It is a pleasure to thank all attendees of the 5th ESCR 2015 for contributing to three inspiring days. Participants' feedback confirmed our own impression, that the almost 400 presentations in plenary lectures, debates, symposia, oral and poster sessions provided a high quality scientific programme and allowed intensive and valuable exchange with colleagues from more than 50 countries.
Thus, special thanks to all active participants for their magnificent job!
Based on the great success of the 5th ECSR 2015 the European Scientific Association on Schizophrenia and other Psychoses (ESAS) as the primary organizer of the conference decided to meet again in two years time in same venue, i.e. The Dahlem Cube, Berlin for the 6th instalment of this series of schizophrenia conferences.
Thus mark these days in your calendar: 14 - 16 September 2017 !
In due time we will inform you about the deadlines for submissions of symposia proposals and abstracts for oral and poster communication. The scientific programme committee and I personally already look forward to your interesting contributions to the upcoming congress.
Should schizophrenia be renamed?
This question was addressed at the ECSR 2015 in a pro-con-debate which involved Professor Antonio Lasalvia from Verona as discussant of the pro-position and Professor Stefan Priebe from London arguing against changing the term.
We all are aware that all over the world, schizophrenia has even worse public acceptance than other mental disorders since it is associated with negative stereotypes, prejudices (unpredictability and dangerousness) and discrimination which is sustained by mass media that inappropriately use the term “schizophrenic” to indicate any incoherent/contradictory/ deviant behavior or criminal/violent/dangerous persons. Thus it is no wonder that the diagnosis of schizophrenia is being increasingly contested by patient's family members, clinicians and researchers, since the strongly negative connotation leads to a negative self-image in persons affected by the condition and represents an obstacle for seeking care, a barrier to recovery, and an obstruction to the possibility to find a meaning in what has happened.
Although being aware of certain disadvantages and the fact that a name change is a long and complex process Lasalvia was convinced that the advantages of renaming schizophrenia outweigh the disadvantages and that it is worth trying to fight the stigma by going the initial step in terms of abandoning the current label.
In contrast Stefan Priebe vividly argued against renaming schizophrenia. He said that changing the term schizophrenia might be appropriate once there is scientific evidence that makes other terms more useful.
And the scientific evidence should be based on what really matters to the people affected by schizophrenia, i.e. on breakthroughs in prevention, treatment and care. In his view choosing a new term would be pure semantics and in particular he blamed renaming as dishonest since there is no therapeutic breakthrough justifying new constructs, deceptive since it is creating false illusions not compatible with scientific discipline, disgraceful being a PR trick instead of real progress, harmful because it distracts from real challenge, and detrimental in that it may reduce support and funding. He eventually concluded: The challenge is to improve treatments and the real life of people with schizophrenia, not rename the problem.
Before and after the lively debate the chair had asked the audience to vote pro or contra renaming. Interestingly, the percentage of those against renaming rose from initially 27% to 53% after the debate, in particular because most of those participants who abstained from voting before the debate were more convinced by the con-arguments at the end of the debate (see graph, percentage were calculated on the basis of active voters).