Ming T. Tsuang


Oxford University Press, 1982

Foreword by Eliot Slater

Fifty years ago I was a junior doctor in a county mental hospital. In those bare wards chronic schizophrenic patients lived out their lives, and no one could do anything to help them. The picture is very different today. Treatment with newly discovered drugs has made remission of the illness the rule rather than the exception. Rehabilitation, occupa­tional therapy, and community care have stabilized recovery. Hospitals keep in touch with ex‑patients and their families, and can do a great deal to prevent a relapse.

   Even the great mystery of the nature of the illness does not now look so insoluble as it did once. Professor Tsuang tells the story of researches that have set aside misleading theories, one after another. We believe now that the faulty mechanism lies in the chemistry of the brain. The time has passed in which people spoke of the 'schizophrenogenic mother'. No one now wants to lay blame on the unhappy parents of a schizophrenic child. The terrible feelings of guilt that they once suffered have been blown away. We know now that both patients and their relatives deserve nothing but sympathy for an affliction that was an accident of nature.

    Professor Tsuang writes from wide experience and deep learning. He tells us the truth as he sees it, straight and clear. He does not cover up the many areas where we do not know the answers. He shows us the whole field, where we are on firm ground, where we are yet uncertain, and where we only have guesses to guide us. There is a great need for further research. The biochemical mechanisms still have to be ident­ified. This book gives us a comprehensive and up‑to‑date account. But our knowledge and understanding are now growing fast. It will not be long before a new edition will be needed.