How To Become a Schizophrenic: The Case Against Biological Psychiatry, John Modrow, Apollyon Press, Everett, Washington, $14.95, 1992, pp. 291

Reviewed by John A. Speyrer

The premise of the book is that the seeds of schizophrenia are of intergenerational origin and are planted in the early home environment of the incipient schizophrenic. Over half of the book is comprised of Modrow's recounting of his childhood up to the beginnings of his psychotic episodes during his high school years.

The rest of the book is devoted to an examination of why schizophrenia has neither a genetic nor biochemical cause. The theories that schizophrenics have larger brain ventricles than others, that there are functional differences between the brains of schizophrenics and others and that the origin of schizophrenia is due to metabolic changes are all denied. The author believes that biochemical changes in the bodies and brains of schizophrenics are the results of and not the cause of the malady. John Modrow discusses current biological theories of the causes of schizophrenia and argues persuasively against their validity.

Chlorpromazine is the drug of choice to treat schizophrenia, but the author writes that the drug works as a chemical lobotomy which only effect is to repress the symptoms of the psychosis. The position that schizophrenia is the result of defective genes does not stand up to the author's attacks. He says that there have been a number of heralded announcements that the schizophrenic gene has been discovered, but these supposed discoveries have never been able to be replicated by other researchers. Even adoptive identical twin studies were shown to have weaknesses.

How to Become a Schizophrenic is interesting, but unfortunately, incomplete, since the overwhelming significance of pre- and peri-natal trauma to psychosis, is not discussed. These very early traumas inevitably play an important role in the etiology of schizophrenia. The severe symptoms of schizophrenia point to such traumas of catastrophic size. Regressive psychotherapists agree that a traumatic birth and its antecedents are almost always essential for producing such a profound mental disturbance as schizophrenia.