The idea that medical science really did not know any more than I did about what caused schizophrenia was a long, long dawn.
Daniel had been in a provincial psychiatric hospital and then had been moved back to the admitting general hospital. At last, the elderly psychiatrist I had been trying for weeks to contact for information about Daniel’s mental condition telephoned me. “I am Dr. R. You can pick Daniel up today,” she said.
“What is Daniel’s diagnosis?” I asked.
“Acute schizophrenia,” she answered.
“And what is his prognosis?” I ventured.
“Once a schizophrenic, always a schizophrenic,” she replied and hung up the phone.
It occurred to me that no doctor in her right mind would break that kind of news to a parent that way. But I already had reasons for distrusting the kind of “help” Daniel was getting from his psychiatrists.
I made the hour’s drive to the hospital, picked up our oddly subdued son, and asked him as we started home if he would be able to wait in the car for a few minutes while I stopped at the library. In terror as to what sort of things might go wrong if I left him unattended, I ran into the building, found the small section on health, and gathered psychiatric texts, stories by or about schizophrenics, and books about dyslexia into my carryall. My formal education on the state of the art of psychiatric knowledge about schizophrenia had begun.
The texts I read implied that differing forms of mental illness were like different kinds of skin diseases: different, but all happening in the same place — the brain. The more I learned about neurologists’ and psychiatrists’ probing of the brain for the cause of schizophrenia, the more I fell into the trap of thinking the brain became sick in a dozen different ways to produce various mental illnesses. Occasionally, I would encounter a doctor who mentioned similarities between one mental illness or another. In fact, manic depression and schizophrenia have many similar symptoms. Autism used to be called “infantile schizophrenia.” Asperger’s is like schizophrenia in some ways, too. But no one had a theory of how or why these conditions were related.
During several of Daniel’s episodes of schizophrenia I had noticed his ability to focus on conversation wavered and returned. I measured that fluctuation. The intervals were 2 minutes of clarity followed by 2 minutes of confusion to make a 4-minute cycle. The cycle persisted all day, every day. I measured that cycle twice again, years apart, during separate schizophrenic episodes and the results were identical. I knew that some physiological process was driving the changes in his brain. But what? Between his severe episodes we struggled to help him to defeat his addictions. Sometimes he seemed to improve a little, then, he became acutely schizophrenic time and time again. One victory was titrating his medication to the lowest possible dosage for tolerable behaviour: 0.0625 mg. of risperidone, a minuscule amount.
Daniel reached out for music late in 2005. His healing had begun. He listened daily while colouring mandalas. His behaviour improved a little. Still, the fluctuating levels of cognition persisted. Then, one day, his psychosis ended and the cycling stopped. His brain must have become healthy because his behaviour and communication became completely normal during those few hours and remained normal for the next two years. What had happened?
My research would resume in earnest when his addictions triggered his next episode of schizophrenia. This time, I would learn exactly what Daniel meant when he said, referring to his schizophrenia, “I’m dyslexic again.”
The health of a tiny muscle in the middle ear is essential to normal behaviour. The spectrum of human behaviour, including so-called “mental” illnesses, is generated in the ear.
Contemporary psychiatric theory fails to account for the symptoms of schizophrenia, including disorganized speech. Listening for the Light explains the neurology that connects the right ear with the left hemisphere of the brain to maintain the dominance of that cerebral hemisphere. Losses of dominance, whether brief and intermittent or prolonged and continuous, account for the most common forms of “mental” disturbance. The ear muscle too weak to maintain left-brain dominance can be strengthened with high-frequency sound — for example, the music of violins. Daniel’s story shows how high-frequency music focused on the right ear cured his schizophrenia. The research I did to find out how music could cure his severely aberrant behaviour led me to the overarching theory of behaviour: right-ear-driven left-brain dominance in the integrative activities of the cerebral hemispheres.
You can read about this new paradigm based on the neurological relationship between the ear and the brain in Listening for the Light, Hemispheric Integration and the Ears, and Ear Function in SSRI Withdrawal at http://www.northernlightbooks.ca