When people first fall into the rabbit hole of schizophrenia, the logical question to ask is “what causes schizophrenia?” A psychiatrist’s standard answer to this question is that “nobody knows” what causes it and then, rather inexplicably will hasten to add “but there are good treatments available to manage it”. Technically, the psychiatrist is correct, at least as far as the cause goes, because no medical explanation has yet evolved to apply in a general sense to all of its victims.
As a parent, I want to know what causes my child’s schizophrenia. I’m not interested in schizophrenia in a population.
A lady I am acquainted with was convinced that a particular acne medication may have triggered her sixteen year old daughter’s psychosis. The doctor told her that her daughter’s psychosis was of unknown origin. She was very, very angry because she felt the doctor patronized her by denying possible causality in the case of the acne medication. It is also patronizing of a doctor to believe that he or she knows more than the mother or father as to what makes their child tick.
It is difficult to say what causes psychosis in a particular individual because there may be multiple factors involved, but that is not to say that one shouldn’t look for cause. I am convinced that from knowing cause comes cure. Cure is a word that you are not supposed to use in the context of schizophrenia.
In his book Nutrition and Mental Illness, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer states that there are 29 medical causes of schizophrenia, ranging from pellagra to drug intoxications, to heavy metal toxicity, to wheat-gluten insensitivity, to chronic candidiasis, to a host of other rare and not so rare ailments. That does not necessarily mean that your schizophrenia can be pinned down to one of these 29 medical causes. What I find incredible is that no doctor in Chris’s hospitals bothered to ask me if there was a family history of any of these ailments or called for tests to rule them out.
It is worth noting that Dr. Pfeiffer is referring to 29 “medical” causes of schizophrenia. Half the fun of schizophrenia is figuring out the non-medical, i.e. psychological causes of schizophrenia. Understanding and treating the emotional underpinnings of schizophrenia has been pushed aside over the past few decades in favor of the biochemical model. I am getting ahead of myself here. There will be plenty of time to delve into this fascinating subject in later blogs.