“I think that’s exactly what he had. I believe that my son Chris, over the course of repeated breakdowns, lost his capacity to understand his illness so he went off his meds. That’s when we lost him for good. He never took meds again. He ultimately chose to take his life rather than take medication.” — Cathy Weaver, Austin, Texas

People with anosognosia have a real neurological condition caused by damage to the brain, most likely in the frontal and parietal lobes.

Because of this condition, they can’t recognize that they are sick.

Anosognosia is associated with many diseases.

Some people with strokes, brain tumours, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease suffer from this same lack of insight.

It’s very clear that about half the people with schizophrenia and roughly 40% of people with bipolar disorder have some degree of anosognosia. In other words, they don’t recognize their own illness. We recognize this for Alzheimer’s disease but we seem to have trouble recognizing that this is also common for people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Russell Weston is one tragic example. Mr. Weston came to Washington D.C. to “save the world from cannibals” and killed two Capitol Police officers while in this delusional state.

Weston was not taking medication because he did not believe he was sick.

County judge, Polly Jackson Spencer developed the first-of-its-kind outpatient commitment program in Texas. She saw the devastation caused when the severely mentally ill are too sick to seek treatment and end up trapped in a revolving door of incarceration, homelessness, hospitalization and victimization.

“You can’t simply tell someone who has a mental illness and is disorganized in their thinking, ‘Hey, you’ve got a doctor’s appointment in three weeks and it’s ten miles from here, these are the different buses you need to take to get there, and don’t forget to go’ and assume that they’re going to make that. That’s just not going to happen.” —Polly Jackson Spencer, County Judge

Judge Oscar Kazen supervises the day-to-day operations of Bexar County’s court-ordered outpatient treatment program. He meets regularly with patients, psychiatrists, and staff.

“When I sit in that little courtroom, down in the basement of that abandoned hospital, the guy who sits at the end of the chair—that mentally ill patient—didn’t have a choice. He didn’t wake up one morning and say ‘I want to lose my life, I want to lose my sanity.’ These people had no choice in the matter and it’s our responsibility to bring them back to sanity.” — Oscar Kazen, Judge

Anosognosia is the number one reason why people fail to seek treatment.

It’s up to the rest of us to make sure that they are able to get treatment.

Learn more about anosognosia at

Video by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

2 thoughts on “Anosognosia

  1. Id prefer to listen to them and believe them- first- and die trying to- before im calling anyone anything nasty sick- and are you sure your not in denial about their denial– and are just calling them- the next nasty name in the line- after UN-insightful- the standard name psychiatrists call any patient that disagrees with them- their diagnosis- and the poisons being forced down their throats- people dont say take away the poison for nothing either- they’re real people with real feelings and thoughts- and this disgusting poison to so many- is the “number one” deadliest- of them all- out there- of course its going to shut them up or down- which has very little to do with therapeutic- but everything to do with debilitation…in reality- but to the psychiatrists brain- is fixing them up- so who’s got anasognosia- and is anasognosia the same when you dont believe you hurting someone- when you are. feels like it a bit me old mate. :-)

  2. The trouble with this name- is that its potentially “a reaction” from an angry doctor- to someone- who doesn’t believe them or in them-drugs or diagnosis-so- potentially another name calling, on top of a name calling, someone doesn’t agree with- and we’ve all seen one flew over the cuckoos nest. Mind you im sure theirs some loonies- real ones- who might have a bit of it– but i think you’ve got to take into account that theirs a world wide anti psychiatrist movement of angry people all saying psychiatry got it wrong- that’s falling on deaf ears– are they- and all their families suffering from anasognosia- or an UN-insighfullness–“have they all– got it wrong”. And what about the doctor not believing some of them- their truth and their sense of reality-what have they got- what do we call their angst about it- their ignorance and arrogance- if its there because their human, like everybody else- no one wants to be wrong do they.. Also given that they all- especially with psychotropic intolerance- go mad trying to escape these chemical altering substances- and are on a fine edge of insanity being on them- when are- or were they mad- mad to start with- and how are they mad when the’ye got mad causing- chemical altering- drugs in them- when is it them – or when isn’t it- when is it the chemical altered them- and not the real them- or the chemically unaltered- UN-interfered with- them. I mean if doctors are doing all this adverse long term drugging- management-( anti psychiatry movement)- not healing or recovery – or “non pharmacological treatments” – you’d have to consider them getting it- and everything else wrong along the way- or a lot of it- id think anyway.

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