The Unintended Consequences of Focusing on Recovery in Schizophrenia

Much has been said in this blog by my colleague Dr David Laing Dawson and myself on the concept of recovery. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if full recovery was possible but it isn’t. However, I really should clarify that somewhat. Schizophrenia should probably be referred to as a spectrum disorder like autism.

I have accepted that I will never fully recover. I view ‘recovery’ as optimizing my daily function to the maximum possible level.



I think that’s a more a realistic and sensible approach. Being the best you can within the context of your illness . For some people that will mean full time employment. For others living independently with help and support.

I’ve been living with schizophrenia since I was fourteen. I found what helped me was: anti psychotics, therapy, dedication and support. I’ve been trying to join normal society but I have less motivation and I kept failing. I couldn’t keep up in college because the illness took a lot from me and medication suppresses symptoms but does not fix cognitive result of schizophrenia. Focusing on recovery has challenges but we do need extra help.

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Your profile says you were misdiagnosed?

“My psychiatrist said I was unnecessarily labelled ADHD and schizophrenia so I’m bipolar 1 with mild anxiety or PTSD…”


I’m just happy when I remember to shower on my own, not having to be prompted by reminders I’ve programmed into devices – or worse – my wife hinting that I’m getting ripe. That really frustrates me.


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Amen, bro. I have a disorder with substantial genetic and epigentic influence. It will never wholly disappear with either meds or p-therapy. But the combination of the two helps to being my daily function closer to its best potential.

The sad thing is I am probably functioning as well as the treatment I receive allows. Which is fair to middling at best.

I will try to be more recovery focused. I think I tend to become too satisfied with my level of recovery and just enjoy each day without trying to improve. I used to think of nothing but self-improvement but there needs to be a balance between what Maslow calls growth values and what he calls coasting values.

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Unfortunately the normal mind would be quite boring to me. I’ll hit a good stride for a while then start entertaining this ■■■■■■■■ again. I don’t know, its kind of like getting into cold water. Gotta ease into it. Have to accept a simpler experience without all the erratic interjections. I don’t know if it is possible, but I would love to be free from my hallucinations. I’m going to do what I can to work toward it.

I’m planning a short vacation from social interactions. This site doesn’t really count. I kind of just want to forget about everyone else, keeps my head clear rather than becoming fixed on imaginary conversations, etc, etc.

“In fact, it has long been recognized that there are three outcomes to schizophrenia. Roughly a third are treatment resistant and remain very ill, a third can be helped with meds and other treatment modalities to improve sufficiently to lead a reasonable but disabled life, and a third will have one psychotic episode, receive treatment and never have another or any long term deficits.”

Looks like recovery is possible for 33%.

Ok I’m sort of overwhelmed by you constantly pointing this out. Labels change and everyone tells me it’s not the label it’s the treatment so why do you keep saying I don’t have schizophrenia fact is I’ve been in treatment for mental illness first schizophrenia then possibly bipolar It’s a new psychiatrist who basically judged me at first glance. Your replies are not helping me. Instead of dismissing me for my “misdiagnosis” maybe you should just diagnose me you’ve already made it clear you don’t like me and I do a great job watching people’s kids.

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I just find the musical labels thing really strange. Is this a U.S. phenomenon? Having diagnoses shift all over the place isn’t that common here up north. It’s sort of like they write on your forehead with a Sharpie and that’s it.

That’s what I’m actually curious about. :smile:


Well you’re lucky to have better hospitals and doctors where you live.

I am not entirely sure that is the case! A lot of people die on waiting lists up here. The problem with free health care is that there isn’t enough to go around. Lots of rationing.


I’ve heard that. Do you think the quality of care is any different better or worse? I’m currently in the process of seeing someone who can assist in employment resources. The clinic is funded through state and federal grants I think. It’s more accessible to people on Medicare or who don’t have specific insurance. They also offer suboxone treatment because their county has the worst heroin opiate epidemic. That’s because of the location the tri state area. There is a lot of crime here and it seems to get worse as the expansion of cities into the suburbs and eastern panhandle increases.

I’m thinking the fact that you folks get labels changed more indicates that more effort is put into your care. Even my best psychiatrist I’ve had in the past decade has never spent more than seven minutes talking to me. (Yeah, I time it. Geek thang.)

My doc had me see a psychologist who was a Russian import. His accent was so thick I was tempted to check him out for the Ruski mob tats you hear about on TV shows. Now HE was an experience. Was asked if I was having problems with substance abuse. Told him no, over two decades sober and at least weekly attendance at my 12 Step program. He furrowed his brow at me and asked, “so, you are not taaaking any real steps towards recowery?”

I left the office and basically ran screaming in the other direction. Gotta love small town mental health resources!


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Me, too. Which is why I refuse to make a target of “re-covering” anything remotely like “nomality.” (Yuck.)

I got into the same stuff @Sarad got into when she was in college (“constructionism,” “post-constructionism,” “de-constructionism,” etc.) (although I didn’t know them by those titles) and climbed up out of the common cult-ural box.

If you’re curious as to who’s written a lot about this stuff, reply to this post. Or hit her up for the sources she’s got (which are legion).

I don’t know man. I’m not good at retaining to much information these days. I like hearing the principles and then their relevance. If it applies to me it sticks. If not then I’m quick to let go of it.

I was six or eight sentences into the process that got me from abject terror to motivated recovery when I hit the exact combination of keystrokes that blew the whole thing out of the text box. One thing I know now is that I am bipolar and get too manic struggling with this oversensitive laptop keyboard. So, I just took my evening dose of 'Quel, and I am going for a walk. I took appropriate ACTion. THAT is what I learned from ACT.


Perhaps if you had attempted suicide twice and survived very much to your extreme disappointment, you might understand my motivation.