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Can a mind be sick?


Guest ASchwartz
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Guest ASchwartz

There was a recent comment to an essay I wrote about Schizophrenia in which the writer stated that he was one of the people with schizophrenia who does not take his medication. He then went on to ask if a mind can be sick.

There are those people who believe that this and all of the psychoses are not are not any different than depression and that psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are effective treatments. They do not believe in the use of anti psychtic medications. They maintain that schizphrenia is curable with regular psychotherapy.

There are others who believe that schizophrenia and the other psychoses are diseases of the brain and can be treated only or primarily with medication. Many of these people do not believe that schizophrenia is curable. In fact, these people state that psychotherapy and psychoanalysis can be harmful for people with these illnesses.

What are your experiences and beliefs and the psychotic illnesses?

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  • 8 months later...

My beliefs are non existent because I've never been offered these ideas till now and have just recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which my family refutes to be my problem, thinking I need another doctors opinion. So for a beginning, I think I am just learning about these issues, yet, no doctor I've seen has given me any other type of opinion regarding treatments other than the traditional ones. I didn't know there was any other way except medications. I take Seroquel, mainly because I have anxiety and trouble sleeping, as well as other symptoms of the disease. Most people think it is a brain disease, to my knowledge, which as I said is rather limited due to being new to the condition. I'm researching all possible reasons for my condition currently and am learning knew things all the time. What I have been told is that behavior issues are separate from my disease and must be treated separately via therapy or counseling. So I'm doing both therapy and medication for different reasons, not just for the schizophrenia.

Edited by Solara
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Hi Solara, I don't have schizophrenia myself but have experienced psychosis before, and have also met other schizophrenics. I understand that stress can trigger symptoms?

Dr. Schwartz, didn't the mathematician Dr. John Nash (in A Beautiful Mind) make it without medication and control his symptoms by controlling the stress and the symptoms themselves? As I stated above, I have experienced psychosis but do not really understand what is going on in the brain to cause this. It is my understanding that the "mind" is just a model in psychology and does not exist, so aren't all mental illnesses brain diseases if not considered situational? Sometimes I get so depressed and cry so bad that I am embarrassed to say nobody died. :) And these moods I experience have no explanations. Yes I do experience reactions to situations which I should be able to control, but most of the time it is chemical related.

IMHO, I do see them as brain diseases, although I do not see myself as "sick". I also have Diabetes but do not consider myself "sick" either.

Back when I experienced psychosis, if it weren't for weekly talk therapy I don't think I would have overcome that situation. If it weren't for my pdoc I would have become institutionalized back then and just given up, or I would have committed suicide because I was extremely suicidal. I even begged him to help me with that.

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I am PTSD, Bipolar I and they say .. a touch of schizo...

As for me stress is a big trigger... .If I am under a lot of stress the hallucinations, THEM ( THEM meaning the voices... I think there are 7 of THEM) , and the paranoia tend to come out.... I do think therapy can help. I know I can control or change things if I realize they are happening. Living alone most of the time is a bad thing for me... because If someone was here they could say "what are you doing? " Or " Are you sure about that?" I may could stop , think and Analise the situation....

I CAN and HAVE gotten myself out of a MILD depression... Play kids music... Dance with the dogs.. call someone who will make you laugh.. or even my favorite... get on the CB radio and start a NOT serious argument or discussion... I think the last one was about the new styles of womens undies!!!

I do not know about the Schizo .. because since I have been on this Lithium, I at first had some wild hallucinations... but THEY haven't been around and I have had some paranoia But I think I will always have that... but that was weeks ago... a little depression.. but it is winter and the Holidays.. A few manic moments.. but no real WAY OUT there stuff..... so maybe it was all brought on by the bipolar.....

I have heard and read.. got a link from this site about it too .. pertaining to depression.. that it can be cured with therapy... I do not KNOW for a fact that Schizo can be CURED that way but I think It is a good tool...

Hope I made sense... not too sure of myself right now.. got people in my life that think it is funny to make me feel... well let's say bad....and unsure of myself...

JT

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  • 1 year later...

ASchwartz: There was a recent comment to an essay I wrote about Schizophrenia in which the writer stated that he was one of the people with schizophrenia who does not take his medication. He then went on to ask if a mind can be sick.

There are those people who believe that this and all of the psychoses are not are not any different than depression and that psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are effective treatments. They do not believe in the use of anti psychtic medications. They maintain that schizphrenia is curable with regular psychotherapy.

There are others who believe that schizophrenia and the other psychoses are diseases of the brain and can be treated only or primarily with medication. Many of these people do not believe that schizophrenia is curable. In fact, these people state that psychotherapy and psychoanalysis can be harmful for people with these illnesses.

What are your experiences and beliefs and the psychotic illnesses?

First things first: Could you provide a link to the essay? I looked for it but although I found several written by you that addressed the topic of schizophrenia, I wasn't sure I was reading the one you were referring to.

As to the rest of your questions, what I believe about schizophrenia and psychosis follows. I believe that...

- I am having a neurochemical response to this conversation. Therefore, why would I not also have one to an extreme state of crisis? There would be a neurochemical response if I fell in love too but that doesn't mean my heart is physically flawed.

- There are multiple causes of psychosis and it doesn't require that one have a special kind of brain to experience them. Sleep deprivation, trauma, loss, Lyme Disease, allergic reactions, diet -- all these and more are associated with triggers for psychosis.

- In this culture, most instances of psychosis are assumed to be indicative of a severe and persistent crisis state. I say as much as based on having spoken with far too many people who were diagnosed as schizophrenic as based on a short period of observation with only minimal exploration of their personal history.

- There are varying forms of severity. I have certainly come across some people who are very, very ill. In some instances, I'm not certain what role medication use might have played in their obvious decline.

- Medication is a tool that some people identify as helpful and some do not.

- There are tools besides medication that can be as helpful or more helpful than medication.

- It is most ideal if we can help a person pass through their crisis with minimal or no medication. I say as much because the medications have a well-established history of producing debilitating side effects including death.

- Medication use can sometimes produce magical thinking in sufferers, family members and professionals because people start to believe that it is enough to take a pill and they stop there. Experience tells me that although medication may be part of an individual's recovery, it is not the only or even the most essential part.

- Recovery is what you pull out of yourself. Other people may help but in the end, any ground gained will be a direct result of that individual's personal blood, sweat and tears.

- People in crisis can benefit from having the crisis contained but it must be a safe container. Far too many people end up being contained via force, power, intimidation, fear and coercion. I don't believe people can feel supported or recover in that kind of environment.

- Many people recovery.

- Psychotherapeutic approaches helped me recover. I have never had medication.

Those are just a handful of my thoughts as related to schizophrenia, psychosis, medication and recovery.

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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I found the essay: Can a Mind be Sick?.

It was very interesting, very thoughtful. I found myself agreeing with some of your perspectives, not quite agreeing with others.

I've provided some background related to my own history in the New Member forum. In case anyone missed it, I'll briefly go over the key points:

- My birth father was in and out of psychiatric hospitals for reasons unknown. My mother left him when I was very young which is why I don't know the extent of his psychiatric history. Based on the little I do know, it would not surprise me if he would have been considered a sociopath.

- My experience of psychosis (what I prefer to call "ego collapse" or a "fragmentation crisis") occurred several years ago. The bulk of that experience unfolded over a period of thirty months that I've since categorized by ego states, specifically: ego softening; ego blows; ego collapse; ego death, and; rebuilding of the ego (self-identity).

- I was not hospitalized during my experience. Nor have I ever received any degree of formal treatment in the form of medication or psychotherapy since then. This was not an issue of deliberate avoidance it was simply circumstance.

- For all intensive purposes, I appear to be fully recovered: my relationships are healthy and stable, I've been working for several years, my cognitive function is fine. I have had a few isolated incidents since that time (primarily visionary) but nothing that touches the sheer magnitude and intensity of my earlier experience.

- Regretably, in the past few years I've also had a child who has been diagnosed as mentally ill. Apparently, the powers that be thought it wasn't enough that I have experienced this from the "inside-out" only. I've found some of my earlier thoughts or beliefs have altered as a result of my experience of being a caregiver... but not all of them.

The key issues I feel we, as a culture or as a group, have not looked at closely enough are:

- Recovery: I have come across some results that are nothing short of astounding. Too frequently, people are willing to dismiss these results as impossible and therefore, to be dismissed. We shouldn't be doing that. Rather, we should be learning everything we can from people who have recovered or have helped others to recover. We have known for decades that some, even many people do. It's not enough to simply walk away from that reality with an expression of bafflement. We should be asking, "Why?" and looking hard for those answers. Why do some people recover completely and some not? What do they identify as the critical factors that helped or hindered? What can or should we do differently, as individuals, as caregivers, as a society or culture that can help people put themselves back together and move on in their lives?

- Medication: We hear so much about medication non-compliancy. It's a complicated issue. We have become increasingly reliant upon medication because we want an answer. We forget about the people who get well without medications. I'll never know if lack of medication made the critical difference for me but I do believe that some of the severe cognitive deficits we see are a direct result of the medications themselves. I view medications as being most appropriate for short-term use, to assist a person through the most difficult phases. If we do nothing but numb people to their experiences they don't learn valuable coping skills nor have the opportunity to learn from, understand, interpret or grow from their experiences -- challenging as they may be.

Meantime, there is something else I see among the medicated that is seldom addressed. We hear so much about people who are non-compliant but there are a surprising number of people who could not be separated from their medication with a crowbar. If you talk to those people -- not their doctors, not the pharmaceutical reps -- but talk to them directly, what you hear them saying is, "This has helped me." I think we need to listen to what people are saying and that includes listening to those who say, "This did not help me, it hurt me. It got in my way. It increased my difficulties.."

- The Biomedical Model: We have become seduced by and enamored with it to the extent that we have elevated it to the status of a false god and worshipped accordingly. It's not that it doesn't have its place, it does, but that place is within a trinity of biological, psychological and sociological. We know it's a package deal but too often, we throw drugs at people as if biology is the only element that matters.

- Neuroplasticity: I'm certain many people can relate to the plasticity of diagnostic labels -- they slip, shift and morph over the course of an individual's history. We forget that the brain, even one that has experienced substantial injury and assault, is also capable of changing.

- Psychotic Content: With few exceptions, there is an extreme reluctance to discuss it or accept it as the least bit valid. This is part of the reason why I have found the Jungians to be so helpful in terms of my own experience -- they were one of the few branches that were actually looking at what emerges and finding meaning in it.

My own experience is literally a textbook case of what John Weir Perry refers to as the "psychotic visionary episode" although I didn't know that then -- I didn't know anything about Jung previous to that experience. I did write it down though, to the best of my ability, as it was happening. Later, I studied it and learned from it. To me, it was a painful, challenging and difficult life experience but also a very valuable and meaningful one.

Music of the Hour:

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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Just a thought coming from my rather illogical at times mind...

Perhaps the best way to cure a psychotic illness is using the same method as the sufferer uses to get through life?

Let me explain...

An old friend of mine, he suffered from some form of psychosis believing that aliens were coming to get him, the most down to earth guy you'll ever meet until suddenly he'd run out of the room or grab you and pull you away from the wall claiming there was an alien listening device within it and he could feel the radiation.

He refused to see any kind of doctor or take medication for reasons that he believed the aliens had tampered with it.

The doctor diagnosed him with schizophrenia, prescribed him and it was up to me to get him to take the medication since he had no living family.

He refused for the same reasons.

Then i had a brainwave. I bought a silver case that had a posh pen in it, i put a biohazzard sticker on the inside and packed it into a briefcase. I claimed it was from the "FBI's anti alien division" and had brought a special formula that would repel aliens. I managed to give him the tablets just fine. Throughout the next few years i did the same routine with the alien thing (creating a counter delusion), by that time he was taken into care and given the medication forcefully.

Any thoughts on the idea of counter delusions for the purpose of peacefully administering treatment to unwilling patients?

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Hello Guy Out There,

Your story made me smile even though I have mixed feelings about medication and in particular, about tricking or forcing people to use it. Still, you were willing to enter your friend's world, the world that was meaningful and relevant to him. I think sometimes, that's a very good way to forge a connection with people in these crisis states. I also think those connections, from one human being to another, can assist people in shifting out of "that world" and coming back into "this world". [see note.]

Meantime, I didn't get aliens -- I know it's a common theme and I'm still struggling to understand it and frame it within my own psychological orientation. I suspect there is great meaning there even if I can't yet decipher it or don't understand it.

Guy Out There: Throughout the next few years i did the same routine with the alien thing (creating a counter delusion), by that time he was taken into care and given the medication forcefully.

Where is your friend now? How is he doing? Is he working or otherwise engaged in productive, meaningful activity? Does he have relationships of significance with other people? You see, this is one of my concerns with medication. I know a fair number of people who are entitled to a gold star for being medication compliant but the medication places them in such a stupor that they stay in their rooms all day, play video games and only very reluctantly engage with others. That doesn't rank as recovery to me but some people think it's the best we can do.

[Note: My willingness to place my attention on this world and suggest others do the same, doesn't mean I believe "this world" is of more value and importance than "that world". I simply believe it's where we must be as a result of having a physical body, and therefore, what we must give our attention to. For what it's worth, I think the "other world" I experienced -- a world without bodies, what some might refer to as a "spiritual" form of existence -- is also of intrinsic worth. I sometimes (often) still miss that world but I also made a conscious choice to come back. Individual mileage may vary.]

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Guy out there,

Actually, there are some classic studies involving patients with paranoid schizophrenia and counter delusions. One of them involved putting several male patient together who each believed they were Christ. It was thought that the illogic of so many of them being Christ would snap them out of their delusional thinking. Sadly, it failed and, in fact, they had no effect on each other at all. They simply did not pay attention to the same delusion the others had. It was sad.

Allan

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I think part of the problem with "delusions" Allan is that other people interpret them too literally. Self-identification with Christ or an equivalent figure is a very common aspect of psychotic experiences. No one seems interested in asking why that is or if they do, they assume it's related solely to a gesture of grandiosity.

I have found it valuable to examine such content metaphorically. Symbolically, Christ represents: self-sacrifice, compassion, love, rebirth, suffering, healing, redemption, etc. These are all entirely valid emotional states for an individual undergoing a fragmentation experience. So, when someone says to me, "They thought they were all Christ, how sad," I tend to think, "They are applying one interpretation of that behavior and only one." When interpreted as a symbol however, we can see that there is far more than one perspective to consider. I think that study would have been more insightful and revealing if someone had taken the time to explore the meaning each individual attached to "being Christ" and perhaps, understand how that interpretation applied to their individual life. Within a Jungian framework, Christ is an archetypal symbol of the Self...

While the Self may give rise to an image of Jesus Christ for example, it is also the archetype behind the most abstract of mandalas.

Source: Eric Pettifor: The Individuation Process

~*~

... One of the most significant insights of the project, which will be the main thrust of this brief article, is the differentiation between Jesus, the historical figure from Nazareth, and the archetypal Christ, the Redeemer...

The Jewish rabbi and reformer, Jesus, lived a personal, concrete, historical life. However, it was the archetypal image of a Redeemer slumbering, so to speak, in the collective unconscious, which became attached to that unique life. This powerful collective image made itself visible, so to speak, in the man Jesus, so that seeing him people glimpsed the greater personality which seeks conscious realization in each person. Jung notes that it was not the man Jesus who created the myth of the “god-man.” Other Redeemer myths existed many centuries before his birth....

Writing from a psychological perspective, Jung was interested in the archetypes of the collective unconscious which were constellated by the presence of the historical person, Jesus. He examined the Christ-symbolism contained in the New Testament, along with patristic allegories and medieval iconography, and compared those with the archetypal contents of the unconscious psyche which he had observed and experienced. He noted that the most important symbolical statements about Christ in the New Testament revealed attributes of the archetypal hero: improbable origin, divine father, hazardous birth, precocious development, conquest of the mother and of death, miraculous deeds, early death, etc.

Jung concludes that the archetypal symbolizations of the Christ-figure are similar to the Self which is present in each person as an unconscious image. It was the archetype of the Self in the psyche/soul which responded to the Christian message, with the result that the concrete Rabbi Jesus was rapidly assimilated by the constellated archetype. In this way, Jesus realized the idea of the Self. Most importantly for this article, Jung notes that the experience of the Self and what the New Testament describes as the “Christ within” are synonymous. As an empiricist, Jung was not interested in how the two entities may be different along rational theological lines.

As noted earlier, the differentiation between Jesus and the archetypal Christ highlights the distinction between literal truth and symbolic truth, or between historical fact and myth. Other descriptive distinctions include the difference between outer and inner, visible and invisible, material and spiritual. In a culture which elevates the literal, outer, visible, and material aspects of life (that which is measurable) and tends to denigrate that which is symbolic, inner, invisible, and spiritual, preserving the value of the latter seems especially significant...

Source: Christ: A Symbol of the Self

What would happen if we stopped associating "schizophrenic delusions of being Christ" with a specific, literal and historical man and instead, thought of them as an emotional expression of a state of mind?

See also: Joseph Campbell: Schizophrenia & The Hero's Journey

Music of the Hour:

Edited by spiritual_emergency
Corrected misspelling of Allan's name; added final comment.
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Hi Spiritual_emergency,

Entering my friends world was not something i was comfortable with at first, but once i realized it was helping him i became more relaxed with the idea and as a side effect of the alien repeller counter delusion (could also have been assisted with the medication) he became more relaxed and his delusions and hallucinations etc became less frequent. Everytime he thought an alien was near him and that the medication (repeller) had stopped working i pretended i'd obtained an updated formula to repel new species of alien, thus strenghtening the counter delusion.

He's much better nowdays, he's still in care but he gets to go out on trips into the community and still socializes, i like to think that he is proof that people with mental illness can recover, if not fully then they can at least live near normal lives.

Hi Allan,

I am aware of that study, i found it interesting because when someone's delusions are questioned they will enter either of two modes. Mode 1: They shutdown and ignore the counter evidence. Mode 2: They find every way possible to prove to themselves (sometimes creating more delusions) that their delusions are real and that the counter evidence is not or doesn't exist.

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Guy Out There: He's much better nowdays, he's still in care but he gets to go out on trips into the community and still socializes, i like to think that he is proof that people with mental illness can recover, if not fully then they can at least live near normal lives.

And what about your friend, Guy Out There -- is that what he calls recovery?

I ask because recovery is one of those slippery subjective terms, it's often best if each individual defines for themselves what recovery is to them.

For myself, I'm quite content with this definition of recovery...

...when we talk about subjects who are recovered, we're talking about no medications, no symptoms, being able to work, relating to other people well, living in the community, and behaving in a way that you would never know that they had had a serious psychiatric disorder. And if you have heard of that old belief that one third get better, one third get worse, and one third stay the same, we found that it was not true. In the Vermont Longtitudinal Study, we took the bottom third of this population and found that two-thirds of them also turned around...

Source: Dr. Courtenay Harding - The Recovery Vision [PDF File]

... but my vision of recovery might not be the same as your friend's. For the individual, I do believe it's vital that they develop their own recovery vision as opposed to being forced to comply with someone else's vision for their life.

Guy Out There: Mode 1: They shutdown and ignore the counter evidence. Mode 2: They find every way possible to prove to themselves (sometimes creating more delusions) that their delusions are real and that the counter evidence is not or doesn't exist.

Did you happen to read the essay Allan had referrenced? Even if you didn't, you've quite possibly heard of the Rosenham Study. That was an interesting study on delusional belief systems. You see, even though the patients in the study were all considered perfectly sane, the hospital staff believed they were insane. Every single individual, save one, was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia (the remaining one was diagnosed as bipolar). Then, they were each required to admit they had a severe form of mental illness and commit to taking medications for the same before they were released.

Those in the know -- and by this, I mean the authors of the study (one of whom was locked up in the hospital) -- must have been thinking to themselves, 'This is crazy!'

I have observed that the delusions can run rather deep on both sides of the equation.

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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I believe that therapy is useless. I believe it's only a little talk, but then you go home and still do the same things. Medication on the other hand, I also believe is somewhat ineffective. Especially when treating anxiety, anger and depression. Heck, it did not work for me. In fact the medication made me more depressed then I have ever been and even more anxious as well. I believe medication is for some, but not all. I do not believe medication will work for someone like me. I also hear voices in my head and no medication has helped to treat this yet either so... Well that's my opinion on the topic, nice to see you again ASchwartz!:)

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Hello finding my way,

Yes, I've discovered Edinger. :)Ego and Archetype was very good! I also enjoyed The Archetype of the Apocalypse and The Mystery of the Coniuncto.

I did put together a brief little blurb as related to The Achetype of the Apocalypse that may be insightful for those who have experience apocalyptic content...

The following is an account of a woman who had an "archetypal experience of the Apocalypse" during her fragmentation crisis. Her account and the book recommended below it may appeal to those who have had similar experiences.

Please be aware that the psychiatrist she was working with was opposed to the routine use of neuroleptic medication; as a result, she was not given any. If you think that fact might disturb you, I would encourage you to not read this post.

Psychosis

Psychosis means chaos in the inner world. The picture Hallucinations made in 1978 by a woman on her way into psychosis, shows the beginning disintegration of her inner world. Her own shape is starting to dissolve and new shapes are being formed, shapes that harass her with their voices...

Read more: Book Recommendation: Archetype of the Apocalypse

Music of the Hour:

I've also drawn on the Rosary of the Philosophers at times as a means of understanding my own experience. Adam McLean has a very good website in that regard -- have you seen it?

======================================

Hello Born to Perish,

I believe that the most effective treatment is the one that works and this is why it can be helpful to be exposed to a range of therapeutic approaches. Medication, psychotherapy, exercise, adequate rest --all these and more are tools that can be utilized with varying degrees of success. The trick is to figure out what works best for you in both the short term and the long run.

See also:

- Ego and Archetype

- The Mystery of the Coniuncto

- Adam McLean: The Rosarium Philosophorum [images]

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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Thanks, spritual_emergency, it is great to have this stuff resurface! I always related very strongly to the Jungian approach. It has been tough finding others these days that speak that language. I had to learn that lesson too though, that most people don't readily relate and that there are many approaches out there.

I haven't read all your posts, is there a spiritual emergency that you are in? Hope all is well today!:)

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Hello finding my way,

Thank you. I am well. :) The moniker spiritual_emergency became associated with me because of my first blog. Within that blogging circle, your "name" is automatically filled in according to whatever you named your blog. After a while, I just got used to it. Many people prefer to shorten the term to s_e or SE which is fine with me. Meantime, I'm glad I didn't title my blog "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder With Psychotic Features" because that would have been an even bigger mouthful!

I always related very strongly to the Jungian approach. It has been tough finding others these days that speak that language. I had to learn that lesson too though, that most people don't readily relate and that there are many approaches out there.

I share what I found helpful for myself. I think if we all do so, it helps others understand the banquet of options that are available when it comes to treatment or therapeutic approaches. Sometimes, those options are limited in accordance with our personal situation, location, etc. but there is a wealth of articles, books, means of self-help and self-exploration people can also make use of. Whatever helps is what helps.

Meantime, when it comes to psychosis, it's been my experience that no other branch of psychology can represent or interpret it as well as the Jungians. Perhaps this is because Jung, himself, was reputed to be a schizophrenic who healed himself.

~ Namaste, finding your way.

See also: Carl Jung's Encounter with Schizophrenia/Psychosis

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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And what about your friend, Guy Out There -- is that what he calls recovery?

The last time i saw him, his version of recovery was simply "Well, i can walk, i can talk, i can sing and dance and for all i try the men in white coats don't come running after me."

Interesting way of looking at it, he's not on medication anymore and is simply in psychotherapy every other week, he does mix regularly with the community but has a bit of social anxiety with large groups which is why he is staying in care still i think.

Did you happen to read the essay Allan had referrenced? Even if you didn't, you've quite possibly heard of the Rosenham Study. That was an interesting study on delusional belief systems. You see, even though the patients in the study were all considered perfectly sane, the hospital staff believed they were insane. Every single individual, save one, was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia (the remaining one was diagnosed as bipolar). Then, they were each required to admit they had a severe form of mental illness and commit to taking medications for the same before they were released.

Yes i did read that essay Allan referenced, it was rather sad but in a way perhaps they were safeguarding themselves, imagine the shock if they discovered a delusion they had held for years was actually false! A bit like finding out the parent who raised you for many years wasn't actually your parent.

I also read the Rosenham Study which is also rather interesting but very sad (considering the battle it took to convince the staff they were actually sane), even worse perhaps is the fact that a similar study was televised in the UK and came up with similar results, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/tvandradioblog/2008/nov/05/horizon-how-mad-are-you :: 2 of 5 diagnoses correct i think the other 3 people were labeled with mental illnesses they don't have including one poor woman who was told she had schizophrenia!

I have observed that the delusions can run rather deep on both sides of the equation.

I agree this is the sad truth.

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well you sound like "spirit emerging" to me:D

Wow, it is interesting what you say of Jung and schizophrenia. Myself, I was in therapy at the tail end of that era, so I got in on some hypnotism via my therapist... a mild form, and learned to go into trance, and then I later studied "journeying" from a shamanistic perspective and discovered I could do that too. It was all amazing stuff for me, and very healing. Now I don't talk about it because I can see how incomprehensible it is for others. My last therapist was a "parts" therapist (Internal Family Systems) and I took to it like a fish to water. (http://www.amazon.com/Parts-Work-Illustrated-Guide-Inner/dp/0979889707/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1280676537&sr=1-1) It was very organizing for me and gave me the tools to function. Again though, it is quite a struggle to find others to share this approach with.

Thanks for sharing, SE!

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With contestants lined up on the lawn of a grand house and looking as if they mean business, the opening sequence of Horizon: How Mad Are You? could be mistaken for The Apprentice. But the 10 "contestants" in the BBC2 programme aren't competing for prizes. They are willingly being scrutinised by psychiatric professionals who have to spot which five have a diagnosed mental illness.

Three professionals observe the group over a number of days, during which they complete tasks designed to expose signs of mental illness. One task involves performing stand-up comedy so the professionals can detect anxiety disorders. It makes for interesting viewing as the professionals struggle to pinpoint those with a condition and are frequently prompted to question their own "clinical intuition". The premise is that viewers are encouraged to question their own notions of mental illness and to recognise the effects of stigma.

At the end of the first episode, misconceptions are challenged when someone the professionals are certain has no history of mental illness reveals they have a psychiatric condition.

The programme is likely to raise many questions about how mental illness is diagnosed. And by reminding the public that even professionals get it wrong, it may offer a boost for people who have been judged because of their condition.

Very interesting Guy. Thanks for sharing that. We should not overlook that there is no "test" that can be done to determine who has a "mental illness" and who does not. Rather, diagnosis is based on presenting symptoms. These can change over time which is part of the reason, the diagnostic labels can slip and slide quite a bit. Because it's a judgement call, the diagnosis can also be affected by the one doing the judging and the last time I checked, psychiatrists were human too.

The last time i saw him, his version of recovery was simply "Well, i can walk, i can talk, i can sing and dance and for all i try the men in white coats don't come running after me."

It sounds as if he has found some measure of peace with his experiences.

...he's not on medication anymore and is simply in psychotherapy every other week, he does mix regularly with the community but has a bit of social anxiety with large groups...

I'm not sure if those ego boundaries can fully come back. I found it very difficult to be in groups for a period of time too. There were a variety of reasons for this. I can tolerate such gatherings now but I still require periods of time alone to help balance myself out. That has undoubtedly become a valuable coping skill for me -- the ability to be comfortable with myself and to have time to myself. Initially however, it was called "withdrawal" and my family members and friends were both hurt by it and frightened by it.

... which is why he is staying in care still i think.

A body has to have a roof over its head and food in its belly. Maybe he has nowhere else to go. Some of the social support systems are not set up to support people through the process of returning to work. I suspect many more people could do so if they had the freedom and flexibility of easing back into that world without the fear and risk they would lose essential financial support if they tried.

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As an aside Guy... I have been thinking some more about your friend's experience (and that of others too) in regard to aliens, the FBI, etc. If you've read my intro, you'll know I got religious themes -- gods, devils, apocalypse -- very powerful figures with some accompanying very powerful imagery. The two types of experience may seem to be quite diverse but I have speculated that an "Alien" may serve as a numinous God-Devil/Good-Evil archetype to those who self-identify as aetheist or agnostic. So too, the FBI and CIA are some of the most powerful organizations we have on the planet. Perhaps these too serve to represent an "All powerful form of deity or transpersonal Self".

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finding my way: Wow, it is interesting what you say of Jung and schizophrenia.

It's like waltzing into a mystery.

Myself, I was in therapy at the tail end of that era, so I got in on some hypnotism via my therapist... a mild form, and learned to go into trance, and then I later studied "journeying" from a shamanistic perspective and discovered I could do that too. It was all amazing stuff for me, and very healing. Now I don't talk about it because I can see how incomprehensible it is for others.

I have also investigated the shamanistic model. It's one of the few areas where what we would call psychotic content might be openly shared and studied. I agree that others may find it incomprehensible. Primitive is another term I've heard used. Apparently, the fear of returning to a primitive state is a common fear.

My last therapist was a "parts" therapist (Internal Family Systems) and I took to it like a fish to water. (http://www.amazon.com/Parts-Work-Ill...0676537&sr=1-1) It was very organizing for me and gave me the tools to function. Again though, it is quite a struggle to find others to share this approach with.

I've recently run into another woman who has talked about "family systems therapy" although I don't know much about it myself. I wonder if you're both referring to the same thing. I'll have to share the link with her too, and ask. :)

See also: Shamanism & Schizophrenia: Embracing the Fragmented Self

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spiritual_emergency

I find your last post very interesting...

I have speculated that an "Alien" may serve as a numinous God-Devil/Good-Evil archetype to those who self-identify as aetheist or agnostic. So too, the FBI and CIA are some of the most powerful organizations we have on the planet. Perhaps these too serve to represent an "All powerful form of deity or transpersonal Self".

I do agree on that... Looking at it another way almost everyone is scared or threatened (even if subconsiously) by a figure of authority of power and may find comfort in another figure or authority of equal power.

EG: Some people turn to God because they are afraid of the devil etc.

Maybe this explains why the people who think they are Jesus actually do so? Perhaps Jesus is their authority figure and they think by 'becoming him' they are thus gaining the power to protect themselves from whoever their evil authority figure is?

It's good to talk with someone about psychology on such a deep level too :)

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Guy Out There: Maybe this explains why the people who think they are Jesus actually do so? Perhaps Jesus is their authority figure and they think by 'becoming him' they are thus gaining the power to protect themselves from whoever their evil authority figure is?

John Weir Perry has tackled that one better than I ever could. A quote...

... I've been told, by people looking back on the experience, that one thing that stands out most of all, beyond the feeling of isolation, is the perception that everything that comes up is divided into opposites: Good and Bad, God and the Devil, Us and Them, or whatever. It's confusing, it's bewildering, it causes tremendous indecision and a total arrest in motivation in which everything is canceled by its opposite.

Michael O'Callaghan: So if the person experiences himself as God, might he then feel the Devil is out to get him?

John Weir Perry: Yes, that's pretty much adequate. If one is Christ, the Anti-Christ is around somewhere at work; and if one is in a supreme position of political rule, then there is sure to be a disruptive revolutionary political party on the other side of the planet which is trying to topple you! It's rather scary, when you consider that the collective unconscious projects such huge shadows upon whole nations or superpowers...

Source: The Inner Apocalypse

That's only a very small excerpt of a very fascinating interview. My point in dragging it in is to point out the role of the opposites. In my own experience there were two key masculine "characters". One of them was Gallagher and everything that was good was associated with him. The other was... let's call him an archetype of the Devil with all its associated negative connotations... :)

It's worth noting that the Devil showed up before Christ did so I think what Perry says is valid except in my case, the reverse was true -- if the Devil is out to get you, you'd best have God (or some derivative thereof) on your side. This makes sense if we look at Jung's Map of the Psyche for we encounter Shadow material long before we encounter the Self.

Meantime, you've managed to ask an incredibly complex question. I'm having to think long and hard on it. I would remind you though that Christ as a symbol is an archetype and we all have access to the archetypes. What is an archetype? Think of it as a specific pattern of behavior. There are many, many types of archetypes: Father, Mother, Child, the Sidekick, the Mentor, the Magician... When you think of each of those symbols it likely produces an association of some characteristics common to that particular archetype. For example, the character of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings represented the archetype of a Magician even though he also contained some fatherly and heroic characteristics.

Up above, I also listed some characteristics that belong to the Christ Archetype: redeemer, saviour, suffering, re-birth, etc. When these symbols appear in the fragmentation process they seem to do so with an explicit purpose and meaning. Other archetypes that may overlap include the archetypes of the King, the Hero and the Self. Remember as well that Christ is a numinous symbol in western thought; those whose cultural identifies lie along other lines may self-identify with the numinous figures/symbols of their respective culture. Another brief quote...

The Self draws its power exclusively from the collective unconscious; it is transpersonal rather than personal and is not conditioned by a person's individual experiences. The Self is both:

  • the "guide" of the process of individuation, the regulating center of the personality

  • the "goal" of the process of individuation, the symbol of perfect fulfillment of all potential (this is an unconscious goal, not the goal of the conscious ego)

Symbolism in Dreams and Narratives: Because the Self is the most complex of the archetypes of individuation, its symbolism is the most rich and varied. All symbols of the Self include the characteristics of power and impersonality; symbols of the Self are never peer figures, nor are they strongly individualized, vividly personal, or strikingly sexual beings. The Self may be symbolized by:

Persons:
an aged seer or priestess, a wise old man or woman, a young child (i.e., the goal/end, or the beginning); the Cosmic Man, hermaphrodite, or Royal Couple; an inner voice, guardian spirit, daimon, or genius

Animals:
Phoenix (bird consumed in flames and reborn from its own ashes); Uroboros (snake biting its own tail); Totem

Things:
items that serve as the guide or goal of a quest—the Holy Grail, the Elixir of Immortality, the Star of Bethlehem, the Philosopher's Stone

Geometric Figures:
especially counterbalanced and concentric geometric figures, such as the Hindu mandala, or the peace sign

Self Projection: Because the Self is so powerful, it contains both the concepts of Good and Evil. It is only projected onto transcendental figures, either images of God or the Devil, or religious leaders who are divinized by their followers.

Possession by the Self: Because the Self is associated with the deepest levels of the collective unconscious, it is extremely powerful. When possessed by the Self, the ego loses control of the personality through positive or negative Inflation (literally meaning "blown into"). Positive inflation results in megalomania as the ego identifies with the power of the Self and is carried away by the unconscious (in myths, this can be symbolized as deification; Herakles, for example, loses his mortal body in the funeral pyre but his spirit is carried up to Olympus by Athena). Negative inflation results in annihilation of the ego, which is completely overpowered by the Self, resulting in a state of complete withdrawal or catatonia (in myths, this can be symbolized as being swallowed up by a monster, turned to stone, etc.).

Integration of the Self: Because of its unconscious, transpersonal nature, the Self can never be truly integrated by the ego. What the ego must learn to do surrender its need to always be in control by recognizing the value of the Self's guidance and deferring to its superior wisdom. In myths this is often symbolized by the ego-bearer's learning to trust the mystical figures who are directing him/her even when their advice seems dangerous and contradictory. On the other hand, the ego must always maintain a safe distance from the unconscious, recognizing the dangerous power that can never be defeated or controlled.

Source: Myths, Dreams and Symbols: The Self

See also:

- The Far Side of Madness

- Jung's Archetypes

Music of the Hour: Coldplay ~ Viva La Vida

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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