Archive for » July, 2010 «

Magazine Promotes Stigma Against Schizophrenia

I wanted to share this as it is simply an example of how the stigma against schizophrenia is portrayed through the media.  In the Summer 2000 issue (Vol. 10, No. 3) of City Journal, there is an article, Sanity on Mental Illness by E. Fuller Torrey, that describes the potential for violence among the seriously mentally ill.  Specifically, the potential for violence among the unmedicated, seriously mentally ill.  The article claims that “seriously mentally ill individuals who take their medicine are not more dangerous than the general population; those who don’t take it are much more dangerous.”  Such an article disgusts me because it only fuels the fear and hatred towards people with a mental illness such as schizophrenia.  It also promotes medications (anti-psychotics) that are currently under investigation by the United States of America because these medications are consistently proving that they shorten the lifespan of those who take them and can cause further medical complications such as diabetes, heart conditions, brain damage, and hormone problems (“The Myth of the Chemical Cure,” Joanna Moncrieff, 2009).  Finally, the article states that laws that require the mentally ill to comply with treatment (such as New York’s Kendra’s Law which can require compliance for up to a year before being reviewed) are a rational approach to irrational people.

There is no mention in this article of people who are diagnosed with a severe mental illness and present no danger to the general population.  However, the author of the article, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, has stated that some schizophrenics only require medication for one to two years.  In fact, he also states that “within a few months following recovery, medication should be slowly decreased and then discontinued” (Surviving Schizophrenia, 2006).  Because schizophrenia has no cure, these people still have schizophrenia but they are not on medication because they do not need it.  But the contradiction lies in this article when Dr. Torrey states that people with severe mental illness are much more dangerous when unmedicated.  Since no distinction is made, should it be assumed that even when a schizophrenic does not need the medication they are still a danger to others?  Dr. Torrey has also stated several times that people with schizophrenia are much more likely to harm themselves than to harm another person; however that statistic is ignored when warning the general population of the dangers involved with such people (Surviving Schizophrenia, 2006).  It seems that so many contradictions in what Dr. Torrey is claiming are also irrational.  But because I don’t have any preconceived judgments against irrational people, I will not claim that Dr. Torrey should be forced to take medications. more…