Schizophrenia , Genetics, and the Double Bind
If ANY of you get the impression from this blog that schizophrenia is caused by family behavior, think again! That erroneous thinking was common in the sixties, family therapists, believe it or not, had perpetrated such nonsense with talk of the "double bind." Even I, who trained in the early 80's heard this kind of misinformation at the Family Institute of Chicago.
A double bind is a situation in which a person has to make a decision, but no matter what the choice, he loses. In a family context that person is the kid. The kid will either upset one parent or the other, or will somehow sacrifice himself. That behavior, that self-sacrifice, is the "schizophrenia."
For example, let's say, one parent says, I really, really want you to visit grandma after school. But the other says, Don't even think of visiting your grandmother after school. That's a double bind.
Family therapists, especially the Italian school in the sixties and seventies, proposed that double binds made children behave in ways that seemed "psychotic." The word they used, and it's a marvelous word, is
Schizophrenia, according to these docs, was caused by family dynamics.
NO, NO, NO. We're a lot smarter now. We're sure it's from a genetic predisposition. Pretty sure, that is. Schizophrenia often presents for the first time when a person with a genetic predisposition is under social stress or in an unusually stressful context, like academia, being away at college.
Sorry for the confusion if there was any.
copyright 2007, therapydoc