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Insight and Collective Ignorance

Posted Apr 26 2013 12:00am
Today, via a Facebook link, I came across this article on why Schizophrenia patients are hard to treat.

I was a little offended by the misinformation in this article.

They describe many reasons why people with Schizophrenia aren't getting treated, yet they spread more ignorance in their very description, by saying "97%" of people with this illness do not have insight into the illness.

Hello, I have Schizoaffective Disorder, and I know several people with some form of Schizophrenia. All of them know they have it. All of them advocate for themselves and get treatment for themselves. None of them are suffering from a lack of insight.

So how do you get this "97%"??

I commented on Facebook, to say that I would like to know if they're including anybody who's actually in treatment for Schizophrenia in that statistic. Because I can tell you, since some of my brain does indeed work, that there are not millions of people on medications for this illness who don't know they have the illness. I'm sure there are some people in that scenario. But 97%?? Um, no.

Insight is like the Holy Grail to psychiatry. Insight is the one thing that separates those of us who have NO EARTHLY IDEA THAT WE'RE SICK, and those of us who do know.

I have been in both these groups. But I have to say that even when I lacked insight - I knew I was sick. So I was never someone who had "no earthly idea"; in fact it was my constant pursuit to discover what was wrong with me that led me to be misdiagnosed numerous times with illnesses I never had.

I didn't know I was psychotic because I never knew what it meant. I didn't know I was living with Schizophrenia because no one ever told me. I didn't read about psychosis. I read about trauma, and dissociative disorders, and PTSD, because those books were easy to find. I never read a book on Schizophrenia that explained the illness (other than Call me Alice, I think) until 2005. By that time, I had already been hospitalized like 15 times or more.

The book I read when I got diagnosed was Surviving Schizophrenia by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey.
The movie that helped me understand, for once, what was "wrong" with me, was A Beautiful Mind.

I recommend those, and other books and movies if you think you might have Schizophrenia, or you've been diagnosed, but you don't know what it means.

I also recommend that treatment providers explain psychosis to psychotic people more often. This rarely happens in the world, but if it did, if some treatment providers could have enough faith in our intelligence to trust us with the facts of our own lives, then maybe we wouldn't all be walking around labeled with lack of "insight" regarding the facts no one ever gave us.

I was psychotic in hospitals in Washington D.C., Virginia, New Jersey, and Florida, before Dr. S. told me "You have Schizophrenia", and what it meant. Do you have any idea how much time I wasted or how much torment I went through, which COULD have been avoided, if somebody had just thought, before Dr. S; that I was smart enough to comprehend those words?? I could have been spared years of hell. But no one else ever told me.

So it's easy to say "97%" of people with this illness have no insight. It's harder to ask, "How much of the general public knows what Schizophrenia really is?" Because I'm here to tell you that most people have no idea we're not psycho serial killers. Most people hear more about us on Law and Order, or CNN when some tragedy occurs, than they ever hear anywhere else.

Our society is plagued with a pervasive IGNORANCE. Everybody plays their part in this. People don't want to know that they themselves could be "crazy" so they come up with all kinds of bizarre delusional thoughts about people with Schizophrenia that aren't accurate. In other words, our society is the delusional aspect of this equation. If society were sane, then we would talk to children in health classes in middle school ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESSES LIKE SCHIZOPHRENIA, and not just about the important food groups to eat.

Also, instead of saying that lack of insight is to blame for why "people with Schizophrenia are difficult to treat", perhaps the author of that lame article should have considered that PEOPLE GETTING TREATMENT USUALLY HAVE MORE INSIGHT.


Further, I would argue that PLANET EARTH is suffering from lack of insight about psychosis, and if we started TALKING ABOUT IT SOMETIMES then maybe, just maybe, people would know what the heck was going on when they started hallucinating!! Hello?
I mean, really, this is not rocket science, folks.

The hippies at Woodstock figured out that they should stay away from the brown acid, because they communicated. When are we, as a society, going to start communicating about mental illness? When?

And until the time comes when everybody recognizes auditory hallucinations just as well as they recognize low blood sugar then you cannot blame the sick people for not knowing they have Schizophrenia any more than you can blame they diabetics for not taking their insulin. People have to be made AWARE what the symptoms are, and who they know in their family has these symptoms, or their friends or coworkers, by hearing people actually TALKING ABOUT IT;

I'm told by my own parent that I am a disgrace to my entire family by writing this blog where I talk about it. But I'm not about to erase this blog. Will you please talk about it too?
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