WOW–Psychiatrist admits–Our approach for helping people with Mental Illness has been wrong

 

The article that appeared on the front page of the NY Times Sunday edition about  how to cope and survive with a broken brain was remarkable and I hope powerful enough to atart to remove some of the stigma against people who are fighting the battle to have fulfilling lives. The article highlights one person’s” Struggle to Fit In”. This was the third in a series of profiles about people who are functioning normally despite severe mental illness and have chosen to speak out about their struggles. Don’t miss this moving article it is outstanding and informative piece of writing.

What got my attention beyond the moving story of a “top executive battling her demons and finding a way through them”  was this snip on how wrong the field of Psychiatry has been in their approach to crafting an empowering recovery program for those people who battle these illnesses. Here is what got my attention” Researchers have conducted more than 100,000 studies on schizophrenia since its symptoms were first characterized. They have tested patients’ blood. They have analyzed their genes. They have measured perceptual skills, I.Q. and memory, and have tried perhaps thousands of drug treatments. Now, a group of people with the diagnosis of severe mental illness like schizophrenia are  showing researchers a previously hidden dimension of the story: how the disorder can be managed while people build full, successful lives. The continuing study — a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles; the; and the Department of Veterans Affairs and University of Southern California  — follows a group of 20 people with the diagnosis, including two doctors, a lawyer and a chief executive, Ms. Myrick. The study has already forced its authors to discard some of their assumptions about living with schizophrenia. “It’s just embarrassing,” said Dr. Stephen R. Marder, director of the psychosis section at U.C.L.A.’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, a psychiatrist with the V.A. Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and one of the authors of the study. “For years, we as psychiatrists have been telling people with a diagnosis what to expect; we’ve been telling them who they are, how to change their lives — and it was bad information” for many people.

So where do we go from here? The study is group  putting together the picture and elements that delienate how consumers can make their lives more fulfilling– here are some tips about how to make a better life from the consumers feedback : ” Broadly speaking, here are some strategies that consumers and patients  in the study use to cope with their disease and situations. ” The principal investigators — Elyn R. Saks of U.S.C., Alison B. Hamilton of U.C.L.A. and Amy N. Cohen of Veterans Affairs, along with Dr. Marder and others — have found that the participants typically adhere to a medication regimen, often check their thoughts and perceptions with a trusted friend or family member, and actively organize and control their environment, sometimes with the help of a therapist. Some avoid travel, or crowded, noisy places; others prefer not to be alone. Most stay away from illicit drugs and alcohol.” Let me end with an uplifting  quote from  Mahatma Ghandi  on the power of  caring and interdependence of all of us.  “The pursuing of the inner journey, should not be separated from the pursuing of the outer and social journey, because we are not isolated beings but interdependent sources of support and encouragement that fuel the success of any human or socially significant change.”

 

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