A Strange Case Of Stigma From A “Flat-Earth” Advocate

I’ve heard hurtful words from the ignorant masses. I’ve read them in newspapers, but I’ve never heard something this bad from a professional, someone who should know better.

In a recent post on this site, a psychologist stated that families are responsible for their children getting schizophrenia by the hurt they’ve inflicted and should, in addition, feel guilty.

This is a throw-back to the theories of the early-to-mid twentieth century, which have largely, and thankfully, been put to rest along with such nonsense that mental illness is the result of the devil or that ill people are weak, lazy, and deserving of scorn. Then there’s the “refrigerator mother.” Remember that one as the cause of autism and schizophrenia? Curiously, most of these old, dead theories were written by men.

            While I’m not denying that there are horrible parents whose abuse may result in their offspring getting sick, I also know of many loving families whose children have developed serious mental illnesses for reasons unknown.

            Most people in the scientific community today are looking at genetics or viruses as primary causative factors. Painting the parents of adolescents unfortunate enough to develop psychotic illnesses with such a wide malevolent brush is no different than saying childhood leukemia is the parents’ fault. Such a statement from doctors in the latter case would be grounds for burning them at the stake of quackery.

            Blame is the last thing a family needs when they are trying to cope with a devastating illness among a loved one, be it their child, mother, or sibling.

And to parents, in particular, I suggest that if you have children recently diagnosed with a MI, do not assume that just because someone has a degree after his or her name that s/he is a knowledgeable professional. S/he may turn out to be a member of the Flat-Earth Society or insist the Sun revolves around the Earth. Ask questions, be informed, and reach out to others in similar situations, and stay a safe distance away from those toxic individuals that spew damaging and misleading information.

There is a saying in the medical field—I’m sure you’re familiar with it—first do no harm. Unless you believe that you have done something so terrible to cause your loved one’s suffering, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise because you will have to be strong, not only for your loved one’s sake, but your own.

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About waywardweed

I am a consumer and parent of two sons, one with a mental illness and the other a third-year law student.
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