It’s The Thought That Counts


I tried ya’ll.

I tried so hard to ignore it.

But everyone is posting about it, I’m seeing articles on major magazine websites pouring their heart into it, and as much as I respect their excitement and their enthusiasm for totally real, hardcore science, I must push my way through the crowd and get a little word in.

“New Imaging  Study Shows How Schizophrenic Brains Regenerate”.

“Science may have moved much closer to curing Schizophrenia”. 

“Imaging study shows promising results for patients with Schizophrenia”

“Brains of people with Schizophrenia attempt self-repair:study”.

One categorized schizophrenia s a “neurological disorder”.

I . . .

Look ya’ll, I’m going to be frank. I know I’ve been in sort of a professional, formal sounding haze these last few weeks, but this kind of shit just pisses me off.



A neurological disorder? When was this concluded? NEVER, THAT’S WHEN.



There are such things as hallucinations caused by neurological issues. For example, often elder people in nursing homes who are blind have visual hallucinations. I recall hearing a story of one woman in her nineties who had lost her vision for many years but was steadily seeing people walking past her. She saw napkins floating in mid-air. None of these interacted with her, none of them acknowledged her, and if you fucking ask Oliver Sacks what the difference between a psychotic hallucination and a neurological hallucination is, he’ll tell you in your fucking face that psychotic hallucinations tend to interact with you. They tend to recognize you are there, even if that means just looking over at you. They are (generally) not just a scene in front of your eyes that are pretty to look at. They are (generally) not a cute little movie based on the real world that you get to watch and smile at.

Unless you count hundreds of bugs crawling on the wall or shadow figures sitting at a table with red eyes with little movie based on the real world that you smile at.

Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, everyone experiences such things differently. But if you want to get “Sciencey”, if you want to act like a textbook has all the answers, there’s the scientific/textbook difference between a psychotic hallucination and a neurologically-caused one for you.

child-abuse1Could there be a reason for this difference? Oh absolutely. Could you think of a reason? I could think of one huge one: environment. How you grew up. Where you grew up. What you were told. How you were exposed to the world. Trauma.

For example I’ve learned from talking with people who are in the state of mind where they walk up to you very boldly, very furious, and say “stop stealing my thoughts. I hate it, get out of my head, stop stealing my thoughts!” 

And at first you’re a little taken aback. You go on the defense and your first reaction is “I’m not” or “calm down” or “here, take these”. You might even be fearful as we’ve all been taught people sucked within delusions or hallucinations are unpredictable. And in some cases that has been truth. But has anyone ever paid attention how we react to them? Does anyone care about that? 

Because I’ve learned to react a different way. I’ve learned to sit and speak with them about why they feel someone is stealing their thoughts. And you know what I’ve discovered in a few? They have a history of feeling invaded. Of feeling their privacy means nothing, as if they had none to begin with. How their brain reacts to that?: People are stealing my thoughts. 

Is that neurological?

After speaking with them, after steadily extracting a whole new story from them, have I convinced them someone is not stealing their thoughts? No. But we just spent an hour talking about their restrictive childhood and suddenly I’m not the one stealing their thoughts anymore.


Often in these articles I read they support the idea that you are born with schizophrenia, that you are born with a broken mind, one that it (this cracks me up) needs to be repaired.

Is childhood psychosis something of interest? Absolutely. There are tons of children who seem to hallucinate before they turn 3 years old. Does that warrant some interesting neuroscience? I think so. But it doesn’t mean you only speak to them in clinical terms, it doesn’t mean you constantly reassure them they are sick and “damaged” as one article put it. How much of a difference does self-esteem make? Has this been studied as well?

But when it comes to adults, when it comes to people with troubled pasts, or  even un-troubled pasts but just experiences where they may have been constantly controlled, invaded, or verbally abused once in a while, it warrants we take a look at their entire life and not only their neurology.

“It’s been suggested that neural degeneration in this region is at the root of Schizophrenia, though this is still widely debated . . .”

It is very widely debated. But you don’t hear much about the side debating, do you? 


Everyone loves NAMI. Oh they’re raising so much awareness, they’re doing this, they’re doing that. Well, if you go on the NAMI or NIMH website, whichever hosts research articles I forget, and download their studies on Schizophrenia, and you search for the word “Trauma” you won’t find it once.

Not. Once.

That tells me this is a one-sided conversation. This tells me we’re hunting after schizophrenia like it’s going to be a crack in the brain somewhere, that as soon as we find that hole all we’ll have to do is patch it up with a little super-glue and it’ll be gone.

I feel we do that with many “disorders” we characterize.

As someone studying in the psychiatric field, as someone with lived experience of mental health issues, I can confirm heavily for you that as an industry we set up a batch of symptoms, we analyze you without taking into consideration who you are or where you’re from, and then we stick you with a label and tell you, well, this is for the rest of your life.

I love that one article which talks about “self-repair”, as if there is a leak to stop somewhere.


“The researchers’ main finding is that, in terms of overall grey matter volume, schizophrenic brains become more “normal” the longer they’re schizophrenic. That is, the largest deviations occur early in the illnesses onset. Moreover, patients with the most dramatic deviations from normal early in the illness were not necessarily the most likely to be better or worse off later in the illness than patients with less deviations.”


Love the “schizophrenic brains”and “longer they’re schizophrenic” rather than  “brains with schizophrenia” or “the longer they experience schizophrenia”.

They depersonalize these articles on purpose. These findings are meant to generalize an entire population, they’re meant to isolate an illness. They’re not meant to speak on behalf of the people going through these experiences. And that’s where the biological model falls short.

Yes, I can’t deny they have found differences in grey matter in people with schizophrenia versus people without. But the thing is, they can’t prove whether it’s because of the way people react to the world around them or because of the physical matter of the brain. They act like it’s because of the way the physical matter is developed, but they have no proof. No one has any proof either way.

So each side spends all their time trying to convince us either way instead of taking time to speak with the people they’re degrading. 

I guess the DSM-5 made an attempt: they did put out a call to the general public to see if anyone had a disorder they wanted published before they finalized the DSM-5 in 2013.

Can anyone see how that’s a bad idea?

Can anyone see just how fabricated a lot of these characterizations are made now? 


1 thought on “It’s The Thought That Counts”

  1. […] I think one of my favorite posts from 2015 has got to be when I compared Neurological disorders and diseases to mental health issues, because there’s this weird idea going around that mental health issues are “diseases”. There was an article I came across trying to convince people that all mental health issues are also neurological diseases and disorders. And I, well, had a field day with that. You can read it here. And if you’re curious about this subject, there’s more on it here. […]


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