Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Anosognosia: An Inconvenient Truth?

Mental health advocates who argue that court-ordered treatment is a violation of civil liberties conveniently disregard some scientific facts: severe mental illnesses are diseases of the brain, the very organ that allows us to reason and deliberate; some people with severe mental illnesses are affected to a degree that they are unable to make reasoned treatment decisions for themselves; anosognosia also occurs in some some individuals with strokes, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s diseases; that this “lack of insight” is a major cause of refusal to take medication; and, that medication can benefit many patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Take the Bazelon Center for example. In their blanket opposition to assisted outpatient treatment, they summarily dismiss the science of anosognosia by referring to it as a, “…supposed "lack of insight" on the part of the individual, which is often no more than disagreement with the treating professional…”

There are now more than 100 studies documenting “lack of insight” in individuals with severe mental illnesses. How much longer will treatment opponents ignore the research and continue to make the same uninformed arguments?

Labels: , ,