Tag Archives: schizophrenia

Schizophrenic man terrifies kids at party

This is a guest post from the people responsible for promoting an anti mental health discrimination campaign called ‘Time to change’.

We don’t normally do adverts but I thought that this would be ok – it would be very interesting to hear if you have any comments or observations?

 Time to Change is run by leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink, and backed by £16 million from the Big Lottery Fund and £2 million from Comic Relief. 

The Time to Change charity was successfully launched in Jan this year with an advertising campaign created by MCBD, with media planning by Naked and media buying by the7Stars.  The campaign featured a TV ad: “The Bridge”, celebrity and real people testimonial posters and press ads (featuring Ruby Wax, Stephen Fry and others) and a Mental Illness Myth/Fact press and online campaign.


The latest phase of the campaign includes a more provocative piece which tackles the stigma surrounding mental illness head on.  It was decided to launch these films online for a number of reasons, firstly because most mainstream movies are launched through rich media online and we wanted to ape this type of media placement.  Secondly a vital part of this campaign is to encourage people to pass on these films to friends so online is the perfect environment to facilitate the viral spread of the campaign.


Two films break online on 10th August, both of which play on the negative stereotypes that people hold about people with schizophrenia. The first film “Schizo movie” fools the viewer into believing that it’s a promo for a thriller. It purposefully takes its cues from horror movie trailers, using lots of dark imagery.  However once the film starts to play we meet Stuart who is a regular guy, just like you or I, but who also happens to have schizophrenia.  This approach allows TTC to challenge the perceptions people have about people with mental health problems without finger-pointing.


The second film “Kid’s Party” will be seeded into video sites with the title “schizophrenic man terrifies kids at party” with a still of a typical kid’s party next to it.  Instead of seeing youngsters being frightened by a person with schizophrenia, viewers see a normal children’s party with the person “scaring” the children with a giant spider made out of balloons.  As this footage is revealed the person voices over the film and explains how thanks to support from his friends he’s able to live a full life despite having schizophrenia.


1 in 4 of us will have a mental health problem at some stage in life, yet research shows that attitudes to mental illness are just getting worse. And for many the stigma is harder to deal with than the illness itself.  Time to Change aims to improve public attitudes and get mental health problems out into the open.


Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: “Both films have been designed to attract members of the public who don’t realize they are causing stigma and discrimination.  Evidence shows that provocative films make a big difference to attitudes and both films will go a long way to reducing the stigma associated with mental health problems.”


She continued: “One in four of us will have a mental health problem at some stage of our lives. It can happen to anyone. Stigma and discrimination wrecks lives. Yet everyone can make a change in their attitudes now – you don’t need to be an expert to make a difference to friend, family member or colleague who needs your support.”


Michael Pring, managing director, MCBD said: “This is a very brave campaign for the mental health world to run with but we’re confident that getting people to nod along with prejudice and then confronting them with the reality will prove an effective approach”.

Guest Post : Psychiatric theories can be damaging

Today we introduce our first guest poster – Pam Pinder. Pam runs her own website which focuses upon carers issues (see also this link which is relevant to her blog post). In this post, Pam challenges us to consider one possible effect of a well known Psychiatric theory, as usual – we would be interested to hear your views on this.. 


The schizophrenogenic mother is the first one that comes to mind and the psychiatrist that I link this to is R D Laing but there were others that latched onto this theory.

Quote: A cold, dominant, conflict-inducing mother believed to cause schizophrenia in her child.

From the late 1940s to the early 1970s, the concept of the “schizophrenogenic mother” was popular in the psychiatric literature. Research later confirmed that the mother who could cause schizophrenia in her offspring did not exist. Such a blame-levelling concept, which had no basis in scientific fact, may have caused a great deal of harm. Sociocultural factors, coupled with developments in psychiatric theory, contributed to the genesis of the concept. Implications of this episode in the history of psychiatry are discussed. (Arieti 1997, p. 353; Neill 1990).

Even though this theory was alleged to have faded out in the early 70’s this theory of blame towards parents and link to childhood still exist today. Very recently I spoke to a mother whose daughter had been referred for a psychiatric assessment. Her daughter spent just thirty minutes with the psychiatrist, who promptly told her that she did not have a mental illness and he could not help her. Her problems were due to her childhood, consequently the daughter told her mother there was nothing wrong with her it was her parent’s fault she was the way she is.

The mother is left searching for clues as to what she was meant to have done. But this comment didn’t just stop there. This mother had lost a daughter ten years previous; she died of a brain haemorrhage. Her daughter not only blamed her for her mental health problems but constantly tells her mother that she killed her sister. This is coming from someone who as far as the psychiatrist is concerned does not have any psychological problems!

Of course this mother didn’t kill her daughter and there is no evidence that she caused her other daughter’s problems. Could you imagine how something like this would affect you when you are grieving for a child you lost and someone constantly making accusations that you were responsible for their death?


In a court of law you are innocent until proven guilty yet in psychiatry your guilt is based upon someone else’s theory – something that has been read.

The efficacy of neuroleptics. Why a change in injection technique might settle a score between biological and social psychiatry.

Mental health nurses have been involved in the administration of depot neuroleptics ever since the first depots were designed in the 1960s. They are given by a deep intramuscular injection into the gluteal muscle every fortnight or so and are particularly useful for people with schizophrenia who we believe are not to be trusted with remembering to take their medication by themselves.


There appears to be a shift at the moment in the UK in the way depots are administered, away from an injection in the gluteus maximus (the dorsogluteal method, using the upper outer quadrant method to correctly site the injection), to the injection being given in the gluteus medius (the ventrogluteal or hip site, midway between the top of the hip bone and the crest of the pelvis). The old method is relatively more dangerous (the sciatic nerve is nearby, there is a large blood supply to this muscle), and we now also know that the chances of actually injecting the muscle using this method are quite poor, because there is a large amount of subcutaneous tissue around this muscle. One study has shown that as many as 19 out of 20 people might be being injected into fat rather than muscle. On the other hand, the ventrogluteal method is safer because there are no major nerves are arteries nearby, and we can inject into the muscle with greater confidence as there is less subcutaneous tissue around the gluteus medius. In short, we’ve not actually being treating people with the correct dose of neuroleptic for years, but now we can because we’re going to use a site that is more effective.


So this change in technique might lend weight, one way or another to the debate about whether neuroleptics actually work. The commonly held belief about neuroleptics is that they help regulate dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain, an overexcitation of dopamine being responsible for the so called positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as the hearing of voices or having unusual thoughts. Some people take the view though that there is poor evidence to support this theory. A purely biological explanation for schizophrenia is unsatisfactory. Schizophrenia is a complex ‘illness’ which can be explained just as well in psychological or sociological terms than by the medical model. In fact, some say, there is no such thing as schizophrenia, and it’s not very helpful to be labelled so. Some service users will say that neuroleptics have never helped their voices go away, and some do not actually want this to happen anyway!


If you believe that neuroleptics help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, but now know that people on depots have not been receiving anywhere near the correct dose, what has been keeping people well for so long? Have people been well? Have we been actually defining wellness based on how willing the recipients of depots have been to drop their trousers every fortnight?


If you don’t believe that neuroleptics work, knowing that they’ve not been given correctly anyway adds a little bit of weight to your argument. But now that people are going to receive the correctly prescribed dose, we should be able to tell once and for all whether they work.


Although this is clearly an oversimplified way of looking at just one element of a well documented debate, think about this – how would you feel if you found out that the injection you were receiving (often unwillingly) for many years, wasn’t actually being given properly?