The hunting of the schizophrenic Snark
There was an elderly psychiatrist, whose life hadn’t made him wise
And then a neuroscientist, who had trouble with his eyes.
Several new psychologists wished to come along
And all the undergraduates who said “Surely these guys can’t be wrong!”
The Government gave them money and injunctions to find out
What this ‘Schizophrenia’ was really all about
They said, “We can’t have all these people being poor, sad, and confused
Just think of all the stories on the early evening news!”
The Pharmaceutical Industry
The pharmaceutical industry (With lots of pens and mugs
and lunches – all expenses paid - to make us choose their drugs)
Had lots of happy shareholders and CEO’s who’ve said:
“I’m sorry for the side effects – you say they’re really dead?”
“But this one here is still alive (though with dry mouth and the shakes
Impotence, and muzzy head, nausea, and aches)
They’re so much better off you see, and while it’s not a cure
(the shareholders wouldn’t stand for that) at least our motive’s pure”
“To make lots of money… No! let me start again
It’s for a better quality of life - to ease these people’s pain.
They don’t need work or love or joy with motivation gone
They can ‘express themselves’ at day centres through poetry and song.”
“I’ve heard there’s lovely places, now the brick asylums closed
And care in the ‘Community’ (I think there’s one of those?)
We stole their motivation?, well that wasn’t up to me
It’s clinicians you must go to, we just give them stuff for ‘free’.”
The psychiatrist in his office, dressed all in Harris tweed
Wrote a letter to his journal in which he disagreed:
“These CEOs do sterling work – I just can’t say it plainer”
(And though no one else could read it there) he earnt a large retainer
Then he settled in his leather chair and sucked upon his briar pipe
“These new psychologists (he thought) are really not my type
They need to know we have to blame our patients - old and new
For all their many failures – else they’d just be me and you!
We need to give them lots of drugs, and if that’s not enough
We’ll give them more, and then again, to show them that we’re tough
And if the symptoms soon remit, though they can’t move or speak,
We’ll know then that then the job’s well done; and see them once a week.
We don’t know how, we don’t know why, we frankly don’t much care
This hunt for Schizophrenia just makes me want to swear
The blasted thing’s illogical and where I once would look
I simply shift responsibility onto the latest book:
The DSM, the ICD it’s all the same to me
I give the drugs, I sign the forms, I then collect my fee
And if it seems the entry’s wrong well, could I care less?
I simply end my sentence with the letters: N. O. S.
This cure you see is all we want - it proves we’re not talking tosh
This ‘lack of asprin causing headaches’ rebuttal doesn’t wash
Right I’m for drinks, a round of golf, and dinner at the Ivy
They’ve not enough to eat you say? Well, they should stop their skiving!”
“You can’t say that!” young Emma said. “And Emma here agrees
And we should know they cried aghast, we’ve got psychology degrees.
We may be interchangeable, down to our hair and shoes,
Female, white, and twenty-three but we so much like to use
the complicated knowledge we got from reading books
and feel our very special strength lies in uniformity of looks
You see we really, really care (at least we thought so at the start)
And though we haven’t travelled far, we know the DSM by heart.
And should we meet an elder, with eyes lined-creased in pain
Of course we’ll know the thing to say – from book learning again!
You see we’re rather clever, (In a limited sort of way)
And if that makes us patronise, well hey what can we say?
Where is Schizophrenia? But we just do as we’re told!
You’d need some sort of maverick to crack that pot of gold
Were far too busy trying to prove this ‘science’ that we’re taught
And thus we lose capacity for independent thought.”
But they tried their best to find it out with lots of big long words
“Dementa praecox – so passé – I’m not sure if you’ve heard?
We’ll call it Schizophrenia and think we’ve reduced the pain
To a symptomatic definition, located in the brain
Perhaps, they said (most quietly, while looking left and right)
You need someone more qualified to see those neurones light
Encephalography, eye blink, MRI, PET and CAT
The Wisconsisn card sort test, yes! Someone else’ll help with that.”
The neuroscientist, however, had turned a shade of puce
And was crying in his scanner – “O for pity’s sake what’s the use?
I’ll never find this illness - it seems like there’s nothing there
The ventricles enlarge, then shrink, and no one seems to care
Blood flow – low frontality, the limbic system too
It seems that over time – well, they’re just like me and you!
I’ve tried dopamine receptors; D two and three and four
And just when it seems I’ve got it down – they go and find some more!
I’m on to serotonin now, norepinephrine must be next
With all these many things involved I’m feeling rather vexed!
I’ll ask the medics - they must know; they’re paid so much more than I
Right one last go with gross volume before I start to cry.”
But the medics didn’t know and they passed it down the line
To the nurses – they’re the workers who seem to spend the time
With the patients “One-to-one you know?” – yes, they must be the ones
Who’ll find this Schizophrenia – they’ll spot it when it comes
But the nurses couldn’t find it, for it wasn’t written down
“Though I’m sure it was at handover”, said one nurse with a frown
Nor, though, was it visible from the nurses’ station chair
“Blast this search!” the charge nurse said “We‘ll call it patient-centred care”
The people who knew
And somewhere in this chaos a Person raised a hand
Dignified and understated, they thought to take a stand
Thinking those with some experience might help to find a way
And that a lifetime in the System meant that they should have a say
Knowing only what their truth is, they rose to try their luck
with the band of arguing ‘professionals’ – “Now, first, you don’t know Fuc/“Was that a patient!?” Came an outraged cry. “We’re trying to make you well!”
(And the Person started thinking of a very special hell)
“Service User!” cried another “Client!” cried a third
“No”, there spoke the Person – “I fear you have misheard.”
“It’s not about your labels, It’s all about our lives.
Procrustes would have helped you, with his special set of knives.
If you see us, not as one-in-four, but as a Person (as we are)
Then therein lies your answer (though it won’t make you the star)
You won’t get power or promotions; or a kick from ‘Doing Good’
You’ll have to help out with housing, education, and our food
You’ll have to see your racism, your prejudice, and more.
And know the many tragedies upon the psych-ward floor.
You’ll have to learn of winter streets and scariness made ill
About the way a friendship slides and how we pay the Reapers bill
But you’ll learn about our laughter too, about our hopes and dreams
You’ll learn about a Person – and what that truly means.
You’re hunting for a concept which we don’t recognise
It’s a Person in the mirror; not a label meets our eyes
Though we’ve walked a path less travelled, and sometimes do let go.
We have a deepened beauty - which you just might come to know.
So all of us professionals (yes, for my sins I’m one of you)
I’ll take your rage and terror (and your rebuttal papers too)
You can write here in a temper; take your frustration out on me
But you can’t catch this Snark - it’s not a thing: it’s just a Boojum
Can you see?
HCPC Registered Counselling Psychologist
Senior Specialist Psychology Associate
Clinical Research Fellow
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