I went to my hearing voices group yesterday. One of the topics of conversation that came up was “does schizophrenia exist,” i.e. Should it exist as a diagnosis or not?
It was an intense debate. Several of the members of our group have it as their diagnosis and all have very conflicting beliefs on it. One person is convinced it is a medical label for the disease they suffer. Another says that it is partly the illness, and partly down to other spiritual entities that they hear voices. Yet another believes that they are hearing the spirits of the dead.
I decided I would put my half-penneth’s worth in. I told the group I believed that there is a line I draw in the sand depending on the feelings I experience between seeing ghosts and hallucinations. My ghosts are always calm and non-threatening, whereas the hallucinations terrify me. They have an element of personal threat, and I feel physically vulnerable and often frightened for my own life. I said I felt like by drawing this line, I am able to differentiate a hallucenogenic experience and a supernatural one, and it’s therefore easier to tell when I’m ill.
The group received this well, I think. It made room for everyone’s beliefs and also I hope it will help them draw their own lines in the sand.
Anyway, I was struck by the bold statement of “schizophrenia does not exist.” It made me think. If people diagnosed with the condition are reluctant to believe the veracity of their diagnosis, then what does this say about psychiatry? Moreover, what does this say about BPD/EUPD?
My feelings on the subject are pretty clear- I believe that a lot of women are thrown into the “crazy place” when they are given this diagnosis, simply for not fitting one simple diagnosis/ pissing off their therapist/ being a woman with bad life experiences. We are effectively told that we were to blame for every single last bit of the horrific trauma we suffered, for all the horrible people who hurt us, and for not being a more stable person. I believe that EUPD/BPD should be changed from a personality disorder, and reclassified as a part of PTSD- face it guys, I was abused by my ex and that has caused my problems, NOT the other way round. I think the whole damaging label should be discredited as hogswill- seriously, people used to be burned at the stake for hearing voices, so why persist with this chauvinistic and medieval label?
I went to see one of the psychiatric nurses who help run the group at the end and I told her of my grievances. Brilliantly, she agreed completely with me. She thinks that I’m right, and she is working in the system!! I was so pleased to talk to her on the subject and hear that another person in the mental health profession thinks that this diagnosis is wrong for so many women. She agreed with me that there isn’t enough research done, that the real questions are not answered (such as why in the hell are we not addressing the people causing the abuse? Why are psychiatrists blaming the victim for her problems?) and that she also believes it is a form of PTSD.
Good. That pleases me.
I think it is about time we people diagnosed with this archaic and demeaning “disorder” spoke out. I think it is time for us to stand together, demand PROPER help, and demand to be listened to. We know the insides of our own heads better than anyone, and we know that being listened to, as a normal human being, really helps us.
I think I am going to be raising awareness of this fallacy, and I won’t stop until I have made some serious noise. The medical profession HAS to start seeing things our way.
(Also, in a completely weird side note, when I went to the doctor recently, I discovered that the psychiatrist wrote “diagnosis unknown” down, despite telling me I had EUPD. What the hell!? Yet another instance of tell your patient one thing and write down another. Lack of bloody transparency. )
I’m here with you, people. Let’s get this started. Time to shake things up.