June 21, 2004

Three Books on Mental Illness

I've been reading about mental illness. Two books specifically reference Schizophrenia and the other is general.

The first book is called Schizophrenia: The Positive Aspects. It is written by a consumer who trained as a scientist and then went into research on Schizophrenia. He has a disorganized approach and would have done better to pick a few topics and discuss them in different chapters. In this book he makes vague references to studies supporting the theories that we are more creative than the general population and that we are more sensitive to paranormal activity. I say they are vague because if this were a research paper he would not fare well in that there is not enough evidince to support his theories. These ideas are pleasing but really can't be proven. One person's idea of creativity is different from another's. Some people don't believe in God or a soul so they wouldn't support the idea of paranormal activity. I do like the idea that we are more sensitive to the spirtitual realm and I wish we weren't looked at as being crazy when we admit to having peak experiences. The list of people who probably had schizophrenia is just conjecture. (They are all men by the way.) Everybody claims Einstein. (He is listed.) People with Asperger's tell me he had that and Dyslexics claim him as well. Perhaps he had Dyslexia as well as some disorder with tendancies that Asperger's and Schizophrenia have in common.

Peter K. Chadwick writes that the illness can sometimes be attributed to family dynamics. Then he states "Evidence also suggests that living in lower class environments produces stresses which can lead to a schizophrenic decompensation. Such findings are important because they lessen the chances of community attitudes hardening into a tendancy to 'blame the victim' and make clear that Schizophrenia is the responsibility of all of us, from individual to family to town to country, and not merely a malfunction in the function of certain brain pathways to be put right by a 'quick fix'. The lesson also emerges that some people's illnesses may be symptoms of something wrong with the wider community rather than evidence of 'personal failings".

Another book I've been getting into is called Saints and Madmen. (Russell Shorto) I'm really enjoying this book! It seems pretty radical to me because it states that schiz. is related to an individual search for meaning in life or an alienation from God. He says that many people who have had religous experiences historically (St. Paul, St. Teresa de Avila, St. Francis of Assisi, Allen Ginsburg, and Dostoevsky) saw it both as psychotic and mystical. This book gives a full history of the mixing of pharmacology and spirituality as a treatment. Freud was an atheist and wanted no part of combining the two topics in psychotherapy. It was considered cool to be atheistic by the intellectuals at that time. Later Jung introduced some spirituality and coined the word synchronicity. He believed that the thumps and clicks in a room are an aspect of the other realm. I'm at a point in the book where it is explaining this movement in Psychology in the nineteen-nineties. I don't see this movement manifesting in my treatment though. I never have.
One notable quote is taken from Paul Fleischman states:
'In a secular society, we may feel the urge not to be alone and incorrectly read it as sexual; and when sex doesn't fulfill us, we turn to therapy. Our ingrained individualism has contributed to our confusion: 'Contemporary sociologists have pointed to individualism as an isolating, socially fragmenting force, the goal of which is freedom from others, rather than freedom to be or do.' The confusion results from the fact that we are led to believe that we can make it on our own, but we can't because the individual isn't really that--individual being is wrapped up in the being of other individuals, and in Being itself.'

Fleischman also says that: 'Release is not limited to the soothing of internal conflict; it includes the ability to accept reality, the inevitable and the capacity to extend trust toward the world.'

That sentence was meaningful to me because a friend recently explained to me that she doesn't know who she is. (She is Schiz.) She believes that her life lesson is to learn how to give first. She feels that she always takes first. After discussion and asking her to describe this in specifics it turned out that she doesn't trust anyone enough to open up to them before they open up to her. She calls it going home. She doesn't allow herself to be vulnerable by revealing herself first. We realized that neither of us trust easily because of past experiences. But she didn't realize that that only hurts us; it doesn't hurt the world. She felt (and may still feel) guilty about this character trait. She feels it is a burden and that it is almost sinful.

I'll write on the third book later. I'm tired now.

Posted by Butterfly Emerging at June 21, 2004 09:06 PM | TrackBack


I have ordered this book and I'm also wondering if anyone knows where I can get a copy of the book called "Successful Schzophrenia?"
Thanks for any and all assistance.

Posted by: majanay at September 14, 2004 11:29 PM

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