Overview: The Medical Model and Alternatives
Today, the main treatment for schizophrenia is medication, the main approach is the "medical model.” According to the medical model, schizophrenia is a biologically based brain disease, a life-long malady, and the treatment is almost entirely medication. To the extent that talk or any non-pharmaceutical therapy is used, it is secondary. The medical model has been criticized on multiple grounds, including the lack of scientific basis, the almost exclusive use of medications as treatment and disregard of other types of treatment, the many harmful side effects of the psychotropic medications, and the poor record of medications to provide long term improvement to those taking the medications.
This is not to say that medications can not be helpful for some people and in some circumstances, particularly on a short term basis; however, because of poor results and harmful side effects, many try to avoid medications and seek alternatives to the medical model, such as various talk therapies, energy therapies, treatments from other cultures, yoga, mindfulness. Moreover, instead of the view that medication is the only way to "fix the problem", there is increasing recognition that all aspects of a person diagnosed with schizophrenia must be attended to, including emotional, cognitive, physical health and nutrition, and even spiritual. There is, however, little consensus as to which alternatives are most helpful. Educating ourselves about the options is important.