Re: Grids & schizophrenics

Tony Downing (
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 13:50:52 +0000

Re the proposal that, to avoid a medical model of schizophrenia, we should
construe those whom medics construe as schizophrenic, as being "deviant
construers who are troublesome to at least a couple of sigificant others"

Doesn't this gloss over the fact that their deviant contruals are even more
trouble to themselves? Paranoid thoughts and terrors are no fun, even if,
from within the frame of reference of the sufferer, they may seem
justified; a lot of schizophrenics are very unhappy; a lot commit suicide.

I'm not trying to argue against the idea that a constructivist account of
delusions, in schizophrenics and others, has a lot to offer but there is
now plenty of evidence, e.g. from abnormalities in eye movements, from
brain scans etc. and from genetics, of an underlying neuropathology in
schizophrenia. Therefore, an adequate constructivist account of the lives
and thoughts of these troubled people must encompass the neuropathology
which can distort the inputs to their construing, and perhaps also some of
the processes of construing at all.

In R.D.Laing's heyday it was tenable and stimulating and humane to try out
seeing schizophrenia as a purely social construction, but surely there is
now much more evidence that it is a neurological disease, or perhaps
cluster of diseases. Medical models are very useful for diseases. When
the disease is of the brain, then constructivist theories of how the
sufferer makes sense of their world, and how this may explain their
problems and symptoms, have to be part of the story - even when viewed from
within the medical perspective.

Tony Downing, M.A., Ph.D.
Lecturer, Dept. of Psychology,
University of Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU,

Phone +44 (0)191 222 6184 Mobile: +44 (0) 468 427 481
Fax: +44 (0)191 222 5622