Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Links to various news articles

A lot of mental health articles in the news seem to be going over the same old ground - or stating what seems to be perfectly obvious, like this one:


Of course, I think to myself, obviously suffering abuse as a child leads to risk of schizophrenia (I know, I would think that).

However, I find that mental health articles in the news are always worth a read - for example, in this piece Richard Bentall, who led the study that this article reports on, points out that there is no such strong and consistent link to genetic theories regarding psychosis.  And later in the article Louise Arseneault, a senior lecturer from the Institute of Psychiatry, says that it is interesting that the risk of child abuse extends to states such as psychosis, which was previously thought to be influenced by genetic factors.  So is the establishment starting to pay attention? 

Personally I don't think that genes mean a stuff in comparison to upbringing, and I like this article because it backs up my pet theory and implies that my kids should be ok as long as I continue to do my utmost to give them a secure upbringing.

But then I am aware that people who have had a difficult upbringing are extremely likely to pass some of this influence onto their kids.  I think the strength of this effect is how the genetic theory of mental illness took hold.  I do think it is necessary to see that this is not genetically determined though - it helps both the parents and their children to know that they have a choice about their behaviour and their reactions to the behaviour of others. 

Another interesting thing about this article, to me, is that it makes clear the fact that child abuse can also lead to physical health problems.  Presumably these are not the genetic sort of health problem, and nobody is suggesting that they are?  So why are mental health issues put down to genetics?  Perhaps so that people are absolved from guilt about their parenting...

If this is the reason, then I think it is erroneous thinking.  Nothing in life is certain, and because your child suffers mental health problems I don't think it should be laid at your door.  Even in cases where the child was abused, it may not have been deliberate (in my case, I think my father would have been a better and calmer parent if only he had known how to be, and I don't think my mother ever chose to have an alcohol problem.  Any more than I chose to be over-sensitive.  It just was how it was - a tangle that needed to be sorted out, and my mental health problems were the catalyst that led me to a better understanding of my personality and how I would have to adjust in order to get along in the world). 

Other people may have been perfect parents - or perfectly good enough parents - but their children happened to fall in with the wrong crowd and lead an erratic lifestyle which led to breakdown, or may have had experimental personalities - or something.  Whatever.  The point is, if we look at these problems as genetic and brain disease centred, and therefore permanent and immutable, we are not helping to solve them - we are removing a sense of guilt which should not be there in the first place, but in the process we are obscuring the solution.   

And what is the solution.  42? 

Hope and love, perhaps, and hard work.  And time.  And trust. 

Anyway, enough for now.  Read the article, if you get a chance.  Anything that sheds more light can only be a positive thing, and this piece does, I think, shed a little more light.

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