By Marvin Ross
No, this is not a joke. It is an example of the weird pseudoscience and anti-science beliefs that proliferate and impact treatment. I came across this when reading the blog respectful insolence written by a doctor (pseudonym of Orac) who regularly debunks bad medicine. On this occasion, he was again going after a medical journal called Medical Hypotheses that covers weird theories. He was talking about a paper on how wearing masks in the age of covid is dangerous and debunking that.
Before critiquing this bad idea, he mentioned the various bits of dubious theories covered by Medical Hypotheses that actually find their way into pubmed. What caught my eye was high-heeled shoes are linked to schizophrenia. Intrigued, I looked it up and it was written by Jarl Flensmark who lives in Malmo Sweden. This is the pub med entry https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15325026/
“Heeled footwear began to be used more than a 1000 years ago, and led to the occurrence of the first cases of schizophrenia. Industrialization of shoe production increased schizophrenia prevalence. Mechanization of the production started in Massachusetts, spread from there to England and Germany, and then to the rest of Western Europe. A remarkable increase in schizophrenia prevalence followed the same pattern.”
“High rates of schizophrenia are found among first-generation immigrants from regions with a warmer climate to regions with a colder climate, where the use of shoes is more common. Still higher rates among second-generation immigrants are caused by the use of shoes during the onset of walking at an age of about 11-12 months.”
“Bicycle riding reduces depression in schizophrenia due to stronger stimulation by improved lengthening contractions of the triceps surae muscles. Electrode stimulation of cerebellar loops normally stimulated by mechanoreceptors in the lower extremities could improve functioning in schizophrenia.”
Jarl has also published a paper on how the wearing of flat shoes has therapeutic potential in psychiatry and neurology and that flat shoes promote neurogenesis. But I should mention that at least he does mention that schizophrenia exists and warrants further research.
While we may laugh, people do take this stuff seriously. The alleged study showing the dangers of wearing face masks has in the words of Orac “gone viral in the COVID-19-denying/minimizing, antimask, anti-public health interventions, antivaccine crankosphere.”
It is because of the growth of anti-science and anti-psychiatry that I wrote my latest book, Anti-Psychiatry and the UN Assault on the Mentally Ill. The lesson to be learned is to be suspicious of what you read and to check the reliability of sources.