In Search of Madness: Schizophrenia and Neuroscience

In Search of Madness: Schizophrenia and Neuroscience

In Search of Madness: Schizophrenia and Neuroscience

In Search of Madness: Schizophrenia and Neuroscience

Synopsis

This book sheds new light on the mystery of schizophrenia. It evaluates the progress of schizophrenia science by summarizing what is known about how patients with the illness differ from healthy people. Through taking the reader on a journey into the enigma of madness and its science, schizophrenia emerges as an illness that reveals itself most strongly in thought processes, not biology.

Excerpt

Schizophrenia: a harsh-sounding name for a harsh illness. I first encountered its puzzling nature as a young psychologist when I moved from a general to a psychiatric hospital. Neurological and surgical patients, not schizophrenia patients, had been the focus of my work at the general hospital. Like most neuropsychologists I found the effects of frontal brain damage especially challenging. I worked intensively in rehabilitation with several patients, trying to teach them to overcome the heavy inertia of their mental life. My efforts were largely unsuccessful, but the experience taught me about the frontal brain and its executive role in behavior. Schizophrenia seemed altogether different, an illness of excess rather than deficiency. For every similarity that it had with frontal brain disease there was a striking dissimilarity. But then I moved to the psychiatric hospital. Imagine my surprise in finding schizophrenia ascribed in part to the frontal lobes.Yet it was the beginning of my fascination with the illness as a brain disease. I went on to search for deficits in cognitive brain function that might underlie delusions, hallucinations, and incoherence. I found many deficits in many patients. However, not all patients had the same deficits, and some had none at all. And the symptoms of madness seemed to carry on independently of these deficits. It was as if the schizophrenic mind had a life of its own even as it emerged from the same organ that produced normal thought and feeling. I decided to study the illness and its science comprehensively and in detail and to report the findings of my study. This book is the outcome of that decision.

My labors—and labors they were—began in a tiny office at the Royal Ed-

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