The Discreet Charm of the Schizophrenic?

In today's NYT, Dr. Elyssa Ely discovers that schizophrenia ain't all bad, at least not when you've got late-stage metastatic lung cancer. Paranoid? Psychotic? Poorly medicated? Oh well, look on the bright side! At least you can have nice delusions while you're getting your MRIs.

Why, oh why, is it still possible to write so patronizingly about this particular form of mental illness? A schizophrenic in the grip of a delusion is suffering, not cute. When Dr. Ely succumbs to a patient's charming hallucination, I have to wonder to whom the real delusion belongs.

I suspect-- having watched my mother suffer with this for all my life -- that the flat affect and other negative symptoms of schizophrenia may actually tend to elicit such unempathic responses from caregivers. (Which is not to blame the victim.) Poor caregiver response creates paranoid (or perhaps merely justified) poor responses from the patient, including dangerous noncompliance when it comes to medication. Undermedicated, the paranoid noncompliance just gets worse. And then, as they say, we are off to the races...