Friday, July 8, 2011


A decade-long study by the World Health Organization that followed 3,300 patients found that people with schizophrenia do far better in poorer nations such as India, Nigeria and Colombia than in Denmark, the U.K., and the U.S. Patients in poorer countries spent fewer days in hospitals, were more likely to be employed and were more socially connected. Between half and two-thirds became symptom-free compared to only about a third of patients from rich countries. This calls into question modern psychiatry's belief that schizophrenia is a organic brain disorder and best treated through medication and hospitalization. The researchers concluded that the stronger family ties in poorer countries have a major impact on recovery. In Dr. Vatwani's view, in addition to medication, an active family and village life contribute to recovery from schizophrenia. This is why he places such emphasis on reuniting patients with their families and communities.
Pushpa serves Shraddha by preparing food for patients and staff.

Pushpa  personifies how social context supports recovery. She suffered a psychotic break after the death of her mother ("my best friend") and wandered the streets of Borivli for six months. When she was found by Shraddha social workers, she was arguing with an internal voice as she lay in filth. Declining being reunited with an abusive family, she has remained at Shraddha for eight years. Pushpa (name and photo used with permission) has found her family here at Shraddha. She feels safe here and says, "They treat me with respect." 

1 comment:

  1. Those stats are intriguing, and somewhat disturbing with ref to the western world's modalities of treatment. The NY Review of Books recently had a two part piece (available online) about several books questioning our psychiatric norms, especially when it comes to dispensing antideps. Apparently, when placebos *with discernible side effects* were administered in some studies, the rate of improvement was identical to that registered with actual meds. Personally, I'm ambivalent (about everything, but that's another story) about permanently relying on antideps and mood stabs.
    Anyway, this sounds like an amazing experience you're having on many levels. Keep those blog posts coming!