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When the self breaks down

Forfatter: Paul Møller
Forlag: Universitetsforlaget (Norge)

Schizophrenia is still a mystery to researchers, but Paul Møller has provided us with a knowledgeable book on the phenomenon.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

The schizophrenia constitutes the largest patient group with psychosis at Norwegian psychiatric institutions, and 600 new cases of the disease occur every year. Psychiatrist and researcher on intoxication and psychiatry Paul Møller has written an important book about this disorder, which is still a mystery to professionals. In addition to highlighting this diffuse phenomenon, the book gives directions on how the health care system as well as the outside world should meet people with schizophrenia disease. 

“The brain can be measured, weighed and imaged precisely and in detail. The psyche, on the other hand, is subjective, fluid, volatile and abstract, and therefore far more demanding to research, ”as Møller writes. His book is based on the patients' own experiences, including the attempts of the psychopathic patients to integrate their cross-border experiences into a coherent self-understanding. Insight into one's own mental or physical illness is essential for any patient, understanding how the condition here and now can occur. For schizophrenics, this means understanding what makes it possible to hear voices without anyone present. 

Hippie Age Antipsychiatry

In Europe in the mid-1960s, psychoses became central to the popular attention mental disorders received, thanks in large part to one man: the Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing. Through his exploration of madness – which he polemically called "normal" – he illuminated the nature of mental illness and made the mysteries of the mind understandable to a non-academic audience as well. 

The use of new psychoactive drugs was just a more advanced form of dehumanizing the patient.

Also in Norway, schizophrenia was a topic in several of society's profiled opinion-bearers, among other author and LSD spokesman Axel Jensen. Jensen lived for a period in one of Laing's therapeutic communities and was a personal friend of the Scots. From Life as seen from Nimbus Axel Jensen writes: “The idea was therefore to gather some people who were stigmatized with this diagnosis, and then drop everything called treatment to observe what would happen. So this was done at Kingsley Hall, and it was in that context that I first spoke to Ronald David Laing, who was the ideologist behind it all ... Kingsley Hall was perhaps the most exciting place in all of London at the time. ”

The key words for the new approach to schizophrenia were understanding og friendly integration, as a counter-reaction to the 50's strict behavioral therapeutic methods. Laing's treatment method was also used to some extent in Norway, for example, LSD was used in psychotherapy for a period of time (something some therapists speak hot for today).

Psychiatry and control

New psychiatric control techniques, where the development and use of psychotropic drugs partially replaced other, more rigorous methods of treatment, were for Laing just a more advanced form of humanizing the patient. The idea was that society and family had to be protected and kept separate from the psychotic, who could only return if he or she was adapted, which often meant robotic. 

Laing was not alone in responding to the human view that was the basis here, where alienation and malpractice of the sick were often the result. A new understanding of patient empowerment emerged in both England and the United States, where the patient's subjective meaning experiences were emphasized. 

Laing was inspired by game theory, which was central to the development of so-called systemic family therapy, developed by, among others, the British social anthropologist, biologist and communication theorist Gregory Bateson (1904-80). Bateson believed that schizophrenia had its origins in the family, and in particular could be linked to paradoxical communication patterns, making it impossible for the child to establish a stable self-understanding. The extent to which childhood and family relationships are responsible for the development of schizophrenia is also a recurring topic of discussion.

There are important parallels between Laing's psychiatric critical views and Paul Møller's main message. Laing was existentialist and familiar with Sartres Criticism of the dialectical sense; Møller also has its most important theoretical point of departure in the philosophy of existence.

Phenomenological perspective

Møller's emphasis on open conversation as a tool in the mapping and treatment of schizophrenia derives from phenomenology, which will precisely describe and closely interpret phenomena as they appear to the person experiencing them. The German psychiatrist and philosopher of existence Karl Jaspers (1863–1969), who early researched intensively on psychiatric patients' conceptions and experiences, is a clear source of inspiration. 

Schizophrenia is actually a textbook, but readable and relevant also for interested play people. The first half contains a critique of behavioral psychiatry, arguing thoroughly why phenomenology is the king's way of understanding. Central to this is a philosophical description of the subjective perspective and the deep, informal conversation as the therapist's most important tool.

The self and the personal experience

even Disturbance is one of the most central concepts in Møller's book, a symptom that occurs in the so-called warning phase – the earliest phase of a possible disease course. The foreign feeling, as we formulated it, for example, Obstfelder and Solstad, has concurrent features with pre-psychotic self-disruption, and understanding such boundary experiences can be crucial to the design and outcome of a subsequent treatment.

Self Møller, in line with Søren Kierkegaard, understands the relationship in man that relates to himself. One should distinguish between two sides of the self, identity og ipse solubility, the dynamic, reflective attention itself. Identity is the stable that is reproduced over time, while the epitome is what creates a connection in our experiences and experiences. 

Initial psychosis

As I understand Møller, the epic part of the self is the self-disturbance frame, that is, what lies at  reason for creating a meaningful story about one's self. This is evident from the many descriptions the schizophrenic gives of their own self-experience, especially when at stake.

In the mid-1960s, psychoses came to play a central role in the popular attention mental disorders received.

Alert phenomena can lead to the development of schizophrenia. The literary language that is often used when describing such diffuse and frightening border experiences makes them in isolation unsuitable for diagnosing and predicting a possible course of illness. A broad and thorough screening provides a better starting point for both prevention and treatment of the disease, especially for young people. 

Schizophrenia is an impressive pioneering work, a conscientious depiction of an enigmatic phenomenon in which the author's enthusiasm and duty to spread his knowledge to the outside world is constantly shining through. But the book is hardly the last to be said on the subject. 

Ohrem is a writer for Ny Tid.

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