W I T H O U T M A S K
The schizophrenic speaks a unique language, a language of their own creation that is designed to avoid contact with the real world. The language is known to most as "word salad". During childhood the most important social influences that shape the way we think is the information we receive from our parents. The schizophrenic takes these social experiences, whether they be religious beliefs, negative behaviors, or social factors, and scrambles their common meaning by changing the pronunciation of words and/or turning them into metaphorical rhetoric to confuse and mystify those around them. The language is so cleverly crafted that no one is able to understand what they are talking about and, therefore, all meaningful communication is cut off. It is a very useful defense mechanism that allows the sufferer to virtually exist in a distorted reality of their own making so that they don't have to confront the harm that has or is being done to their body, mind, and spirit.
Most schizophrenics hear voices and are very disturbed by them because, to them, the voices are all too real. Their distress is understandable since the voices, in reality, are the perpetrator or abuser talking to them, not unlike what you see in the movies when verbal flashbacks taunt the victim to madness. The voices, however, will not be the actual voices of the abusers or perpetrators. The voices have great diversity. Some individuals hear the queen talking to them, others hear the police, their parents, children laughing, or even demons. But, no matter who's voice is being presently used, the words that are being spoken to them are the words the abuser once used. However, the sufferers subconscious won't allow them to connect the memories together; after all, the purpose is to avoid knowing who the perpetrator really was or whether there had been one at all.
Delusions of grandeur- the belief that one is extremely famous, important, or powerful. They sufferer may think they are Jesus Christ, Napolean, or maybe Queen Elizabeth and people will laugh at them for thinking so highly of themselves; they see them as fools. However, sufferers manufacturer their delusions in order to have a reason to live. The pain of past memories, whether physical, mental, or emotional, is so devastating that the sufferer chooses to believe it never happened. Victims of severe enough abuse to create a psychosis really feel like the most unimportant things that exist on this earth. Therefore, in order to deal with these feelings of total insignificance the sufferer reverses the situation by imagining themselves as someone famous, important, or powerful; all the things they are not. This is how they manage to regain at least some feeling of control over their shattered lives. Rather than confront the pain and relive those devastating moments of intense shame and guilt they pretend to be someone they are not. Believe me, it is a very effective method to avoid reality. Better even than alcohol or drugs.
Delusions of control- the belief that evil forces, or perhaps, even beings from another planet, are controlling their thoughts, actions, or feelings, often by means of electronic devices they imagine have been implanted in, or aimed at their brain. The sufferer denies the victimization and sees the cause of their distress as an outside force rather than confronting their inner pain.
Delusions of persecution- the belief that one is being plotted against, spied upon, threatened, or other otherwise mistreated. During the time the sufferer was being victimized they felt compelled to suppress their emotions and, afterwards, to bury the memories, and because the trauma was never confronted and worked out it just continues to replay over and over in their mind. The schizophrenic lives in the past, although it is not the past of reality, and because they are unable to work through the trauma it becomes their past, present and future.
Hallucinations are disturbed perceptions, vivid sensory experiences, that have no basis in physical reality. To understand how and why hallucinations work think of someone who has suffered a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a Vietnam veteran, for instance. They experience flashbacks of the trauma that continue to haunt them, sometimes, unmercifully for years, but the schizophrenic's flashbacks of their trauma are disguised. The schizophrenics mind replaces the trauma with false images and perceptions in order to protect them from the truth; thus they are able to cope.
When we see schizophrenia as a survival mechanism and not as a brain disease we will recognize its simplicity, gain understanding, and evenutally realize true hope.
© Tracey May 2001