The Truth about Schizophrenia
~ An Anatomy of Madness Part 2 ~
“To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer, The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep, No more; and by a sleep to say we end, The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks, That flesh is heir to”
There are few who are not familiar with the famous opening lines of this soliloquy from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The play depicts a Prince who is grieving the death of his father when his father’s ghost appears to him from beyond the grave and tells him about how he was murdered out of avarice and greed for the throne by his own brother. Everyone, even the audience, begins to question the Prince’s sanity in the play, and yet no one considers that Hamlet has a “chemical imbalance” that drives him insane. No one suggests that he get a brain scan done and be put on some mind numbing medications so that he can “sleep—perchance—dream”. Hamlet’s Madness, it is understood by all who read and watch the play, is a result of grief and philosophic confusion. When was it that we stopped looking at all the dimensions of a person’s madness? When did we start treating this distinctly emotional problem as a physical lack of a pharmaceutical drug?
What is Madness Anyway?
The medical categorisation of “Mental Illness” reveals the profound ineptitude of the modern understanding of Madness. A Mad person is someone who behaves in a way that is different from everyone else. He has ideas about the world that do not match what everyone else around him believes. His “reality” seems to be seriously different from that of others. Most importantly perhaps, he does not himself seem to understand why he behaves so differently, and is seemingly unable to “correct” it. At other times and in other places in history, madness was considered a possession by external demonic forces. There was a time when psychologists like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Thomas Szasz, Theodore Lidz and many others attempted to truly understand what afflicts the intangible thing called the psyche so as to drive it to strange behaviours.
Unfortunately, modern medicine took over this endeavour and collapsed all human progress into an impotent one dimensional cartoon: materialism. Anything that could be materially measured was real, and anything that could not be was not. So the psyche disappeared from discussions of madness. The emotions were discarded because they could not be seen. Qualia has no place in modern medicine. Even though qualia is the centre of the human affliction of what is today, erroneously named, “mental illness”.
The most important argument that there is no medical basis for mental illness is that it is diagnosed using a list of behaviours rather than an observation of physical aberrations in the body. Despite the noise that medical psychiatric research makes about the “biological underpinnings” of mental illness, a brain scan or a count of dopamine receptors is not part of any level of the diagnosis of mental illness. Doctors do not use these physical values to determine whether or not someone is schizophrenic because there are no biological traces of schizophrenia or indeed of any mental illness. This is not because these biological traces have “not yet been discovered” but because they aren’t “mental” illnesses at all, they are emotional illness.
Mental illness continues to be a description of people who do not behave as others behave. The modern medical model simply attempts time and time again to go back and justify these aberrations through some physical, material signature, and, as I shall reveal in this essay, fails to find even one material causal factor for these aberrant behaviours.
The Quintessence of Dust
The problem of “mental health” is not the most important problem of our generation, rather, it is the most important symptom of much greater problems. 48,000 people died by suicide in 2021, men were 4x as likely as women to commit suicide, and 70% of suicides were white males1. These suicides are blamed on “mental illness” in the person. The cause of death is explained as if there is some aberration in their brain chemistry that deranges their “wiring” so profoundly that they commit the most unnatural behaviour of any animal: suicide. This is an extraordinary act in itself when you consider that every creature in nature, from the crawling ant to the blue whale does everything in its power to stay alive. It is only Man who wonders, “what is this quintessence of dust” and finds his mortal coil too unbearable to inhabit.
Often called “hara-kiri” in the West, “seppuku” is a form of ritual suicide that originated with Japan’s ancient samurai warrior class and was a way for 12th century Samurai who had been dishonoured in some way, to attain an honourable death.
In the Modern West, most people are diagnosed with some kind of emotional disenchantment labelled as depression and anxiety. Ordinary, clear-thinking people usually see through this as something transient and exaggerated, likely resulting from a poor lifestyle. In fact, when these people’s lifestyles are examined, it is always revealed that they are living in a way that is fundamentally divorced from their natural desires. Childless young women overworking themselves in masculine fields, listless young men with no agency or ownership over their work, elderly people separated from the bonds of community, children who are neglected by their caregivers, are all good examples of unnatural social environments that often cause “mental illnesses”.
One considers schizophrenia as a different class of mental illness because of the dramatic ways in which it manifests: hallucinations, delusions, strange speech, and sometimes even violent behaviour. But what if I was to tell you that schizophrenia is just like these other “mental illnesses”? This is what this essay will explain. There are no mental illnesses. There are only emotional illnesses. And any attempt to describe it as a disease of the body, or more specifically, the brain, is not only unfounded in scientific literature, but the literature actively refutes it.
This will be a Deep Dive, so get a cup of coffee or tea and settle in.
Contents of this essay:
What causes Schizophrenia?
There is no “Brain Defect” in a Schizophrenic
Evaluating the Dopamine Hypothesis
The Amphetamine “Proof” Debunked
Can Madness be Inherited?
How to Solve the Mental Health Crisis: Realize that it’s not a Mental Health Crisis