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Schizophrenia and the supersensitive synapse

Author(s): Philip Seeman, Mary V Seeman

Mental illness can arise from over-compensation of neural processes when they attempt to correct nervous system perturbation, regardless of the original cause. Initial brain compromise can be caused by genes, toxins, chemicals, infective agents, hypoxia or trauma. The original insult leads to a compensatory process of ‘rendering the synapse supersensitive’, a general neural mechanism that is involved in nervous system adaptation, repair, and regeneration. For example, in psychoses, the many and diverse early risk factors that underlie the psychosis converge to increase the number of supersensitive dopamine D2 receptors (i.e., D2 receptors that are in the high-affinity state for dopamine). Supersensitivity of synapses compensates for and protects the brain from further injury. This leads to heightened neurotransmission, which is experienced subjectively as overstimulation, with subsequent attempts to psychologically adapt. Out of individual attempts at compensation, arise the signs and symptoms that have been identified with schizophrenia and other psychoses.


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