Tether to Reality

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.

Anyway. Thoughts?


I’ve taken to liking the term integration disorder. Good post.

wow , all that writing and you are ’ tipsy ’ on wine…?!.
i don’t drink and doing simple things is difficult…but your post makes sense.
the native americans would have called us shamans…western society call us delusional.
to gauge a society one must look at how that society treat the poor, the mentaly ill, and the frail…
western society is guilty on all counts.
take care from :alien:

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Interesting points. Have you read an Carl Jung? He had somewhat of the same ideas.

I know that for me, I can be pulled out of episodes or out of my “inner world” with socialization. Like I can be really messed up and after a solid 30 or so minutes of interaction, my consciousness is forced outward instead of inward and I escape from that. Socialization is an important therapeutic tool, for me anyways.

I think that people can’t truly connect with one another because deep down we’re all selfish to different extents. Thinking the world revolves around us. I think I made a post about narcissism on here? Maybe? Maybe it was on another site? Ah well.

Your post is very apropos for me because I tend to isolate myself. If you live in complete isolation you are likely to become first eccentric and then psychotic.

i think that while it may be true for some, it’s not true for others. how do you explain the social butterflys with sudden onset? this has nothing to do with social withdrawal at all as there was none prior to onset.

I exist, and I socialize, but I don’t connect. To clarify, I can chat with my friends and family and engage in conversation, but I lack inter-connectedness or belonging. It’s not so much social withdrawal as it is social disconnectedness or social poverty.

(my fault for being vague with jargon like “social withdrawal”).

I don’t know if other schizophrenics’ experiences jive with my own. These days, I have difficulty relating even to my own family, though we still have superficial engagements. And I think this social poverty can cause or exacerbate a disconnect with [subjective] reality.

I haven’t read Freud (or Carl Jung) but I have read from second-hand sources that psychotherapy doesn’t work with schizophrenics because transference can’t occur between patient and therapist. I think this inability to socially connect with other human beings is responsible for loss of reality and not vice versa.

ok, now i get you. maybe i’m not the best judge as i haven’t been diagnosed as schizophrenic. i do hear inner voices but that’s about it. had a few psychotic breaks too but i am very sociable.

Not being able to connect could be a term of self-identity, the agnostic of the psyche. Sociologically I think empathy towards this illness is difficult if not impossible unless experienced. The collective consciousness of western society does ostracize SZ, and that could feed into our conclusion of reality.

I don’t think collective consciousness is how I interpret experiences, but it does have a huge impact on how I think others will interpret my interpretations. After many experiences I know I’m unique, but our society in the SZ world as odd as it may be has a society of it’s own. It may not be the most accepted or understood group, but we know we’re not alone. There are many paths to the same destination. Our path just has less people on it.

My social isolation probably brought about sz in me. And stress and stuff, plus my religious delusions are real somehow. But, that doesn’t explain the outgoing people with sz.