20 Years Later: Revisiting Patricia Forsdyke’s series, “Breaking the Silence”

In December of 1998, a series of seven articles appeared in the Kingston Whig Standard, under the banner “Breaking the Silence.” The subject was schizophrenia. They were written by Patricia Forsdyke, Past President of the Kingston Chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. They are appearing here, on the BCSS website, and will be included in the BCSS newsletter over the next several months. They are eloquently written and describe in exquisite detail the horrible ravages this most serious disorder of the brain wreaks on patients, their families and society at large.

When I approached Patricia about reprinting the articles, she immediately said yes and added that she would not alter the series except to refer to “schizophrenia and allied disorders (psychotic disorders)” of which schizophrenia is the most prominent.

The sad fact is that, two decades later, nothing has changed and the articles are still vitally relevant today.

Schizophrenia still afflicts about 1% of the population, in Canada and world-wide. People with the illness live among us. It is an equal opportunity illness, happening to both sexes, all ethnicities and nationalities, and all economic classes. There are treatments, but so far, no cures.

In fact, things have gotten worse. Two decades ago, there were psychiatric hospitals where patients received expert and compassionate treatment. Since then, the hospitals have closed. Mentally ill people have been tossed out on the streets to fend for themselves. Many patients are now homeless and isolated, or increasingly, form a significant portion of prison populations.

Patricia’s articles spell out the facts about schizophrenia: It is a real biological illness. There are myths and untruths about schizophrenia which cause harm. We need to stop blaming families and start treating the patients. While her real life examples reference Kingston, there are similar situations in every town and city in Canada.

Schizophrenia is not well understood by the general population. It is my wish that the articles will be read far and wide and will serve to educate people wanting to learn more about the disease. I hope that then, communities will become more informed and thus more compassionate. Then, maybe we will see positive change in how we treat our most vulnerable citizens.

Marilyn Baker

 

Breaking the Silence

A series of articles from the Kingston Whig Standard by Patricia A. Forsdyke, Past President of the Kingston and Napanee Chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario

  1. When Madness Comes
  2. A Terrible Brain Disease
  3. Violence A real Danger If Disease Not Treated
  4. Fads and Myths Cloud Understanding
  5. We Must Stop Blaming Families
  6. Give Disease’s Victims a Human Face
  7. Fix Kingston’s Mental Health System

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