Psychology practitioners and schizophrenia: A view from both sides

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<ul><li><p>Psychology Practitioners and Schizophrenia:A View from Both Sides</p><p>Frederick J. Frese III</p><p>In recent years some few psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mentalhealth professionals have begun to reveal their own experiences as per-sons who have been diagnosed with various forms of serious mental ill-nesses. This article gives a brief background of one such person, a practicingpsychologist who was diagnosed early in his adult life with schizophrenia.Despite numerous breakdowns and hospitalizations he was able to estab-lish a career as a practitioner and as an advocate. The article also offers anumber of recommendations for professionals in this field based on theauthors experiences as both a recipient and a provider of psychologicalservices to persons with schizophrenia and other serious mental ill-nesses. 2000 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Inc. J Clin Psychol/In Session 56:14131426, 2000.</p><p>Keywords: schizophrenia; mental illness; psychiatric hospitals</p><p>Articles and book chapters have been produced previously about my personal experi-ences with schizophrenia. These have been published in the popular (Anstett, 1996; Spitz&amp; Witek, 1994) as well as in the professional literature (Buie, 1989; Frese, 1994a, 1994b;Schwartz, Wiggins, &amp; Spitzer, 1997). Generally, the purpose of these efforts has been topresent a picture of what it is like to live with this condition, with an eye toward demys-tifying the disorder, thereby hopefully having the effect of destigmatizing this long mis-understood condition.</p><p>From the feedback that I have received during the past decade or so, I know thatsome psychologists have read some of these materials, but until this time I have not hadthe opportunity to produce a fairly lengthy document concerning my interactions withpsychologists during what has now been some 33 years since first being diagnosed withparanoid schizophrenia.</p><p>Therefore, I dedicate this undertaking to my fellow psychologists and will attempt toinclude in this document information concerning my interactions with psychologists andexperiences that I have had that may be of particular interest to them.</p><p>Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to: Frederick J. Frese III, 283 Hartford Drive, Hudson,OH 44236.</p><p>JCLP/In Session: Psychotherapy in Practice, Vol. 56(11), 14131426 (2000) 2000 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Inc.</p></li><li><p>Family Background</p><p>On my mothers side, as well as on my fathers maternal side, my lineage is primary Irish,with family names like Sullivan, Brennan, Murray, and Sweeney. In that rates of schizo-phrenia have been reported to be high among the Irish, my vulnerability for this disordermay be a function of this aspect of my biological heritage. My family name, Frese, ofcourse, comes from paternal lineage. As best I can trace the etymology of the name, itderives from the name of the peoples who have been the inhabitants of a slice of Europesnorth coastal lands for eons. A quick glance at a world map reveals that these lands stillcarry variations on our family name. Friesland is a coastal province in the northern Neth-erlands, extending a considerable distance inland from the Zuiderzee and the North Sea.Additionally, the Frisian islands extend in an arc from their western terminus in the Dutchprovince of Friesland, east along the coasts of East Friesland and North Friesland inNorthwestern Germany and along the Jutland peninsula coast of southwestern Denmark.The name occurs in our English linguistic culture through Frisian carvings, Friesian-Holstein Cattle, Frisian horses, and, of course, freesia, a genus of plants of the iris family.</p><p>The most important contribution of the Frisians to our culture comes from the Frisianlanguage. Although it is now spoken in three small areas located in The Netherlands andin two small areas near Oldenburg in Germany, each with its own dialect, the language isin fact probably the closest living language to English. Even a cursory look a the OxfordEnglish Dictionary reveals that the origin of a very large percentage of common words isOld Frisian. Indeed it would not be too much a stretch to refer to modern English, thelanguage in which this document is written, as a form of neo-Frisian.</p><p>Be this as it may, I think the reader may be finding it curious that this writer goes tosuch length to describe the very language we are communicating in as emanating fromhis paternal family lineage. Such solipsism, if not downright outrageous grandiosity, Iwould suggest, is not unusual for someone with schizophrenia (see Sass, 1994), evenwhen in remission.</p><p>But let this be enough of my dwelling on my heritage. Suffice it to say that in mypaternal lineage, I am the first grandchild of the son of German immigrants. He, Freder-ick Joseph Frese (senior), was born in Baltimore just after his family arrived from Europe.The family moved quickly and as a result my grandfather grew up in the town of SanAntonio, in Pasco County, Florida, a town his parents helped found in the early 1880s. Inhis early teens my grandfather left home to find employment in Savannah, Georgia. Afterworking in a bank for several years, he married an Irish American, named Helen Brennan,established a partnership with gentleman named Traub, and went on to become co-ownerof a small chain of grocery stores.</p><p>Although the rest of my grandfathers life was spent in the food industry, both hissons entered the professions. The family moved to New York City in the mid 1920s. Myfather, Frederick Joseph, Jr., and his younger brother, now my Uncle Joe, both were thebeneficiaries of Jesuit education, beginning in high school. My father attended FordhamUniversity and St. Louis Medical School. My uncle went on to become a Jesuit priest. Healso obtained a doctorate in American history, under Samuel Eliot Morison, at Harvard.He spent virtually his entire career at Fordham University, serving as that institutionsacademic vice president for a quarter century and briefly as its acting president in themid-1960s.</p><p>My father went on to join the military and spent over three decades with the ArmyAir Corps/U.S. Air Force. From 1944 until his retirement in 1970, he held the rank ofcolonel, and the designation of flight surgeon. Most of his career was spent as a physician/administrator in what was to become aeronautical/space medicine, or bioastronautics.</p><p>1414 JCLP/In Session, November 2000</p></li><li><p>Personal Experiences</p><p>Because the development of the space-medicine field occurred at Air Force bases in theSan Antonio area, I spent most of my formative years (ages 7 to 17) growing up in the hotTexas sun. The culture was of course heavily influenced by Hispanic language, food, andcustoms, but my fathers circle of associates were in large part German scientists who hadbeen brought to the area after the war to help develop the American space effort. Thesewere medical and biological scientists for the most part, the rocket scientists having beensent to Huntsville, Alabama, to work with Wernher von Braun.</p><p>Because I was reared across the street from a major scientific research center, Iundoubtedly was influenced by that social and cultural ambiance. Many well-knownscientists, including psychologists, worked at the research center and would often visitour family home. One of the more notable of such visitors was Saul Sells, who was tobecome a long-tenured psychology professor at Texas Christian University. Dr. Sells washighly respected by my father and became a good friend of the family. In retrospect, thishappenstance may have become important in my own development.</p><p>By the time I was in my junior year of high school, I had attended seven elementaryschools and three high schools. I found myself in the all-male Central Catholic High School,reluctantly wearing an ROTC military uniform twice a week. My grades were good, but oneday I shaved my head totally bald, an action that was unheard of among Texas high schoolstudents in the late 1950s. This move on my part precipitated a lot of attention. Most observ-ers, including my parents, were curious why anyone would take such an action, breaking thesocial customs of the time for young men. My father arranged for me to be thoroughly ex-amined over a three-day period by his friend, Dr. Sells, and his psychology associates.</p><p>Dr. Sells group administered what were the common psychological tests used at thetime. As I remember, these included the Rorschach, the Thematic Apperception Test(TAT), an IQ test, and a few other personality tests. They reported back to my familywhat I was told were very positive findings. The only negative conclusion was that mypersonality was such that I might have difficulty in supervising people when I maturedbecause I was essentially too polite to become demanding of others.</p><p>Aside from my encounters with Dr. Sells, who I remember also came to my highschools career day to talk to us about psychology, I had no other serious interfaces withpsychologists until my sophomore year at Tulane University. I had won a generous schol-arship to college, courtesy of the U.S. Navy. In return, the Navy had several require-ments, one of which was that I was required to take at least one semester of psychology,which the Navy viewed as a form of leadership training. I liked psychology and went onto make that my major. Tulane was heavily oriented toward experimental psychology atthe time. I particularly remember the work that was then being done on transfer of train-ing and occupational selection.</p><p>After graduating from Tulane, I went on to spend four years as an officer in theMarine Corps, spending more than half that time in Japan, predominantly at Iwa Kuni AirStation, which is located in western Honshu, not far from Hiroshima. I had scored fairlywell on the militarys equivalent of IQ and achievement tests, and did likewise on mea-sures of physical ability, the latter being mostly due to my having kept in shape as a polevaulter while in college. But in the appearance, demeanor, and command presencecategories, I was perhaps not the ideal poster role model for a Marine. While in Japan,I spent most of my spare time trying to learn the Japanese language, taking three Univer-sity of Maryland Far East Extension Japanese-language courses, then being tutored by aJapanese Junior High School teacher, and teaching English to executives and other employ-ees of Mitsui Polychemical Corporation.</p><p>Psychology Practitioners and Schizophrenia 1415</p></li><li><p>When I returned from Japan, I was given the duty of assistant guard officer at theMarine Corps Barracks at the Naval Air Station (N.A.S.) in Jacksonville, Florida. I wasto find this job extremely stressful. The commanding officer was a hyperactive Brook-lynite. He appeared to be very dedicated to the Marine Corps. When I revealed that I didnot intend to make the Marine Corps my career, he seemed to make it a personal crusadeto try to change my mind in this regard. Frequently I felt I was being deemed unworthy.I undoubtedly deserved such treatment, because, while I would try to dutifully performthe tasks I was assigned, I clearly did not put my heart into the work that I felt was onlyto be a final, fairly temporary assignment.</p><p>While in Japan, I had been able to escape psychologically from the demands of my mil-itary duties by taking up study of the Japanese language. There the language was all aroundme, both vocally and in written form. I was constantly stimulated by it. But in Jacksonville,Florida, in the mid 1960s there was little opportunity to study Japanese, so I took up an-other hobby to get my mind off my assigned duties. This was to be mathematics. I had a strongminor in mathematics (19 semester hours) while at Tulane. I enrolled in graduate school inthe Masters ofArts in Teaching (Mathematics) at the local University of Jacksonville. ThenI studied for several months preparing for the Graduate Record Examinations (GREs). I trav-eled to Gainsville to sit for these tests at the University of Florida. Even though I had stud-ied much more for the verbal section, I found this part to be by far the greater challenge. Onthe second section, the quantitative or mathematical part, I actually finished well ahead oftime and had time to review my answers. Since it appeared that everyone else in the testingroom was still working on their answers when I finished, I was sure I must have done well.In fact, several weeks later, when my scores arrived, I found I had scored an 810 on the quan-titative section. Since the 99th percentile started at 740, and most people, myself included,thought the scores, like the SATs, only went up to 800, I became quite excited about whatI viewed as a superior accomplishment.</p><p>In addition to taking the GREs, I also decided to take the test to become a Mensa mem-ber. Mensa purports to be an organization which restricts membership to persons with highscores on IQ tests. In the mid 1960s Mensa administered a Cattell IQ test. The primary en-try requirement to the organization was attaining an IQ score at least two standard devia-tions above the mean. In that the Cattell had a standard deviation of 25, this meant havinga numerical score somewhere above 150. My score on the test managed to reach that level.</p><p>The reports of the GRE and the Mensa examinations, along with my taking partialdifferential equations and number theory in graduate school and being reasonably con-versant in the Japanese language, helped my ego counteract the barrage of criticism thatI was receiving at work. These accomplishments became a form of evidence for me thatthere was more to me than just being the bungling Marine officer I felt like while at work.Indeed I began to see myself as somehow being relatively intelligent.</p><p>But this developing change in my self-image began to create a bit of a conundrum. IfI were indeed an intelligent person, why was it that I was not able to perform in a satisfactorymanner in my Marine Corps duties? I found the question increasingly perplexing.</p><p>In addition to being responsible for working at the front gate to the Naval Air Station,the duties of the 144 men and officers at Marine Barracks, N.A.S. Jacksonville, werethreefold. We were to provide security for the stations brig ( jail), for the Fleet Intelli-gence Center Europe (FICEUR), and for the nearby large arsenal of atomic weapons.</p><p>The Start of a Schizophrenic Break</p><p>In early 1966, shortly after I had received my GRE and Mensa scores, two events tran-spired, which in retrospect probably contributed to my initial breakdown. We had two</p><p>1416 JCLP/In Session, November 2000</p></li><li><p>men at all times guarding the nuclear weapons. One afternoon, one of the young menperforming this duty was killed with his own shotgun. It was most likely an accident, butthis event started me thinking very intently. Shortly after the death of this Marine, still inhis teens, a strong rumor began to circulate that one of the nuclear weapons had beenaccidentally dropped while being loaded onto a plane. Indeed, I had seen the Army offi-cers from the special nuclear weapon disarming team talking in an...</p></li></ul>


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