Home // Uncategorized // Philosophical post #3: Schizophrenia and Stress

Philosophical post #3: Schizophrenia and Stress

I received very helpful feedback on my last post on schizophrenia. It is clear that I need to expand on the idea that schizophrenia may be caused by (chronic) stress and nothing else.

 

It seems simple to prove that schizophrenia, or any illness, is genetic. Just do a study, do some mathematics, bish bash bosh, the proof is complete. But statistical studies are wrought with problems. Furthermore, a simple mathematical proof of a link between schizophrenia and genetics does nothing to improve our knowledge of what schizophrenia is and how it works.  Unfortunately we are in the dark ages of schizophrenia understanding, and trying to grasp at proving a genetic cause for schizophrenia is the very basic level at which we are at as a society.

 

Every psychiatric nurse, doctor and auxiliary worker has his or her own pet theories about schizophrenia.  Personally I am also confused by schizophrenia and its causes, but I hold a conviction that it is not genetic in origin.

 

I hope to convince the reader that it is possible that schizophrenia can develop due to stress, and as such is not genetic.

 

Consider chronic stress. Some days better than others. Over the years this constant stress begins to cause problems. Facial tics, social outbursts, obsessions, neuroses-any of the spectrum of mental illness may begin to appear in mild form,due to the stress.

 

One begins to have a personality change over the years. A previously outgoing man may become introverted. He is tired of the stress. He cannot face social situations as easily because of the stress.

 

The man is tired – he is burnt out on life , so he stops shaving and rarely bathes. After a few months he has long hair and a thick beard. Whilst wandering to the shops some local children shout, “hey, Jesus”, due to his appearance.

 

Months later he spends his time reading religious texts, because ordinary books are all about romantic love and he can’t bear the loneliness. He has low body weight, and thinks about the world in religious terms.

 

One day he sees a beautiful young woman; entranced, he stares and smiles; the woman looks in disgust and makes a derogatory comment. The man can’t bear it. He runs. He finds himself in a supermarket. In a manic state, he starts talking to a stranger. He wants to feel more important, he wants to feel useful, so he uses the only weapon in his arsenal, the ability to talk spiritually and religiously.

 

Looking a mess, clearly upset, our hero starts preaching to the stranger. He asks for friendship as well. The stranger asks him if he thinks he is Jesus. Our hero says, my name is Jesus actually. Police have received reports of a homeless man scaring females and disturbing the peace in a supermarket.

 

 

Two days later the man is in a mental hospital, confused, unable to communicate, and diagnosed with schizophrenia.

 

,…….

 

I hope this has been interesting. In the story we can see how the stress has lead to a gradual fall from normal man to crazy man.

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12 Comments

  • heyitsjennybear

    June 23, 2015 at 8:47 am

    I am very interested in learned more about schizophrenia. The story can happen to anyone and I think society is too quick to judge. Not all people are mental, I think society just labels people like that with an illness so they don’t have to actually deal with it. I really loved reading this story!

    • The Most Ordinary Man Ever

      June 23, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      Thank you for your kind comments. About a third of people who experience psychosis and schizophrenia go on to fully recover, some people go on to live a fairly normal life with occasional bad patches, and some people are in hospital or care homes for very long periods. There are not many documentaries on the subject unfortunately, but there are online forums. There was a Channel 4 series called Bedlam a couple of years ago that was quite good to watch, I recommend that. Thank you for your comment!

  • aliciadow5898

    July 8, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    My friend from a few years ago had schizophrenia and for a while, I thought I had it too. I even had some of the symptoms such as social withdrawl, suspiciousness, inability to show emotion, depression, insomnia, and extreme reactions to critism. After years of believing this was what was wrong with me, I finally gave up on the research and never actually continued to find out what the problem was. I do still have these characteristics, they’re just not as severe.

    • The Most Ordinary Man Ever

      July 24, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      I wish you all the best with struggling with these symptoms. I do recommend having a chat with as many people as possible about this – doctors, anonymous online forums and anyone else you feel comfortable opening up to. It might be that medication could help you, and prevent things getting worse. You needn’t necessarily take a huge dosage. Thank you for your comment and stay well.

  • I find this really interesting. It shows how personality can develop throughout life. The whole issue raises so many questions, and it really makes one realize that each person’s situation is different, just like personality. Thank you for this, it is so eye-opening.

    • The Most Ordinary Man Ever

      July 24, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      Thank you for your compliments. Behind the mental illness we have to see the person. Every person deserves our respect and love, although it can be hard to remember that sometimes. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • You’re on track on some aspects here, but you have to understand that genetics and environment usually both have a part to play – it’s usually not the extreme “Nature v. Nurture” that a lot of pop culture likes to envision psychological causality as.

    It’s not that genetics CAUSE schizophrenia, so much that they can lead to a predisposition to it. Then if you face environmental triggers – such as stress – it’s much more likely to end up in schizophrenia. If you don’t have those environmental triggers, you won’t be as likely to have schizophrenia. So in that sense, yes, you could say that the cause of schizophrenia is the initial stressor.

    But you also can’t ignore the effect of the initial predisposition. While yes, it can be a reaction to stress, why is it that some people end up with schizophrenia, and others don’t?

    • The Most Ordinary Man Ever

      July 24, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it and I’m glad my article has stimulated conversation 🙂

      To answer your final question, I would say that in my opinion anyone can be “driven mad”. For example, in 1483 in England, the King locked two Princes in a tower because they were threatening to take the throne. After a period of several years (I think?) of complete isolation they became completely insane. So to answer your question, some people get more stress in life than others which means that they get schizophrenic or psychotic symptoms. I do agree that some people may have a lower threshold though.

      As you say, genetics do not cause schizophrenia in a simple on/off sense. I am curious as to the nature of the genetic differences in schizophrenic people. I personally hope that it is a logical and rational thing. I would rather see schizophrenia as a natural reaction to difficult circumstances, and as such some people are more pre-destined to experience difficult circumstances due to heritable traits.

  • Very interesting! The narrative of the man was very engaging. Stress is horrible and I believe long-term stressors can ultimately result in mental illness. I myself have dealt with stress for a long time. I try to rid myself of it but it seems like if it isn’t one thing to stress over it’s another.

    • The Most Ordinary Man Ever

      August 15, 2015 at 2:09 am

      Im sorry youre so stressed. Maybe you can find comfort in a religious group? Or perhaps you are taking on too muc responsibility? Thanks for your comment, good luck

  • Schizophrenia is interesting because it is one of the few disorders that exhibits symptoms associated with several other disorders such as: bipolar disorder, multiple personality disorder, depression, anxiety, brief psychotic disorder, psychotic disorder, etc. I personally despise referring to every odd or eccentric behavior, in it of itself, a disorder. I think it does more to stigmatize (which is what I think your post was touching on), people who do have mental differences or variances. Additionally, I am under the conviction, that Schizophrenia is merely another vessel to interpret reality. Just as multiple personality disorder, is merely another interpretive dance of reality.

    Recalling what you mentioned about Schizophrenia not being genetic. I disagree because for people who do not have Schizophrenic leanings; psychedelics enable them to access parts of themselves in ways that can resemble Schizophrenia. Therefore I think that perhaps a more plausible theory on the matter, is Schizophrenic behavior/leanings are caused by nature and nurture and genetic markers.

    Only recently have scientists discovered epigenetic markers in DNA. So who knows? Any ideas?

    • The Most Ordinary Man Ever

      October 11, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      In terms of interpreting reality, the most pertinent part of psychosis or schizophrenia would perhaps be delusions. I personally believe that there is a single reality, but it is somewhat unknowable, hence the schizophrenic might be right and everyone else might be wrong – who’s to say?

      I don’t understand the logic in your second paragraph.

      I had not heard of epigenetic markers, that is a very interesting development. It seems that by living a healthy lifestyle, we can improve our genetics over our lifetime, if I understand correctly?

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