revealed that a person’s risk of schizophrenia is increased if they inherit specific variants in a gene related to “synaptic pruning” — the elimination of connections between neurons. The findings represent the first time that the origin of this devastating psychiatric disease has been causally linked to specific gene variants and a biological process. They also help explain decades-old observations: synaptic pruning is particularly active during adolescence, which is the typical period of onset for schizophrenia symptoms, and brains of schizophrenic patients tend to show fewer connections between neurons. The gene, called complement component 4 (C4), plays a well-known role in the immune system but has now been shown to also play a key role in brain development and schizophrenia risk. The insight may allow future therapeutic strategies to be directed at the disorder’s roots, rather than just its symptoms.

The study, which appears online in the January 27 issue of Nature, was led by researchers from the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Harvard Medical School, and Boston Children’s Hospital.

A landmark study has revealed that a person’s risk of schizophrenia is increased if they inherit specific variants in a gene related to “synaptic pruning” — the elimination of connections between neurons.Credit: Courtesy The Stevens Lab

Cannabis Increases the Noise in Your Brain

Several studies have demonstrated that the primary active constituent of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9-THC), induces transient psychosis-like effects in healthy subjects similar to those observed in schizophrenia. However, the mechanisms underlying these effects are not clear.

A new study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, reports that ∆9-THC increases random neural activity, termed neural noise, in the brains of healthy human subjects. The findings suggest that increased neural noise may play a role in the psychosis-like effects of cannabis.

“At doses roughly equivalent to half or a single joint, ∆9-THC produced psychosis-like effects and increased neural noise in humans,” explained senior author Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

“The dose-dependent and strong positive relationship between these two findings suggest that the psychosis-like effects of cannabis may be related to neural noise which disrupts the brain’s normal information processing,” added first author Dr. Jose Cortes-Briones, a Postdoctoral Associate in Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

The investigators studied the effects of ∆9-THC on electrical brain activity in 24 human subjects who participated in a three-day study during which they received two doses of intravenous ∆9-THC or placebo in a double-blind, randomized, cross-over, and counterbalanced design.

If confirmed, the link between neural noise and psychosis could shed light on the biology of some of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia.

“This interesting study suggests a commonality between the effects on the brain of the major active ingredient in marijuana and symptoms of schizophrenia,” stated Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. “The impairment of cortical function by ∆9-THC could underlie some of the cognitive effects of marijuana. Not only does this finding aid our understanding of the processes underlying psychosis, it underscores an important concern in the debate surrounding medical and legalized access to marijuana.”

Schizotypal & schizophrenia clear up!

schizotypal personalities may experience brief psychotic episodes with delusions or hallucinations, they are not as frequent, prolonged or intense as in schizophrenia.

Schizotypal people can usually take care of themselves but experience strain on relationships and jobs/school.Schizophrenia often causes extreme social withdrawal. 

Schizotypal symptoms:

  • Being a loner and lacking close friends outside of the immediate family
  • Incorrect interpretation of events, including feeling that external events have personal meaning
  • Peculiar, eccentric or unusual thinking, beliefs or behavior
  • Dressing in peculiar ways
  • Belief in special powers, such as telepathy
  • Perceptual alterations, in some cases bodily illusions, including phantom pains or other distortions in the sense of touch
  • Persistent and excessive social anxiety
  • Peculiar style of speech, such as loose or vague patterns of speaking or rambling oddly and endlessly during conversations
  • Suspicious or paranoid ideas, hypersensitivity, and constant doubts about the loyalty and fidelity of others
  • Flat emotions, or limited or inappropriate emotional responses

Schizophrenia symptoms

  • Delusions. Delusions occur in as many as 4 out of 5 people with schizophrenia.
  • Hallucinations. 
  • Disorganized thinking/speech. 
  • Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior. 
  • Negative symptoms.  lack emotion, such as not making eye contact, not changing facial expressions, speaking without inflection or monotone, or not adding hand or head movements that normally provide the emotional emphasis in speech. 
  • Reduced executive function 

I think this should help!

A schizotypy can be considered delusional but rarely goes into psychosis. Schizophrenics have a full psychotic break. Also, some of the things similar between the two disorders is more pronounced. The flat affect is not always there and can be faked away by the schizotypy but is permanently fixated upon the schizophrenic. Also disorganization is much more overexagerated with schizophrenia by failure to clean oneself or doing things with no meaning (like just walking around without any idea why). They fail to take care of basic needs or avoid doing it, like eating and drinking.chizotypal is not degenerative at all, and is far less aggressive than schizophrenia. It’s more of a constant, in that it doesn’t get better or worse . (X)

-admin a

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This is a sheet I got in psychology class, now we may be wondering why i’m posting it to the imagine blog? Well, removing stigma and misconceptions of mental illness is really important to me and schizophrenia is one of the most commonly mistaken major mental illnesses, often people confuse it for DID/MPD and also assume that schizophrenics are dangerous (statistics suggest schizophrenics are more likely to get hurt themselves then hurt other people). 

So. This is being put up 1) to help remove stigma and misconceptions, to educate people, 2) to provide those with schizophrenia on the blog or suspected schizophrenia more information and to remind them that this blog is supportive of anyone with mental illness 3) to give those who are wondering about psychology as a class a taste of some of the material and 4) to remind everyone that mental illness is incredibly close to my heart and to the hearts of others and once more that stigma and misconceptions help no one, that they hinder. A mental wound is no different from a physical, the only difference is where it originates. 

Please help combat stigma and misconceptions in regard to mental illness from anxiety to psychosis, mental health is important and support for the mentally ill is also incredibly import. Those of us with mental illnesses are not monsters or weird or strange or scary, for the most part we’re just people. 

New Plan to Treat Schizophrenia Is Worth Added Cost, Study Says

A new approach to treating early schizophrenia, which includes family counseling, results in improvements in quality of life that make it worth the added expense, researchers reported on Monday.

The study, published by the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin, is the first rigorous cost analysis of a federally backed treatment program that more than a dozen states have begun trying. In contrast to traditional outpatient care, which generally provides only services covered by insurance, like drugs and some psychotherapy, the new program offers other forms of support, such as help with jobs and school, as well as family counseling.

The program also tries to include the patients — people struggling with a first psychotic “break” from reality, most of them in their late teens and 20s — as equals in decisions about care, including drug dosage.

In a widely anticipated study last fall, called the Raise trial, researchers reported that after two years, people who got this more comprehensive care did better on a variety of measures than those who received the standard care. But the study found no evidence of related cost savings or differences in hospitalization rates, a prime driver of expense. As lawmakers in Washington are considering broad changes in mental health care, cost issues loom especially large.A brain scan of a patient with schizophrenia. Credit: Tim Beddow/Science Source