Dr. Drew said it

With a straight face, I may add. He said that before a psychiatric diagnosis is rendered, the doctor will systematically rule out potential biological causes.


Like rule them out as in schizophrenia?

He’s got to be joking. Let’s see, no doctor ever suggested running some tests on Chris, “just to see if he had any underlying biological problems.” The only time Chris ever got blood tests on the doctor’s orders was when he was on antipsychotic medication.

The person who suggested that we “run some tests” on Chris was me. He got a brain scan only after I suggested he have one. The doctors didn’t just stop at not recommending biological testing. They also balked at sending him for complementary and alternative treatment. 

Running tests to rule out underlying biological problems for cases of mental illness is a myth that goes down well with the public, especially on prime time television. It’s like believing that a judge is a neutral party who impartially weighs all the evidence and then delivers a verdict. Hah!

13 thoughts on “Dr. Drew said it”

  1. Hi! I suppose it’s different in America. That was in fact the first thing my (primary care) doctor did before anything else was done. For me unfortunately, there were no underlying biological problems.

  2. You must come from a Nordic country? I live in continental Europe and no tests were ever ordered. I didn’t go into it in my post, in order not to confuse the message, but biological causes for schizophrenia are the exception, rather than the rule. Apparently, Jung agreed, but then he would, wouldn’t he?

  3. Rossa,

    Unlike some people who insist that there is “nothing” going on in the physical realm behind “mental illness,” I tend to think there may be a LOT going on…

    Maybe not so much indication of a “biological brain disorder” (certainly not the type that psychiatry has lied about for years), but other underlying physical conditions that present themselevs as “mental disorders”.

    I hope some of these links might help a few of your readers, and at least open some minds toward seeing that the body and mind are connected –



  4. Yes, I think it is different in America. I don’t know what Europe uses for diagnosing patients, but over here we have the DSM which requires physicians to consider five different axles before making a serious diagnoses such as in the case of schizophrenia. The third one is any medical conditions. Also any medications or vitamins the person is taking is also recorded to see if a drug or the interaction of two or more drugs may be the cause of whatever the problem may be. So over here, at least, biological factors are systematically ruled out before a serious diagnosis is made.

    As for that video, wow. It was hard for me to watch.

  5. Stephanie,
    Everybody uses the DSM, Europeans included. But cases of schizophrenia are diagnosed on observation only. An eighteen year old boy walks into the emergency room of a hospital, clearly psychotic, and believe me, nobody suggests further testing. Perhaps if that same boy had said, well, I have a known medical condition called SIPST (I’m making that one up), and I’m taking xx number of drugs, then maybe that might raise a flag. But, for the majority of otherwise healthy young men, they just get a interview and a diagnosis.

    Perhaps others would like to join in here with their experience?

  6. Stephanie,
    Your response provoked another thought. Are men treated differently than women? Remember, psychosis is generally observed in young men between the ages of 15 to 25, and symptoms develop later in women, generally between 25 and 35, when women’s hormonal issues are perhaps taken seriously. Are men getting a raw deal here when it comes to not looking beyond their symptoms?

    Duane – any thoughts?

  7. And another thought. The only medications my son was asked about were was he taking recreational drugs. That was highly insulting, because that’s about the only drugs the intake doctors were interested in finding out if he was taking.

  8. This happened in Britain. My son was taken to hospital with paranoid symptoms. He was also feverish and had a badly infected toe which I pointed out to the admitting nurse.She seemed to connect my son’s psychotic symptoms with delirium but the doctors overruled her and diagnosed him mentally ill then and there. He was given antibiotics for his toe and 10mg of olanzapine without us being told that the doctor was putting him on antipsychotics. He developed NMS which the psychiatrists failed to recognise. My son discharged himself an ran for his life. The nurse who had diagnosed him correctly helped him. He tried to get off the olanzapine but found it impossible to do because he developed akathesia and severe insomnia: doctors refused to help because they had diagnosed him mentally ill and thought that he should take the medication that was killing him. No, no medical tests were done and when he complained of raging fever and stabing pains in his legs after taking olanzapine, nobody checked on him.

  9. Hey Rossa,
    Emergency rooms are just not the place for individuals to get help with mental illness to begin with, as you said. But, mental illness shouldn’t be diagnosed in an emergency room anyways, in my opinion. Unfortunately, though, I think that a lot are. And I don’t think they should be. It’s not a diagnosis for a doctor at an emergency room to make. It is disgusting to me that your son was only asked about recreational drugs. He absolutely should have been asked about anything else he is taking, even if it is a vitamin supplement. Do they have psychiatrists available in emergency rooms? I don’t think they do, but they absolutely should.

    As for the male vs. female issue, I’m not for sure of what you mean of when you say raw deal. If you mean that because men are younger, the illness may not be taken seriously or may be more easily overlooked or misdiagnosed, then yes, maybe they are. But I can see how that could be, because that is also the demographic that is a more avid user of recreational drugs. I don’t know that women are any better off because their onset is later, though.

    I am so glad that you were able to get your son the help he needed in a timely fashion, despite the difficulties that you faced. My situation is pretty much the reverse of yours. I am the daughter of a woman who is schizophrenic. Her onset was in early to mid thirties, when I was about seven years old. Unfortunately because she did not have the support that your son did, she remains undiagnosed and now lives on the streets. So while men may seem to get a raw deal because of the age of onset, at least they get noticed. A woman in her late 20s to 30s, however, may get no deal at all.

    Something that was recommended to me a year or so ago: Minds on the Edge. A seminar aired by PBS with people from all different viewpoints (psychologists, legislatures, people who lived through schizophrenia, etc) talking in a seminar forum about the real life challenge of mental illness, and what makes it so difficult for people to find help. It’s about an hour long, but very interesting. The beginning touches on this issue of emergency room care for the mentally ill. If you like it, please pass it along:


  10. Rossa,

    I’m not sure whether young men are given a raw deal or not… However, I would say that young men may have a more difficult time in terms of the expetation of going to work, and making a living… and are far too often viewed as unmotivated, etc. The workforce and academia have changed over the years, with many more women in both areas, however there is extra pressure on young men to make a living.

    This of course is all-but impossible if underlying physical conditions and/or emotional needs to deal with trauma are not overcome… Putting young men in a tough spot.


  11. No testing for real illness in Denmark, neither in Sweden, or Norway. Actually, in Denmark, something called “TERM model” is becoming increasingly popular: if a physician can’t immediately find a physical cause for whatever physical problem you seek out his/her help, they are supposed to (!) suspect that your physical problem is mental in nature, do no more testing, and refer you to a shrink. I’ve heard about similar things going on in Norway and Sweden. Also, how much weed I’d smoked, for how long a time, was the only thing that interested my therapist. And I know that one’s intake of recreational drugs is all that interests mh professionals in general in this country (Denmark).

    BTW, one of these stories we hear all the time: a friend of mine, labelled with “schizophrenia” (fully recovered), had an appointment for an x-ray of her broken arm, in plaster, in a sling, nothing to mistake there. So she goes to the hospital, and asks the receptionist where to go for her x-ray. The receptionist checks on the computer, and gives her the directions. Following them, she finds herself at the entrance to the hospital’s psych ward…

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