Tuesday, 16 March 2010

More about Merete Nordentoft's surprising (NOT!) research results on "schizophrenia"

The main emphasis of the article, whose title translates into: "High school certificate a good weapon against schizophrenia", is on the role of education in terms of recovery from so-called "schizophrenia".

The researchers followed 547 people labelled with "schizophrenia" over a 5-year-period.

Results: 19% achieved full recovery, most of them, as mentioned in my previous post, were not "treatment compliant", respectively didn't use psych drugs at all. 15% achieved significant improvement. 53% didn't achieve lasting improvement, but are able to live independently, and without longer hospitalizations. 13% are dependent on assisted housing, or need long-term hospitalization.

Among those who achieved full recovery or significant improvement, a higher education is prevalent, most of them are women, and most of them come from a family background with both parents living together. On the other hand, "negative symptoms" like social withdrawal and passivity indicate a less favorable outcome.

Education: the so far only comment on the article at Dagens Medicin (the journal only allows professionals to comment... ) concludes that a higher education equals to a higher IQ which equals to more benefit from CBT - "something we've known for a long time".

In my opinion, a higher education equals to the ability to search for information on one's own, if necessary - and when it comes to "mental illness" it is necessary, since true information in Danish is thin, to put it mildly - also information in foreign languages like English. Information that may have the individual choose to, by and large, do without neuroleptics, that may have him/her question the (Danish) mh system's messages about a chronic, biological brain disease, and that may have him/her investigate into alternative views of the experience. A higher education often equals to a stronger belief in one's own intellectual capacities, "intellectual self-reliance", so to speak, and thus to less blind confidence in others' - the "experts' - authority.

A higher education often provides tools to think analytically, critically and independently. Invaluable tools when it comes to finding meaning with one's experience, and become an expert on one's own behalf: "I know what's good for me." It's called empowerment, and it's decisive in the recovery process.

Drugs: well, I'd say, it's self-evident that substances which interfere with and reduce cognition, memory, self-/consciousness, etc., which in fact often render researching, googling, reading and understanding unsurmountable challenges, are not helpful in the process of resolving crisis.

Women: in general, women are more socializing than men, and don't have the same reservations against opening up and talking about personal problems. And if people who experience crisis need anything, it is the possibility to communicate their experience to someone they can trust unconditionally.

Family: a somewhat well-functioning family can be a valuable resource of support. Especially if family members are minded to resolve problems rather than to just brush them under the carpet, or run from them.

It doesn't look like the researchers have done much else than gathered statistics about "symptoms" experienced, hospitalizations, education, family background, and whatever else can be observed from the outside. Also this study seems to be a shining example of the lack of empiricism in psychiatric "research" in general. Participants obviously were not asked what in detail was helpful for their individual recovery. As a result, the researchers stand with a bunch of data they, due to their preconceived idea of the nature of "schizophrenia" - it's still referred to as an "illness", of course -, and the resulting preconceived idea of what kind of treatment is indicated, don't really know what to make of.

Probably, their reasoning will not go beyond conclusions like the one mentioned above, that CBT is the decisive factor, while they just as probably will be unlikely to admit the quite logic causality between "treatment" with consciousness reducing, and in the long run brain damaging substances and long-term outcomes. Actually, the article explicitly states, that "antipsychotics" are effective treatment for "psychosis": "Don't draw the 'wrong' conclusions from the research results! Take your meds!" Also, an undertone can be traced in the article that clearly emphasizes that "full recovery" doesn't mean "cured". "Schizophrenia" still is a chronic brain disease: "You're still ill! Don't you dare to believe anything else! You're only as lucky as to be in remission!" So, it is unlikely that this study will change anything about how "schizophrenia" is perceived by the "experts", or how it is being treated. Concerning the fact that most of the fully recovered participants either went off neuroleptics, or never used them, this is probably not interpreted as a precondition for their recovery ("remission"), but rather as a result of it. Just as the article doesn't mention the connection between "negative symptoms" like social withdrawal and passivity on the one hand, and the these "negative symptoms" increasing effects of neuroleptic drugs on the other, with one word.

If at all this study makes it to one of the major journals in the field, I suspect it will suffer the same fate as other long-term outcome studies, and soon be buried in the archives, under a load of crap like Thomas Werge's eugenic "research", that allegedly found the genetic cause of "schizophrenia" to be chromosome mutations which are found in 60 - 90% of the general population... (Can't recall whether I wrote about it here, but well, now you know: 60 - 90% of the general population are genetically predisposed to develop "schizophrenia". In other words: to be a human being predisposes you for "schizophrenia". LMAO.)

BTW: the article calls OPUS a "psycho-social" project. Not by any stretch of imagination can I find much "psycho-social" about a project that explicitly promotes " - psycho education with weight on a biological model (guilt reducing)", and "antipsychotic medical treatment" as "indicated" for "most of the patients".


Rossa Forbes said...

Thanks for "translating" the article from Danish into English. It sounds exactly like they reached the conclusions that would support their biased notion about what recovery is and that meds must be taken.

Marian said...

Rossa: I couldn't help it, I had this picture in my head of someone trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle, and make it show not the actual picture, but the one they want it to show, while they don't mind to manipulate the pieces more or less forcibly, and ignore that the whole picture somehow becomes totally distorted.

Another piece of interesting info on Merete Nordentoft: at least until last year, she made some extra money as a spokesperson for Eli Lilly. That she doesn't appear on the list as currently being on any pharmaceutical company's pay roll doesn't mean she isn't. It only means that she either isn't paid more than what she's allowed to without permission, or that she's decided the Danish taxes are far too high, while a hard working woman like her is grossly underpaid. Lots of Danish doctors face this dilemma, and feel they can't but sidestep the law in order to ensure survival, those poor bastards!