This picture is for a close relative with schizophrenia, shot and killed by a gun-happy policeman who lost it when he was confronted with the young man. It is another “gateway” picture. For me the two gates in this situation symbolise those that open to allow neurotransmitters in the brain to diffuse across the synaptic gap between neurones. They also symbolise the opening of minds that is required in the police and other caring services that deal with mentally disordered people in their working lives.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter substance, amongst other things, associated with feelings of well-being, love, pleasure and reward. Cocaine, and to a lesser extent caffeine, interfere with removal of dopamine from the synapses and cause the highs associated with those drugs. There’s strong evidence that dopamine is present in excessive quantities in schizophrenia. It interferes with transmission of neuronal messages in the brain causing serious disorders of thought. The opposite situation – shortage of dopamine – causes the tremors and psychotic effects of Parkinson’s disease. Drugs such as Chlorpromazine used to treat schizophrenia block the dopamine receptors in the synapse and alleviate symptoms of the disease. A side effect of these substances is to cause parkinsonism – rigidity, tremors and spasms. There is no doubt that schizophrenia is a multifactorial condition and dopamine is only a part of the story. The dopamine theory however remains merely a model for the disease and is unproven.
This X-ray included in this picture was normal but it was found as part of a teaching file in a collection of MRI scans which showed the effects of prolonged neurotransmitter disorder on the brain.