Talking Back to Madness - psychotherapies are getting new attention

Just came across this news item from last year - its not that recent, but its good:

Terry has been seeing Arenella for psychotherapy sessions for the past decade. The voices haven’t entirely gone away, he says, but she has taught him how to live with them, and how to follow the gentle voices and ignore the nasty ones. “Without Jessica, I wouldn’t have made it,” Terry says.

Terry is suffering from schizoaffective disorder, one of a number of so-called schizophrenia spectrum disorders. By treating his psychosis with “talk” psychotherapy, Arenella, along with a small number of other psychologists and psychiatrists, is bucking a decades-old trend, in which antipsychotic drugs have long been seen as the first line of defense against the illnesses. In a radical departure, Arenella and other advocates of psychological approaches are engaging with patients’ symptoms, such as hearing voices or experiencing hallucinations or paranoid fantasies, and taking them seriously rather than dismissing them or relying on medication to stamp them out.

CBT, is a shorter, more pragmatic method that takes patients through a series of guided steps designed to explore alternative interpretations of what he or she is experiencing, with the goal of changing both outlook and behavior. CBT, which has proven effective for depression and anxiety disorders, typically takes months rather than years, and it has shown more clear-cut effectiveness.

“There’s always a little bit of truth at the heart of the delusion,” explains Douglas Turkington, a CBT pioneer at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. “If someone has a funny idea we call a delusion, you have to talk about it and put it on the table,” says Ross Tappen, a psychologist at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center in New York City.

And if delusions are taken seriously, Tappen adds, they can often be treated. “A delusion is the psychological equivalent of an inoperable tumor that is out of control and takes over your normal functioning,” he says. “What therapy does, at its best, is to shrink the psychological tumor.”

Read the full story here:


My psychotherapist is a bit ambitious about trying to “end” my schizophrenia. We always talk in implausible terms, so it seems, to try and fix the plausible things - leaving reality then entering back into it so-to-speak.

At the very least, it’s a good 50 minute mental exercise.

Thanks @SzAdmin for this. I read the whole article, and found it not only touching, but inspiring. I am going to look into some kind of psychotherapy, despite my jaded opinion of it. I should note, however, that the majority of my previous therapy experiences came as I was a rebellious teenager. The last therapist I saw liked to kick her shoes off and put her bare, corned feet onto the bookshelf. It was rather ridiculous. Reading this article gives me a gentle push to see a therapist in a new light. I will be looking at this more seriously and given it an honest consideration.


"My lunch with Terry was coming to an end, so I pulled out my American Express card to pay the bill. Terry was still smiling, although he looked very tired from telling me his story over the previous 2 hours. As I paid up, I told him about a meeting I had just attended in San Francisco on psychological approaches to psychosis, as part of my reporting for this story.

“I’d like to fly to San Francisco and take people out to lunch with my own American Express card,” Terry said. “I’d like to get married again, or have a girlfriend. I’m going to get all that. It’s going to happen because, like I told Jessica, I’m not going to settle for anything less.”"