The psychiatric view of schizophrenia (and other manifestations of mental illness) has shifted almost entirely to a biological model from a psychological one. Medication is seen as the primarily solution. This is a substantial shift from the work of Carl Jung, one of the pioneers in the field and someone with very extensive experience.
I would suggest that one of the factors in the Tucson tragedy is the culture’s over-emphasis on the the world of “facts”– the “materialism” of the culture — and the ignoring (and ignorance) of the psychological world. Who did Jared Loughner have to talk with about his overwhelming dreams?
Who would listen, in a culture that dismisses such phenomena? Where is the cultural and media knowledge of Carl Jung, when we so much need to know what he knew?
Here are some of the the things Jung had to say about schizophrenia:
When we penetrate into the human secrets of our patients, the madness discloses the system upon which it is based, and we recognize insanity to be simply an unusual reaction to emotional problems which are in no wise foreign to ourselves.
Why is the mind compelled to expend itself in the elaboration of pathological nonsense? Our new method of approach gives us a clue to this difficult question. Today we can assert that the pathological ideas dominate the interests of the patient so completely because they are derived from the most important questions that occupied him when he was normal. In other words, what in insanity is now an incomprehensible jumble of symptoms was once a vital field of interest to the normal personality.
A person with a strong complex thinks in terms of the complex, he dreams with open eyes and no longer adapts psychologically to the environment. (1907)
In schizophrenia the complexes have become disconnected and autonomous fragments, which either do not reintegrate back to the psychic totality, or, in the case of a remission, are unexpectedly joined together again as if nothing happened. (1939)
These forces did not originate in our patient out of nowhere. They are most emphatically not the result of poisoned brain cells, but are normal constituents of our unconscious psyche. They appeared in numberless dreams, in the same or a similar form, at a time of life when seemingly nothing was wrong. And they appear in dreams of normal people who never get anywhere near a psychosis. (1939)
More than once I have seen that even with such patients there remains in the background a personality which must be called normal. It stands looking on, so to speak… Through my work with patients I realized that paranoid ideas and hallucinations contain a gem of meaning. (1955)
It is now just about fifty years since I became convinced, through practical experience, that schizophrenic disturbances could be treated and cured by psychological means. I found that, with respect to the treatment, the schizophrenic patient behaves no differently from the neurotic. He has the same complexes, the same insights and needs, but not the same certainty with regard to his foundations. Whereas the neurotic can rely instinctively on his personality dissociation never losing its systematic character, so that the unity and inner cohesion of the whole are never seriously jeopardized, the latent schizophrenic must always reckon with the possibility that his very foundations will give way somewhere, that an irretrievable disintegration will set in, that his ideas and concepts will lose their cohesion and their connection with other spheres of association and with the environment. As a result, he feels threatened by an uncontrollable chaos of chance happenings. He stands on treacherous ground, and very often he knows it.
The dangerousness of his situation often shows itself in terrifying dreams of cosmic catastrophes, of the end of the world and such things. Or the ground he stands on begins to heave, the walls bend and bulge, the solid earth turns to water, a storm carries him up into the air, all his relatives are dead, etc. These images bear witness to a fundamental disturbance of relationship, that is, of the patient’s rapport with his surroundings, and graphically illustrate the isolation that menaces him.
I have now, after long practical experience, come to hold the view that the psychogenic causation of the disease [the schizophrenias] is more probable than the toxic [physico-chemical] causation. There are a number of mild and ephemeral but manifestly schizophrenic illnesses-quite apart from the even more common latent psychoses-which begin purely psychogenically, run an equally psychological course (aside from certain presumably toxic nuances) and can be completely cured by a purely psychotherapeutic procedure. I have seen this even in severe cases.
It would be a mistake to suppose that more or less suitable methods of treatment exist. Theoretical assumptions in this respect count for next to nothing. Also, one would do well not to speak of ‘methods’ at all. The thing that really matters is the personal commitment, the serious purpose, the devotion, indeed the self-sacrifice, of those who give the treatment. I have seen results that were truly miraculous, as when sympathetic nurses and laymen were able, by their courage and steady devotion, to re-establish psychic rapport with their patients and so achieve quite astounding cures
But even so one can bring about noticeable improvements in severe schizophrenics, and even cure them, by psychological treatment, provided that one’s own constitution holds out [in my own experience, I have had situations where I continued the long-term psychotherapy of several patients in inpatient state hospital settings, later transferred into my practice, in which I was physically attacked, reported to have sexually molested the patient , etc, to very positive outcomes, e.g., to the point where family thought their family member was originally misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, never having to return to the state hospital after many years of residing there, etc]. This question is very much to the point, because the treatment not only demands uncommon efforts but may also induce psychic infections in a therapist who himself has a rather unstable disposition. I have seen no less than three cases of induced psychoses in treatments of this kind.