Recovery of an "Incurable Schizophrenic"

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Length: 1 hour

Bertram P. Karon, PhD, ABPP

A patient diagnosed as schizophrenic was evaluated by all his psychiatrists as "incurable" after several years of unsuccessful outpatient and two months of unsuccessful inpatient treatment, both with medications. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was strongly but pessimistically recommended. He was not eating, not sleeping, and continuously hallucinating. He began outpatient psychoanalytic therapy. All medications were stopped. After three days, he began eating. After four months he began working at an intellectually demanding job. After two years, he could be assured that he would never be psychotic again under normal stresses. But that was not good enough for him. He kept raising new issues: problems in living, difficulties writing his first book, psychosomatic problems, problems enjoying ordinary pleasures, marital problems, undoing problems he had caused his son. The total treatment took 14 years. More than 20 years after the completion of treatment, the patient sent a note indicating his continued professional accomplishments and thanking the therapist for "giving me my life back."

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