Monday, April 25, 2005

FINAL PAPER

Well, folks, I never did get around to posting Working paper 4. It didn't flow well on its own, so I wrote it and immediately began integrating all the papers. Now, nearly two weeks later, I have the final draft here (well, it will be the final draft after my late-night final editing session). Hope any of you reading enjoy.

Arsenic demons whispering sins of the father. Blood spattering redemptions betrayal make me pay the sins of the father.
These incoherent words don’t make sense to the average reader, but to a person suffering from schizophrenia, they are a divine message, a prophecy.
Every year in America, around forty-four million people suffer from a mental illness, and some two million of those have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the most devastating of the psychological disorders (NIMH). This disease steals an individual’s independence as it locks him within the prison of his own mind. It distorts his sense of the world around him, wiping away the line that separates reality from the dream world.
schizophrenic experience hallucinations, in which they senses things that do not exist and hear voices that are only in their minds, and delusions, either that they are specially chosen for a mission or that they are actually another person. Their thinking and behavior is disorganized and irrational. Almost all patients experience withdrawal, because hallucinations portray the people around them as enemies who want to harm them. Patients may exhibit a lack of emotion, or the inappropriate display of such, like laughing at the funeral of a loved one. Their motivation for daily events may decrease to the point that they stops caring for themselves.
Because of its nature, schizophrenia is difficult to treat. The illness is almost never discovered in its early stages because its onset it sudden and intense. A sufferer often has to be hospitalized to prevent him from harming himself and others. The severe psychosis that imprisons a schizophrenic makes him resistant to treatment. His hallucinations whisper that it is a plot to keep him from his mission. The doctors and hospital staff are the enemy’s spies, and the anti-psychotics are poisons.
Patients respond to the anti-psychotic medications eventually, but though the walls of the schizophrenic’s cell have begun to crumble, recovery does not end there. Although it is treatable, schizophrenia is incurable (NHMA). Even on a strong dose of medication, schizophrenics are often reluctant to let go of their false reality, and may suffer relapses, even years into treatment. The characters and voices they hallucinate, though they hiss messages of harm and worthlessness, are their companions, and without them, patients may become lonely. The delusions tell them they are specially chosen, and the knowledge of otherwise destroys the identity they had (Davis). Without intervention, these patients likely will not surrender their illness completely.
According to NIMH, many treatments beyond medication are available. Psychologists meet routinely with their patients, both during hospitalization and afterward, to evaluate, advise, and make necessary medication adjustments. Familial support is crucial as well, for after patients are released from hospitalization, they are generally cared for by their close family. Also, support groups of recovering patients are common and beneficial.
Until recently, when scientists began to realize it was missing, the area of spirituality has been absent from the treatment of schizophrenia.
The question of the correlation between spirituality and mental illness is a long-standing one. Until the study of psychology began to gain popularity in the late nineteenth century, most mental illnesses were considered the handiwork of evil spirits or demons. Scientists no longer “see a demon hiding behind every bush,” but religion still has some connections to mental illness (Sheafer).
As scientists are beginning to focus once again on the spiritual aspect of health, they are asking whether the treatment of mental illnesses, specifically schizophrenia, should incorporate the patient’s religious beliefs. Some studies support each side, and conclusions have not been made. Would a spiritually-integrated treatment program benefit patients or not?
Schizophrenics often either came religious backgrounds or became religious at the onset of illness. A study in Switzerland showed that about one-third of patients were religious (Huguelet, Mohr). Additionally, about thirty-six percent of schizophrenics in the US suffer from religious delusions, which may include the belief of a special calling from God; hallucinations of the supernatural, such as hearing or seeing angles and demons; or delusions of grandeur, which may cause the patient to believe he is God or another religious being. These religious delusions are often a sign of greater severity in illness, and patients experiencing such delusions are likely to have hallucinations longer (Huguelet, Mohr). These studies also point out that there seems to be a greater frequency of religious delusions among those that practice a religion than those that do not.
There is also a correlation between religious delusions, self-harm, and suicide. Schizophrenics with religious delusions are more likely to exhibit violent behavior toward themselves or others. About one in twenty-four homicides in the US each year is committed by a schizophrenic, a great majority of whom are suffering from religious delusions and claim religious motivations. These motivations might include the belief that the victim was an enemy of God, that God commanded the suspect to kill, or that the suspect believed it was his calling to sacrifice himself to appease God (Torrey).
Finally, religious delusions contribute to treatment resistance. Because of the way schizophrenia distorts reality, especially through religious delusions, patients’ symptoms are enforcers of delusions, and treatment programs are seen as elaborate conspiracies to thwart a patient’s special calling. Many patients continue to deny their disorder and refuse medication, for they believe they have a special bond with God rather than a mental illness. These patients usually have a poorer outcome in treatment.
Religion/spirituality also affects the way a healing patient copes with his mental illness. According to Natalia Yangarber-Hicks, there are four styles of coping with mental illness spiritually: self-directing, deferring, collaborating, and pleading. The self-directing style involves taking responsibility for coping and healing upon oneself alone, with little or no delegation to a Higher Power. Deferring is the exact opposite, laying all responsibility on God. Collaborating is the dual-responsibility mentality of “God helps those who help themselves.” Finally, the pleading style of coping entails praying for a miraculous healing, which, like deferring, places responsibility on a deity, and leaves little power in the patient’s hands. Of these styles, most studies argue that deferring and pleading are the most maladaptive.
Some researchers argue that religion does not always provide comfort to patients, but rather can be the catalyst for stressful situations. Practicing religion often places patients in a religious community of some sort, which is sometimes hostile, judgmental, and unsupportive. Such a situation can lead patients to believe the illness they are suffering from was “a punishment for [their] sins” (Mohr, Huguelet). For some patients, religion brings much more pain than it did help. One outpatient study participant remembered, ‘I had psychotic relapses, I felt guilty, having done bad things. It is in relationship with good and bad, it is there. If I read the Bible, it disrupts me, I believe I am evil, so I shouldn’t read the Bible” [sic] (Mohr, Huguelet).
Because these issues deal with patients’ core spirituality and how it leads them to cope with both life in general and their disorder, they are issues that cannot be handled casually. Dealing with a patient’s spiritual need and how it affects his illness is not as simple as dealing with other facets of treatment. Overcoming a stressor in the spiritual realm is not as simple as fixing other issues. If a medication is affecting a patient poorly, the psychiatrist makes a change, either in the dosage or in the medication itself— but how would one fix a spiritual problem? For these reasons, some mental health professionals argue that even if a spiritually-integrated treatment program is beneficial, the mental health sector is not prepared to deal with the monumental task of putting such a program into practice.
At the same time, though, it has been shown that patients’ religiosity can have a positive role in the healing process. A person’s religiosity can better the way he handles problems, including mental illness (Yangarber-Hicks), and many mental health officials believe that counselors should be trained to help their patients cope with their illness religiously (Hall, Dixon, Mauzey). For many patients, possibly because of familiarity, religion is a key factor in recovery and can offer answers that secular treatment cannot. About eighty percent of US patients claim to have dealt with their illness spiritually, and as outpatients, about half still claim to rely on religion for daily coping (Huguelet, Mohr). Religion gives recovering patients significance and purpose. It provides a meaningful routine of prayer and meditation as well as the support of a religious community.
These people assume that every human being has a basic spiritual need. With this assumption follows the argument that, as human beings, people with schizophrenia need some sort of spiritual input. Some researchers have even asked whether maybe patients with mental health issues have a greater spiritual need.
Consider again the four coping styles presented by Natalia Yangarber-Hicks. We remember that the coping styles of deferring and pleading were found to be the most often maladaptive, while self-directing and collaborating had the most positive effects in treatment. The same study, however, also showed that patients who were considered to be using the self-directing style experienced an increase in depression-like feelings and behaviors in stressful situations. Collaborative coping did not show the same results. This, perhaps, validates the theory that religiously-oriented coping provides a method for control and a base for consistency (“Spirituality and mental illness”).
In the area of comorbidity of drug abuse and suicide among patients with schizophrenia, religion appears to have some positive effects. Most religions look down upon, if not condemn, drug abuse. Likewise, most major religions, especially those with Judeo-Christian moral systems, are strongly against suicide. While religious delusions within schizophrenia sometimes lead to drug abuse, self-harm, and suicide, many patients, both with schizophrenia and other disorders, are deterred from these harmful behaviors by the core beliefs of their faith. One patient in a recent study stated, “Even in the lowest moments of my life, I forbid myself suicide because of my religious background” (Hall, Dixon, Mauzey 372). In fact, patients with some form of religious commitment have a lower rate of suicidal attempts and deaths (Hall, Dixon, Mauzey 372).
Religion can also add meaning, structure, and support systems to patients’ lives, says the Mental Health Foundation in a recent report (“Spirituality and Mental Illness”). Lack of routine can prove very stressful to mental health patients, especially to those with schizophrenia. Religion gets patients involved within a community, which can provide important support that a patient needs (but sometimes lacks) outside the medical sector. The activities and functions within the community give a person a sense of routine, belonging, and importance.
Within collaborative coping, prayer can also be extremely helpful, especially within a group or community. It allows patients to feel a meaningful connection to a Being they feel knows about and cares for them, and gives them a sense that while this Being may have ultimate control over their lives, which is often a relief, they do have some active part in their own healing.
Looking back at the epidemiology of schizophrenia and at the high occurrence of religious delusions, it can be argued that religiously integrated programs have been neglected for too long. Delusional patients cling to their religion fiercely, and the current trend seems to be to deal with this by either focusing completely on an aggressive pathological treatment or attempting to eradicate or invalidate the belief system behind the delusions. One might ask how much more positively patients might react to treatment if care professionals attempted merely to redirect their religious thinking, rather than completely remove it.
Few care professionals are currently practicing these methods, however. Many therapists feel unprepared to address spiritual issues with their patients, and current education programs for these psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists do little to change this, often ignoring spirituality altogether (Hall, Dixon, Mauzey 506). Some of the justification in this is that religion has no place in the health care system itself, and should be confined to a religious counseling setting. Religion could, however, provide yet another bond from the patient to the therapist or physician, another base for treatment (“Spirituality and Mental Illness”). A survey done by Mohr and Huguelet showed that most patients were very at ease when discussing religion or spirituality with their therapist or physician. Yet care professionals often neglect the opportunity, leaving their patients feeling that their religious beliefs are insignificant or foolish. “Psychiatrists take a great power over us [. . .] I have the impression that the physician doesn’t agree for me to be religious [. . .]” (Mohr, Huguelet 374). Causing a patient to feel that his beliefs are insignificant or that they are only symptomatic of the disorder, alienates him and makes it even harder to treat him effectively (Modesty; Sheafer; Mohr, Huguelet).
Religion does, some insist, have a place in the direct treatment of patients with mental disorders. If used correctly, religion can have an impact upon even the pathological treatment of schizophrenia, and could allow for smaller doses of the current antipsychotic medication. Furthermore, recent research has shown that mental health patients who claim some sort of religious connection displayed remarkably better improvement, with shorter and less frequent hospitalizations (“Spirituality and Mental Illness”).
Physicians are beginning to believe that religious/spiritual counseling within treatment is important (Hall, Dixon, Mauzey 506). When coupled with current treatment methods, religion can be a powerful tool for treating a patient and helping him cope with daily living. For an illness that encompasses so many realms of life, should treatment not cover those same realms?
In light of these points, some therapists are calling for programs that incorporate religion. Others believe the idea has little, if any, merit. Would a religiously-integrated program be beneficial to patients, or would there be negative, unforeseen effects? Would the net results be good or bad?
Does God have a place in the un-twisting of the knotted minds of schizophrenics? The existing evidence says “yes.” Religion is already part of schizophrenia, whether the public likes it or not. Religious salience is one of the most common factors among patients with this disorder, and that common bond can be used for good (“Spirituality and Mental Illness”).
Coping with mental illnesses is a trial, and not one any patient should have to face on his own. Directing him to cope in a collaborative way with the Higher Power he believes in might be the greatest cognitive therapy the mental health care system can provide.
With the ethical issues surrounding medications and other pathological treatments, alternative methods are valuable. Patients seem more than willing to discuss their spirituality with their doctors, so why not take full advantage of that?
Religion gives patients a community support system and a chance to involve themselves in society again, which are a key parts in social and family therapy. It also provides a “home base” to fall back upon when changing situations cause stress that could eventually lead to a relapse.
Religion plays a key part in the resistance of comorbidity of drug abuse and suicide, a major factor for deaths even among outpatients. Religious therapy would enforce the importance of the patient’s beliefs, which factors into the resistance of these harmful behaviors. Patients with religious commitments are less likely to be involved in these self-harming incidents.
There are some issues to consider and research before putting an integrated program into place. One such matter is that of religious delusions. Since those who practice a religion are more likely to experience delusions, there is the concern that religious treatment could cause a relapse among residuals .
Another potential issue presents itself in the development of a deferring or pleading style of coping. Research has shown these two coping styles to be anything but beneficial, and fostering an association between religion and treatment might lead to this self-created helplessness.
Proselytism is another issue that should be addressed and dealt with before a program is put into practice. Patients should have the ability and freedom to choose which, if any, religious belief system they follow, without the coercion of their physician, who holds a great deal of power over them.
If all of these issues are taken into account, though, and measures are put in place to deal with them, there is no reason why a spiritually-integrated treatment program cannot be fully beneficial and revolutionary in helping to free people who are trapped by schizophrenia.





Drat. I have no idea how I would get my footnotes to work on here. Oh well. Pretend they're there. :p

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Next part!

Finally! Here's the third part of my paper!

Before deciding on this issue, however, consider the opposing side’s argument. Even among scientists determinedly against the integration of spirituality into treatment, most recognize there is some evidence of some benefit of a patient’s spirituality. The question is simply, do the potential positives outweigh the potential negatives?
According to some, they do, and for several reasons. These people assume that every human being has a basic spiritual need, which manifests itself in some form. With this assumption, follows the argument that, as human beings, people with schizophrenia need some sort of spiritual input. Some have even asked if maybe patients with mental health issues have a greater spiritual need.
Consider again the four coping styles presented by Natalia Yangarber-Hicks we remember that the coping styles of deferring and pleading were found to be the most often maladaptive with self directing and collaborative having more positive effects in treatment. The same study, however, has also shown that patients who were considered to be using the self-directing style showed and in crease in depression-like feelings/behaviors in stressful situations. Collaborative did not show the same results. This, perhaps, validates the theory that religiously-oriented coping provides a method for control and a base for consistency.
In the area of comorbidity of drug abuse and suicide among patients with schizophrenia, religion appears to have some positive effects. Most religions look down upon, if not condemn, drug usage and abuse. Likewise, most major religions, especially those with Judeo-Christian moral systems, are strongly against suicide. While religious delusions within schizophrenia sometimes lead to drug abuse, self-harm, and suicide, many patients, both with schizophrenia and other disorders, are deterred from these harmful behaviors by the core beliefs of their faith. One patient in a recent study stated, “even in the lowest moments of my life, I forbid myself suicide because of my religious background.” (Hall, Dixon, Mauzey 372). This is shown in the fact that patients with some form of religious commitment have a lower rate of suicidal attempts and deaths.
Religion also adds meaning, structure, support systems, and importance to patients’ lives, says the Mental Health Foundation in a recent report (“Spirituality and Mental Illness”). Lack of routine can prove very stressful to mental health patients, especially to those with schizophrenia. Religion gets them involved within a community. This community can provide important support that a patient needs (but sometimes lacks) out side the medical sector. The activities and functions within the community give a person a sense of routing, belonging, and importance.
Prayer, within collaborative coping, can also be extremely helpful, especially within a group or community. It allows the patient to feel a meaningful connection to a Being they feel is knowing and caring about them, and gives them a sense that while that Being may have ultimate control over their lives, which is often a relief, they do have some active part in all of it.
Looking back to the epidemiology of schizophrenia, and at the high occurrence of religious delusions, it can b e argued that religiously integrated treatment programs have been neglected for too long. Delusional patients cling to their religion fiercely, and the current trend seems to be to deal with this by either focusing completely on an aggressive pathological treatment, or to eradicate or invalidate the belief system behind the delusions. One might ask, how much more positively might patients react to treatment if care professionals attempted to merely redirect their delusional thinking, rather than completely remove it?
Few care professionals are currently practicing these methods, however, and many therapists feel unprepared to address spiritual issues with their patients (Hall, Dixon, Mauzey 506). There is argument that current education programs for these psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists do little to prepare them for the implementation of such a program. Some of the justification in this that religion has no place in the health care system itself, and should be used within a religious counseling setting. It could however, provide yet another bond from the patient to the therapist or physician. A survey done by Mohr and Huguelet showed that most patients were very at ease when they were discussing religion or spirituality with their therapist or physician. Yet care professionals often neglect the opportunity, leaving their patients feeling that their religious beliefs are insignificant or foolish. “Psychiatrists take a great power over us… I have the impression that the physician doesn’t agree for me to be religious…” (Mohr, Huguelet 374). Causing patients to feel this way alienates them and makes it even harder to treat them effectively.
Religion does, some insist, have a place in the direct treatment of patients with mental disorders. If used correctly, religion can have an impact upon even the pathological treatment of schizophrenia, and could allow for smaller doses of the current antipsychotic medication. Furthermore, recent research has shown that people with mental health problems who claim some sort of religious connection displayed remarkably better improvement, with shorter and less frequent hospitalizations (“Spirituality and Mental Illness”).
Physicians are beginning to believe that religious/spiritual counseling within treatment is important (Hall, Dixon, Mauzey 506), for when coupled with current treatments, many see that spirituality and religion can be powerful methods of treating a patient and helping them cope with daily living. With an illness that encompasses so many realms of life, should treatment not cover those same realms?


Remember, please, that this is the first draft. I'll eventually get around to posting my actual final draft of all four papers put together.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Working paper 2

I don't think that anyone is still reading this, but just in case someone is, I'll post this next part of my paper. ('sides, it's an assignment. :p )


Working Paper Two
The issue of the correlation and collaboration between spirituality and mental illness is a long-standing one. At one point in time, most illnesses, especially those now recognized as mental in nature, were considered spiritual, usually the handiwork of evil spirits or demons.
Similar issues still exist, as scientists are beginning to focus once again on the spiritual aspect of health. Psychologists are now asking the question of whether spirituality’s effects on mental illnesses, specifically schizophrenia, are positive or negative. Studies have been conducted which seem to support both sides, and conclusions have not been made. How do spirituality and religion relate to and effect schizophrenia?
One side maintains that while there may be some benefits to a schizophrenic’s immersion in the spiritual, the net results are negative.
Arguing for this conclusion, studies have pointed out that among the mentally ill, schizophrenics have a high rate of religious commitment. In a recent study done by Sylvia Mohr and Philippe Huguelet, one-third of participating outpatients claimed to have been deeply committed to a religion in the early stages of their illness.
These studies go on to point out that there seems to be a greater frequency of religious delusions among those that practice a religion than those that do not. These delusions may present in the belief of a special calling from God, hallucinations of the supernatural, such as hearing or seeing angles and demons; or delusions of grandeur, which may cause the patient to believe he is God, or another religious being. These delusions play a huge role in the intensity and longevity of a schizophrenic’s symptoms.
Schizophrenics with religious delusions are more likely to exhibit violent behavior toward themselves or others. About one in twenty-four homicides in the US each year is committed by a schizophrenic (Torrey), and a great majority of those are suffering from religious delusions, and claim religious motivations such as believing the victim to be an enemy of God, or that God told them to kill the victim.
These religious delusions also impact adherence to a treatment program. Many patients continue in denial of their mental disorder and refuse medication. Because of the way schizophrenia distorts reality, especially through religious delusions, patients’ symptoms are enforcers of their delusions, and treatment programs are seen as elaborate conspiracies to thwart their special calling.
In recent years, a number of studies have been devoted to determining the outcome of spiritually integrated treatments, and some argue that the results have been less than positive.
According to Natalia Yangarber-Hicks, there are four styles of coping with mental illness within spirituality: self-directing, deferring, collaborative, and pleading. The self-directing style refers to the characteristic of taking responsibility for coping and healing upon oneself alone, with little or no delegation to a Higher Power. Deferring is the exact opposite, laying all responsibility on God. Collaborative is the dual-responsibility mentality of “God helps those who help themselves.” Finally the pleading style of coping refers to the action of praying for a miraculous healing, which similar to deferring, places responsibility on a deity, and leaves little power in the patient’s hands. Of these styles, most studies argue that deferring and pleading are the most maladaptive.
Furthermore, they argue, that religion doesn’t always provide comfort to patients, as the opposing side claims, but rather can be the catalyst for stressful situations. Practicing religion often places a patient in a religious community of some sort, which is sometimes hostile, judgmental, and unsupportive of the patient, sometimes leading them to believe the illness they were suffering from was “a punishment for my sins” (Mohr, Huguelet). For some patients, religion brought much more pain than it did help. One outpatient study participant remembered, ‘I had psychotic relapses, I felt guilty, having done bad things. It is in relationship with good and bad, it is there. If I read the Bible, it disrupts me, I believe I am evil, so I shouldn’t read the Bible.” (Mohr, Huguelet)
Because these issues deal with a patient’s core spirituality, and how it leads them to cope with both life in general and their disorder, they are issues that cannot be handled casually. Dealing with a patient’s spiritual need and how it is affecting their illness is not as simple as dealing with other facets of treatment. Overcoming a stressor in the spiritual realm isn’t as fixing other issues; if a medication is affecting a patient poorly, the psychiatrist makes a change, either in the dosage, or in the medication itself, but how would one fix a spiritual problem? Some mental health professionals argue that even if a spiritually integrated treatment program was beneficial, the mental health sector is not prepared to deal with the monumentous task of putting such a program into practice.



There you have it. A very rough draft of the second part of my paper. Third part to be posted soon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Burned Out

Honestly, I'm so sick of school work right now, I can barely fathom finishing the semester out. This paper is about the only thing that still interests me. (Granted, I still hate the fact that it's taking about three hours of my time each day, but I enjoy working with the subject. It's made me consider dropping education and returning to my first love: medicine.)

Anyway, this is an apology for lack of a new post. I have another part of my paper written, but American history is haunting my soul, and I simply lack the energy to do mark-up html tonight. I'll get it up another day.

Then again, if you feel like energizing me, post a comment. Attack me! Flame me! Swear at me! Do something so I at least know I've got someone's attention! Tell me I should stick to my day job! (which, by the way, I suffer from a lack of)

Or, if you're feeling especially benevolent, send some information my way. This week I'm looking for dissenting arguments: those that claim spirituality/religion has a net negative effect on mental health (specifically schizophrenia).

Monday, March 28, 2005

Working Paper One- The Introduction to the Main Paper

Well, here's the first draft of the introduction to my paper. Unfortunately, due to the 3-page limit for each section, I had to be extremely general in my information, and made some blanket statements I don't like. (Note: As the introduction, I presented information, arguments, and assumptions that I don't necessarily agree with.) If you have any thoughts whatsoever, send them to me! I'd definitely love some feedback!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Arsenic demons whispering sins of the father. Blood spattering redemptions betrayal make me pay the sins of the father. *

These incoherent words don’t make sense to the average reader, but to a person suffering from schizophrenia, they’re a divine message, a prophecy.

Every year in America, around forty-four million people suffer from a mental illness, and some two million of those have been diagnosed with schizophrenia (NIMH), the most devastating of the psychological disorders. It steals an individual’s independence as it locks him within the prison of his own mind. It distorts his sense of reality, wiping away the line that separates reality from the hallucinations of the dream world.

A schizophrenic experiences hallucinations, in which he senses things that do not exist and hears voices that are only in his mind; and delusions, either that he is specially chosen for a mission, or that he is actually another person. His thinking and behavior is disorganized and irrational. He experiences withdrawals, because his hallucinations portray the people around him as enemies who want to harm him. He may exhibit a lack of emotion, or the inappropriate display of such, like laughing at the funeral of a loved one. His motivation for daily events decreases to the point that he stops caring for himself.

Because of its nature, schizophrenia is difficult to treat. The onset of the disorder is sudden, intense, and almost never caught in the early stages, and a sufferer often has to be hospitalized to prevent him from harming himself and others. The severe psychosis that imprisons a schizophrenic makes him uncooperative to treatment. His hallucinations whisper that it’s a plot to keep him from his mission. The doctors and hospital staff are the enemy’s spies, and the anti-psychotics are poisons.
Patients respond to the anti-psychotic medications eventually, but though the walls of the schizophrenic’s cell have begun to crumble, it doesn’t end there, for though it is treatable, schizophrenia is incurable (NHMA). Even on a strong dose of medication, schizophrenics are often reluctant to let go of their false reality, and frequently suffer relapses, even years into treatment. The characters and voices they hallucinated, though they hissed messages of harm and worthlessness, were their companions, and without them, patients become lonely. The delusions told them they were specially chosen, and the knowledge of otherwise destroys the identity they had (Davis). Without intervention, these patients won’t likely surrender their illness completely.

According to NIMH, there are many treatments available to help beyond medication’s ability. Psychologists meet routinely with their patients, both during hospitalization and afterward, for evaluation, advice, and adjusting medication dosages, if necessary. Familial support is crucial as well, for after the patient is released from hospitalization, he is generally cared for by his close family. Support groups of recovering patients are common as well, and have proved beneficial.

Until recently, when scientists began to realize it was missing, the area of spirituality has been absent from the treatment of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia has many ties to religion, both positive and negative. Negatively, some religions have held schizophrenics as demon-possessed, and have avoided providing support. Furthermore, schizophrenics often either have religious backgrounds or became religious at the onset of illness. A study in Switzerland showed that about one-third of patients were religious (Huguelet, Mohr). Additionally, about thirty-six percent of schizophrenics in the US suffer from religious delusions, even believing themselves to be Christ or Buddha. Patients with religious delusions are often more severely ill, and are likely to have hallucinations longer (Huguelet, Mohr). Also, there is a correlation between religious delusions, self-harm, and suicide. Finally, religious delusions contribute to treatment resistance, for patients believe they have a special bond with God, rather than a mental illness. In relation, these patients sometimes have a poorer outcome in treatment.

At the same time, though, it has been shown that patients’ religiosity can have a positive role in the healing process. A person’s religiosity can affect the way he copes with problems, including mental illness (Yangarber-Hicks), and many psychologists and other mental health officials believe that counselors should be trained to help their patients cope with their illness religiously (Hall, Dixon, Mauzey). For many patients, possibly because of familiarity, religion is a key factor in recovery and can offer answers that secular treatment cannot. About eighty percent of US patients claim to have dealt with their illness spiritually, and as outpatients, about half claim to still rely on religion for daily coping (Huguelet, Mohr). Religion gives recovering patients significance and purpose. It provides a meaningful routine of prayer and meditation, as well as the support of a religious community and the bonds that tie them together.

In light of these points, some therapists are calling for programs that incorporate religion.

Others believe the idea has little, if any, merit.

Would a religiously-integrated program be beneficial to patients, or would there be negative, unforeseen effects? Would the net results be good or bad?

Does God have a place in the un-twisting of the knotted minds of schizophrenics?



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*- source is acquaintance of author, name not to be revealed.



Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Been There

As per our assignment for class this morning, I was reading through blog directory, and found the blog of a recovering schizophrenic. Though his blog is new, and thus has few posts, his words gave an insight into the lives of the people we brand 'insane'.

Doctor Goober Modesty, as this man goes by for his blog, is a schizophrenic who sees the condition that we call a mental illness as more than such. "Schizophrenia is not just a mental illness, it can prove to be a creativity enhancing ability that is useful."

I've already come to believe that society's view of schizophrenia is skewed, if not distorted beyond reason, but I never stopped to consider if a schizophrenic thought he was suffering from a mental illness.

Throughout the rest of the blog, Doc gives us even more to chew on. He talks about how his spouse helps him through each day, and has made his life more stable. (Family therapy could be incorporated into this paper...) Furthermore, he spends a great deal of his posts talking about how mysticism relates to his schizophrenia. He claims it helps him deal with his spiritual needs.

Wait, wait! Schizophrenics have spiritual needs??!

Duh! Hello! There isn't a human alive that doesn't have spiritual needs, and if anything, schizophrenia deepens this need. So why isn't there more integration of spirituality in the available treatments? It's like a psychiatrist just wants to chunk you a bottle of pills, or stab you with a filled syrenge and be done with it. Why have we come to believe that medication is the cure-all? It's not! Medications have side-effects (Run on back over to Doc GM's blog and take a look) and often, they don't work as well as they're supposed to. Keep this in mind when I start hammering the idea of integrated treatment plans.

Well, I've found a blog now. The only problem is, that this blog didn't have trackbacking, so I still haven't completed that assignment.


-Edit- Thanks to Docter Goober Modesty's feedback, I corrected a few informational errors.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Public Opinion, Indeed

So this is why the world out there thinks of mental illness....

I found this on a blog that goes by the name Spirit Infusion. While part of me found it humorous, I also was somewhat troubled by it. Is this what the world thinks about mental health issues? Do we make light of it because we don't understand it? Are we flippant becuase we don't care? I certainly hope not. But then, this blog was created rather for that reason: get information out, and MAKE people care.

Anyway, I'm going to leave this up here, but I hope all readers realize I'm not supporting this viewpoint. This is to show what I'm up against in trying to educate people.


Christmas Carols for the Psychiatrically Challenged

* Schizophrenia--- Do You Hear What I Hear?

* Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are

* Amnesia --- I Don't Know if I'll be Home for Christmas

* Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

* Manic --- Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and Fire Hydrants and...

* Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Get Me

* Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

* Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll tell You Why

* Obsessive Compulsive Disorder --- Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

* Agoraphobia --- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, But Wouldn't Leave My House Anyway

* Autistic --- Jingle Bell Rock and Rock and Rock and Rock ...

* Senile Dementia --- Walking in a Winter Wonderland Miles From My House in My Slippers and Robe

* Oppositional Defiant Disorder --- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus So I Burned Down the House

* Social Anxiety Disorder --- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas While I Sit Here and Hyperventilate

Mental Illness: the one I'm researching and the one that seems to be chasing me...

Well, after a lot of deliberation and a couple of topic switches, here I am: HNRS 1023-01's expert on the relationship between religion and schizophrenia.

Which means pretty much nothing.

You see, as is standard among the majority of Composition II classes across the US, I am required to write a research paper of somewhere between eight to twelve pages. This paper is supposed to be concerning a current issue (or one of popular discussion, anyway), that has two sides to it. In other words, people have to be arguing about it, and I have to be able to show both sides with lots of research, and take one side or the other at the end.

At the beginning of this "never-ending story", I had decided that I was going to research a well-known author for the middle school aged readers, and show whether or not her works were beneficial to society. I was all set to research Lois Lowry, when my partner and crime, Micky, and I decided we should topics.

I don't remember how it started out, but we got to talking about ADHD and came to the conclusion that we were both interested in mental illnesses, and that we would have a lot of fun researching them.

As my professor informed me, though, simply researching about a mental illness isn't argumentative. I had to find a disputed issue.

And it's been a long road, ladies and gentlemen, but I think I've finally arrived at mile-marker number one: I know what I'm researching!

After deciding exactly what issue in schizophrenia I was going to research, I had very little trouble finding plenty of scholarly-journal information that has proved not only exceedingly helpful, but also amazingly interesting.

Author Side-note # 1: Both of my parents are employed in the medical field, my mother as a RN who worked in the ICU for many years, and my father, the chair of research at the VA division in San Antonio, TX. Thus, I have grown up hearing words like 'epidemiology' my entire life, and all this medical background information helps draw me in.

Then, last week, we wrote essentially the first three pages of the paper, which largely served to introduce the topic and provide the background information the reader would need. Though it took me many an hour, I actually enjoyed writing this paper, and was pleased overall at the result.

The problem has come in this weeks paper-related assignment. My professor, who seems to be trying to foster a fetish-like dependence on opinion material (specifically, blogs) in us, has asked us to locate several blogs that pertain to our research topic.

Easy! I thought. Schizophrenia is one of the most well-known of psychological disorders. How hard can it be to find a blog of someone who deals with it?

I failed to realize that Technorati and other blog search engines would churn out mostly unrelated blogs, that perhaps used the word 'schizophrenia' once.

That said, I am having an extremely difficult time locating public opinion sources. Here is the question I ought to be researching: can Austyn keep her sanity through this horrific semester?

Faithful (new!) reader, if thou dost come across a blog that deals with schizophrenia at all, this poor, despairing researcher would love it if you could send a link her way.

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