Friday, December 4, 2009

The true believers

I have noticed that the people who have recovered from schizophrenia and who believe that recovery is not only possible, but permanent, are people who have undergone certain psychotherapies and/or rituals or have simply wrested recovery away from the views of the professionals and placed the responsibility on themselves. They have either taken themselves outside the system and chosen a do-it-yourself approach (e.g. recovered by whatever means they had at their disposal) or else entrusted themselves to the views of psychiatrists and therapies who are also not part of the mainstream, e.g. transpersonal psychology (Stanislav Grof), transactional analysis (Eric Berne), shamanic journeys.


  1. What you have wittingly, or unwittingly, said that is significant is "True Believers".

    The entire notion of "schizophrenia" resides in, or grows out of, the belief system. Everyone, and most significantly the patient, believe that the person is "schizophrenic". Yet, in absolute terms, schizophrenia does not exist. It is simply a label for a pattern of thoughts, born out of particular beliefs, and behavioral responses. The thoughts and behaviors changes when the beliefs change. These thoughts and behaviors arise as a consequence of how we feel, what our interpretations are, filtered through a preconceived set of beliefs. Human beings have a propensity to attempt to validate their tightly held beliefs as opposed to invalidating them.

    As Harry Stack Sullivan indicated it is far easier to act your way into a new way of feeling than it is to feel your way into a new way of acting and as a consequence it is action that will effectively change one's feelings, thoughts, and beliefs.

    I suggest you start with the the true belief that your son is not "schizophrenic". "Schizophrenia" does not exist therefore this should be an easy belief to espouse. Beyond that I suggest, that although the therapeutic work has significance, that it is far more important to begin acting so that the relationship with self and the occurring world is altered and the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs change.

    You are correct. True believers reject the "schizophrenic" label. They do not succumb to the conventional approaches that offer no possibility. They reject that neuroleptics are necessary. They will not accept that they are destined to a life marked by chronic resignation and failure.

    In order for the individual to succeed someone has to hold the belief that the individual is not "schizophrenic" and that he or she can live a happy and productive life and that his or her actions, marked by what we might label "normalcy" will result in sustainable changes to the way he or she feels, thinks and believes. Perhaps it's time to stop believing that your son has "schizophrenia". Break it down and deal with what is tangible. You cannot deal with "schizophrenia" because it does not exist.

  2. What I think you are getting at is how can I even use the word "schizophrenia" and still be a true believer? I have said elsewhere in my comments that I use the word "schizophrenia" so that others can find help for that label on the internet. I try as best I can to educate people to looking beyond the label. I will be a true, true believer when Chris is able to return to university and succeed (if that is what he wants) or holds down a full-time job.
    There are plenty of people around Chris who reject the label "schizphrenic" and I am one of them. I try to introduce him as much as I can to people who think differently about "the label." One person is his sound therapist. Even psychiatrists don't like to use the label, although they are still happy to prescribe the drugs. I have discussed with Chris on many occasions that he is not "the label" but that he does have problems in living. We have banished "the label" from our house. We are only too aware he has problems that he couldn't solve except for going psychotic. He is not "diseased." It is up to Chris to figure out what his problems are, and I can only do so much by leading him to alternative therapies. Alternative therapies do not believe in "the label", either. I have spent many hours in alternative therapies myself so that I can strengthen myself as a true believer. Perhaps you see that I can't possibly be a true believer because I am always scheming up new therapies for Chris, thereby implying to him that he is somehow in need of therapy for a condition that doesn't exist. Please note that even the people who believe schizophrenia doesn't exist (you, R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz and me) still somehow need to identify what we are dealing with by using this label.

    I would like your advice as to any actions I can take or where I am going wrong based on how I come across in my blog.

  3. You are not yet a true believer. Your belief is conditional. You say "I will believe when Chris returns to school or works full time." Your belief system has been weakened by his last psychotic break and the ineffectiveness of the treatment he has received; both conventionally and alternatively.

    It is clear you love Chris and that you are committed to doing whatever you can to help him live a productive and satisfying life.

    Even though you have admonished the labels you, his caregivers, and Chris, all believe he has schizophrenia and although you advocate he does not have a disease he no doubt feels like he is treated as though he has one.

    My first piece of advice is that you decide whether you are capable of believing unconditionally. Are you willing to confront your fears? Are you willing to alter the journey you are on with nothing more than your belief that there is nothing wrong with Chris? Are you willing to enter into his delusional world and help him break free of it? You, nor anyone else, will never entice him into a state of normalcy unless you are willing to get into the delusional cesspool with him and help break out of it. Are you willing to allow him to believe because he begins observing that you believe unconditionally?

    If Chris could figure this out and resolve it he would have done so by now. Are you willing to believe and to help him? Are you willing to confront yourself in the process? Are you willing to overcome the effects of your ego and your own narcissistic compulsions in order to help Chris?

    If you decide you are I am willing to offer further insights to help you to try to help him. I believe, based only on what I have interpreted from what you have written to be your underlying and unwaivering commitment to Chris, that you, and you alone, are capable of helping Chris to resolve his interferences and to live a happy and productive life and I believe this unconditionally. You, too, appear to believe this much as you have already acknowledged that this is a mother and son journey.

  4. One thing I forgot to add in my true believer piece was that the true believers seem to be mainly male. Men are much more dogmatic and convinced of the inherent wisdom of which they speak. They often tend to be angry and can't understand why people just don't do what they do, because it's so obvious! Females, and I include myself among them, tend to be more pragmatic and nuanced, and mothers especially. Here's something I will throw out to you. Often, the parents aren't the best source for helping a child believe in themselves. My believing in Chris's recovery may not be good enough for Chris, sorry to say. Twenty people can tell you the same thing, that they have faith in you and it is that twenty first person who you actually listen to or who says one small thing that turns your life around. The patient may say, well this is the first person who believed in me, but let's keep in mind that may or may not be the case. The twenty first person might just be saying what he is really unsure of but it works. This is not a one way street.
    The spark that changes things might be a person (not even a therapist)or a book.
    Now, here's my question to you. Does a person have to undergo Direct Confrontational Therapy when they are psychotic? I don't see how it would work unless a person is actively psychotic. Your insights, please.

  5. Here's something I will throw back to you:

    A parent is definitely the best source for helping a child believe in themselves and to the extent the child does not believe in themselves the parent has failed at his or her fundamental role with the child. As a consequence this belief is best rectified by the parent. The parent as a consequence needs to accept responsibility and change his or her own beliefs before he or she is of any value in guiding the recovery of the child.

    My interpretation is that you believe that you will not succeed at helping Chris. Respectfully, I suggest your belief is motivated by fear. I also suggest that your fears are rational. The difference between you and the therapist is the therapist, if fuelled by nothing other than intellectual arrogance and her own ego, believes that she can help. Whether or not that "help" is of any real value is another matter. In many cases the therapist's belief is irrational.

    The answer to your last question is no the person does not have to be in an active state of acute psychotic crisis. Do not confuse a psychotic crisis however with the effects of a rigid delusional belief system. Because there is no apparent crisis on the surface does not mean that the individual is not contending with the delusional belief system below the surface.

    In this case the visible effects are probably suppressed by the neuroleptic drugs Chris is taking. As you know this suggests he is chemically restrained and managed and not that he is cured or is resolving the fundamental underlying limiting beliefs that give rise to his psychotic response. In a double blind study (Karon, Detroit Study) it was determined that individuals who recovered best received the therapy with no medication. As good were the group who received the therapy with medication withdrawn as quickly as they could tolerate it and the group that did poorest were those who maintained their medication only.

    A psychotherapist is someone who establishes a caring and trusting relationship with an individual; a relationship of mutual relatedness, in the absence of this relationship existing between parent and child.

  6. Of course I know that neuroleptics suppress symptoms. Of course I know that my son had a rigid belief system which provoked his crisis. However, it makes sense to me that you can still work at the underlying symptoms (lack of belief in oneself - a common problem for a lot of people - not just the "so called mentally ill") by undergoing therapies that provoke a change of emotion/belief within the person. To my mind this has been happening with Chris all along. His recent hospitalization only increased my belief in his recovery. I am especially intrigued by the sound therapy he is undergoing. I can see the changes in him with each and every therapy he has undertaken, so your reference to them as ineffective is simply not true. The difference between us is I believe there are many pathways and you see one. I'm glad it worked for your son. There are many other people who have their own favorite pathways and they will not be yours or mine.

  7. I have invited you before to be a guest blogger. If you are agreeable, I can reprint an explanation of how you used Direct Confrontation Therapy to help your son (all names ommitted). Or, would you prefer that I link to your self-help blog or reprint the contribution you made to Jack Rosberg's blog?

  8. I believed there were many pathways as well and tried a number of them; some conventional and others less conventional. I, however, only found one that worked. Perhaps you will find another.

    To bring the discussion back to the original topic what is significant is firmly holding the belief that Chris can and will succeed. I believe you will find a pathway to the extent that you believe and the conviction with which you hold your belief continues to grow. Chris' belief will grow as a correlate of yours. Even conventional psychiatrists will acknowledge that patients who retain the support of their families appear to fair out better than those who don't. It seems reasonable that if "the tension of anxiety, when present in the mothering one, induces anxiety in the infant" that the resolve and strength of the beliefs of the mothering one can help resolve the anxieties of the adult infant.

    You believe sound therapy is effective. Great! Pursue it. Strengthen your belief in his ability to lead a happy productive life with vocational purpose and help Chris strengthen his.

  9. I am going to reprint your article anyway, because I am convinced that the therapy that worked for your son will also work for everyone else. I normally wouldn't cover it in my blog under I had personal experience with it, but I can see that this therapy works. It will also prompt input from others which will be helpful.

  10. Following are links to my papers that will take you to the articles posted on Dr. Jack Rosberg's site. Both he and Dr. Bertram Karon have reviewed the Direct Confrontation submission. Since completing the Vocational Purpose paper Patrick has successfully completed his first semester and although all of his final exam marks have yet to be received it would appear his first semester average will range between 85% and 90%. He is presently on Christmas break and commences semester 2 in January.

    He experiences no symptoms, continues to take no medication, but does experience residual fears regarding the potential for a future psychotic break that are diminishing with time as his confidence grows and for which there is presently no evidence that suggests the concerns are warranted. He suggests that these fears are akin to post traumatic stress and I am inclined to agree. He has lost most of the weight he packed on as a consequence of taking psychiatric drugs and interacts and socializes with attitudes and behaviors that are within a normal range of what might be anticipated by anyone who was never diagnosed with a "
    mental illness."

    I am sincere in advocating that you should pursue what you believe will work. Although psychotherapy may involve a greater investment in terms of time if you can locate a competent therapist, or learn to undertake the task yourself, I suggest the results are quite encouraging. In Patrick's case it is just over a year since his last psychotic break, about nine months since all of his psychiatric drugs were withdrawn, six months since he began summer employment and four months since he returned to school full time.

    I am not promoting that this is the only pathway or the only answer however it has worked exceptionally well given the history and earlier prognosis.


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