International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Early Childhood Experiences and the Development of Schizophrenia: An Existential Analysis

J. M. Stolzer, Ph.D

University of Nebraska – Kearney


For decades, those adhering to the medical model have hypothesized that schizophrenia is the result of the biological malfunctioning of the human brain. Furthermore, practitioners of the medical model insist that in order to control schizophrenic-typed behaviors, psychiatric medications must be administered and continued throughout the life course. This paper will challenge the current medical model’s perception of schizophrenia using R. D. Laing’s existential theory. Early childhood experience, familial systems, and bioevolutionary theory will also be explored in depth in order to gain insight into the origins of those particular behavioral patterns that the medical establishment has collectively defined as “schizophrenia.” Schizophrenic behavior will be defined as explicable, not as a biological malfunctioning of the human brain, but as an escape mechanism that is fueled by discordant and sophistic demands made by a disordered and dehumanizing world (Monte, 2005). The goal of this paper is to offer a theoretically sound alternative to the current medical model and to redefine schizophrenia as a “voyage of rediscovery” rather than an incurable, chronic, biogenetic disease from which there is no escape.

PDF article download available to INPM Regular Members only. Login or Join now or purchase this article here