A recent edition of the popular science and technology publication Scientific American begins its in-depth article on the possibility of a link between mental health concerns and biological agents with a fairly simple observation: “Schizophrenia is a devastating illness.” What the article fails to introduce as readily is the fact that this mental health concern, which does indeed present a challenge for many people around the world, is also one of the least understood mental difficulties ever studied. Nevertheless, the article goes on to present what it calls a growing body of research suggesting that the common flu may be responsible for the appearance and spread of schizophrenia.
Psychologists and other mental health care professionals with an interest in schizophrenia may be hotly divided as to the potential of such a claim to hold true, and may also contend amongst themselves as to the possibility of mental health concerns stemming from purely biological causes. The article suggests that it is not a biological agent itself that might hold the power to generate mental health concerns in people, but rather the precise response of the immune system. While bodies of evidence supporting such theories may indeed seem to link rates of pregnant mothers afflicted with agents such as the flu and the subsequent emergence of schizophrenia in their children, conclusive support is far from being provided.
Though the article proposes what to some mental health professionals may be a grim future –that is, one with vaccines alone used to “treat” the concerns commonly addressed through psychotherapy today–, its discussion of the possibility of a direct link between the flu and schizophrenia will likely be found a worthy read among many.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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