'Illness like any other': Is this really a helpful way to construct schizophrenia?
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Background: Publication of DSM-5 promoted considerable debate at the time: It leaves a striking legacy. Leading neuroscientists renowned for their contributions to psychiatric research reject DSM and related schemata of classification as bases for research. It would appear that those with a pioneering understanding of brain science feel that their form of knowledge does not provide constructive and applicable insight into processes underpinning the difficulties that bring people to mental health services. Objectives: To provide an opportunity for reflection upon the adequacy, suitability and unintended consequences of medical metaphors; and the use of related language in relation to 'mental health difficulties'. A particular focus will be those known as 'schizophrenia'. Methods: An interpretive epistemological approach. Current practice and related policies reflect a particular discourse and in this case, it is one that has reified a certain set of distressing experiences. Schneider's initial account of first rank symptoms will be re-considered alongside Parson's early account of 'illness' and the sick role. Findings: Critical review of notions concerning 'illness', 'medical treatment' and 'schizophrenia' suggested that their conjunction in the development of a discourse locating schizophrenia as a medical condition does not do full justice to the meanings of those terms. Conclusions: It is legitimate to criticize the construction of 'mental health difficulties' as 'illnesses like any other'. Doing so has consequences, not all of them helpful. Enabling people in difficulty may better benefit from approaches such as those offered by the Hearing Voices Network and other proponents of a more 'normalizing' tenor.