Catholic schizophrenic

I am 31 and just recently returned to this site after years away. I was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic at age 22. My hallucinations and delusions often concern hell, sin, and sexual morals. Perhaps I am too deeply rooted in my Catholic beliefs. I underwent my first psychotic episode in Jerusalem of all places – where I had religious grandiose delusions. The thing I struggle with is guilt: in every single thing I do. Though I believe in a merciful God, I can’t help thinking that I’m evil, cursed, or doomed.

I love my God and the Church but I’m hoping to hear some advice that might help me deal with overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame. Can I remain a devout Catholic and not be so damn scrupulous?

I’m a fan of Pope Francis because he seems to be meek, open-minded, genuine, and concerned with social justice. He also wants to get the input of the laity, more so than his predecessors.

Any suggestions on how to be a faithful Catholic schizophrenic???


Was your old username Madness’ Grace? If so, I remember you trying to help me, and I thank you.

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The pope is meek?

If the meek shall inherit the earth then that wouldn’t be speaking of the pope, can’t inherit what is already yours.

Vatican literally means “prophet of the serpent”. Im sure you have heard of the serpent by now, the churches are his prophet, all of them.

Im sorry, i have no suggestions on your dilemma other than to leave the churches of the world behind.

Well, what are you doing that causes these feelings of shame and guilt? Religion has a place in schizophrenics and non-schizophrenics lives. I think I read somewhere that religion is actually good and helpful for people with schizophrenia. Believing in a god helps people with schizophrenia in their recovery. It is when you overdo it, that makes it cause more problems than it is solving. And it sounds like you are one of those who over-does it. But it might not even be your fault that you feel doomed, evil or cursed. Delusions are part of this disease and religious delusions are common in many schizophrenics. Delusions are partly defined as: “false, irrational beliefs that are not shared by the majority of people. And the person who has these false beliefs will still believe them despite evidence that they are not real”. Yes, I know that throughout history there have been many religious people who have “visions”, or claim god or angels visited them or people who swear they have had personal, religious “revelations” given to them by god. And some people thought these people were delusional… And other people took them seriously and took whatever they said as fact. I tend to not believe them myself. But rational, intelligent people believe them. I guess I’m just saying that it’s a fine line between healthy religious beliefs, and beliefs that will cause trouble to the individual. You know what the key word here is? BALANCE. You don’t have to suffer more than any one else, you don’t have to punish yourself to the point of it dominating your life. You may have a reason you feel guilty. I don’t know. Tackle the problem head-on and maybe discuss it with a priest. That’s partly what they are there for. Try to dial yourself down and not get so enmeshed in religion. Anyway, good luck.


I recently read a book by Thomas plante called Being ethical in an unethical world and I thought it was really great in helping me clarify my views of what is right and wrong and why they are considered so. I too grew up catholic, had paranoia and even had what I think were Cotard delusions… The Cotard delusions were the worst. Over the years I have tried to educate myself more in science, psychology and ethics. I don’t go to mass as often but I do pray the rosary very frequently… I kind of hold two conflicting views of the world… One very bottom up low level and deterministic and the other top down high level and spiritual. I use the scientific viewpoint when I deal with a lot of health issues but tend towards more spiritual viewpoints when evaluating ethical problems. For a long time I thought this was a big problem but then I thought, what’s the big deal… The physicists can’t even yet get relativity to jibe with quantum mechanics so if those geniuses don’t have a consistent view of the world why should I?

I am not a priest, but the fact that you express such remorse makes me think you are actually a very good person. I think Mother Theresa said she entered a very dark period of her life when she felt a total absence of God. I have to admit I feel that absence too a lot but I figure I have to try my best to do the right thing whether or not at the time I feel any presence. I still pray the rosary a lot and my wife is a former nun. She has a lot more faith than I do and did amazing work as a chaplain treating aids patients… She got sick with sz like me. It could be the devil, god might not be as kind as we think… Who knows? It’s the ones that don’t suffer from guilt that I really got to wonder about… I don’t think they are going to a heaven and us to hell if those places even exist… I don’t know if Hindus have Cotard delusions so you gotta wonder how much of this stuff is just things we have learned.

Your Jerusalem experience is more common than you think… And you might want to google Paris syndrome. I was hospitalized in Loreto, Italy after a nasty bout of jet lag and feeling a bit out of my natural habitat.

Go out sometime on a clear night and look at the sky… There are at least 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone…, Our universe is more complicated than we imagine and if there is a multiverse it may beyond our comprehension entirely… That leaves a lot of room for God, gods, aliens or something or someone entirely different. Who knows maybe there’s room for them all :smiley: Maybe when Jesus said my mansion has many rooms maybe he really wasn’t kidding. One even has to wonder if all this time while we thought we were on the inside looking out we were really on the outside looking in. (If that’s true I hope some topologist can explain it to me in a way I can understand.)

Sorry to wax poetic but my elder brother is a great writer and he says it’s very therapeutic for him so I figured I would start getting back into it.

Also sorry to be so agnostic but that’s the most honest approach I have found so far. Richard Feynmann the physicist said it didn’t bother him much that he didn’t know the answers… I guess it still bothers me a bit but I am just trying to be more like average people so in everyday life I usually don’t even have to think about it.

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Hey ry, I’m a Christian and based on what your saying we’ve got the same flavor of Sz, I’ve noticed that devout Christians with Sz tend to have similar hallucinations, voices, and feelings that are slightly different from other non believers with the illness.

I’d love to talk to you more, I’m a bit young but I’m sure we could learn a lot from each other, on account of we probably talk a similar language, what with being religious and all!

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Lol, the tv told me I was “The Returning Player”
I was convinced I was God but if I told anyone the fbi would get me or something.

I have had conditions like you, in my case just after ECT and taking meds I could restructure my mind, I don’t know any other remedy for this case cause I have been struggling with it for years, It’s a curse which runs in religious families and in my case religious society, Believe in god deeply and be a good person and try to be in contact with him but forget religious rules and orders cause no one can obey them except probably mentally or physically ill people or with making yourself ill. there’s a saying here in my country: " every human has a different way to God" so preserve god(universally known as love) for yourself and find your own way to him, find a way out of this trap or otherwise you will ruin all of your life, I’m 30 years old and approximately have tried every famous religion and philosophy, all of them just makes you sick and more inhuman, just sensitivity to beauty and ugliness(which guides you), and kindness( if lucky, love) works and makes human relieved and grateful to God, this is what a man tortured himself for God for years see.

My schizophrenia is spiritual too. I had the devil torment me when I first got this illness. But I got better. I kept my morals. I joined a Catholic organisation the Legion of Mary. They helped balance me and restore me to good health. You know the saying a rising tide helps lifts all boats, well that’s how the Legion of Mary helped me. They were like a buoy in choppy waters.

Anyway, I managed to overcome my illness. After volunteering with the Legion of Mary, I was strong and I was able to overcome my spiritual schizophrenia by praying, meditating and fasting. It was relatively easy.

Anyway, you will overcome this illness, you sound like a good guy. You are not doomed. You have morals and you say you are loyal to God. Thus you will get better in time. You just have to do what you have to do, maintain your conscience and you will be better.


religion is one of the worst things for schizophrenia. the belief in god, meets the psychological definition of a delusion. belief in doctrine and deities not seen with the senses are magical beliefs; schizoid beliefs. that’s what causes you to distress over what is good and evil, because you’re unconscious mind recognizes that that is not a valid way to think in the first place. “good” and “evil” are subjective words; a division with no basis in reality. such dichotomies prevent the mind from understanding either opposite. therefore these divisions are being shown to you by your mind.

For me religion is damaging. My delusions are so spiritually intense that when I am more stable religion can confuse me and sets me backwards

Yeah… I stopped watching TV, listening to the radio, seeing movies and listening to music with lyrics for a while. My imagination would offer up lousy interpretations of what I was taking in… especially if I was feeling a little insecure at the time. A lot of times these weird thoughts scare us… I think it is good to not take a lot of what we see or hear at face value. It’s always good to constantly ask ourselves even in trivial matters “is this really true? can I think of something that would contradict this belief?” We actually are changing our beliefs constantly: From my Caller ID I might think a local person is calling me on the phone but it turns out to be a telemarketer. Sometimes you have to gather more evidence to draw a firm conclusion even in a small matter.

I was watching I Love Lucy this morning and the story was how Lucy developed the false belief (delusion) that Ricky was cheating on her because she found a post card saying Ricky wanted to go on a date with some woman. Lucy developed the very firm belief (though totally false) that Ricky was being unfaithful. Ethel convinced Lucy to test that belief by going to the apartment bulding where the postcard was supposed to be delivered and talking to the adulterer. When she opened the door she turned out to be a somewhat unattractive overweight elderly woman. That still didn’t totally convince Lucy that Ricky wasn’t having an affair but when other women in the apartment came out into the hall also with postcards from Ricky asking for a date that was sufficient evidence for Lucy and Ethel to figure out what the truth was! It turned out that Ricky’s agent had sent the cards to all the women as a publicity stunt.

I Love Lucy is a wonderful show to observe extremes of psychology and a lot of episodes focus on how Lucy develops a delusion, tests it, and ultimately finds out the real truth. Fortunately nobody really gets hurt in it so it is all good fun. I don’t watch a lot of TV but I Love Lucy is really good therapy :smile:

Testing beliefs is very very important when it comes to health. I might get a heart palpitation which might make me believe I have a heart problem. Then I might challenge that belief by having the doctor do some tests or I might test it myself by walking up three flights of stairs in our apartment. If I had severe chest pressure I shouldn’t operate under the assumption (hypothesis or belief) that it is just indigestion. I would test the belief that it is just heartburn by taking tums. If it goes away that would t be enough evidence for me that it really was heartburn and my assumption was in fact correct. If I am still not convinced I might take my blood pressure. In the case of hypochondria our own physical sensations are often insufficient to figure out what their cause is so we need doctors to help us out. And then even sometimes doctors make incorrect guesses. Most of the time in health you have to many different kinds of "experiments"which is just a intellectual sounding word that means essentially the same thing as “test”…

Psychiatrists can test for schizophrenia somewhat by doing Rorschach tests, word association tests, blood tests to rule out other conditions… They are testing their hypothesis (potential belief or assumption or guess) that you have schizophrenia. We don’t really have great tests yet available for our condition but it seems any one test by itself would be inconclusive weaker evidence alone as is the case too for most physical problems.

Like a scientist you can even test a lot of your own beliefs about religious things. The test I like to use myself for deciding if something is evil or not is whether it causes unnecessary suffering or not… Another test though a quite shaky is whether or not someone else would think it was evil… If it causes needless pain it could very well be evil… Might also need to come up with some more tests to really decide for sure… My feeling is that evil takes a bit of diagnosing too. I don’t entirely buy the idea that there is no good and evil in the universe… The people that claim it are mostly arguing from semantics and I am sure would adopt a different attitude if you punched them in the nose :smile: As long as there is pain and despair there will be evil causing it.


I’ve been watching Lucy for YEARS, and I never realized that pattern before. Thank you for pointing that out! I’ll watch the show with a new perspective now :slight_smile:




Ha ha it is really just something I figured out today… Glad you like it

Kudos to you for being able to hold on. I thought I was a sinner and God didn’t love me because I was unworthy of anyone’s love. Even God’s. I finally just had to walk away. I feel as thought I should add that it has helped me immensely.
I’m not trying to tempt you astray. I have a lot of Catholic relatives (well, a lot of relatives period). One of them has OCD and she is still faithful to the Church.
Wellanyways good luck. We’re all rooting for you.

that’s what symbols like “god” do, onceapoet, even to non-schizophrenics. i call that the “god complex” (i know psychologists have a different definition). my definition is the observation of what the concept of “god” does to the human mind: it creates a self-conscious man, who constantly measures himself according to his sins or goodness; according to doctrine which can never match the infinite nature of reality. there is no god who’s going to judge you for your sins at the end of the road; you are your own judge, and the delivery of your judgement is instantaneously. you either feel bad about something, or you don’t. it doesn’t require a formula of words and terms. that is the judgement of the host of hosts, which is reality, not a man made symbol or definition. how silly must it have seemed to the tribe, when the first man wrote the symbol for “god”. they must have thought “that’s not my god. my god is the rock, the chisel, you, me, and everything.” so the word “god” or the concept of some judge of sins are erroneous.
i knew a few people with schizophrenia in the past, and i would wonder “why do psychiatrists not just tell them to abolish religious/magical thinking?”; “what kind of loop-hole does religion have, where it’s not recognized as schizophrenic itself? meeting all the criteria of delusion?” that’s because psychology is the authority of the consensus trance; it’s only the “unpopular” delusions they don’t like.

I would like to understand what you are saying, but I don’t quite follow you.

which parts don’t you follow? i’ll gladly elaborate.

Please elaborate the whole thing. English is very contextual, so some of what I think I understand I might not actually understand.

you’re going to have to be specific. i don’t remember what i write after it’s been written.