32 Reasons Why The “Schizophrenogenic Mother” Concept Is Incorrect

[Written in 2008.]

NOTE:  THIS IS A TONGUE-IN-CHEEK ESSAY…

“The schizophrenogenic mother” – a mother who creates schizophrenia in her child – is presently a hated, taboo topic in psychology because it blames mothers.  The only modern articles that refer to the concept anymore label it as incorrect and disproven.  But they invariably fail to say WHY it is incorrect.  So I have taken the liberty of doing it for them. 

[Note, with humor aside:  I actually strongly dislike the term “schizophrenogenic mother” because it lets fathers, who bear half the responsibility for child-rearing, off the hook.  Please keep this in mind as you’re reading this list!!  I much prefer the non-sexist terms “schizophrenogenic parent” and “schizophrenogenic family.”  That said, other factors beyond parents do contribute to causing schizophrenia, but I still hold parents and their bad behavior and lack of protection of their children to be the biggest causative factor, BY FAR!]

1)      Look, neophyte, schizophrenia is a biochemical imbalance in the brain.  Everyone knows that!  

2)      If mothers caused schizophrenia, then that would mean schizophrenia is a psychological disorder that could be cured through therapy, which everyone knows is completely impossible!

3)      Although many recovered schizophrenics claim that their mothers played a significant role in causing their schizophrenia, clearly those people were never REALLY schizophrenic at all, because no one with schizophrenia EVER recovers!

4)      Plus, if those supposedly recovered liars really WERE schizophrenic, you can’t take their claims seriously because everyone knows that schizophrenics are crazy and unreliable!

5)      I once asked the mother of a schizophrenic if she caused his madness.  She said she didn’t.  Therefore, since mothers are konwn to be 100% truthful—all of the time—what more proof do you need?

6)      Schizophrenia is treatable ONLY with life-saving, anti-psychotic medications, which are prescribed by ethical, caring psychiatrists, some of whom are mothers of schizophrenic children themselves!  So how could the greatest healers also CAUSE schizophrenia?

7)      Schizophrenia is a genetic illness, lodged in your DNA.  And your DNA has NOTHING to do with your mother.

8)      Schizophrenia is a crapshoot, a mystery, a random occurrence, a neurological mis-firing, a stroke of bad luck, a freak accident of Mother Nature.  Yes, Mother Nature might be schizophrenogenic, but NOT the lovely, boundariless despot who ruled the roost of my family, thank you very much.

9)      You insensitive jerk, it really hurts mothers’ feelings and causes them terrible guilt when you place the blame on them.  And hurting a poor mother’s feeling IS JUST PLAIN WRONG.  SO BACK OFF.  GOT IT?

10)  If anything, mothers are the greatest VICTIMS of schizophrenia.  Do you know how PAINFUL it is to see your child expressing delusions and hallucinations that metaphorically tell the whole world just how horrible you were as a mother?

11)  Schizophrenia is caused by excessive masturbation.  I know that for a FACT.  My mother told me.

12)  Well, your mother may have caused YOU to be schizophrenic, but NOT MINE!  So don’t you dare universalize your silly concept!

13)  You Freudian ding-dong, not EVERYTHING is the mother’s fault.  I suppose you also blame Multiple Personality Disorder on mothers?

14)  Since one of the prime symptoms of schizophrenia is hallucinations, if the schizophrenogenic mother concept were true wouldn’t that also mean that some mothers are “hallucinogenic”?  Totally ludicrous!

15)  Mothers have a deep, innate, unbreakable instinct to protect – and not harm – their children.  Everyone knows that!

16)  Harry Harlow PROVED repeatedly that the worst, craziest, lousiest monkey mothers consistently raised the healthiest, most well-adjusted, non-psychotic monkey children.  (Or did I get that backwards?)

17)  Some people with schizophrenia were abandoned by their mothers at birth – and raised with no mother at all.  So how in the world could a non-mother also be schizophrenogenic?  Ponder that one, smarty-pants!

18)  Here’s one for all you snooty anti-psychiatry folks:  Thomas Szasz, in his book “The Myth of Mental Illness,” proved that there is no such thing as schizophrenia.  Therefore, how could a mother cause something that doesn’t exist?  Ha, gotcha!

19)  Schizophrenia was long thought to be the result of demon possession.  Mothers, on the other hand, have long been known to be saints.  Therefore, it is nonsensical to think of a saint causing demon possession.

20)  Identical twins separated at birth show higher concordance rates for schizophrenia, PROVING that schizophrenia is a genetic disorder!  (And don’t even try holding mothers responsible for rejecting and separating their kids at birth.  Maybe she gave them away for a good reason…)

21)  If, hypothetically, a mother did cause schizophrenia, that would beg the question of what in her own childhood so severely damaged her to cause her to be such a horrible mother.  And then we’d have to blame her parents, and her parents’ parents, and ultimately all parents, all the way back through the generations.  And that would mean that our entire species is totally insane, which of course it isn’t!

22)  All the pharmaceutical companies state that we don’t know what causes schizophrenia.  And they are on the cutting edge of scientific research – because if they weren’t all the big universities and research institutions and academic researchers wouldn’t gobble up their money.

23)  The National Alliance on Mental Illness (which also takes tons of drug company money) states pointblank that families (aka mommies) do NOT cause schizophrenia.  And they know.  They’re an organization started BY mothers!  And mothers always know best!

24)  What about all the terrible mothers out there who raise healthy, non-schizophrenic children?  Take George W. Bush’s mother:  She was lousy yet raised a perfectly sane, healthy, normal child.

25)  Schizophrenics have a tendency to be violent.  So it’s a very bad idea to go insulting their mothers.

26)  Progressive modern research shows that people with schizophrenia were MUCH more likely to have been sexually abused when they were children.  And everyone knows that mothers do NOT sexually abuse their children.

27)  Just the fact that you, Daniel Mackler, agenda-laden creator of this parent-bashing website, would even consider exhuming and reconsidering this dead, evil concept is proof enough!

28)  Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, creator of the “schizophrenogenic mother” concept, never had kids, and non-parents have no business criticizing parents.  They lack the requisite perspective and empathy.  (Granted, Fromm-Reichmann was the beloved therapist of Joanne Greenberg, who happens to be one of the most famous recovered schizophrenics, not to mention the author of “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.”)

29)  The schizophrenogenic mother concept is politically incorrect, and therefore invalid.  Period.  Goodbye.

30)  If you have ANY desire whatsoever to advance your career in the psychology field, I suggest you stop thinking about this matter immediately, navigate away from this website, and write your mother a nice, loving, greeting card.

31)  Schizophrenia is caused by smoking marijuana.  And NO mother supports that kind of sick, criminal behavior!

32)  You sexist pig, mothers do NOT cause schizophrenia.  It’s fathers that do.  Those bastards!  Pigs!  Perverts!  Scum!

10 thoughts on “32 Reasons Why The “Schizophrenogenic Mother” Concept Is Incorrect

  1. My understanding of schizophrenogenic is cultural acting out. For example,” lets play Cowboys and Indians. I got real action figures! Or how bout G.I. Joe and the Asian Menace. Maybe we could play Turks and Christians.Cops and Robbers? Real video game characters.” I quote here the lyrics of a popular song—There are no good guys there are no bad guys . There’s only you and me and we just disagree.
    I ran across a research institute in the Niagara Peninsula Ontario Canada. The study subject.. ….the brain- does long term abuse cause changes to the brain size shape and chemistry? The conclusion YES and three generations of abuse results in cell mutations perceived cancers and brain changes. Unhappily the Canadian Cancer Society Statistics show the same region as having the highest mortality rate from cancer for all Canada. Right is right. Drunk driving is immoral. its wrong. But oh money. You see the haves and the have-nots. And any tool can be a weapon so its like this life is like a game of baseball. But the haves have regulation baseball bats and the have-nots have fallen tree branches. Or how homesickness is also a disease. Or we could have a shoot out at high noon only one gunslinger has no weapon.

  2. About this post: I am a medical student doing my psychitary rotation. I’m currently researching on some theories about schizoprenia nd stumbled on this. Its obvious the writer has got biased ties to the mother and knows absolutely nothing about schizoprenia. If you have nothing knoweldgeable to share then don’t write. Masturbation and schizo…….? You should be examined.

    • hmm……..stephanie…….you didn’t make your point of view on the schizophrenogenic mother concept clear (pro or con), though it’s clear you were clearly rubbed the wrong way by my essay. but did you realize it was tongue-in-cheek? if not….then…….i’d be curious to know what you think of it now. if yes…..then…….aaaaaaaaaaaah!! daniel

  3. “your DNA has nothing to do with your mother!”

    you are a fucking idiot

    DNA has everything to do with your relatives you dumb fuck. You just disqualified any truth within this post.

  4. As a non-medicated and recovered schizophrenic, I can say with certainty that my mother DID cause my problems, albeit unintentionally and unwittingly. But of course, if I’m schizophrenic, then I don’t have a valid opinion on the matter, as I have a “thought disorder”, which makes me not-responsible for my own thinking, particularly when it’s out of line with what she or psychiatry would like me to think. And if I’m a recovered schizophrenic, then of course I was never truly schizophrenic in the first place and therefore don’t know what I’m talking about.

    My mother was actually a very pleasant woman, and our home would have passed any social services inspection. I was well-fed and had toys and bedtime stories and regular dental checks, and I was never beaten or abused or locked in a closet. But she had no respect for me as my own person or any sense that I was different from her.

    I was brought up on teasing and ridicule. (“Oh don’t be so silly! I was only having fun!”) She said I could come to her with any problems, but she’d always laugh it off and tell me it was nothing to worry about. (“We’re so close. We share all our secrets.”) From my earliest memory, she told me who I was and what I thought and felt and wanted, whilst ignoring the real person inside. (“A mother knows her daughter best, and we’re so alike.”) Then when I got to teenage, she started criticising me for not being how she wanted me to be. (“You’re useless.” “You can be so selfish sometimes.” “Why can’t you think of things without being asked?”)

    But luckily I read the right books and developed insight into my condition (insight being something that schizophrenics aren’t supposed to have). So then I cured myself, by keeping away from my mother and not-taking psychiatric medication. Which is why I’m now a well-balanced person and don’t suffer from tardive dyskinesia or atrophy of the brain.

    My mother was probably very unhappy when she lost her daughter, but I had to think of my own interests first. (“You can be so selfish sometimes.”) Perhaps she would have been happier if I’d ended up mentally “ill”, because then she could have kept me with her and played the loving mother to the end.

  5. Hi , trust me to find the hardest one first. Hard for me that is…
    I am a 62 yr old mother to a 29 yr old schizophrenic son. I’ve had 6 children. The eldest born in ’72, ( like you) was fathered by one man.. The
    Other five by another.
    My eldest son, Morgan, died suddenly in 04 of a heart attack.
    My second son, Yeshe( who is schizophrenic), developed this during the yr after his brothers death. Culminating in hanging himself on the anniversary of Morgans death. His father found him in time, and revived him. But he sustained some mild brain injury( short term memory loss).
    He was on medication, we with help of Drs took him off. But he had another episode/ meds again/ another episode/ different meds. Hard core meds. Now, several yrs later , he’s stable. Relationship with his father has broken down. His father has moved away. I’m his carer.
    I accept that his father and I were very disturbed parents. I accept my contribution in helping create mental illness in my son( our other kids do well). Despite many yrs of reading books. Alice Miller. The whole tribe from the 70s.. I still fucked up..
    Raising kids in nuclear families , Very very few get out alive and well.
    During the last three yrs, since separating from my husband.. I’ve had to face so much. Had to look within, own my deep damage.. And the damage I’ve done.
    So now what? How do I proceed helping my son repair?

    • dear Dolma,
      this is a very intense message from you. i am wishing you the best. how to proceed? aaaah!! i wish there were an easy answer. if there were an easy answer i would probably say — just keep growing and healing your own inner traumas to the best of your ability…. same advice i give myself……. but often in my experience life’s answers aren’t so easy in practical terms…..
      this essay…..yes…..a tough one. for years i didn’t have it linked from my website’s main page so it was hard to find…….because it was a tough one. but now….well…….i linked it. i don’t want to offend people, yet i also want, to some degree, to state my point of vew.
      wishing you the best,
      daniel

      • Thanks for replying. It’s 12.15 am here in Australia. Just reading before sleep, and my phone pinks several times.
        And there you were.
        I salute you having the courage to talk this way. I too have been horrified at how the medical profession just swept aside all the insights gained in the 60s-70s about causes of mental
        Illness.
        Of course, I believe, so much of it comes from how children are treated.
        And yes, drug taking contributes…
        So it’s great to find a voice out there, stating the bleeding obvious.

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