A banner day but there’s work to be done

Today is my 500th blog post, and I was planning to mark this auspicious occasion by being statesmanlike and uplifting. However, real life intervenes and there is always some article or e-mail that cries out for my critical comments. Two have come my way, one from the New York Times and one from my perennial source of schizophrenia disinformation, namely NAMI.

The New York Times article on anorexia nervosa prompts me to bang on about the way schizophrenia is seen as a “special case” in our Western society, apparently way different than anoxeria nervosa, which appears to have family causes. The article refers to anorexia nervosa a “mental illness” and discusses it entirely in terms of community and family pressures. No mention of medication in this article.

As a teenager, Naomi Feigenbaum developed bizarre eating habits that had nothing to do with Jewish dietary laws………………….Young Orthodox women are also expected to conform to a rigorous code of conduct, with few outlets for rebellion. They are expected to be chaste until marriage and do not date until they start looking for a husband. Even gossip is considered a sin.

Your child and mine started having equally bizarre habits when they were teenagers or in their twenties, which I fully suspect is rebellion, but apparently schizophrenia is impervious to the kind of psychological understanding that this article promotes.

Then there’s NAMI, always quick to inject the need to medicate and oblivious to the fact that the medications your doctor gives you are prescription drugs and they are addictive. I couldn’t dream this stuff up if I tried. I’m so glad NAMI is there to reassure stupid, hysterical mothers.

The following is an account from a NAMI Helpline associate:

“I spoke with a person this morning who was crying because her 26-year-old child with mental illness had been in and out of hospitals and was refusing to take her medications, but also had a prescription drug addiction.

I let her talk for a while and when she calmed down, I told her about NAMI progams and support available in her local community. I also shared support options to help with addiction issues.

By the time we got off the phone, she stopped crying and thanked me, saying that she was so grateful that I listened and that she had learned so much about the various support options available to her.”