Schizophrenia is in the news. In the past week USA Today devoted much of their front section to this family of neurologic disorders, the Wall Street Journal featured an article on schizophrenia in the prison systems on their front page, and this morning NPR did a book interview with the parents of a schizophrenic adult.
Why now? This is not a new disorder. As measured by any reasonable combination of cumulative suffering, anguish, economic burden and prevalence schizophrenia is the worst affliction of the post-industrial world. And yet, it's been relatively ignored. Why should that change now?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. It's the boomers.
Schizophrenia is usually recognized around age 20. It's a disease that, unlike MS or breast cancer, silences its victims. Only parents can write about it and campaign against it.
The median boomer was born in 1955. She had her first child in 1983. That child was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2003. By 2005 he was running into legal problems. Now she's writing about her son.
We can all wish that schizophrenia had been "public enemy number one" 10 years ago. No matter, now is the time. This is one issue on which a beleagured and widely despised president could win a few friends. Bush should declare war on schizophrenia. It's one of the few good things he can still do.