I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Towards the Light

Towards the Light

John Saunders
When the Sun Bursts: The Enigma of Schizophrenia, by Christopher Bollas, Yale University press, 266 pp, £18 99, ISBN: 978-030021473 Mental health is complicated  Responding to mental health problems is more complicated  Responding to those who have schizophrenia is even more problematic. Despite all of the medical, psychological and social research that has been undertaken, we know little about how the brain (and mind) function and we have not yet developed sophisticated intervention strategies that are guaranteed to work. Our treatments in many cases can be seen as crude attempts to deal with behaviours that we don’t fully understand in terms of causality and underlying pathology. James Joyce, famously speaking of his daughter Lucia, who lived her adult life with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, said “it is one of the most elusive diseases known to man and unknown to medicine”. Little has changed since Joyce’s time. In this work Christopher Bollas coherently describes his life’s work responding to people with schizophrenia. The book traces the development of his understanding of schizophrenia and he includes many accounts from other colleagues, supervisors, teachers and friends. It has three parts The first focuses on his own learning from his work as a clinician; part two considers theoretical concepts and part three examines psychotherapy in schizophrenia. Bollas’s account is a rigorous and highly intellectual analysis of his professional development  It is lucid, filled with comment and argument and peppered with vignettes from his clinical work. The issue of schizophrenia over the last hundred years has caused vexatious debate,  primarily centred on questions such as what is the cause of schizophrenia? Is there a single schizophrenia state or a number of types of schizophrenia? Is it a medical or psychological condition or possibly both? Arising from those questions, other arguments present themselves, such as, for example, what type of interventions should we provide? Indeed, what type of interventions do we have and who should provide such interventions? Notwithstanding all of the above, it is also true to say that schizophrenia, more than most other human conditions, has become embroiled in the bigger question about individual wellbeing versus the wellbeing, safety and security of society. That is to say there is a generalised perception in most societies that schizophrenia poses not only threats to the individual but also to his or her wider family, circle of friends and community. This pervasive attitude is reflected in socially…

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