Follow the above link for Noel’s piece. It’s a long, well-written and well researched article, essential reading for anyone in our line of work.
The writer too has watched with some dismay, the viral description of the Sekar et al. study as a ‘breakthrough’. She agrees with Noel’s comment:-
‘The problem is, there is nothing profound about this study at all and, in fact, it is one of the least profound studies to emerge in the last few years on the topic of “schizophrenia”. The information that has been disseminated to audiences across the globe, no doubt with the assistance of a rhetorically biased news release and included highlights, is distorted, it asserts exaggerated claims based on reductionistic conclusions, and it ignores the robust support that has accumulated that undermines the genetic disease model of “mental illness” and the categorical understanding of experiences falling under the umbrella term “schizophrenia”.’
Noel’s perspective rings true to the writer’s own sense, derived from over a decade in practice where she too has observed in her work (and read in accounts of others’ work)-
‘..accumulating evidence indicating an almost irrefutable causal relationship between childhood adversity and most experiences labelled psychotic [which] gets completely disregarded. This is despite the fact that childhood adversity can actually explain the very biological “discoveries” being promoted in the first place.’
Noel’s argument reminds the writer of the analogy offered by a dear colleague and friend. If someone points a gun at me, I will likely experience an adrenalin surge and all kinds of biochemically detectable responses. However it is clearly questionable to argue that these biochemical events cause either the gun, or my behaviours in fighting, fleeing or freezing.
This seems like an area of cultural blindness, encouraged by the vigorous efforts of those with vested interests in the medicalization of traumatic experience and human distress. The writer thinks it also relates significantly to the cultural impact of accepting an explanation based on ‘childhood adversity’. In our blame/toxic shame-based cultures, it is hardly surprising that parents (and many of us) might prefer an ‘illness’ explanation, rather than accept the pain, and the consequences, of seeing it as our ‘fault’ that our children suffer – the dominant cultural perspective. Only through a more widely held compassionate and empathic understanding of how pain and trauma inevitably transmits between generations, can we hope to move beyond the popular appeal of the disease model.
Thankfully, there also seem to be an increasing number of voices such as Noel’s (within the medical model, within the field of existential psychology/therapy, and beyond), able to engage with the curious lack of evidence for a genetic/’illness’ explanation – despite decades of amply funded research predisposed to finding just this evidence – and the hopeful possibilities for all of us in a more holistic way of making sense of what we call ‘schizophrenia’, and indeed ‘mental illness’ more widely.
The writer finds herself making sense of these differing perceptions (‘schizophrenia’ as ‘illness’, or as human response to trauma), in terms of similar differences playing out at this period of our history between established dogma and alternative ways of seeing in all areas of human culture: political, sociological, ecological, economic etc etc. The internet allows those of us challenging dogma and existing power structures to have the relevant conversations in a way that would previously not have been possible, and to make connections with each other. The writer, for one, sees some hope in that. She sees at least some possibility for us – as a species – to engage in personal and so collective actualisation beyond our existing self-concept/fear-based paradigms (which arise from and perpetuate trauma on a global scale), into something more enhancing.
Here’s the ISEPP link:-
We found this via a link from Emmy Van Deurzen on Facebook, for which thanks. Here’s Emmy’s page:-
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling in Exeter since 1994