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Brain Change In “Schizophrenia” Not Genetic

A report at PsychCentral on a Dutch study indicates brain changes in people labeled “schizophrenia” are not the result of “bad” or defective genes. The heading this article carries is Brain Abnormalities in Schizophrenia Due to Disease, Not Genetics.

The brain differences found in people with schizophrenia are mainly the result of the disease itself or its treatment *, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors, according to a Dutch study.

* Emphasis added.

Theory had it that “schizophrenia” came in families, and therefore, unaffected family members should have brain “abnormalities”, too. The familial link was thought to be as much as 81 %. (How do they arrive at these figures? I dare say…wishful thinking.) The results of this research do not support that theory.

For the current study, Heleen Boos and a team from University Medical Center Utrecht performed structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) whole-brain scans on 155 patients with schizophrenia, 186 of their non-psychotic siblings, and 122 healthy controls (including 25 sibling pairs).

As I pointed out in a post a few days back these studies are notorious for not factoring in psychiatric drugs. As psychiatric drugs have not been factored in, it is just as reasonable to assume that the differences found in the patients brains were caused by treatment as it is to assume that they were caused by disease. The true cause, and the extent to which it is caused by one or the other, can only be ascertained through testing that does factor in psychiatric drugs.

Compared with healthy controls, participants with schizophrenia had strong reductions in total brain, gray matter, and white matter volumes, and significant increases in lateral and third ventricle volumes after taking into account age, gender, intracranial volume, and left or right handedness.

There was no difference found between the siblings and the healthy controls.

Cortical thinning, the very thing I blogged about in a recent post, and decreased gray matter, were found in the patients, and not in the siblings of patients or the healthy controls. I would say researchers need to start factoring in psychiatric drugs. If this damage is iatrogenic, factoring in psychiatric drugs would involve also having a group of patients that were treated without drugs, and comparing their brain scans with the brain scans of patients treated on drugs to determine that possibility.

Let me guess. Researchers are not prone to do so because of their fervent belief in “mental illness”, and because of their close financial ties to drug manufacturers?

6 Responses

  1. You have covered this before and I couldn’t agree more with the fact that studies into the effects of treatment must be investigated thoroughly.

    “It is possible that, although antipsychotics relieve psychosis and its attendant suffering, these drugs may not arrest the pathophysiologic processes underlying schizophrenia and may even aggravate progressive brain tissue volume reductions.”

    Beng-Choon Ho, M.R.C.Psych., and colleagues at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City quoted on ScienceDaily.com last year following a study of 211 patients with schizophrenia.

    Full article:


    • Thanks for the link to this article, GM.

      If the answer to the question of what causes brain change and tissue loss in schizophrenic patients were at issue. This study seems to indicate, in black and white terms, that the cause is not bad genes, nor disease. These changes are brought on by drug treatment.

      Patients who were followed for longer periods of time experienced more reductions in brain volume. Antipsychotic treatment was also associated with brain tissue reduction after controlling for the other three predictors. More intense antipsychotic treatment was associated with overall measures of brain tissue loss, smaller gray matter volume and progressive declines in white matter volume.

      The other two variables, illness severity and substance abuse, had no or minimal association with brain changes after the effects of illness duration and antipsychotic treatment were considered.

      We don’t get the idea from this article that an illness of any duration can be separated from the use of neuroleptic drugs.

      Ironically, the moral of this story is that even when researchers find the drugs do people damage they can’t recommend going “off meds”. Brain mass loss is to be considered an acceptable trade-off for acceptable, if sedated, behavior.

  2. Keep them drugged until they die, very simple method of dealing with people who might be criminals if you give them a chance.

    • Or not. The soothsaying business is fraught with dubious conclusions. Intolerance thrives on making the world a more unsafe place for everybody. You don’t scapegoat people if you can trust them, and this distrust, in turn, breeds more scapegoating.

      • I am saying psychiatry is a method of the establishment to keep order. The Pre-crime of psychiatry is injustice. I believe a person has to actually commit a crime first before losing their freedom. Psychiatry forcing drugs on people (to control them) produces the product psychiatry wants, a mind altered drug addict who always needs more drugs from his/her master/drug supplier. As long as the system works and it does work.
        BUT the increasing percentage of mentally ill in comparison to those working and paying taxes will break the bank ( behind psychiatry) soon.

      • I thoroughly agree with you, markps2.

        Psychiatry acts like an arm of the state, in league with the criminal justice system, to maintain social control, and to impose order.

        People should not be prosecuted for “pre-crime” offenses, that is, for alleged being “a danger to oneself or others”. In the criminal justice system, by contrast, crime is thought of as something that anyone and everyone is capable of perpetuating. If so, automatically, everybody is a pre-crime suspect.

        The numbers of people in the psychiatric disability system are going to become, given the present rate of increase, so great, eventually, that the state will not be able to bear the cost, and changes will have to be made.

        The World Health Organization has predicted that depression will overtake heart disease as the number 1 cause of disability in the world. Such predictions are based upon statistical trends. If depression becomes the leading cause of disability, a lot of sad and disappointed people are going to be “treated” by the state. This “treatment” is not just going to cost a lot, this “treatment” is going to cost too much. This is especially true when the leading experts turn profound unhappiness into a clinical and chronic disease. Unfortunately, I imagine our authorities are more resigned to the situation than they are to coming up with any means of prevention.

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