Alain Bottéro

Another Regard Of Schizophrenia Publication date : February 28, 2008

Hearing voices, speaking or acting incoherently, withdrawal: these are some of the signs of schizophrenia, which may appear separately or in conjunction with one another. Schizophrenia is a complex, multiple disorder that alters patients' representation of reality; there are as many forms of schizophrenia as there are patients. The author argues for a critical re-examination of schizophrenia, its signs, diagnosis and treatment, and proposes the following approaches:

• To look beyond patients' apparent irrationality to uncover their subjective logic, to seek out their emotional logic to understand their symptoms.

• To recognise their fragility and to evaluate their depression, in order to help them overcome their difficulty in relating to others and to enable them to achieve the necessary equilibrium to make their lives more acceptable.

• To broaden our view of patients to cover the whole person, including life-style and unused potential. Neuroleptic treatment, which is often indispensable, should be associated with different forms of psychotherapy to enable patients to understand their own fragility and to take preventive action.

• 600,000 people in France suffer from schizophrenia. They are generally regarded as impenetrable and apart from the rest of society. As a result, they become increasingly fragile and misunderstood, and are often the victims of prejudice.

• Diagnosis is difficult and often arbitrary since there is no signature manifestation of the disorder. By analyzing its various possible causes and mechanisms, the author offers a holistic vision of this multifaceted disease.

• Finally, he evaluates existing therapies and proposes a more humane approach — one that is more intimately linked to the individual patient and to his or her own reality.

Alain Bottéro, a psychiatrist and an anthropologist, specialises in schizophrenia. He was a research fellow at Harvard and an assistant in Psychiatry at Hôpital Saint-Antoine, in Paris.