The Schizophrenic's Possession(s)

Are the schizophrenic’s beliefs too often all he has that remain in his possession?

Is that why those beliefs – utterly misrepresentative of reality as they may be – are so precious and hotly defended?

Are those remaining fragments of supposed gravitas all that remains of the schizophrenic’s notions of selfhood?

Of his very identity?

Does the schizophrenic literally become his ideas?

Do his senses no longer inform his mind because he was trained in childhood by his invasive, confusing, invalidating, de-real-izing parents to wholly distrust and discount what his senses showed him?

And owing to that ripping out of the wires leading from his senses to his comprehension of what actually is, has he moved nearly – if not totally – out of his senses and into his thoughts?

Did the schizophrenic become so loyal his belief-driven fabrications and policies that he can no longer tell the difference between and idea and a perception?

Does he then remain locked in that cage of imagined explanations after he has tossed the key to that cage over a wall of self-defending – and self-defeating – egotism?

Is that why the schizophrenic so often believes that the answer is in a drug, and not in simply coming back to his senses?

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Good points but the beliefs one acquires during his schizophrenia may be devided into two cathegories: rational and irrational. i would put the idea of aliens probing you or angels talking to you to be in the cathegory of irrational because there are no reasons or serious arguments for either beings existing. on the other hand cases like people hearing god talk to them or beliving that they have telepathic abilities are rational to a degree because there are actually grounds for such things being real. But does this mean that it becomes his identity to always remember his schizophrenia and what he lived through depends on the individual and how hes made to evaluate his experiences if he values them highly it becomes part of him if he gives less value to it its just a side issue he lived through.

In a sense I think this is so. Delusions are quite peculiar beliefs. They are typically (by the patient) not argued for by other beliefs in a non-circular manner, typically no attempt to verification seems needed for the patient. On top of that, like you mention, they are defended with impressive certainty. This could be taken to be a clue to how they function in the patient’s life. To me, it makes sense to view delusions as a fundamental outlook on the world, as an orientation on it which makes ‘sense’ of that world. I think they might function quite similar to a belief in naive realism about the external world in healthy subjects. Such shares the characteristics I mentioned above, including that it is not argued for in a non-circular manner - if it even occurs to healthy subjects to even begin to examine it and look for any grounds for this belief. It forms the very basis on which their activities make sense. I think such functional similarities between delusions and, e.g. naive realism show something about the nature of delusion. Some associative phenomenological support can be given to the claim by noticing that a delusion, in my case at least, permeates my whole experience. It is omnipresent to me. In this sense, given that self and world are co-constitutive, I can agree that a delusional patient becomes his delusion.

I am not sure I buy into the bad parenting angle you push, at least not as a stand alone cause for psychosis/.
As the trigger in an already loaded gun- maybe,ie when there is a latent propensity for psychosis/schizophrenia.
Most people with bad parents don’t develop psychosis/schizophrenia.

My parents weren’t that bad(compared to some) but they weren’t that good either. I have at some point been diagnosed with psychosis but my siblings haven’t(they have not been under a pdoc though they have had some problems ie depression(sister) paranoia(brother) . We were all subjected to the same quality of parenting but only one of us, ie me, has been diagnosed with a SMI .

This is an interesting ponder. Why didn’t I try harder to let go of my sneaky brained thinking… why did I keep up with my belief will everything I had… there was a part of me that had no idea how to let go.

When I was at my worst… I bet I did loose my sense of self. Between the illness… the drugs… the toxic girlfriend who encouraged me to keep interacting with what wasn’t there…

I did cling on to some of my beliefs because with out them… I had no purposed for being on this earth… of course my beliefs at the time were wrong and the actions I took could have gotten me locked up in jail.

I know my actions put my kid sister in danger and gave her a messed up life. But I kept doing what I was doing.

There was a few delusions that still try and grab hold that I still have to fight… I find they come back and I start re-believing them when I let my guard down.

I’m sorry your parents were so damaging to you. I was lucky with my parents.

As far as parents telling me to discount what I was seeing… they had too to some degree… other wise I would have taken the carving knife and sliced my arm clean open… because the imaginary friend needed my blood so he could be real.

My parent’s weren’t dismissive… they tried to help me through the mental fog… they got me to therapist when I was young… they tried to be patient…

I had to learn to discount and distrust the voices who told me to self harm…

and distrust what I was seeing sometimes… I had a therapist when I was young who tried to get me to fight back.

I had an older cousin who suffered and went undiagnosed. While he was alive he taught me about drugs and got me introduced to most of them.

I don’t know how it is for others… but for me… looking back now and trying to make sense of myself…

Self medicating did two things…

Conscious effort… It was misguided symptom management…
Subconscious… it might have been a way to deny anything was wrong with me.

Hallucinations… that was the acid not me.
The spun hyper and extreme agitation… that was the amphetamines… not me.
Lack of motivation… pot… not me.

I consciously drank to stop the constant chatter…
I was hit with waves of flat emotionless cruelty … so when I was feeling emotionally shut down… when I wasn’t feeling like I was becoming cold and hateful… I took XTC.

When I was feeling like I just couldn’t get out of bed… my own body became to heavy to move… I took any stimulant I could. When I was too keyed up and anxious… and couldn’t sit still… I smoked pot…

Thank you for this post… it’s quite something to ponder… it’s hard for me too look at my past… I’ve been trying to become more detached from my past… otherwise I get eaten up by guilt and self- hate.

Wouldn’t have come back to my senses without meds. If you’re going to build a house, it needs a strong foundation.


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I was a bit confused… I didn’t know if he meant meds… or street drugs…

And the fundament of cognitive theory; i.e. that

as we think and feel, so shall we act,
as we think and act, so shall we feel, and
as we feel and act, so shall we think.

I’m just the messenger.

During years of working with the severely mentally ill and their family members – it became evident to me that the Karpman’s “drama triangle,” Baumrind’s “parenting styles,” Bowlby’s “anxious attachment,” Erikson’s “thwarted development,” Bateson’s “double bind” and Bowen’s “family systems” were invariably (not “often,” not “mostly,” but always) there.

Karpman drama triangle
The drama triangle is a psychological and social model of human interaction – typically between the roles of Persecutor, Victim and Rescuer. The drama triangle model is a tool used in psychotherapy, specifically transactional analysis. The Drama Triangle was originally conceived in 1968 by Stephen Karpman, M.D. as a way to graphically display a type of destructive interaction that can occur between people in conflict. The Karpman Drama Triangle models the connection between personal responsibil…

Parenting styles
A parenting style is a psychological construct representing standard strategies that parents use in their child rearing. The quality of parenting is more essential than the quantity spend with the child. For instance a parent can spend the entire afternoon with his or her child but the parent may be engaging in a different activity and not demonstrating interest towards the child. Parenting styles are the representation of how parents respond and demand to their children. Parenting practices are …

Attachment theory
Attachment theory is a psychological model that attempts to describe the dynamics of long-term interpersonal relationships between humans. However, “attachment theory is not formulated as a general theory of relationships. It addresses only a specific facet” (Waters et al. 2005: 81): how human beings respond within relationships when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving a threat. Essentially, attachment depends on the person’s ability to develop basic trust in their caregivers and se Th…

Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development
Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, as articulated by Erik Erikson, is a psychoanalytic theory which identifies eight stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. In each stage, the person confronts, and hopefully masters, new challenges. Each stage builds upon the successful completion of earlier stages. The challenges of stages not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems in the future. However, mastery of a stage …

Double bind
A double bind is an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, and one message negates the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other (and vice versa), so that the person will automatically be wrong regardless of response. The double bind occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither resolve it nor …

Family therapy
Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy, marriage and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members. It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health. The different schools of family therapy have in common a belief t…

All of these are lifts from wikipedia pages on research-identified and -proven concepts taught in any decent masters degree clinical psych program.

An understandably popular belief that is unsupported by actual examination? In all the books listed below – all of which report multiple observations of the dynamics of families of sz patients – it becomes clear that the popular belief is NOT supported by the actual evidence. The schizophrenic is always the “identified patient” and the target of subtle invalidation, verbal abuse, confusion and “de-real-ization” in a greater degree of “concentration” than others in the family.

I watched the families of numerous sz pts, bipolars, borderlines, complex PTSD sufferers and substance abusers to see if this was true or if it was b------t. It was invariably true.

Not “sometimes.” Not “mostly.” Always.

Bateson, G., Jackson, D., Haley, J.; et al: Perceval’s Narrative: A Patient’s Account of his Psychosis, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1961. Etiology of schizophrenia.

Esterson, A.: The Leaves of Spring: Schizophrenia, Family and Sacrifice, London: Tavistock, 1972.

Henry, J.: Pathways to Madness, New York: Random House, 1965.

Jackson, D. (ed.): The Etiology of Schizophrenia: Genetics / Physiology / Psychology / Sociology, London: Basic Books, 1960.

Laing, R. D.; Esterson, A.: Sanity, Madness and the Family, London: Tavistock, 1964.

Lidz, T.: The Origin and Treatment of Schizophrenic Disorders, New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Lidz, T.; Fleck, S., Cornelison, A.: Schizophrenia and the Family, 2nd Ed.; New York: International Universities Press, 1985.

Well, I was surprised today to discover that I am part of an evil conspiracy to suppress others. Up until now I thought I was just a victim of conspiracies like everyone else. So, finally, a promotion!

[ champagne cork popping ]


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I still hold that more than bad parenting is needed though it may well be a trigger. However re the bit I’ve quoted it is true that I was blamed more for my parent’s arguing than my siblings and that I was seen as more of a problem especially by my mother.
However my parents for all of us were intellectual though not that emotionally warm in their parenting style.

I guess my take on it is that at some point I need to stop worrying about why my leg is messed up and get down to the business of learning how to heal up and walk again.


I totally agree. It has appeared to the majority of mental health pros since the advent of the successful use of typical anti-Ps in the '50s and '60s that true is the result beating unfortunate genetic predispositions over the head with unfortunate forms of stress, be they florid or subtle.

Thus “nature+nurture.”

I wonder whether people prone to psychosis/SMI are prone to behaviours that trigger negative and therefore stressful responses.
Could this explain the difference in parental reactions compared to an unaffected/undiagnosed sibling ?

Yes. We (pretty obviously to one who has observed the family dynamics of sz and other psychotic, borderline and severely neurotic pts for almost 30 years) imitate our abusers just as the great Bessel van der Kolk pointed out in his lectures at The Meadows years ago. (And then… we all got to watch this at The Meadows.)

In short, we create our own stress by imitating those who stressed us to begin with.

I’m not sure at all about imitating those that stressed us.

Yes! I think this circularity in the mind/brain/body/world constellation is quite crucial in making sense of it, though it does require letting go of some thorough metaphors in thinking about such issues. For a moment when you mentioned cognitivist underpinnings of your ideas I projected a rather simple and old-school input output model on you… my bad it seems. I am especially interested in the EEC approach to cog sci, as initiated by Varela & Thompson.

Give the idea some time to sink in. I didn’t get it at first, either.

I thought for decades that I had had a “good,” “normal” childhood. I’d either pushed the abuse out of my mind or didn’t see what had happened as abuse.

But I sure as hell imitated my mother’s perfectionism, her judgmentalness, her criticalness, her emotional blackmailing, her intimidating, her disguised – and denied – dependence, her flip-flopping, her hair-trigger temper, etc, etc, etc. (I had to do that Step Six “character defects” stuff in AA to begin to be able to see all that; the process sort of rolled out on it’s own after that.)