There is quite a broad spectrum of symptom manifestation within this diagnosis.
Like dreams, it is one of the few things that is “unexplained” in the psychology. Sure, many people can theorize and debate most things (eg addiction, personality, etc) but really, schizophrenia is one of the most mysterious phenomena out there.
By definition, people who are delusional do not believe they are delusional.
But schizophrenia is much more than delusions. A person can have hallucinations and know they aren’t real. They can have problems speaking and thinking coherently and realize it. People with alogia aren’t just being taciturn just for the sake of it. They often experience a block that prevents intelligent language. Since schizophrenia also impairs affect and expression, they may not be able to show the frustration.
I’ve read accounts of schizophrenics describing their prodromal states, and they all have the same thing in common: an awareness that something is not right about themselves, and the concomitant fear they experience. I recall one person’s account specifically. She/he said they didn’t want to talk because they knew whatever they said was going to come out wrong. We all know about people have an irrational fear of speaking. But schizophrenia can really make what you say come out wrong (word salad, verbigeration, rambling/tangential). So being afraid in this case isn’t without merit.
One person said they knew that whenever their thoughts start to repeat, that’s when they know they are about to have another “episode”. This concerns me a little because my thoughts not only repeat frequently, but they are starting to “discuss amongst themselves” in way that completely engrosses me and that I cannot describe to my doctor. The staring thing that crazy people sometimes do…I find myself doing it too.
I imagine many schizophrenics walk around with chatter in their brains and also get lost in the fog sometimes, but they are more functional because they lack the delusional thinking.
Not being schizophrenic myself, I have no idea how accurate this video might be (and given how widely varied schizophrenia and associated symptoms can be, ‘accurate’ might not even be possible), but I found it interesting: Simulated Schizophrenia
I’d love to hear the opinions of people who have more firsthand experience. Is this anything approaching what someone might think/hear/see, or would it just give people the wrong idea?
You should try to meet some real “live” people with this diagnosis…I think you may be surprised. Whatever you read seems to have identified a very narrow, specific manifestation of a complex diagnosis. I am also curious about those folks’ medication regimes (if any) as that makes a big difference.
I’m not schizophrenic, but once had a really bad turn on some medication that a schizophrenic friend said was very similar to the way she experienced things.
It wasn’t like when you take drugs, and you know why you are seeing things/experiencing things differently/behaving differently. It was a build up over weeks. I got hallucinations, and realised they were not real, but I didn’t realise that having them was not normal, or that my reaction to them was not normal.
This is what my friend recognised: she said even when she heard voices she sometimes knew that the voices were not real, but that’s not the same as thinking that you shouldn’t react to the voices etc.
Obviously, I am no expert, but that’s the sense I can make of it. There are parts you might be aware are not real/normal and other parts you don’t experience as out of the ordinary. Those parts work together in a real-life conspiracy against your sanity.
I’m not myself, but have complex PTSD which, at times, has similarities in that the emotional and thinking processes get seriously tangled. My younger brother is psychotic but since he doesn’t really believe it and refuses treatment, then we don’t know if he is bipolar or schizophrenic. My father was undoubtedly psychotic and quite possibly schizophrenic, and it’s not fun growing up with a parent like that. Since your friend is not taking medications, I hope he doesn’t have children at home.
One of the biggest problems is that your healthy / sick meter is dysfunctional. You can be really screwed up, but not know it. An analogy is being tone deaf. If you are, how can you tell? I’ve always known that I wasn’t a good singer, but never really realized how bad I was until once with I was singing “Twinkle twinkle little star” with my young daughter and saw the reaction from my nephew and niece.
I had a few lessons with vocal instructor and it turns out I’m not truly tone deaf in that I can tell that the notes are changing, I just never learned how to judge / pay attention sufficiently to see if they were going up or down, and by how far. My wife has an electronic piano which lights up the correct keys corresponding to the notes and ohmygod I can’t believe that is how the song goes. All this time, my mind had substituted another barely recognizable tune for the correct one, so it was like I was hearing something different than others. The only way I could understand that was because of the visual clues.
I didn’t really understand how badly things had affected me until recently and suddenly it’s so much more clear. Just like seeing the keys light up and realize I’ve been hearing a different melody than others.
I imagine that my flashback are a similar phenomena. Various things will trigger a flashback, and then the automatic response kicks in and you know that the panic is real and that you are in imminent danger, and this feeling keeps escalating until you *do *something, which naturally isn’t appropriate for the occasion because you really aren’t in danger. If suddenly we are in a war, then my reaction will be right, but until then I have to learn how to defuse this gut feeling.
Inigo, can you say more about the process of gaining this understanding and learning how to follow the rules? That’s where I’m at now.
I have often been aware that the thoughts in my head are unusual ones, that the mental processes that originated them are likewise not commonplace. I do not share the unspoken assumption that "normal’ mental processes are more desirable than the schizzy ones. I live with less day-to-day certainty that I’m not batshit nutsy than you’re probably accustomed to feeling about your own mind, although you could probably do with more questioning of yours.
Diagnosed schizophrenic quite a while back, don’t take shrink meds or have any wish to be normalized, thank you very much.
Concept is simple: buy into the idea that anything you believe or feel that is not completely logical is a lie. On the one hand, if you’re religious, this will obviously cause problems for you. On the other, it helps if you allow yourself (and this is totally playing the schizo) to believe such thoughts are the the suggestion of your inner demons. In a way, they are. Your mind is broken to the point where its deceptions are so destructive as to border on malevolent anyway.
So adopt logic as your compass, and no matter how bored you get, never take your eyes off it. Meanwhile, when you’re sure you’re lucid, identify situations that set you off and make rules for yourself to avoid them or handle them in a specific way. This involves a lot of trial and error. But when you find something that works, don’t deviate from it. For instance, I have to avoid music, movies, books, even just discussions involving infidelity. Just yesterday the radio heads were discussing whether you should tell your SO you cheated even if they couldn’t find out on their own, or should you keep it to yourself even if it makes you miserable–for a good 15 minutes I had to fight off the urge to believe my own wife was doing Denver. The fight consisted of a recognition of why I was wanting to believe that, calling out the demon by name: paranoia. Some other rules are upthread.
PTSD is something I’m not familiar with, but it sounds to me like your answer is to insist you are always safe (and make sure you keep yourself in safe situations!), and when you feel unsafe focus initially on the feeling itself, not your environment. Recognize the feeling as the problem, and then notice how incongruous it is with your environment, and then focus on how safe you really are: nobody’s shooting at you, there are no rabid dogs about, that airplane is clearly a commercial plane full of people who don’t even know you’re there… And when I say focus, that may mean literally stopping your current business and just looking around at things. Watch a bird, examine a tree, anything to absorb your attention.
I’ve known several people with schizophrenia and it defintitely depends on the person and the moment. Some are very aware of their disease-- to the point where they will check their reality with others (“I hear sirens. Do you?”) Others are oblivious to or in denial of their condition.
Most fall somewhere in between. I know a guy right now who is aware of his condition and takes meds that help a little. He will laugh about some of his delusions and the next minute tell you something absolutely crazy in total seriousness.
I host web-seminars for doctors (of the MD & PhD sort) in the mental health field and according to them lack of insight is the #1 most common symptom of schizophrenia - 97% of schizophrenics lack insight. So it seems pretty uncommon for them to realize that they’re ill.
I have other diagnoses but after years of psychotropics destroying my blood brain barrier I now have had serious reactions to drugs I need for my battered body. A couple of years ago during chit chat with my doctor I mentioned I was getting plenty of exercise having to walk out of town to get to unmanned railway stations after work because I couldn’t tell station staff from cops in their new uniforms. The fact that I needed to avoid cops was a given in my mind, the station staff looking like them was the problem. I may have spent years skulking about avoiding blue uniforms and muttering unnoticed had it not been for the doc asking if I was exercising.