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Interesting op-ed piece about schizophrenia

Posted Feb 28 2010 12:00am
In today's Los Angeles times there is a rather interesting op-ed piece that deals with the hardships of schizophrenia written by the sister of a schizophrenic. She talks about her brother's delusions, the fact he hears voices and threatened to kill their father and had to call the Sheriff's department on their own son to have him taken into custody.

It talks about his having to live in Santa Barbara County on SSI that is less than $845/month. He is always broke and living in poverty. Their parents bought the brother a mobile home in a trailer park. Next year the trailer park is requiring all of the tenants to buy the land under their mobile homes. The sister wonders what the brother will do or where he will live.

The last line of the piece states
And What will happen when the last bit of my mother's estate runs out and my sister and I have nothing left to give him when he's broke Who is responsible? Who is responsible for them all?

This has got me to thinking. It has been pretty well known for years that the prevalence of schizophrenia in the general population of most countries runs about 1%. Back in the 1970s it was felt that autism was a much rarer disorder with a prevalence of about 1 in 2500. Now according to the most recent studies done by the CDC it is about 1 in 110 so very close to what schizophrenia is now.

There is now a point of contention of whether or not autism is just as prevalent in all age groups or is much more prevalent among persons born in or after 1990. Most persons in the neurodiversity movement don't believe there has been a genuine increase in autism that the numbers have always been the same and it has always been a high stable rate. If this is the case, then this means there are about as many autistic adults as adults with schizophrenia and what will happen when parents are not around to help their autistic children as adults after they die is an interesting question. This is aside from the fact that since autism exists in the person from early child on unlike schizophrenia which usually does not have an age of onset until about age 19 or 20 would be more costly since services for many would be needed throughout their lives and the parents of schizophrenia would at least get a break during their offspring's childhood.

If there is an equivalent neurodiversity movement for schizophrenia to the one for autism that is so salient in the blogosphere, they would certainly find this article offensive. They would not want to hear anything bad about schizophrenia or the hardships concurrent in it. They would be aghast that the sister could wallow in such self-pity as to complain in a piece published by a major metropolitan newspaper.

I seem to remember one neurodiversity blogger, Mike Stanton stated that schizophrenia was not autism and the comparisons were not apt when someone tried to make that comparison to counter his neurodiversity beliefs. Mike Stanton also engages in censorship placing me in moderation when I made a polite comment on his blog taking issue and showing inconsistencies to his neurodiversity logic.

I also found this article interesting as I had a good friend with schizophrenia for many years (one of the few friends I have had in recent years) but apparently he had a breakdown and may have stopped taking his medications and was just impossible to deal with. Our friendship is now over and it is sad indeed.

Though autism and schizophrenia are different disorders they are probably at least second cousins in that the so-called negative aspects of schizophrenia-the impaired ability to relate to people and make friends, the problems with theory of mind etc.-are strikingly similar to autism in some respects. Though I can't remember the exact articles there have been structural magnetic resonance imaging scans that have found cerebellar abnormalities that are similar in schizophrenics to the ones found in autism. So I do have somewhat of an interest in schizophrenia.

I can say the same thing for autistic persons to neurodiversity. Who will care? Who will be responsible for them all? Neurodiversity's response is that these problems don't exist, they find the fact that autism is viewed as a costly affliction offensive. They question a lot of the statistics in a "don't confuse me with the facts" response. They use Bill Gates and Stephen Spielberg and Vernon Smith as "autistics" who make great contributions to the economy and therefore balance out those who don't, so that in fact the costs are nothing more than a zero sum game according to neurodiversity logic.

But in spite of the disingenuous spin that ND puts on this along with everything else, the question still remains as Marcia Meier put it about her schizophrenic brother: Who is responsible, who is responsible for them all?

Our government finances the research of Morton Gernsbacher . She is also allowed to review grants for research for autism speaks and peer reviews the research of other scientists for journals. She has claimed autism is not harmful. Autism speaks finances the work of Laurent Mottron who made that same claim in a piece that he coauthored with Gernsbacher and Michelle Dawson.

Our government has appointed Ari Ne'eman who claims that autism is not even a medical disability and finding a cure for autism would be morally reprehensible to the highest disability public policy position in government.

It won't be easy sleeping at night knowing that these individuals are responsible for them all but I guess I will have to do my best.

Well an interesting op ed piece, hope you enjoy reading it.
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