For hundreds of years, doctors and scientists have grappled with understanding schizophrenia. It’s a mysterious mental illness characterized by delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized speech. Until the middle of the 20th century, treatment for severe cases would land someone in a mental institution and on heavy medication. Even more brutal were things like organ removal, lobotomies and castration. Understanding what caused the condition remained rudimentary, and there was a period when therapists blamed parents, and especially mothers, for contributing to the condition.
KCRW hears the heartbreaking yet ultimately inspiring story of the Galvin family, where six out of their 12 children developed schizophrenia. Also, mapping the human genome has ushered in a massive sea change in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders, helping put mental illness and schizophrenia in the mainstream of biomedical research.