Brian is the founder
of the Pulse of Oriental Medicine. He teaches at the
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and maintains a
private acupuncture and herbal practice in San Diego,
California, and is the author of Powerful
Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods,
Herbs, and Acupressure.
(there are many descriptions including paranoid,
catatonic, and affective) often first shows symptoms
in childhood or young adulthood. Its cause in
biomedical terms is not totally clear. Oriental
Medicine, however, has some insights into its
cause and treatment. Here we review some of the
symptoms, latest research and statistics, diagnosis,
and other information including acupuncture treatment
delusions, hallucinations, incoherence, catatonic behavior,
and lack of emotion.
||Schizophrenia is a common mental illness; 60-80%
of institutionalized patients have it. Commonly
confused with Multiple Personality Disorder, schizophrenia
is characterized by
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the APA,
Fourth Edition (DSMIV), Schizophrenia falls under the
bigger umbrella of Psychosis. There are quite exact
and complex criteria for the diagnosis of Schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia usually appears in males in their early 20's.
Early symptoms of schizophrenia are social withdrawal, impaired
work function, deteriorating self care, peculiar behavior,
such as food hoarding or garbage collecting, dimness of awareness,
unusual speech (vague, metaphorical, elaborate), and magical
thinking (clairvoyance or telepathy). Schizophrenics often
do not admit to being ill, so healthcare practitioners may
have to get the necessary information from family, neighbors,
co-workers, or friends.
Schizophrenia should be distinguished from other physical
diseases and psychiatric disorders. Physical diseases with
similar presentations to schizophrenia are Central Nervous
System lesions, brain tumors, hyperthyroidism, Systemic Lupus
Erythematosus, Multiple Sclerosis, delirium, dementia, and
the effects of drugs. Similar psychiatric disorders are schizophrenoform,
brief psychotic, delusional, schizoaffective, and substance-induced
What triggers the onset of schizophrenia is unclear. Some
type of trauma is often associated with onset, whether emotional,
fatigue, dietary, medicinal minerals, or accidental injuries.
Oriental medicine sees 2 primary causes of schizophrenia:
- emotional excess, and
- environmental excess
Oriental medicine integrates emotions into its understanding
of the whole person's well being. It works both ways -
emotions can cause disease and imbalances
|can lead to emotional responses. The subject
of which emotions are related to which diseases is broad,
and beyond the scope of this article. Even in terms of
schizophrenia, the interaction of emotions with the body,
mind, and other emotions is complex. Suffice it to say
that excesses of joy, fright, anxiety, thought, anger,
and sorrow can lead simply to imbalance or begin a downward
spiral into more serious conditions such as schizophrenia.
Other causes or associations with the onset of schizophrenia
are poor childhood interpersonal relations, introverted
tendencies, family history, extreme emotion or trauma
to the schizophrenic's mother during pregnancy, and tense
family atmosphere during childhood.
Thomas Dey's book, "Soothing the Troubled Mind" provides ample
suggestions for preventing not only schizophrenia, but
all emotional or mental disturbance. Here are a few:
- Avoid overthinking
- Accept attainments as successes
- Avoid overly ambitious goals- frustrated plans can lead to
withdrawal and depression
- Strive to be open-hearted, open-minded, and content
- Sever thoughts of selfishness- form social bonds to sustain
you in times of trouble
- Pregnant mothers should be protected and protect themselves,
avoiding harsh environments, eating well, living in peaceful
environments, maintaining a pleasant mental state
It is also important to get good rest, avoid insomnia and fatigue,
work and live moderately, and have a steady routine.
Chinese Medical Diagnosis and Treatment
"Schizophrenia" is a psychiatric term not traditionally used by
Oriental medicine. Two diagnostic tools, the TCM disease and pattern-differentiation
are most often utilized for internal disease.
Some historical TCM diseases fit that the clinical picture of
schizophrenia are Withdrawal, Mania, Easily Awakened, Anxiety
and Thinking, Deranged Speech, Frequent Joy, and Feeblemindedness.
Each schizophrenic might have any combination of these TCM diseases
at one time. Interestingly, Withdrawal and Mania are often part
of a bipolar depressive pattern. Some patients have both bipolar
disorder and schizophrenia.
||After diagnosing the appropriate TCM diseases, the practitioner
differentiates (based on the symptom-picture) which zang-fu
patterns the patient has. Next, knowledge of TCM pathomechanisms
(understanding of the way
|diseases and disease agents operate in the body)
aids the practitioner in arriving at a comprehensive, holistic
diagnosis. This understanding allows the practitioner not
only to create a lucid historical picture of how the disease
originated and progressed, but also to select acupuncture
points and an herbal formula to enhance health and restore
There is some anecdotal evidence that the NADA treatment, which
is a highly successful supportive ear-acupuncture therapy for
addiction, also has good effect on schizophrenics. Director of
New York's Lincoln Hospital's Division of Substance Abuse, Dr.
Michael Smith, told a story at the 1999 Pacific Symposium about
institutionalized schizophrenics who were given the NADA treatment.
These patients went from averaging 5 packs of cigarettes each
per day down to an average of 1 pack per day, and were transformed
from catatonic, shuffling zombies to interested, curious, demanding
the right to form a council and have a field trip! The nurses,
accustomed to an easier to manage catatonic, drugged population,
were intially less than excited.
The patients were ultimately allowed their field trip, only after
the hospital insured each county through which they were to travel.