I’m a little tipsy (holiday wine), so I hope this makes sense.
Some people like to define schizophrenia in terms of spiritual crises. In some measure I think there is truth to this — at least a more accurate truth than defining schizophrenia in terms of brain disease or physical illness.
For a while now I have come to believe that social disconnectedness plays a more vital role in schizophrenia than we give it credit for. We downplay social withdrawal as one of a number of possible symptoms — no more important than any other — a mere by-product.
From what I’ve read, psychosis is notoriously difficult to predict, but social withdrawal is typically seen as a precursor to psychotic episodes.
Western society is typically known to emphasize individuality, free will, personal responsibility, etc — and this is particularly pronounced in our governments and laws.
(this as opposed to Eastern societies which emphasize society, communal responsibility, etc).
In my opinion, we heavily downplay the value of community in shaping healthy minds and persons. And the role community and social connectedness play in mental health is notoriously lacking.
I think social withdrawal is the precipitating factor in psychosis. Or in other words, social poverty leads to delusions and hallucinations and a general loss of reality.
I’ve been intrigued by the concept of collective consciousness. When people speak about the “spirit of an age” or “spirit of a generation,” I believe they’re referring to collective consciousness — or the collective minds and experiences of mankind — hive mind, in a sense.
I believe reality is more fluid than we give it credit for. I’m not sure if objective reality exists, but even if it does, I believe it’s impossible for man to perceive any sort of objective reality (almost like Plato’s theory of forms). Instead we are left with a subjective experience of existence, informed, shaped and molded by the subjective experiences of others.
Collective consciousness determines our subjective reality. It is the standard by which we judge and interpret our surroundings and experiences.
When we lose our ability to connect with others, we sever our connection to this collective consciousness — and as such, our ability to differentiate between (subjective) reality and delusion — deviation from the commonly-accepted understanding of reality — is compromised. Collective consciousness is our tether to reality.
I differentiate between subjective and objective reality to leave room for concepts like societal delusions. Take, for example, myths, (religion?), magic, sorcery, witchcraft . Today we would say that someone who claims to work magic is deluded or crazy but in the not-too-distant past, it was a common explanation for everything from rain to human death.
I guess to put it another way, collective consciousness is the filter by which we judge and interpret our experiences. And lacking social connectedness, we lose access to this filter by which to differentiate subjective reality from delusion.
Why do we lack genuine social connectedness? R.D. Laing theorized that we can’t socially connect because we lack a coherent sense of self-identity. But that’s a discussion for another thread.