Monday, April 1, 2013

Missed Connections: Stilettos and Schizophrenia?





Though insensitive, schizophrenia patients embody what some call “crazy”.  Sufferers have a cognitive disorder which presents some common symptoms that include, auditory hallucinations, bizarre or false beliefs (delusions) and disorganized speech. They display behaviors similar to those on the streets of NYC loudly and erratically detailing the CIA’s constant attempts to spy on conversations with their best friend Lamar (who also happens to be a turkey sandwich).

Can the reason why some of these people develop this condition be due to their frequent use of high heels? The answer is….probably not. However, this did not stop one brave researcher from trying to prove that this could be the case.

In 2004, there was a scientific article published that detailed “evidence” suggesting a meaningful association between the use of high heeled shoes and individuals developing schizophrenia. In the paper, the author notes that different societies throughout history with a prevalent use of high heel shoes also had co-incidences of asylum visits and/or some record of some schizophrenic-like cases reported. The author then takes information from many unrelated studies and uses them to create a patchwork conclusion, based on correlations that weakly suggest a relationship between the schizophrenia and high heel shoe usage.

In his defense though, he did add that after a thorough search of the literature no evidence to the contrary was found.

After reading his review, and noting his bravery in reporting a farfetched argument, I have been inspired to announce something that I’ve known for years.

Facebook makes me poop. 

There, I said it. 

Ever since Facebook was created, I have gone to the bathroom more times than I can count. On top of that, I know my friends have taken more trips to the bathroom since the site went up.  No one’s shown me any proof to say that it doesn't, so I must be right. Right? 

Unfortunately, both my claim and the author’s are based on relationships most would not find promising enough to investigate, so it’s not likely that evidence to the contrary would be found. Disregarding that, just because evidence shows two factors changed during a similar period of time, does not mean one affected the other. Our “evidence” also doesn’t take into account other factors that may influence the both of the factors we are correlating.  Lastly, coincidental increases in our correlational factors (i.e. more trips to the bathroom or increase in asylum admissions) may not be due to the ailment of interest (pooping or proper schizophrenia diagnoses), as there are lots of reasons someone might go to the bathroom or other ailments someone can have when being admitted.

For now it seems that people can continue to wear high heels, with the only fear being the inevitable foot pain that goes along with it.

TL;DR Keep your heels on.



Flensmark, J. (2004). Is there an association between the use of heeled footwear and schizophrenia?. Medical hypotheses, 63(4), 740-747.

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