Since the suicidal death of my brother due to his state of mental health (Schizophrenia etc) I have been studying and researching this issue (now nearly 12 years) I have no formal background, no qualification except the most important one (life). I have interviewed and listened to many many schizpohrenic and bi polar sufferers. I found that the medical proffession was in a lot of ways way off the track in their approach to these and other problems. I wrote a simlpe but relatively complete understanding of what I knew to be clinical mental illness and If I may I would like to post it here. (it includes and example of patient responses) If i could get some feedback here or by e-mail it would be terrific. email@example.com Mental Illness A new approach By Scott Sieger Introduction When considering the nature of mental illness it is important that we define what it is we are considering. Mental illness is a mental condition that prevents the sufferer from participating in life in the way he or she would wish. It is a condition that places the sufferer in a state of dysfunction. It is a condition that society wants to protect itself from for it deems the mental state of the sufferer to be precarious, unreal and relatively unpredictable. Within the following example of mental aberration I will use the condition notoriously referred to as Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia demonstrates the greatest variety and complexities of the aberrant mental state and I intend to suggest a way that will allow us to treat and cure this condition. w w w w Schizophrenia is about ability, not ordinary ability but extraordinary ability. At some time in the patient’s life his brain has acquired an ability or abilities that the patient has little to no control over. The ability(s) are acquired intuitively and usually discounted as inconsequential by the patient himself and as delusion or hallucination by the medical profession when he or she is finally admitted to hospital or some form of professional therapy and care. The abilities I refer to are of a sensory nature: intuitive sensory abilities of an extraordinary nature. The patient immediately becomes embattled with what he senses as ordinary sensory behaviour and that which he himself would consider extraordinary sensory ability. Society is telling him that his ability is delusional and yet he knows that it isn’t. His imagination tries to accommodate society and his own experiences, putting himself in a state of self delusion because he is inclined to deny his ability as real because society is saying that this is the case. So we have at least two abilities happening. The first is his ability to know what is extraordinary (Aberrant) sensing this and the actual intuitive ability that he has acquired which is also sensed. A classic example would be paranoid schizophrenia where by the patient feels a strong sense of conspiracy, that the CIA or the police are watching him or his parents are threatening to kill him etc. A normal person is quite capable of sensing conspiracy in fact we are all part of a conspiracy. We are all part of everyone else’s plans. The wife or girlfriend is planning a special dinner. The government is planning to introduce the GST. The guy down the pub is planning to punch him in the nose etc. So the patient has developed an ability to sense conspiracy to a depth that would be considered extraordinary. His sense of reality is threatened and he becomes deluded trying to deal with his sensory ability and that which society would consider normal. For instance he senses his girlfriend’s plans for dinner and feels threatened because of his fear of his ability to sense this. He behaves badly trying to cope with all the mixed signals that his brain is trying to interpret. He behaves badly and arrives in the hospital in an extreme state of anxiety. The premise I am using here is that fear is always real. Not always understood for what it is but very real and valid. The ability to understand and learn from it is the ability that needs to be learned and it is only by achieving understanding and learning that the patient has any chance of recovery. To deny the ability is to provoke delusion. To nurture the ability is to free the patient of delusion. Funnily enough it is society’s state of delusion as to the nature of Schizophrenia that is actually perpetrating and enforcing a delusion upon the sufferer. Society having the delusion that extraordinary ability doesn’t exist. Which is of course not true as some of our most gifted people exhibit extraordinary ability all of which could be considered intuitive. I am suggesting that the patient’s sensory abilities have somehow achieved a greater depth than would be considered normal and like a person studying martial arts the patient must learn sensory discipline and nurture his ability to the level that he is comfortable with. I believe that our current approach to Schizophrenia is in fact quite deluded and as you would now understand the patient is also aware of this causing even more grief. Medication rejection, hospitalisation rejection etc are all symptoms of our “insane” approach to schizophrenia: the patient being caught between two worlds and not knowing what to believe. Sensory ability is essentially reflexive in that until controlled by other governing reflexes the ability continues to exist at all times in a way that is ungoverned and it is only when the ability is governed by learned reflexes that the ability is controlled and the patient’s anxiety and comfort levels return to “normal” w w w w Conclusion What I propose is that the patient be treated as a person who has abilities yet to be governed and not denied. That the treating staff attempt to identify what abilities are in play and structure a learning and therapy program that helps the patient in the achievement of comfort by allowing him to achieve the skills and disciplines needed. Many programs can be developed that are able to help the patient with the above in mind. Open mindedness to what the patient is describing as delusion and treating the description in the light of uncontrolled intuitive ability will achieve significant results. A Response by M. C, California USA WOW. I like this. Particularly from a sufferer’s point of view.. I can’t tell you how much comfort it gave me to hear from you that I wasn’t just stupid and/or crazy to be thinking the thoughts that I was thinking. In our overactive minds, we create connections and find significance in insignificant, unconnected events. And this was (sometimes is) my reality. And I found it utterly frustrating to hear from people that I should just not believe what I already believed. It was liberating, and yet scary, to think that I might be right. You’re right in recognizing the person’s ability to perceive as being real, because it is real, and then your next question to me was “Why?”. This caused me to look deeper into what I was experiencing. It gave me comfort and strengthened my belief in and view of God and helped me to give purpose and meaning to what I was experiencing. The similarity to this approach is striking to a form of therapy that exists for Borderline Personality Disorder. Are you familiar with that? It’s also called emotional intensity disorder and it affects about 1-2 million Americans. It causes the person to experience each situation to a fully charged emotional level, and they frequently are very frightened people who act in harsh, angry ways. It’s hard to treat but the recommended treatment today is called Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). It consists of accepting the patient the way they are and also accepting the need to change (thus the term Dialectical, accepting two seemingly opposite themes). Your idea seems revolutionary to the field of schizophrenia and also interestingly similar to this field’s approach. The thing that I like about your approach is the respect that it gives to the individual. You hit the nail on the head when you said society’s reality does not accept the other person’s. By recognizing the person’s reality as real, you’re recognizing the person as significant. It was an extremely exciting proposition when you said that my perception was founded. I felt like for the first time someone was saying I wasn’t stupid, or self-absorbed, or just crazy. Because according to my perceptions, the delusions I was experiencing were real. I think you should also recognize society’s reality as being real. You didn’t say it wasn’t, but I think to be fair you should say that both realities are real in a sense. I mean perception is relative anyway. Regarding the final conclusion: “Open mindedness to what the patient is describing as delusion and treating the description in the light of uncontrolled intuitive ability will achieve significant results.” I think you should go on to explain more as to why this recognition will help the patient. I have tried to give you my perception as to why it helped me, but I’m sure you have some ideas of your own that I’d love to hear. Matt.