Paranoid schizophrenia – disorder / disgrace / language / skillset

In my previous posts here and here I have described how I see and interpret the world.

As I have previously said, I was imprisoned in a mental facility for this way I allude to.  I have also received from family, both close and wider,[1] very little appetite to encourage me to pursue a revision of the original state of affairs as set in stone by the diagnosing psychiatrist, my father and his (not my) GP.

As a result of the MA in Criminal Justice I am in the process of completing at Liverpool John Moores University,[2] I am, after fourteen years of living under what was quickly turning into a life sentence, emboldened to tell the truth about the situation which I have been living.

A couple of days ago, I explained how a visual language which combined the ordering of urban environments might be used to communicate with people able to follow the logic.  I am one such person: but I don’t believe I am the only such person.

Let us leave to one side for the moment whether the communication is happening or is “just my imagination”.  It is not – even – all that important as far as societal permission for these interpretations/communications to take place, and be accepted.  My mother, from whom – as with many of my family – I am estranged, and am sure will remain so for the rest of my life, believes that an entity communicates with her daily.  She also speaks to this entity, whom she calls God.  She believes He forms part of a triad called the Holy Trinity; that God is a very very good and kindly entity who encouraged humanity to crucify[3] His only Son in order that humanity might become better at being human.  She also believes that after having died, God’s Son came back to life.  This must be the dream of many, at least in youth.

I don’t say at all these things to be disrespectful.  I am not being ironic here.  I am being descriptive of a belief system I don’t believe in but do respect, partly because even though I am fully estranged from my mother, I continue to remember those moments when she was wise in the things she did in my presence; and partly because I am conscious of the importance of culture in our humanity, the importance of history, the importance of religion as a binding force for good, and the impact of the many very very good people who perform wonderful acts as they persistently choose to share my mother’s belief system.

I do, however, mention it here, in this post, on paranoid schizophrenia, because I am trying to get across – in a very nascent and still primitive way – the idea[4] that where we have belief systems that have their logic and do not hurt others and can be channelled and may be wondrously diverse examples[5] of the human being’s attempt to grapple positively with a universe and reality and time on this rock no one, but no one,[6] yet understands, after aeons and aeons of human existence, then we should allow these belief systems – however they manifest themselves – to continue operating unmedicated, undiagnosed, appreciated … and even understood.

Even, goddammit, channelled to productive end.

My belief system, in a nutshell, is that however it is happening, I use the world around me to uncover what I am already thinking about what I see, what I am thinking inside me, what decisions I should take, how and when I should take them, who might be good for me, who might not.

If we could meet up in a room and record the conversation, we – maybe, just maybe! – could extend ourselves gloriously, and explore and create fabulous trails of thought amongst us all, that would then lead us into areas of understanding – or at the very least hypothesis – which could generate new spaces for astonishing research.

As it is, I have my public hypotheses, my more private ones, and my forever silent ones.  Not even LJMU can embolden me that far!

But in the meantime, my belief system leads me to assert that:

  1. Paranoid schizophrenia – at least when diagnosed in people with my sort of brain – is not a disorder;
  2. Its diagnosis, consistently and persistently over the years, certainly as mental illness – never mental distress, and despite notable voices in the wilderness (Laing, Esterson and Szasz), is a disgrace;
  3. People who are diagnosed as such – certainly people who coincide with my way of seeing and interpreting the world[7] – are linguists of an extremely complex order, and not patients to be medicated into an oblivion and societal shame, where they are either feared as bogeymen and women of myth or tolerated almost abusively out of pity;
  4. As linguists of such a nature, paranoid schizophrenics as I understand the label, and as I have lived my life, are not possessed of a disorder but of a grand and valuable skillset, which – were it understood in any accurate way at all – could allow them to find themselves employed in all sorts of high-performing roles we may not yet be able to even imagine.[8]

From diagnosis to skillset, via societal disapprobation and pity … it’s quite a journey, right?  Quite a goddamn journey.

And this journey now needs a goddamn destination.

And this goddamn destination has to be one of:

  1. Truth, real truth, scientific and contrastable truth;
  2. A wider recognition and then a societally located reconciliation;
  3. A final acceptance and attribution of this set of skills which I begin to describe to people, citizens and individuals currently operating under the terrible weight of mental disorder.

For we are talking about human beings with all the aspirations any of us might wish for; more importantly, the aspirations they have every right to.  Individuals, indeed, that I am convinced have the potential to be amazingly analytical and perspicacious minds and brains, were they to be given the understanding they deserve: brains and minds and ways of interpreting and seeing I am utterly convinced many so-called paranoid schizophrenics must have.

If only they weren’t disgracefully assigned a disorder instead of a skillset; and if only their ability to communicate wasn’t consistently trashed by utter misunderstanding from those unable to see and interpret the world in quite the same way.

The world which not one of the billions of human beings has ever comprehended to the extent that they know – for example – what two events common to us all, life and death, actually mean.

Religion has always struggled to make sense of such disorder.

And so I ask: why must paranoid schizophrenia be a disorder itself – be seen as disorder, instead of a way and belief system and tool for comprehending and extracting from disorder sensibility and sense?

And actually, just like religion honourably and often nobly does.


[1]  I do have to say here that my kids find it much easier to appreciate my point of view than almost anyone else to date: radically and consistently disbelieving, too, of diagnosis persistent.  My youngest has even gone so far as to call me the most intelligent person she has ever known.  Whilst she will meet far more intelligent people along the road her life will take her, and it is right that this will be so, and I strongly believe from her tender but massive achievements to date that she has a huge advantage over any intelligence I might myself have, it’s nice when people whose judgement you value say these nice things simply because they believe them.

[2] And here I have to underline that my application was supported by two of the most intelligent and astute people have ever met: still I am confused and not a little bemused as I strive to understand why.

[3] Which is to say: nail to a wooden cross and allow to die in the burning sun on top of a hill where the pain could be perceived and felt and remembered and never forgotten from miles around.

[4] Not just the idea – the demand!

[5] DNAs of thought we might argue.

[6] I challenge you to find just one person out of the billions and billions who have lived on this planet, looked up and marvelled at the stars, and been embraced by this universe in some way or another, to properly explain what this shit really means.

[7] I requested my otherwise always supportive and fantastic GP to reopen my diagnosis a few years back: she refused very politely but very firmly.  My memory of the conversation was that – to all intents and purposes – she was saying it had to stand.

[8] As far back as 1973, when Rosenhan sent imposters into psychiatric hospitals in order for them to be duly diagnosed as schizophrenics, he got the result he had clearly been looking for.  However, what even he surely hadn’t expected was how the patients already in hospital, already apparently fairly judged insane, were better at identifying imposters than the doctors themselves:

Finally, it cannot be said that the failure to recognize the sanity was due to the fact that they were not behaving sanely.  While there was clearly some tension present in all of them, their daily visitors could detect no serious behavioral consequences – nor, indeed, could other patients.  It was quite common for the patients to “detect” the pseudopatients’ sanity. . . . “You’re not crazy. You’re a journalist, or a professor [referring to the continual note-taking].  You’re checking up on the hospital.”  While most of the patients were reassured by the pseudopatient’s insistence that he had been sick before he came in but was fine now, some continued to believe that the pseudopatient was sane throughout his hospitalization.  The fact that the patients often recognized normality when staff did not raises important
questions.

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