November 15, 2008

“I’m Autistic. No, I’m Schizophrenic?”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

According to Dictionary.com, the definitions for schizophrenia and autism are as follows.  There are other sites that offer more in-depth definitions, but I don’t want to lose you which is why I chose shorter ones.:

Schizophrenia

Psychiatry. Also called dementia praecox. a severe mental disorder characterized by some, but not necessarily all, of the following features: emotional blunting, intellectual deterioration, social isolation, disorganized speech and behavior, delusions, and hallucinations.

Autism

Psychiatry. a pervasive developmental disorder of children, characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment.

Allow me to examine some of the words provided in each definition.

Schizophrenia:

Blunting: Slow to understand or perceive; dull.

Deterioration: a gradual decline, as in quality, serviceability, or vigor.

Isolation: to set or place apart; detach or separate so as to be alone.

Disorganized: functioning without adequate order, systemization, or planning; uncoordinated.

Delusions: A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness.

Hallucinations: Perception of visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or gustatory experiences without an external stimulus and with a compelling sense of their reality, usually resulting from a mental disorder or as a response to a drug.

Autism:

Pervasive: Having the quality or tendency to pervade or permeate.

Impaired: Deficient or incompetent.

Rigidity: Inflexible, strict, or severe.

Detachment: Aloofness, as from worldly affairs or from the concerns of others.

I realize you were not looking for a language arts lesson this evening, but there is a reason why I have associated these two disorders in tonight’s post.

A new theory states autism and schizophrenia are the same “disease” according to an article released today by The New York Times.

Two scientists, drawing on their own powers of observation and a creative reading of recent genetic findings, have published a sweeping theory of brain development that would change the way mental disorders like autism and schizophrenia are understood.

The theory emerged in part from thinking about events other than mutations that can change gene behaviour. And it suggests entirely new avenues of research, which, even if they prove the theory to be flawed, are likely to provide new insights into the biology of mental disease.

I am confounded as to why anyone would state that these two “diseases” are the same.

I’m doing my best to remain objective this evening as this bit of news is very disturbing.

To state that my son could actually be schizophrenic?  Well, I can’t find the words to express how this “theory” makes me feel. At least, not any that would allow my blog to remain rated PG.

Reporter, Benedict Carey goes on to say,

Their idea is, in broad outline, straightforward. Crespi and Badcock propose that an evolutionary tug of war between genes from the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg can, in effect, tip brain development in one of two ways. A strong bias toward the father pushes a developing brain along the autistic spectrum, toward a fascination with objects, patterns, mechanical systems, at the expense of social development. A bias toward the mother moves the growing brain along what the researchers call the psychotic spectrum, toward hypersensitivity to mood, their own and others’. This, according to the theory, increases a child’s risk of developing schizophrenia later on, as well as mood problems like bipolar disorder and depression.

In short: Autism and schizophrenia represent opposite ends of a spectrum that includes most, if not all, psychiatric and developmental brain disorders. The theory has no use for psychiatry’s many separate categories for disorders, and it would give genetic findings an entirely new dimension.

It already disturbs me that people see my son as being diseased, and goodness knows what else, but to contend with a schizophrenia theory is just too much to me.

People are already paranoid about autism (thanks to the anti-vaccine posse).  Add schizophrenia to the mix, and the government’s going to have a serious dillemma on its hands.

Will this “theory” be the end of procreation as we know it?

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