Schizophrenia statistics and full recovery

This article presents schizophrenia statistics that will give you hope for full recovery. When most people hear the diagnosis "schizophrenia", they see it as a life sentence for their family member.  That is an old, mistaken view that was perpetuated by professionals as recently as in the DSM III manual.  But the field of mental health is now coming around to a new viewpoint.

By about the year 2000, nine major international studies had been done on schizophrenia outcomes.  These studies showed, contrary to most commonly held beliefs, that people experiencing schizophrenia get better.  In fact, about 1/3 recover so much that researchers called them "fully recovered".  

In this country, Courtenay Harding's study ended up being a centerpiece of the modern day recovery movement.  She and her team found that 30 years after the diagnosis of schizophrenia, many people simply did not have any more symptoms and had long since stopped taking medications.  Here are the studies:

  1.  Bleuler (1968), Zurich study: 23% fully recovered, 43% significantly improved, 66% total who improved.
  2. Huber, Gross, Schuttler, and Linz.  (1980), Bonn study: 26% fully recovered, 31% significantly improved, 57% total.
  3. World Health Organization (1979), world-wide two-year follow-up: 26% very favourable, 25% favourable, 51% total.
  4. Ciompi (1980), Lausanne study: 29% fully recovered, 24% significantly improved, 53% total.
  5. Harding et al. (1987), Vermont study: 34% fully recovered, 34% significantly improved, 68% total.
  6. Tsuang et al. (1979), Iowa study: 20% fully recovered, 26% significantly improved, 46% total.
  7. Hegarty et al. (1994), meta-analysis of 320 outcome studies covering all countries, all decades, with 51,800 subjects 5-6 years after being diagnosed schizophrenic with broad criteria: 46.5% improved.
  8. Warner (1994), review of 85 outcome studies during 1956-1985: 20-25% complete recovery, 40-45% social recovery, 60-70% total.
  9. Wiersma et al. (1998), 15 year follow-up of a Dutch cohort: 27% complete remission, 50% partial remission.

In Courtenay Harding's research, she discovered what seemed to be a common denominator among people who had fully recovered:  they were all out of the hospital and "had someone who believed in them, someone who told them they had a chance to get better."  That's you.

In her December 2009 article in RECOVERe-works, Courtenay mentions "underneath odd behaviors, colorful speech, or unusual attire, there is probably a person who, if given half a chance or multiple chances, knows themselves the best and can lead the two of you in the right direction toward healing."

Maybe it doesn't have to take 30 years.  Maybe it can take 20, or even 10 or less.  This offers another clue to how you can help quicken recovery for your loved one. Listen to your family member. He or she will actually lead you. Listening is a fine art. It's much deeper than you may think.  And it's another skill that is developed in meditation.  In meditation, you practice non-judgemental awareness.  Listening.

So, these schizophrenia statistics offer hope. They mean your work may pay off. They mean keep going, be there with your family member, and learn to be there in such a way that it is helpful.

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