Talking dirty – let’s discuss cure

Why is “cure” such a dirty word in mental health circles? A cure simply means that someone with an illness has become healthy again or it can be the solution to a problem. To believe in “cure” in the context of schizophrenia is to embarrass oneself publically. I hereby stand embarrassed.

Yes, it is true there is no “medical cure” for schizophrenia, meaning that no drug has been invented that will take away your symptoms, but somehow the concept of cure has been corrupted to mean only that. We have all read that “schizophrenia is the most serious and devastating of the mental illnesses, there is no cure for it but there are effective treatments (blah, blah, blah)” People who dutifully take statements like that at face value become patients for life. Personally, I wouldn’t want the state of my mental health to hinge on taking lifelong drugs for something where supposedly there is no cure and while many people manage without them.

Dean Radin, in his blog Entangled Minds, has this to say about an article criticizing the small amounts of funding that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has directed to alternative treatments.

“In the meantime, are there alternative methods that might also be useful, and that often have little to no side effects, and that are usually quite inexpensive? Yes, and fortunately the NIH is providing piddling grants to study them (compared to conventional medicine CAM studies are receiving chump change). But this article seems to want us to drop all such studies: “Taxpayers are bankrolling studies of whether pressing various spots on your head can help with weight loss, whether brain waves emitted from a special “master” can help break cocaine addiction, and whether wearing magnets can help the painful wrist problem, carpal tunnel syndrome.”

“Are such things actually impossible? What if they actually do work? Isn’t that worth finding out? The alternative is that we don’t find out and useless treatments continue to be provided, or that expensive drug and surgical methods continue to be provided, many of which don’t work either!”

“Personally I’d much rather spend my tax dollars looking for simple, effective, cheap methods that work, regardless of what existing theories are comfortable with. Go back just 20 years and large swatches of what used to be taken for granted in science and medicine have radically changed. So how can anyone today possibly believe that now we finally understand everything?”

What always astounds me is how willing many people are to believe that everything is known, and they are prepared put their life or the life of their relative on hold until “science” comes up with another stab at getting it wrong. Recently, a blogger took me to task for using the word “cure” in the context of schizophrenia. According to this blogger, everybody knows there’s no cure, there is only management for this “chronic illness.” She has bought the official line, and more’s the pity. I can deal with that way of thinking, although I don’t agree with it. She, obviously cannot deal with my way of thinking because she refused to print my comment about “cure.” She doesn’t agree with it so she doesn’t print it. She is saving her readers from what, exactly?