I knew that I was nearing my destination when I spotted the strange folks wandering towards that large hall off in the distance. To my left there was this tall guy with his left hand poised in the air as if he were holding a lease of some invisible dog he was walking. Over to my right and a little farther away this sad-looking character was laughing and joking out loud to himself. This lady had attached herself to me explaining endlessly about her teenage son and how she was concerned about him and that was why she was coming here and on and on.
I had decided to attend the yearly Nationaal Fonds Geestelijke Volksgezondheid seminar in Amsterdam and it would be an interesting event. I am a paying member of the NFGV (which when translated in broken English stands for something like "National Fund Public Mental Health") so could attend this event for a slight discount, ten euros. Not that the money really matters that much. I was especially interested in the presentations that would be given by various famous Dutch psychiatrists covering such topics as autism, schizophrenia, manic depression, cultural differences between patient and therapist, treatment of men versus woman, childhood disorders, biological psychology, laughing therapy, etc.
Yes, I had come to the right place and it would be an interesting day. Here are a few points of interest:
- One fourth of those suffering from schizophrenia end up completely recovering from the disease in later life.
- Thirty years ago they blamed the parents for causing their kids to become autistic.
- There is a fifty per cent chance that if one suffers an instance of depression there will be a repeat within ten years.
- In general, women blame themselves for their problems whereas men try to find an external reason (beyond their control).
- There is a scientific correlation between certain gene sequences and the chances of acquiring given mental diseases.