ABSTRACT

George H. W. Bush’s proclamation, declaring the 1990s as the “Decade of the Brain,” heralded the fourth and final stage of the neosomatic revolution in the field of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia was labeled as a brain disease to be “conquered” by the sciences, and federal funds were transferred from the treatment of the mentally ill to biological research in the field. This process had begun in the 1980s, when a small group of neuroscientists collaborated with politicians to promote neurological studies of mental illnesses. This direction raised the question of whether to operate in an open format, in terms of time, similar to cancer research, or to format the work as a “super project” that would be time sensitive, such as the human genome project (Goldstein 1994). One result of these debates

was the conception of the “Decade of the Brain,” which became a national, timelimited research endeavor aimed at better understanding the brain and the nervous system. The program was constructed around critical neurological questions regarding the “developing brain”: that is, developmental anomalies, the “injured brain,” which was the result of traumatic brain injuries, the “dysfunctional brain,” as in multiple sclerosis, and the “sensing brain,” as in pain disorders. After the program was presented, and in response to a report by the national advising committee of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders (NINDS) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), President Bush signed Proclamation 6158 on July 25, 1989, stating that millions of Americans were affected by brain disorders, in which he included Alzheimer’s, autism, speech impediments, hearing problems and schizophrenia. He further argued that the affected individuals and their families were hoping for a new era of discoveries in brain research and solutions based on new brain imaging technologies, a new understanding of brain biochemistry and the ability to design new and improved medications. This wording indicated that schizophrenia was a brain disease which could be diagnosed with technological tools and treated by somatic medical means.