[Previous] Leonard Peikoff Says He's Not a Philosopher | Home | [Next] The Parable of the Vases

Schizophrenia is a Lie

The video The Last Interview of Thomas Szasz has an interesting story. I'll paraphrase:

For context, the interviewer was bringing up the issue that insane people don't make sense. You can't talk with them. They played a couple clips of some people saying nonsense. So how do you deal with that?

So Szasz says, at 19:15, that he had this same discussion 20 years ago. A reporter from The Newyorker called Szasz and brought it up. So Szasz made a trip to New York and met him for an experiment. They went to central park and found a homeless schizophrenic guy and tried talking with him.

The conversation was perfectly normal. There were some wine cartons nearby, and they talked about wine. The guy knew how to get his welfare check, he'd been in Bellview several times, he gave a long description of how to stay out of the mental hospital (the last thing he wants to be in). He said where he can get a shower sometimes and how he gets food.

But the reporter didn't publish the story. His axe to grind was to show how crazy these people are and how they need mental healthcare. So when the experiment didn't fit his agenda, he didn't publish.

Elliot Temple on November 15, 2015

Comments (7)

Schizophrenia is a Lie

I don't know much about Schizophrenia so I read about it here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml

What do you think of the claim that schizophrenia has a genetic basis? E.g. "The illness occurs in 1 percent of the general population, but it occurs in 10 percent of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, such as a parent, brother, or sister. People who have second-degree relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins) with the disease also develop schizophrenia more often than the general population. The risk is highest for an identical twin of a person with schizophrenia. He or she has a 40 to 65 percent chance of developing the disorder."

This supports the idea that it's a real physiological brain malfunction of some kind. What's your understanding of / criticism of this?

ESG at 6:33 AM on November 17, 2015 | #4421
Relatives have more ideas and culture in common, in addition to having more genes in common. This evidence does not implicate the genes over the ideas/culture.

Anonymous at 9:25 AM on November 17, 2015 | #4423
Maybe the researchers made some attempt to control for that? E.g. identical twins separated at birth? Perhaps the behaviors associated with Schizophrenia are just so unusual that ideas/culture don't fit well as an explanation.

I think a deeper look at it would be required to understand it all better.

ESG at 11:58 AM on November 17, 2015 | #4434
The researchers do not control for things like this well (often at all), no. I've read studies, including twin studies, on a variety of topics. I've read technical material about heredity and how it's approached.

It sounds like you should look deeper. But I already have.

Anonymous at 12:07 PM on November 17, 2015 | #4435
Identical twins look alike, and can have similar problems in other respects, e.g. - they may both be short sighted. As a result of having similar problems, they may be more alike than non-identical twins or unrelated people for cultural reasons. There is no way to control for this.

Also, behaviour being unusual does not in any way rule out culture. For cultural reasons, people used to believe in witches. During the Nazi period, many Germans acted in a manner that would horrify any normal person, and they did so for for cultural reasons. Even now many people have bad ideas for cultural reasons, e.g. - the Westboro Baptist Church.

Anonymous at 12:15 PM on November 17, 2015 | #4436
> They went to central park and found a homeless schizophrenic guy and tried talking with him.

How did they know he was a genuine schizophrenic and not someone pretending?

Anonymous at 3:13 AM on December 3, 2015 | #4515
> How did they know he was a genuine schizophrenic and not someone pretending?

There is no way of testing a person's body for a chemical or structural abnormality that will diagnose schizophrenia. Psychiatrists do tests to eliminate diseases, and have conversations with and about the patient to diagnose schizophrenia.

The DSM criteria are here


Note section E, which specifically excludes any general medical condition or drug use.

There is no difference between having schizophrenia and pretending to have it.

Anonymous at 4:18 AM on December 14, 2015 | #4521

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)