Sunday, April 8, 2012
I am quite interested in schizophrenia, maybe because it continues to elude medical science. All of these mental illnesses have another component that adds to their arcane nature, and that is the individual aspect that can vary widely between cases. I have read substantial claims of genetic predispositions, but that environmental factors such as toxins, viruses, and pre- and postnatal events may play a role in the cause of the disorder.
One interesting study is the case of John Forbes Nash, Jr., who you may know as a Nobel laureate and the popular movie entitled A Beautiful Mind. In his case, his son also had paranoid schizophrenia, which points to a genetic component (Nasar, 2001). One case study identified stress as an exacerbating symptom of Nash's illness. Capps (2003), who, by the way is of Freudian thought, believed Nash suffered from conflicting emotions from his latent homosexual tendencies. I find that a little ridiculous, but I will concede that stress from any internalized conflict can certainly play a significant role in pushing the envelope of one's normal coping abilities.
Possibly the most interesting part of Nash's case is the way he used his own version of cognitive/behavioral therapy to resist his delusions. He determined he would not pay attention to them because he understood they were, in fact, delusions. Of course, Nash was not an average man - he was brilliant. He claimed he understood the delusional nature of his hallucinations and delusions, and forced himself think rationally. Uncommon for any person with schizophrenic tendencies, Nash kept himself in remission for more than 20 years (Nasar, 2001).
Nash's case supports the belief that although a case may seem typical, each individual has strengths we, as counselors, need to become more familiar with, and it may be these strengths that will ultimately help the individual surmount the challenge of his or her illness, condition, or disorder (Meyer, Chapman & Weaver, 2009).
Capps, D. (2003). John Nash's delusional decade: a case of paranoid schizophrenia. Pastoral Psychology, 52(3), 193-218. doi: 10.1023/B:PASP.0000010023.58529.95
Meyer, R. G., Chapmen, L. Kevin, & Weaver, C. M. (2009). Case studies in abnormal behavior. (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.
Nasar, S. (2001). A beautiful mind: the life of mathematical genius and Nobel laureate John Nash. New York: Simon & Schuster.