I noticed there was a recall of a drug called 'Risperdal'. The recall is because of a strange odor. What makes this interesting is that Risperdal is a drug used to treat schizophrenia. This seems like the worst type of drug to be recalled, for any reason but especially because of something like a funny odor. Imagine all those poor schizophrenics, many of them already reluctant to take their medicine, for a variety of reasons, sometimes because of worry that the government or God or aliens are out to get them and now they discover their medicine has a funny odor and the government is recalling it. I would imagine this sends their delusions into overdrive and reinforces their fears that some malevolent force is trying to destroy them.

Speaking of schizophrenic delusions. One night I a guy in my neighborhood seemed super panicked and informed me heaven was about to be destroyed and he was the only person who could stop it.

Schizophrenia seems to me like the most difficult and cruel disease. For that guy, things wouldn't be any worse if heaven actually was about to be destroyed and he was the only one who could stop it. Whatever terrible scenario the mind could imagine, that a person's delusions make them think is actually happening, isn't made any better for that person because it is merely a delusion. If anything, it is made worse because they aren't able to have the support of a community to share their burden and worry.


Vincent said...

I think there may be a self-contradiction here.

At any rate I could not imagine a schizophrenic paranoid about the very thing which alleviates his paranoia. It would surely be the one thing he trusts, no matter what the odour.

And I would imagine that our aesthetic response to sense-inputs is affected by association. You or I may think that the preferred delicacy of a certain tribe stinks, but they salivate when they catch its aroma. An example I can think of is the durian - a tropical fruit prized in south-east Asia, one which I grew to love.

Wikipedia remarks:

"The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and offensive. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as almonds, rotten onions, turpentine and gym socks. The odour has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia."

Chris Almond said...

I take it you haven't known many (or perhaps any?) schizophrenics? While you or I might not be paranoid about the very thing which alleviates paranoia I can assure you many many schizophrenics are. This is part of why this type of illness can be so difficult to treat, because those afflicted do not wish to take their medicine, for a variety of reasons, a common one being paranoia.
I think you are ascribing to them reasonable, rational fear, but that is contrary to the very nature of their illness.
As for your second point, I agree that taste and odor can largely be linked to association....but I'm not quite sure I see the connection to what I wrote. I make no value judgement about the smell other than that it was strange, meaning it had an odor that particular medicine does not normally have, which is generally a sign that something is amiss.

Chris Almond said...

I have 3 friends with varying degrees of schizophrenia and have been acquainted with 2 others with a more severe form (in my experience it is close to impossible to have a meaningful relationship with someone who has an extreme and untreated form of the disease).
One reason they tend to see their medicine with skepticism or paranoia is they often believe their delusions as more 'real' than their medicated perceptions, so their medication becomes, for example, something that authorities are using to control their mind and prevent them from seeing the world correctly.
Small things that you or I might not make a big deal about, become huge issues that fit into their grand conspiracy. So something like a drug being recalled because of an unexpected odor might be seen by a schizophrenic as part of some plot to, I don't know, kill everyone taking the drug or whatever. It doesn't even have have to make any sense.

Vincent said...

You are right that I haven't known many schizophrenics. I had a friendly neighbour in the apartment below me, a Jehovah's Witness who had never grown up. He played with his train set, went on long bicycle rides in shorts (usually getting arrested by police for going on highways where bikes forbidden) and had to take his anti-schizophrenic medication every day. Usually this was enough to keep him as his usual sweet kind self, though it seemed to have severe side-effects too, affecting his memory. But when he ran out of medication, or some scary situation arose (water leaking from our flat through his ceiling) Dr Jekyll turned into Mr Hyde.

I agree with you that this unique case is quite inadequate for an understanding of schizophrenics and their relationship with medication.