Schizophrenia: An Introduction

Psychosis is remorselessly gray. It is like the border I originally chose for my schizophrenia website (discontinued in 2013). It is intricate, but tediously repetitive. Each riveted section interlocks with the next, in a nightmare that goes nowhere.

       Psychosis graphicPsychosis graphic

It is a nightmare that is endured, day after day after day. For there is no resolution, through either thought or “talk therapy”. Thought is integral to the problem, not a detachable instrument to be employed against it. You can’t think your way out of psychosis, however clever you are, just as you can’t use a concave mirror to correct the distorted image it creates.

Likewise, you can’t talk a person out of psychosis. It has its own, internal logic, but a logic that resists all reason from the outside. You can talk to a person with schizophrenia for hours, and end in a state of exasperation and exhaustion — at the point at which you began.

Yet, paradoxically, it is almost impossible to stop trying to “get through”. Our faith in reason is so strong, we press on. With irrepressible optimism, we go round and round in circles in a crazy parody of the disease. Surely, somewhere, there is some compelling argument, some magic key that will unlock this madness.

Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, it breeds suspicion. If you stick around for too long, you must be watching, making notes, planning something sinister. You must be one of “them”, or at least in league with them.

“When did you last see them? Did they call you the day before yesterday — the day you gave me a funny look while I was opening the gate?”

“They” can be anyone or no one. But whoever they are, they possess incredible powers, which are matched by an equally incredible determination to pursue their victim. They are omnicient: they, or their spies, are everywhere. They are masters of subterfuge, who communicate by the most devious, inscrutable means. Only the most painstaking analysis can uncover their machinations, discern the secret meaning of that car number plate, that street sign, that apparently innocuous report on the weather in the television news.

Life is a serious business. It is extremely unfunny. A smile is not a smile, it is a smirk. Laughter is the ultimate indiscretion. It is also a giveaway: irrefutable evidence that “something is going on”.

“There is nothing going on? Then why are you always changing the subject? Why are you trying to dodge the issue? God, I hate it here. I think I’ll go. I think I’ll go tomorrow. . .”

Then there is a good day. The mood seems to be a little lighter. There is tentative conversation about a movie, an escape from the closed circuit of insanity. The gremlins appear to have retreated. Perhaps they are on the run. Perhaps they will never come back. Have we turned the corner? Have we bottomed out? If we have bottomed out, things can only improve from now on. . .

You are always wrong. The next day, he/she is sullen, unresponsive, then explosive with accusations. The torrent of denunciations is amazing, even frightening. Reason has the strength of a straw against them, and is finally discarded. There is nothing one can do now, except somehow try to survive this.