Friday, 10 October 2014

World Mental Health Day

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2014 is "Living with schizophrenia". Worldwide, around 26 million people are affected by schizophrenia, 90% of those with untreated schizophrenia live in the so-called developing world (via).

Hollywood tends to portrait schizophrenia in a stereotypic manner, oftentimes as a dangerous "multiple personality disorder". In the media, schizophrenia is associated with unpredictable, bizarre and violent behaviours. The protagonist is a genius "possessed" by paranormal phenomena, with vivid visual hallucinations whose disorder was triggered by a traumatic life event, a criminal who could be cured by an empathetic loving helper who just listens and understands (Owen, 2012).

The construct of positive and negative symptoms in schizophrenia can be traced back to one of the founding fathers of schizophrenia research, Emild Kraepelin. Kraepelin (1856-1926) subdivided the symptoms into "two principal groups of disorders which characterize the malady".  It was John Hughlings Jackson (1835-1911) who coined the terms "positive and negative symptoms" (Skrabalo, n.y.). Positive symptoms are delusions, hallucinations, disorganised speech, grossly disorganised or catatonic behaviour; negative symptoms are affective flattening or diminished emotional expression, alogia or avolition (Tandon et al, 2013). In general, positive symptoms are the ones "added" (e.g. hallucinations) and negative symptoms are the ones "taken away" (e.g. emotional expression).

According to some UK research, between 30 and 50% of people with schizophrenia are able to work. Doing a job supports recovery, improving health. There is no universal recipe for finding the right job for people with schizophrenia as "different people have different skills, interests and qualifications as with the broader population." Nevertheless, people living with schizophrenia are underrepresented in the workplace mostly because of the stigma associated with the disorder. Interestingly, the negative symptoms are a more serious barrier at the workplace than the positive ones (Bevan, 2013).

"Everyone Wants To Be Twiggy" (1967): Melvin Sokolsky "solved the problem of gawpers hanging around the location by giving them all Twiggy masks and turning them into extras; a casual portrait of Twiggy in a woolly hat taken by her friend Linda McCartney" (via). By the way, one of the original masks can be purchased via eBay ... starting bid: $ 690,-

- Bevan, S., Gulliford, J., Steadman, K., Taskila, T., Thomas, R. & Moise, A. (2013) Working with Schizophrenia: Pathways to Employment, Recovery & Inclusion. The Work Foundation, Lancaster University
- Owen, P. R. (2012) Portrayals of Schiziphrenia by Entertainment Media: A Content Analysis of Contemporary Movies. Psychiatric Services, 63(7), 655-659
- Skrabalo, A. (n.y.) Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia(s): The Conceptual Basis. Harvard Brain, 7-10
- Tandon, R., Gaebel, W., Barch, D. M., Bustillo, J., Gur, R. E., Heckers, S., Malaspina, D., Owen, M. J., Schultz, S., Tsuang, M., Os, van J. & Carpenter, W. (2013) Definition and description of schizophrenia in the DSM-5. Schizophrenia Research, 10.1016/j.schres.2013.05.028
- photographs by Melvin Sokolsky via and via and via und via and via and via and via and via and via and via