Read Nick Lavars’ article in New Atlas reporting that for so long schizophrenia was seen as a disorder exclusively of the mind, but new lines of research are uncovering evidence that its machinations may venture well beyond the brain. In what is being labeled one of the biggest breakthroughs in schizophrenia research of recent times, scientists have detected heightened immune cell activity in the brains of sufferers, providing a brand new target for further research into its causes, diagnosis and treatment.
The idea that schizophrenia is not only an illness of the mind, but of the whole body, actually originated more than 100 years ago. An influential German psychiatrist named Emil Kraepelin posited that the disorder was actually a broad metabolic disease that affects the entire body, though his voice was soon drowned out by influential figures in the field of psychoanalysis.
Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert’s twin brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia at aged 17. As a neuroscientist, now at Neuroscience Research Australia, she has dedicated her life’s work to discovering its cause. She explained to us one of the reasons for the long-held scientific aversion to studying the interplay between the immune system and brains of schizophrenia sufferers.