Schizoaffective Disorder, Ethics, and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys
|Love and Mercy|
Miami Beach is nice but it's not
Bermuda, Jamaica, gee I wanna take ya’ to Key Largo, Montego, honey why don't we go. . . to the Kokomo.
There was a time when a certain brand of music summoned up barefoot on the beach, surfing, fast cars, and a paycheck lost to buying records at K-Mart; 45's or the long-playing 33’s. Some of us bought albums by the Beatles, but there was always a kid who loved the Beach Boys. Paul McCartney is quoted as saying that Pet Sounds, an innovative Beach Boy album, is his favorite of all time.* But the Beach Boys had so many hits.
After dropping out of sight in the seventies, a hermit due to mental illness and drug addiction, Mr. Wilson is in recovery by 1999, twenty years later, working again, producing records, even Smile, the long awaited unfinished album of 1965. "I'm anxious, depressed, I get scared a lot," he tells his fans. But he's out there, brilliant as ever.
In 2006 he tells a reporter that he still hears voices, every single day, that he has most of his life. A community of angry, critical people in his head.
His whole adult life he's been begging them to shut it up.
How does it present, an illness like this, Schizoaffective Disorder? There are two types, F25.0 bipolar, and F25.1 depressive. Voices in the head, delusions, can be features of either.
The DSM 5:
In schizoaffective disorder, a mood episode and the active-phase symptoms of schizophrenia occur together and are preceded or are followed by at least 2 weeks of delusions or hallucinations without prominent mood symptoms.According to Mr. Wilson the voices started soon after his first LSD trip as a very young star.
This changes everything, as far as diagnosis goes, foils schizoaffective as the obvious choice, because if you read the criterion, you find the all important D.
D. The disturbance is not attributable to the effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition.Technically he couldn't have schizoaffective order because the effects of a substance triggered the illness. That being the case, the diagnosis has to be:
Substance/Medication-Induced Psychotic Disorder (F16.959), without use.Without use means that he doesn't have to be using anymore to suffer the delusions, hear the voices of psychosis. He stops abusing drugs in treatment, but his disorder has its hold. Without use, still delusional, it is an F16.959.
And there is another theory, that children with a predisposition to major affective disorder or schizophrenia manifest their symptoms under stress. Brian undoubtedly had stress, beginning with a family group that depended upon him and a rabid desire to succeed, and a father who physically and mentally abused him, deliberately made him feel badly about himself, fed his self-doubt with critical, harsh words, and the fist. Wilson boxed Brian in the head, permanently knocked out the boy's hearing in one ear when Brian was little.
Murry is the voice behind the voices, cold and withholding, jealous, a spare the rod, spoil the child kind of father who strips a kid of his confidence.
The son still wants the father’s approval, plays down the abuse in interviews, although in the film it is the first thing he talks about with Melinda, the woman who tries to save him from an exploitative psychologist, Eugene Landy. He won't demonize Murry for traumatizing him, triggering his illness. He can't embarrass his father. It was the drugs, Brian insists.
He even credits his Murry with the success of the band. Murry is the one with connections, the one who arranges the initial recording contracts. When things sour financially and the band doesn't like his decisions, they fire him. Vengeful, he sells their songs for a fraction of their worth, keeps the whopping $700,000 for himself. Bermuda, Jamica, come on let me take ya'.
You don't have to be a professional to connect the dots when it comes to father figures.
1. He had a difficult young adulthood. Psychoses often present in the twenties or late teens
2. He suffered extreme stress, had to produce the perfect record, face audiences of thousands.
3. He surely suffered post traumatic stress, the negative, or “expressed emotion” inherent in child abuse.So maybe he had schizoaffective after all.
*Brian refers to George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, a masterpiece in his opinion, the great musical influence in his life. The seventeen minute composition is just shy of one side of a microgroove vinyl record album (bigger even than CD's) back in Wilson's day. Gershwin inspired Wilson, and Wilson inspired the Beatles.