A new insight into the cause of schizophrenia and more effective ways of treating it have been revealed by research at the Institute of Psychiatry.
Doctors have found that the brains of people with schizophrenia have not developed normally, resulting in a "wiring defect" - subtle abnormalities in the way the nerve cells connect. Just as a computer with a small defect will work well most of the time but "crash" if overloaded, stress can cause the brain of a person with schizophrenia to malfunction and produce hallucinatory voices.
Researchers have also found that successful trials of new anti- psychotic drugs, with fewer and less harmful side effects, suggest that more patients will be willing to take them. This should reduce the number of cases of homicide and suicide by schizophrenics who deteriorate after refusing to take medication because of side effects.
The findings were reported to Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, and David Hunt, the Science Minister, during a visit to the institute yesterday and were given a cautious welcome by mental health pressure groups.
A spokeswoman for Mind, which has campaigned for research into harmful effects of and deaths …