Author Topic: Azzerae's Thread  (Read 7741 times)

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Azzerae's Thread
« Reply #90 on: June 26, 2019, 10:39:42 AM »
So you changed your mind about me having been phony[?]

I didn't ever hold that view. While its tough to describe, sometimes what comes through isn't me. Now that may be difficult to grasp, remember I have been characterized by medical professionals as having paranoid delusions of those closest to me, who I otherwise believe in, trust and love dearly. This place right here, and what's going on in it in other threads just isn't for me, so I stay here in my little thread and enjoy conversations with you, the last bastion of hope, buoying me to the surface again with the remedy of your words to hold onto, and be uplifted by. Wrong place to come for a pick me up? You betcha! I'm talking about the site, not you (sorry MV, I still love you. I know you don't need me, and I need you, and I'm hoping you let me stay, so I can continue to chat to my friend Sixteen, and stay out of the way, while other users do as they wish).

There is. Positive affirmations, 30 times at a time, 3 times a day.

Alright. I'll try those. I wrote these down once, but I don't know if they're helpful or hurtful:

Function well without sleep
Learn from mistakes
Delay gratification
Ask "what if"


I understand that [to be physically handicapped may in fact be an easier burden, or cross to carry, because only THEN people believe you].

You bet. People treat a person with a mood disorder like an immature adult, tell them to "just get over it". When all the general, self-help stuff is being done, and done well i.e. a balanced diet, a multivitamin, exercise/time outdoors, cultivating healthy relationships and not isolating to a great extent, and there are still issues, on top of medication, I think it tells you these things are chronic conditions, largely misunderstood and never cured - only managed. I've cried tears upon tears on this fact alone, but its just the biological make-up one is born with. Better luck next time?

If you don't live up to the ideals you lay out in front of me, your actions are good because they are still better than nothing. Maybe your ideals were too high. Maybe you lacked resources or health.

Wow. This gave me a lot to think about (in a postitive way). Thanks Sixteen.

How can you be hurt by entities who aren't even respectable? If a jerk said those things to me, I'd just let is slide off. What do I care what a creep thinks of me? When they say you're going to die, laugh it off - because all die (outside miracles). I would not want to be loved by the types of entities you describe. I wouldn't want to associate with them. They deserve indifference. Indifference is more powerful that hate.

You know what, that is such a rational statement, yet one that never occured to me.

I guess, because I feel like the voice is a part of me in some way, its telling the truth, and that it has the power to instill those things as reality in my being. You're much much stronger a person to adopt a sense of indifference around jerks. I struggle to laugh when its appropros. Another thing I've battled is uncontrollable laughing fits coupled with bizarre visions (mixtures of words and actions). Then when it comes time to respond appropriately to a joke or some other social interaction which would otherwise result in the expression of laughter, I'm blank.

I believe you that indifference is more powerful than hate. The demons lead me down a path I detest, time and time again, and before I know it I am acting backwards from my moral code. Another word they have bombarded me with over the years, during particularly hard times was the word "HATE!" over and over again, "HATE! HATE! HATE!!!" Its horrible. And to try and get this across to anyone is useless, they think its a load of nonsense. Little do they know, you can appear a pretty face and be a sickness that infects its host, walking, talking and breathing in a living hell. I'm so sick of it. But I persevere. I have too much to achieve in this life to allow victimhood to overtake my talents, skills and abilities. Yes, they're different, but I live in that difference, and accept it as is. And I thank God for the suffering, as He suffered far greater through His only son.

Well, it sounds like you suffer a lot. Have you considered abstaining from alcohol and of course any other mind-altering substances?

I don't drink alcohol anymore, haven't for a long time. I did used to abuse it at one stage, as well as marijuana. That's another thing that doesn't agree with me, marijuana.

I understand you value my ideas. Life is too short to be always talking about it. I want to LIVE live, not just talk about it. But, there is one of my ideas you have not respected, and that is to treat the board civilly, with less gratuitous disturbing angst or gore in posts.

I do enjoy reading your posts ON life. We can only move forward with a clean slate and do my best to not disrespect your sensibilities. Friends?

... The best we can do is recover from our demons.

Easier said than done, but I take your point.

I kind of got that [was meant as a 'Letter to AZZERAE, From AZZERAE']. But, then when you wrote, "If you're a sick monkey, so am I" who were you talking to?

As that was something of a poem, what I was alluding to was something rather dark. Now don't freak out. I was parodying my own mental illness, as a form of learning to laugh about it, rather than it control me. Charles Manson wrote a song called 'Mechanical Man' in which this verse appears:

"I had a little monkey
And I sent him to the country
And I fed him ginger bread
Along came a choo choo
And knocked my monkey koo koo
And now my monkey's dead"


It may seem nonsensical on its face, but so were The Beatles in their purportedly non sequitur verses contained in 'I Am The Walrus'. I digress. I was talking to myself, about myself and amusing myself. I guess its a tad narcissistic and silly in hindsight. But we were all "monkeys" by Darwin's estimation, for what its worth. I mean, Terence McKenna must've dipped his head into the Zeitgeist when he said in The Archaic Revival:

"My voice speaking is a monkey's mouth making little mouth noises that are carrying agree-upon meaning, and it is meaning that matters. Without the meaning one has only little mouth noises".

Are we are all nothing but upright walking apes - of some persuasion - with loftly ideas that amount to nothing but dust, when our Libraries of Alexandria are toppled?

Are you living in a culture where being self-effacing is quaint? What you consider hollow might not sound hollow to me! Fine, fresh is fine.

I feel disconnected from every single human custom of every creed on this planet. Of all the possible coordinates for where I am in my journey, perhaps Velikovskian catastrophism comes closest. Self-effacement is something I desire to no end. I'm delighted that you are willing to work through the confusing moments, so that future events can more accuraetly be understood.

If only I knew how I'd react, that'd be nice. Imagine not being able to control your mind: being disorganized to the point of having it deliver false flags, and grin maniacally while it does so. Its a terrifying predicament, one there is little answer to, aside from stabs in the dark and guesstimates for a pretty penny. I mess up, I fix up, I look sharp and then I cut myself (and everyone else) in the process of trying to heal.

Have you been able to try Abilify?

Yeah. And that resulted in the gore posts, insomnia, an insatiable appetite for anything in sight, sore feet, non-stop urination and an overall sense of feeling lousy and excitable (the jagged edges of mania, at all times). So I switched back to Seroquel, and that also seems to inspire the vivid dreams, constant self-harm imagery, voo doo dolls, the demonic, spirits, haunted objects, knives and other weapons. But other than that, I feel much better. Believe it or not. Just know, not all the things you think I'm into are things I'm easily able to make go away by not thinking about it. Usually trying to block oneself from picturing a picture, recreates the picture ad infinitum.

Unless you're sober, I mean even people with psychological issues can be alcoholics. Calms Forte taken on a clean mouth with a glass of water is pretty good, with no side effects.  It's on the Internet, by Hylands.

I'm sober. I even abstain from caffeine. Bad juju, even trying to kick the decaf stuff. The Seroquel is helping as a sleep aid, but I appreciate your recommendation when that drug becomes ineffective. And apprently they all do. Eventually.

Thanks for putting up with my failings, too. Bossy big sister was my family role. You're welcome. After reading your post I think I have a better understanding overall. Sounds very serious. Did you really give your logon info to 26 Horses in Ellgab? That's what they're saying. Are you the same person as Anthony, aka AK400something or other? Check out the NAMI discussion groups online.

Okay, well then you're big sis. And you're not as bossy as you think ... nor do I have many failing to put up with from you. I'd say I'm worse in that department - in leaps and bounds. I'm glad you can see where I'm coming from. I just have to say, Bart is a liar, and he couldn't even create his own board without standing in the shadow of the great Liberace. Of course I didn't hand over the keys to 26 Horses. An unusual cretin that goes by the screen name "VC" tried goading me into buying that 26 Horses was Metron, but I never believed it. No, I'm not Anthony either, I'm my own person. That time I joked with you about being Digital Pig Snuggler was also merely a joke, and I never meant anything by it.

Thanks for recommending NAMI. I'll look into it, as Bethany Teachman's Mind Trails has helped me a lot, and you also turned me onto that.

Azzerae's Thread
« Reply #91 on: June 26, 2019, 10:54:59 PM »
I see where you're coming from.  It takes many interactions with a person to see how they are, so friendships develop.  When I work, as you know, I'm not here much.  Hey, I still think 26 marbles is Metron? 

I was thinking affirmations like, "I am lovable", "I am safe", "calm, calm, calm", "LOVE, LOVE, LOVE", things like that?

I'm sorry for the cross you bear.  Lifelong problems are tragic.  I was injured badly at age 5, and it affected my body for over 30 years.  Other things have plagued me for life and that's a serious thing.  It's a loss.  But, living as well as possible is the best response.  With self-compassion, minimizing my own self-pity, and adjusting my goals/standards as necessary.

As for laughing fits, I had one on the floor with tears for 45 minutes once when I was thinking of a host, who shall go unnamed.  I wish I could remember the punch line!

Yeah, I've heard pot makes a psycho mess when combined with a certain type of mental health drugs.

You mentioned one can be a sickness that infects its host.  Well, not so fast.  You are the host, right?  You HAVE a sickness, you're not BEING the sickness, right?  I mean, I can see that identity crises are the issue here, yes.  But, you are intelligent enough to know you are the host.  If you were the disease itself, you would be a biological agent infecting other's brains from within.

As a kid, I wasn't allowed to have an identity.  If someone asked my favorite color, my parents answered for me (and they were wrong).  No one knew my size - I took handmedowns from a girl built totally opposite me.  Nobody knew my preferences, my wishes, my favorites, nothing.  Other girls had collections.  I had to scream bloody murder for half a year just to get a Light Bright.  I was in my mid-twenties before I realized that I actually DO like hamburgers, if the ketchup is omitted.  The way I was raised, you would NEVER say, "No ketchup".  You took your food the way it was served and not one peep about it.  I wasn't allowed to present my own identity.  If I had friends, I was mocked sarcastically as a social butterfly.  If I kept to myself, I was criticized as dysfunction.  Any time I joined a group, my parents performed subterfuge - sending hate letters to churches, meddling with authority figures, being rude to teachers...  Most of all, I couldn't have an identity because the truths I needed to tell (about abuse in the family) could not be spoken.  So, in person, no one really knew me, not even me.  How could I know myself when my own feelings were constantly being invalidated!  But, I always had a journal.  It filled 39 standard three-ring binders by the time I was 40.

It was really fun in my 30s and 40s seeing who I really am.  My decisions, my actions, my likes and dislikes.  A whole new world opened up.  I found out so much.  The world became friendlier, as I was able to customize.  Well, at least I've had time to be me - learning new things in your 30s and 40s isn't the end of the world.  I would have hated to start figuring this out in my 70s, what would the use be!

Maybe someday they will find a cure for schizophrenia.  Have you even stood near neon signs?  Are the voices worse there?  Are they quieter on very cloudy days?  Have any of them ever come through on a digital recorder like RCA or Olympus?  Did you know there is a type of tinnitus that experts say others can hear if you have it?  A few times my cat has heard my tinnitus!

Yes, knowledge is dust in the end, if you have no one to pass it on to.  But, I think the love between people lasts forever.

I read that schizophrenics don't have multiple personalities.  Do you think that's true?  Because you use "we" sometimes for you?

Azzerae's Thread
« Reply #92 on: June 27, 2019, 02:45:14 AM »
living as well as possible is the best response

massive rolleyes


Azzerae's Thread
« Reply #93 on: June 27, 2019, 02:53:30 AM »


Azraa's Thread
« Reply #94 on: June 28, 2019, 03:23:09 AM »
It takes many interactions with a person to see how they are, so friendships develop.

While thats an accurate assumption on its face, so many of these trolls wear masks. And its apparent that once you unveil their first mask, another lies beneath it.

As for me, I sometimes wonder what is under all of the masks that have taken hold of me. Probably another mask.
 
I still think 26 marbles is Metron ...

C'mon now - you're better than bad puns, sis. But, what you choose to believe is your prerogative. I can't trust anyone, I've learnt. I'm going to do my best to not have that apply to our friendship, and just rather trust you till you give me reason not to - though I'm hurt by the frog that pretended to be a prince. I won't mention any names. We can call them "Judas".

I was thinking affirmations like, "I am lovable", "I am safe", "calm, calm, calm", "LOVE, LOVE, LOVE", things like that ...

While any number of negative affirmations occur and appear to me in full form at the drop of a hat, the 4 you've written here are ones I'll write in my little black book, and use from here on out. You really do help, and I can tell you have a special gift for caring for others.

Many of us are "takers": shy, distrusting, and relationally impaired. Whereas; our mandate SHOULD RATHER BE to make "friends" out of others, not just bench warmers and financial contributors. I suppose my thinking (and labeling) of my fellow travelers as the "Other" is one of my greatest errors in thinking.

I'm sorry for the cross you bear. Lifelong problems are tragic. I was injured badly at age 5, and it affected my body for over 30 years. Other things have plagued me for life and that's a serious thing. It's a loss. But, living as well as possible is the best response. With self-compassion, minimizing my own self-pity, and adjusting my goals/standards as necessary.

Jesus carried a far heavier cross, so I guess I should be grateful for such minimal afflictions. And offer them up as many of the saints did. I've been told the fact one is mistreated by their fellow man is the reason we are shaped into compassionate souls, but it always makes me feel cheated. Its like we must be grateful for abuse and suffering, when it is the opposite of how one psychologically responds (I believe we're born knee-jerk, lizard brain reactionaries) and it just feels cruel that we have to work so hard to not be so.

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #95 on: June 28, 2019, 03:28:40 AM »
When I work ... I'm not here much.

Yeah. I miss you terribly, when you're away.

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #96 on: June 28, 2019, 04:00:38 AM »
Pot makes a psycho mess when combined with a certain type of mental health drugs.

That's a fact. When I was abusing alcohol and drugs (mainly marijuana), all I was on by way of mental health drugs was a low dose of a mood stabilizer. The trouble is, I never knew it was a mood stabilizer till a few months ago, as the reason I was on the drug was to treat epileptic seizures. Little did I know it was calming me to a tiny degree, and the calm I was chasing through substance abuse was the calm I could get way less dangerously through mental health treatment. My parents didn't have a lot of money, and my mother always had dismissive things to say about psychiatry, so naturally I adopted this attitude, becoming more and more unstable till my breakdown earlier this year. The months since are a blur. My mind has never been the same, I can't focus on much and I'm so forgetful I have to set numerous alarms throught the day to get simply tasks completed. Half the time I'm so apathetic I can't get up. I never used to be like this. I thought the medication would keep me more on an even keel, but I still have my psychotic episodes where the tunnel vision is so strong, I can only be told by others after I've done something what it was I was doing. This creates all sorts of problems in my life, and I'll probably wind up on the street and die alone, unmourned and unloved.

You mentioned one can be a sickness that infects its host. Well, not so fast. You are the host, right? You HAVE a sickness, you're not BEING the sickness, right? I mean, I can see that identity crises are the issue here, yes. But, you are intelligent enough to know you are the host. If you were the disease itself, you would be a biological agent infecting other's brains from within.

I was being flippant about an otherwise serious set of circumstances. I write to try and express my pain. I do sometimes feel I am a sickness that infects my friends. And I don't like it. It pushes people away. And there are cruel people who play with my naivete.

As a kid, I wasn't allowed to have an identity. If someone asked my favorite color, my parents answered for me (and they were wrong). No one knew my size - I took handmedowns from a girl built totally opposite me. Nobody knew my preferences, my wishes, my favorites, nothing. Other girls had collections. I had to scream bloody murder for half a year just to get a Light Bright. I was in my mid-twenties before I realized that I actually DO like hamburgers, if the ketchup is omitted.  The way I was raised, you would NEVER say, "No ketchup". You took your food the way it was served and not one peep about it. I wasn't allowed to present my own identity. If I had friends, I was mocked sarcastically as a social butterfly. If I kept to myself, I was criticized as dysfunction. Any time I joined a group, my parents performed subterfuge - sending hate letters to churches, meddling with authority figures, being rude to teachers ... Most of all, I couldn't have an identity because the truths I needed to tell (about abuse in the family) could not be spoken. So, in person, no one really knew me, not even me. How could I know myself when my own feelings were constantly being invalidated! But, I always had a journal. It filled 39 standard three-ring binders by the time I was 40.

It was really fun in my 30s and 40s seeing who I really am. My decisions, my actions, my likes and dislikes. A whole new world opened up. I found out so much. The world became friendlier, as I was able to customize. Well, at least I've had time to be me - learning new things in your 30s and 40s isn't the end of the world. I would have hated to start figuring this out in my 70s, what would the use be!

The way you deal with your setbacks is very inspiring. I'm glad you wrote things down. I have been given artistic talent, along with all my other afflictions, and I filled up many sketchbooks with my mad ramblings, diary entries, sketches, paintings and other creations. Some of them were of a terribly disturbing nature, and once my parents found them, they reprimanded me so such an extent I threw a garbage bag full of years of artwork out in tears. That was one of the most heart-wrenching and traumatic events that ever occurred to me in my life - I'd say abuse and incessant bullying was far easier to bear. It still haunts me, and I try remember what I had put in those books. My ideas were pouring out of me at that age, and I've never been able to recreate the feeling. I realize now, in hindsight, that I was staying up all night in highschool in a manic state, using black coffee (when I hated the taste) as a stimulant, and it was flipping my manic state into hyperdrive. When in that state, at that age, not understanding what was going on, it just felt like a high I could ride - and seek - night after night. I cared about nothing else. And religious concepts as well as satan and the occult would come spilling out my pen without hesitation. I never understood any of it. It still lives in me, but its dimmer in nature - in the back of my head. Its more addictive, and self destructive than any drug could be to me.

Maybe someday they will find a cure for schizophrenia.

Well, we live in hope. My diagnosis is not as straightforward as this. There are elements of other things, mood disorders being a large part. The hallucinations are something that the doctor doesn't seem to want to categorize as schizophrenic, because I have moments of the utmost clarity and what they call "insight" into what occurs. I don't think this is true, though. I just work very hard at trying to overcome what I go through, and I am a good communicator 50% of the time, and always present myself well groomed and keep an impeccable outward appearance. That's when I leave the house. I'm disorganized in many ways that I've learnt to hide, because I never thought there was anything wrong with me for years. I thought life was just so painful and unbearable for everybody. And it is. But not in the way that one who is mentally ill experiences. The first direction my psychiatrist wanted to go in was an unspecified class of bipolar, but I have suffered a confusing amount of mixed states, including unipolar depression and delusions that are tough to uncover. I feel mental health professionals, and especially the one I see, is very overworked, and although she pays as close attention as she can, she takes too much of what I say at face value. There are forces working through me that do not always present my experiences in a precise enough nature to determine what it is I'm going through.

The greatest irony is that medical professionals in the field talk to us nut jobs about our problems, and make assessments in this way. Sure, they're trained to read body language and other non-verbal cues, but if overworked, and not paying close enough attention, they can be tripped up and misdiagnose us in seconds. The fact that physical tests are few and far between when it comes to brain chemistry issues is another red flag. I live in hope there will be a cure, but I don't foresee one until the establishment is changed to a more effective form of therapy. There are probably fakers out there who don't want to work, and seek to collect a disability cheque, and so schedule an appointment with a medical practioner only to spout nonsense, and be approved by their insurance, and live it up. This, to me, instills a deep sadness. So there needs to be a more wider scope of checks and balances employed (in my view).

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #97 on: June 28, 2019, 04:17:49 AM »
Have you even stood near neon signs? Are the voices worse there?

Funny you should mention this, intense light and sound, I'm very sensitive to. I steer clear of anything resembling a neon sign ... but I can't say the voices are worse around bright light.

I was at a concert - which I wanted to attend - just a weekend or so ago, and I was enjoying the music. But after about 15 minutes, the level of the noise became too much for me, and I literally RAN about a half a mile away (or more) in order to pursue solitude and quiet. I've been insultingly referred to as "autistic" by many an aquaintance, but I haven't had the chance to tell my therapist that yet. The last session I went to, I had saved up around 20 or so questions I intended to ask, and to my surprise, it was a half hour appointment, and not a full hour as my initial one was. So I am hoping to refine those questions, consolidate and rewrite them into new ones, and announce at the beginning of the next session that I have some questions.

The voices often have appeared around mirrors and water. So not neon signs. I did have seizures near the TV as a kid, but I think my brain chemistry is just screwy, as I'm not triggered otherwise by light sensitivity in that sense. I can bear flickering, and not have any major repurcussions, it just makes me uncomfortable. When I think back to how much I used to go out and drink alcohol and watch musicians perform live, it makes my skin crawl having to ever do that again.

Are [the voices you hear] quieter on very cloudy days?

I haven't noticed...

Have any of them ever come through on a digital recorder like RCA or Olympus?

Not that I can recall.

Did you know there is a type of tinnitus that experts say others can hear if you have it? A few times my cat has heard my tinnitus!

I didn't know that, no! I have tinnitus in my right ear, and its strong if I lay on my left side at night, when in bed. So I just sleep on my right, and then its all good. My cat goes absolutely bonkers when I open emails. I think they're able to sense anxiety in us.

The love between people lasts forever.

Now that is a comforting thought.

I read that schizophrenics don't have multiple personalities. Do you think that's true? Because you use "we" sometimes for you?

I don't think schizophrenia is anything more than a blanket term for a wide variety of mental health disorders - all so different.

The term itself means "shattered mind", I think. I definitely feel I have more than one person who is accompanying me through my days, but I find it embarrassing to discuss. It scares me, but it also feels natural. The level of anonymity we have access to on the web is, I believe, a great risk for those of us suffering identity crises.

Azzerae's Thread
« Reply #98 on: June 28, 2019, 07:39:25 PM »
massive rolleyes
If you have a better alternative, I'd be happy to hear it.  Otherwise, I win.




Azzerae's Thread
« Reply #102 on: June 30, 2019, 01:07:10 AM »
 this William Blake piece is exquisite, don't you agree AZZERAE?
 
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Azzerae's Thread
« Reply #103 on: June 30, 2019, 01:27:40 AM »
also 26 horses is/was metron.

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #104 on: June 30, 2019, 03:44:30 AM »
How can you be hurt by entities who aren't even respectable? If a jerk said those things to me, I'd just let is slide off. What do I care what a creep thinks of me?  When they say you're going to die, laugh it off - because all die (outside miracles). I would not want to be loved by the types of entities you describe. I wouldn't want to associate with them. They deserve indifference. Indifference is more powerful that hate.

+777

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #105 on: June 30, 2019, 03:49:13 AM »

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #106 on: June 30, 2019, 03:51:20 AM »

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #107 on: June 30, 2019, 03:54:59 AM »

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #108 on: July 01, 2019, 06:05:34 AM »
'Flow' and Psychosis in the Artist's Experience


New research suggests that some mental mechanisms and dispositions that are associated with full-blown psychosis may confer tremendous advantages to flow, creativity and what makes life meaningful.


"The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad."

- Salvador Dali


Flow - the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in a task - is a strong contributor to creativity. When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, outside distractions recede from consciousness and one's mind is fully open and attuned to the act of creating. Since flow is so essential to creativity and well-being across many slices of life -- from sports, to music, to physics, to religion, to spirituality, to sex - it's important that we learn more about the characteristics associated with flow so that we may all learn how to tap into this precious mental resource.

In a recent study reported in Schizophrenia Bulletin, Nelson and Rawlings propose that a mild form of schizophrenia called schizotypy may be positively associated with the experience of flow. Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental illness that affects roughly 1 percent of the population and involves altered states of consciousness and "abnormal" perceptual experiences. Schizotypy, which is a watered-down version of schizophrenia, consists of a constellation of personality traits that are evident to some degree in everyone.

High levels of schizotypy are typically found in relatives of individuals with full fledged schizophrenia. Some researchers have proposed that the genes that underlie schizophrenia may remain in the human gene pool because of the benefits those with schizotypy receive in terms of creativity; those with schizotypy have the genes that that may contribute to creativity without the debilitating genes that would prevent them from achieving their maximum potential.

Research confirms a link between schizotypy and creative achievement. In particular, "positive" schizotypal traits such as unusual perceptual experiences and magical beliefs tend to be elevated in artists, and "negative" schizotypal traits such as physical and social anhedonia (a feeling of emotional emptiness) and introversion tend to be associated with mathematical and scientific creativity. (Of course, there are scientists with positive schizotypal traits and artists with negative schizotypal traits - I'm only talking relative numbers.)


But what about the connection between schizotypy and flow? Nelson and Rawlings make the intriguing suggestion:

Positive schizotypy is associated with central features of "flow"-type experience, including distinct shift in phenomenological experience, deep absorption, focus on present experience and sense of pleasure.

Similarly, in her fascinating and informative book, "Writing in Flow," Susan K. Perry comments:

It shouldn't play into any of your anxieties about the loss of control that comes with flow if I share with you that looseness and the ability to cross mental boundaries are aspects of both schizophrenic thinking and creative thinking.


To examine the connection between schizotypy and the experience of flow, Nelson and Rawlings had a sample of 100 artists from a wide range of artistic fields (including music, visual arts, theatre and literature) report aspects of their personality, their experiences of creativity and their levels of "postitive" schizotypal traits such as affective disturbance and mental boundaries.


Their "Experience of Creativity Questionnaire" measured the following components:

Distinct Experience, "related to the creative process being a definite shift in nature or type of experience. This change in experience included such aspects as loss of self-awareness, a breakdown of boundaries, a sense of contact with a force beyond the individual self and a confidence and effortlessness about the artistic activity."

Absorption, related to "the artist's feeling inspired and being deeply absorbed in the artistic activity."

Power/Pleasure, "related to a sense of control, power and pleasure felt during the creative process."

Clarity/Preparation, related to "a sense of certainty and clarity about the direction in which the artistic activity should proceed, including the meaning of the piece of work, and to cultivating an appropriate mood for the creative process."

Anxiety, "related to a sense of anxiety and vulnerability associated with the creative process, particularly after completion of the process."


Consistent with prior research, they found that their sample of artists scored higher than the average population (based on norm data) on the schizotypal traits of unipolar affective disturbance (depression) and thin boundaries, as well as the personality traits of openness to experience and neuroticism.

Interestingly, they didn't replicate research showing elevated levels of bipolar mood disorder in artists. As a possible explanation, the researchers point out that their sample consists of mainly contemporary artists. As they point out, "creativity is a construct that varies not only across fields, but also across styles and artistic movements."

Indeed, clinical psychologist Louis A. Sass notes in his article, "Schizophrenia, Modernism and the 'Creative Imagination': On Creativity and Psychopathology," that most of the prior work on the link between bipolar and artistic creativity has been based on eminent classical artists from earlier periods, particularly the Romantic period. In his book, "Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature and Thought," Sass further makes the case that modernistic and postmodern artists report psychotic or schizotypal experiences.


According to Nelson and Rawlings:

These affinities include an adversarial stance, perspectivism and relativism, a certain fragmentation and passivization of the ego, loss of the ''worldhood of the world,'' rejection or loss of the sense of temporal flow or narrative unity, forms of intense self-reference and extreme and pervasive detachment or emotional distancing.


Most interestingly, Nelson and Rawlings found that the schizotypal traits of unipolar affective disturbance and thin boundaries were significantly associated with four components from their "Experience of Creativity Questionnaire": distinct experience, anxiety, absorption and power/pleasure. Note that three of these components (distinct experience, absorption and power/pleasure) are directly related to the experience of flow.

These findings are fascinating and beg the question: What mechanism or set of mechanisms account for the association between schizotypy and the experience of flow? The researchers argue that latent inhibition is of particular relevance to understanding this association.

Reduced latent inhibition represents an inability to screen out from awareness stimuli that have previously been tagged as irrelevant. Prior research has shown an association between reduced latent inhibition and psychosis. However, emeritus Professor David R. Hemsley at King's College, London argues that while this loosening of expectations based on previous experience may cause a disruption in sense of self, this mental process may also confer advantages for creativity. Recent research showing common genetic and neurotransmitter linkages (particularly dopamine) between both schizophrenia and creativity support this association at a biological level.

As the researchers note, the million dollar question is this: What distinguishes the person who, in the Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard's phrase, "drowns in possibility" from the person who is able to use his or her reduced latent inhibition in a way that enables heightened levels of creativity?

Some researchers have argued that intelligence and working memory may be factors that protect the individual with creative potential from falling over the edge into madness. Factors such as working memory and high executive functioning (which tend to show activations in the prefrontal cortex of the brain) may enable the individual with reduced latent inhibition to not go mad from the influx of emotions and sensations and make good use of the broad range of novel input. Indeed, researchers have found that the combination of high I.Q. and reduced latent inhibition is associated with creative achievement.

So how would reduced latent inhibition be associated with the phenomenology of flow? Nelson and Rawlings reason that the reduced latent inhibition's failure to precategorize stimuli as irrelevant would "result in immediate experience not being shaped or determined by preceding events."


In addition:

It is precisely this newness of appreciation, and the associated sense of exploration and discovery, that stimulates the deep immersion in the creative process, which itself may trigger a shift in quality of experience, generally in terms of an intensification or heightening of experience.


I reckon that it is this openness to experience aspect (and associated functioning of the dopaminergic neurotransmitter system) that is crucial to understanding the schizotypy/flow connection. Self-reported openness to experience is in fact related to reduced latent inhibition, suggesting that openness to experience is a phenotype that is related to actual information processing.

Hopefully more research on the experience of flow conducted on both artists and scientists (flow is also important among scientists) will allow for a deeper appreciation of the potential for creativity in those who are prone to psychosis. Many creative folk who think in a certain way are annoyed by stereotypical associations between creativity and madness. And rightly so. While debilitating mental illness is certainly not conducive to creativity, exciting new research is starting to point to the conclusion that some mental mechanisms and dispositions that are associated with full-blown psychosis may also be present in varying degrees in everyone and may confer tremendous advantages to flow, creativity and what makes life meaningful.


Taken from Scott B. Kaufman's article of the same name (Huff Post).

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #109 on: July 01, 2019, 09:10:10 AM »
"Oh, sleep. Nothing else could ever bring me such pleasure, such freedom, the power to feel and move and think and imagine, safe from the miseries of my waking consciousness."

- Ottessa Moshfegh


Throughout history, vampires were said to have been warded off by garlic. Garlic comprises restorative properties, boasting a wide array of health benefits.

Perhaps vampires were less literal a presence, and more an allegory - for the life-sapping - those plagued and depleted by their inner demons. In this case, it'd be no giant leap to suppose the lack of sufficient nutrients in what is called food today, results in the lowest wrung of civilization rising to the top. A backwards mask simulacrum.


"The day hasn’t even started and yet, you’ve already clocked out. Physically, emotionally, mentally, you are exhausted with the pace. 'I already planned a nap for tomorrow,' you remind yourself as you reach for yet another cup of coffee. And suddenly, you can’t remember what it feels like to not be tired.

Children run around the playgrounds as if they had Red Bull in their cereal. Just watching them siphons what energy you have left. 'How can they still be running?' you wonder as you rock designer bags underneath your eyes, make friends with every employee at Starbucks, and win an argument with your alarm clock about the crucial difference between 7:00 and 7:05 a.m. You question whether this inherent fatigue can simply be cured by getting enough sleep, or if it’s only a symptom of a bigger problem.


- Emily Field, Millennials: The Tired Generation

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #110 on: July 01, 2019, 10:50:14 AM »

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #111 on: July 01, 2019, 10:53:38 AM »

Why did you take the other one down?
 I was just going to say I liked it.

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #112 on: July 01, 2019, 10:56:31 AM »

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #113 on: July 01, 2019, 10:57:47 AM »
Why did you take the other one down?
 I was just going to say I liked it.

The post looked blank on my screen, so I thought it wasn't showing...


Azraa's Thread
« Reply #114 on: July 01, 2019, 11:01:21 AM »
The post looked blank on my screen, so I thought it wasn't showing...


I was staring at it and was sad it was gone. Thanks for re-posting.

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #115 on: July 01, 2019, 11:03:41 AM »
I was staring at it and was sad it was gone. Thanks for re-posting.

You’re welcome. 🙂


Azraa's Thread
« Reply #117 on: July 02, 2019, 06:17:31 AM »

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #118 on: July 02, 2019, 06:21:39 AM »
"Oh, sleep. Nothing else could ever bring me such pleasure, such freedom, the power to feel and move and think and imagine, safe from the miseries of my waking consciousness."

- Ottessa Moshfegh


Throughout history, vampires were said to have been warded off by garlic. Garlic comprises restorative properties, boasting a wide array of health benefits.

Perhaps vampires were less literal a presence, and more an allegory - for the life-sapping - those plagued and depleted by their inner demons. In this case, it'd be no giant leap to suppose the lack of sufficient nutrients in what is called food today, results in the lowest wrung of civilization rising to the top. A backwards mask simulacrum.


"The day hasn’t even started and yet, you’ve already clocked out. Physically, emotionally, mentally, you are exhausted with the pace. 'I already planned a nap for tomorrow,' you remind yourself as you reach for yet another cup of coffee. And suddenly, you can’t remember what it feels like to not be tired.

Children run around the playgrounds as if they had Red Bull in their cereal. Just watching them siphons what energy you have left. 'How can they still be running?' you wonder as you rock designer bags underneath your eyes, make friends with every employee at Starbucks, and win an argument with your alarm clock about the crucial difference between 7:00 and 7:05 a.m. You question whether this inherent fatigue can simply be cured by getting enough sleep, or if it’s only a symptom of a bigger problem.


- Emily Field, Millennials: The Tired Generation
So true.  In the family I grew up in, we never disturbed someone who was sleeping unless it was truly urgent that they wake up.  Sleep was considered sacred.  The brain and body do so much restoration while we sleep.  I feel sorry for millenials - I saw them out late with their parents getting groceries.  I knew a lot of them had to be at daycare long before school or breakfast.  That only left about 5 hours sleep for them.  It was just wrong.

Azraa's Thread
« Reply #119 on: July 02, 2019, 08:21:30 AM »



Psychics Who Hear Voices Could Be On to Something

The ways some “healthy voice hearers” cope might be able to help people with psychotic disorders.


Jessica dorner was lying in bed at her cousin’s house when her grandmother, a “pushy lady” in an apron who had been dead for several years, appeared in front of her. “I know you can see me,” Jessica heard her say, “and you need to do something about it.”

It was a lonely time in Jessica’s life. She was living away from home for the first time, and she thinks her grandmother was drawn by some sense of that. She eventually told her parents what happened, and according to her they were concerned, but not overly panicked. “My parents are probably the least judgmental people I know,” she said.

As Jessica tells it, over the next two years, spirits visited her every now and again. Her brother-in-law’s deceased father began forming before her, ghostlike, just as her grandmother did. And while the experiences were intense and at times made her feel “crazy,” she said, they were infrequent, and insists that they were never a real source of suffering.

Jessica later moved back home and got a job as a pharmacy technician, all the while figuring out how to cope with what was happening to her. At a co-worker’s suggestion, she went to the Healing in Harmony center in Connecticut. In 2013, she says, she enrolled in classes there that taught her to use her “gift.” A self-described psychic medium, Jessica tells me she hears voices that other people do not (in addition to sometimes seeing people others do not see), at varying intensity, and mostly through her right ear.

Meeting others like her at the center gave Jessica a sense of relief. “Just being around people who are going through similar things—that helps a lot, because I could talk to anybody about those things and not feel like I was crazy,” she said.

It was through a friend from the center that Jessica ended up in the lab of Philip Corlett and Albert Powers, a psychologist and a psychiatrist at Yale.

“A lot of the time, if someone says they hear voices, you immediately jump to psychotic illness, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia,” Corlett said. But research suggests hearing voices is not all that uncommon. A survey from 1991 - the largest of its kind since - found that 10 to 15 percent of people in the U.S. experienced sensory hallucinations of some sort within their lifetime. And other research, as well as growing advocacy movements, suggest hearing voices isn’t always a sign of psychological distress.

The researchers at Yale were looking for a group of people who hear voices at least once a day, and had never before interacted with the mental-health-care system. They wanted to understand, as Corlett put it, those who do not suffer when “the mind deviates from consensual reality.”


What corlett calls consensual reality—the “normative shared experience we all agree on”—is probably not something you spend too much time thinking about. But you know when it’s being violated. The sky is blue, the sun is hot, and as Corlett points out, most would generally agree that people don’t receive extrasensory messages from one another.

Jessica was quite frank with me about the way some people may view her. “We know these experiences are weird and they’re seen as weird,” she said. “You just can’t go into a room and say ‘Hey, I’m a psychic medium’ and people are gonna accept you.”

Finer points of what counts as reality can change over time, and vary based on geography or culture. For centuries people walked the earth believing the sun orbited around them, which today would be considered unreasonable. Who decides that consensus, and where along its boundaries voice hearers fall, depends on a wide range of circumstances. 

The anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann, who has studied voice hearing in psychiatric and religious contexts, has written that “historical and cultural conditions … affect significantly the way mental anguish is internally experienced and socially expressed.” Noting that there is no question psychiatric distress and schizophrenia are “real” phenomena that call for treatment, Luhrmann adds that “the way a culture interprets symptoms may affect an ill person’s prognosis.” Every psychiatrist I spoke to shared the belief that unusual behavior should only enter into the realm of diagnosis when it causes suffering.

On the other hand, Luhrmann tells me “it’s a terribly romantic idea” to overinterpret the effects of culture. To say, for instance, that “anybody who would be identified with schizophrenia in our culture would be a shaman in Ecuador” is, in her mind, a clear mistake: “Flagrant psychosis” exists in some form in every culture where anthropologists have looked. 

In the past decade, researchers have taken a greater interest in the experience of hearing voices outside the context of psychological distress. In his book The Voices Within, the psychologist Charles Fernyhough traces the way thoughts and external voices have been understood by science and society throughout time.*

Reflecting on Fernyhough’s book, Jerome Groopman notes that in the early parts of the Bible, the voice of God gave direct commands to Adam, Abraham, and Noah. It spoke to Moses through the Burning Bush, going by the Book of Esther, making itself known again to the apostle Paul in the New Testament. Socrates, who wrote nothing down, heard a “sign” from childhood. The voices of three saints guided Joan of Arc as she rebelled against the English. Groopman cites Martin Luther King, Jr.’s autobiography, in which he describes “the quiet assurance of an inner voice” telling him to “stand up for righteousness.”

The social context in which these people lived can impact how they’re seen. It’s impossible to say how the prophet Ezekiel was understood within his cultural moment. But in most places today, if a person claimed—as Ezekiel does—that he ate a scroll because the Lord commanded him to do so, some eyebrows might be raised. In a community where a personal, verbal relationship with God is normal, the reception may be different.

Powers and Corlett’s work orbits the idea that schizophrenia is, as Powers put it, an “outmoded” label that describes a cluster of different symptoms rather than a single unified condition, he says.

“Goodness knows what psychosis actually is,” Luhrmann said. “There are clearly different kinds of events in the domain we call psychosis,” and when it comes to the relationship between voice hearing and psychosis, she says, “there’s so much we don’t understand.”


Many now antiquated psychiatric diagnoses reified fear, misunderstanding, or prejudice toward people at society’s margins. At the time of the women’s suffrage movement in London, hysteria was leveled as a charge against women who broke social codes. A Mississippi psychiatrist in the 19th century proposed that slaves who attempted escape suffered from “drapetomania.” And until 1973, homosexuality was considered a disease of the mind rather than an accepted way of being in the United States - and was only fully removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1987.

In his book Hallucinations, the late Oliver Sacks details a controversial experiment in which eight participants showed up at hospitals throughout the U.S. in the early ’70s and complained only of “hearing voices.” All of them were immediately diagnosed with a psychotic disorder and hospitalized for two months, despite reporting no other medical symptoms, family history, or signs of personal distress. The single symptom, Sacks writes, was seen as cause enough.

People with psychiatric disorders do hear auditory hallucinations in relatively high numbers. According to Ann Shinn, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, 70 to 75 percent of people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and between one-third and one-tenth of people with bipolar disorder report hearing voices at some point in their life.

In the case of voice hearing, culture may also play a role in helping people cope.  One study conducted by Luhrmann, the anthropologist, found that compared to their American counterparts, voice-hearing people diagnosed with schizophrenia in more collectivist cultures were more likely to perceive their voices as helpful and friendly, sometimes even resembling members of their friends and family. She adds that people who meet criteria for schizophrenia in India have better outcomes than their U.S. counterparts. She suspects this is because of “the negative salience” a diagnosis of schizophrenia holds in the U.S., as well as the greater rates of homelessness among people with schizophrenia in America.

The influence of social context was part of what motivated Corlett and Powers: The two were interested in whether the support of a social group can help them understand where disorder and difference intersect. When they set out to design their study, they needed an otherwise healthy group of people who hear voices on a regular basis, and whose experiences are accepted in their social group.


Next, they needed to find some psychics. Corlett told me he got the idea to reach out to a Connecticut-based organization for psychics after noticing the ads for psychics and tarot-card readers on his daily bus route. When the two interviewed those participants, they noticed something striking: The psychics described hearing hearing voices of similar volumes, frequencies, and timbres as the patients. Powers and Corlett took this to mean that the psychics were actually hearing something. The two also vetted their participants with the same techniques that forensic psychiatrists use to determine whether a person is pretending to experience psychiatric symptoms, giving them more reason to believe what they were told.

Compared to their diagnosed counterparts, more of the psychics described the voices as a force that “positively affects safety.” And all of the psychics attributed the voices to a “god or other spiritual being.” The patients, meanwhile, were more likely to consider their voices a torment caused by a faulty process in their brain. Many of them described the voices as “bothersome,” and also claimed that the first time they told anyone what they were hearing, they received a negative response.

Just like Jessica, the psychics were more likely to say that they received a positive reaction the first time they spoke about their experience. Jessica’s mother, Lena, told me she maintained a supportive, nonjudgmental attitude toward her daughter’s accounts, just as she did when her other daughter converted to Scientology. She waited for Jessica to bring them up and discussed them with an open mind. She says she was happy Jessica found the center, adding that her only concern was that Jessica’s experiences did sometimes seem to be distressing her and leaving her “drained.”

When Jessica tells me about the people and things she hears, she describes a range of experiences rather than one consistent phenomenon. Her most meaningful episodes of voice hearing are those like the visits she had from her grandmother and her brother-in-law’s father. But she also describes things like hearing the number a friend is thinking, and the persistent and vivid presence of a childhood imaginary friend (her mother told me Jessica demanded the table be set for him at every meal). To Jessica, these experiences differ in degree rather than kind from the ghosts of the dead who appear in front of her with persistent messages for her and for others. Though these might not all fit into the popular conception of a psychic, she understands them to exist along that same continuum.

In his book, Fernyhough describes a series of experiments meant to provide evidence for the connection between inner speech and hearing voices. In one, participants were played recordings of other people’s speech alongside recordings of their own, disguised and distorted, and told to mark whether the voice was their own or someone else’s. Those who experienced hallucinations were more likely to misidentify their own altered voices. A much older experiment found a kind of unconscious ventriloquism among a group of people with schizophrenia: When participants began to hear voices, researchers noted “an increase in tiny movements in the muscles associated with vocalization.” The voices they heard came, in some sense, from their own throats.

These experiments suggest that auditory hallucinations are the result of the mind failing to brand its actions as its own. Watching what the brain does during these hallucinations may clarify how that works, and what differences in the brain create these experiences.

“When your brain signals to generate a movement,” Shinn, the psychiatrist at Harvard, told me, “there is a parallel signal [known as an efference copy] that basically says ‘this is mine, it’s not coming from outside.’” This helps creates the sense of where a person is in space, that their hand belongs to them and it is moving from point A to B. In this way, the body labels its motions, and a possible parallel may exist for speech and thought. When people hear voices, they may be hearing ‘unmarked’ thoughts they do not recognize as their own.

Beyond that, Shinn told me, what is understood about the experiences of people who hear voices is limited. She sees Corlett and Powers’s study as part of a growing interest in the lives of “healthy voice hearers”—an interest spurred, in part, by the Hearing Voices Movement. A network of advocacy groups, the Hearing Voices Movement presents an alternative to the medical approach based on the belief that the content of a person’s voices can reflect the hearer’s mental and emotional state. The groups encourage an approach in which, with the help of a facilitator or counselor, hearers listen to, speak back to, and negotiate with the messages they hear in hopes of learning to cope.

The hearing-voices advocate Eleanor Longden has said she considers her voices “a source of insight into solvable emotional problems” rooted in trauma rather than “an aberrant symptom of schizophrenia.” As Longden tells it, that’s how her own experiences with voices were understood when she first sought treatment for anxiety. Her psychiatrist told her how limited her life would be by her voices, she says, and the voices grew more adversarial.


Many mental-health-care providers—Shinn, Corlett, and Powers included—seem receptive to the Hearing Voices Movement’s critiques, including an overemphasis on medication and an imperative for patient-focused treatment. Shinn credits the network with encouraging an approach that treats voice hearing as more than a checklist item adding up to a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and helping to reduce the stigma attached the experience of voice hearing.

But “there are certainly a lot of people for whom that will not be enough,” she says. For some patients, voices can be impossible to reason with, and the burden of other symptoms of psychosis—disordered thought, delusions, the inability to feel pleasure—can be too great. And Powers and Corlett expressed concerns that the Hearing Voices Network may promote a false divide: the idea that the voices’ perceived roots in trauma—rather than some accident of biology—means hearers should avoid medication. Biology and experience, they say, can’t be so neatly separated. (Longden has written that “many people find medication helpful,” and that the International Hearing Voice Network advocates for “informed choice.”) 

While Powers and Corlett don’t believe the psychics and patients are experiencing the exact same thing, the two are cautiously hopeful that about a potential lesson in the greatest difference between those groups: the ability to control the voices they hear, which is something the psychics, including Jessica, showed in greater number than their counterparts. “When I’m in certain situations, I’m not open,” Jessica said. For instance, when she’s at work, the voices “can come in,” she says, they “can hang out, but I’m not gonna talk right now. ... I still have to live this human life.”

While learning control was a major part of Jessica’s experience, so was learning to summon the voices she heard. Before training as a medium, she heard voices sporadically, she says, and began to hear them every day only after intentionally practicing at the center. Powers and Corlett acknowledge this general trend in their study: The psychics they spoke tended to seek out and cultivate the voice-hearing experiences.

In her work, Luhrmann has come across groups of people who—unlike Jessica—hear voices only as a result of practice. She gives the example of tulpamancers: people who create tulpas, which are believed to be other beings or personalities that co-exist along inside a person’s mind along with their own. “Somebody in that community estimated to me that one-fifth of the community had frequent voice hearing experiences with their tulpas, that their tulpas talked in a way that was auditory or quasi auditory,” Luhrmann said, a practice that she was told takes two hours a day to develop.“That’s connected to work. Psychosis is not connected to effort. It happens to people.”

Longden, the Hearing Voices Network advocate, describes how she later learned to extract metaphorical meaning from the sometimes disturbing messages the voices had for her. Once when the voices warned her not to leave the house, she thanked them for making her aware that she was feeling unsafe, and firmly reassured the voices—and by extension, herself—that they had nothing to fear.

Though Jessica has a different understanding of her voices’ source, it’s hard not to hear echoes of Longden’s account when she speaks about the sense of control she’s developed. Longden talks to the voices as aspects of herself that call for a response, while Jessica addresses them as visitors who need to learn the rules.


Instead of tying these experiences to a discrete diagnosis, Powers and Corlett imagine a new kind of frame for voice hearing. Drawing a parallel with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the two are interested in the extent to which the psychics they saw “might occupy the extreme end of a continuum” of people who hear voices. “Much of what we perceive and believe about the world is based on our expectations and our beliefs,” Corlett said. “We can see hallucinations as an exaggeration of that process, and the psychics as a sort of way-station on that continuum, and slowly but surely we can creep towards a better understanding of the clinical case and therefore better treatment. We haven’t had new treatment mechanisms in schizophrenia for many years now.”

The two freely admit the gaps between their ambitions and what they know so far. The study is preliminary, qualitative work—a follow-up brain-imaging study is in the works—and they did only interview a small number of people. Psychics, they say, are not so easy to come by.

Luhrmann speculates that most of the psychics are experiencing something separate from psychosis: “I think it’s also true that there are people who have psychosis who manage it such that they don’t  fall ill and avoid this stigma and who really function effectively.” This difference aside, she says, “it may still be possible to learn from people who have more control over their voices. .... to think about how to teach people.”

At least as subtext, Powers and Corlett’s study might suggest a kind of chicken-or-egg question: Were the psychics insulated from suffering because they were socialized to accept and cope with their voices, and were the psychotic patients suffering because they weren’t? The better question is: to what extent were the two groups experiencing the same thing? 

Shinn believes the fact that far fewer diagnosed participants were employed at the time of the study (25 percent, versus 83 percent of the psychics), and that the diagnosed participants experienced more symptoms of psychosis, suggests that they were suffering beyond the point of being useful comparisons. She thinks, rather, that a “constellation” of symptoms—not just auditory hallucinations or the stigma associated with auditory hallucinations—explain the difference in functionality. “The Powers study provides interesting results with potentially helpful clinical implications,” she added, “but they compare very different groups.”

Shinn, Powers, and Corlett are all adamant that people who hear voices and experience psychological distress shouldn’t turn away from conventional psychiatric treatment, and that a “symptom”—in this case, voice hearing—only calls for clinical attention if it is a cause of suffering. But for those who are distressed, the level of understanding of their experience and the treatments available to them are still lacking. As Powers notes, many of psychiatry’s more effective drug treatments were developed by accident. Shinn likens the current body of knowledge of schizophrenia to a group of people describing different parts of an elephant while looking through a high-power lens: There are robust bodies of work on the trunk, the tail, and the ear, but no clear picture of the entire animal.

Shinn’s all too aware of the ways in which the diagnosis can overshadow the patient. “There have been psychiatrists,” she says, “who will tell a patient: You have a diagnosis of schizophrenia and you need to modify or adjust your goals in life, forget grad school, forget that Wall Street career,” Shinn said. “And that absolutely can be compounding and impairing. I don’t disagree that that’s a problem.”

As Luhrmann put it: “Are those cultural judgments the cause of the illness? Absolutely not. Do those cultural judgments make it worse? Probably.”


Jessica doesn’t live near the center anymore. While she’d love to find fulltime work as a medium, she says, she’s focusing on her graduate studies to become a dietitian for now.

Still, she’s grateful for the community she found at the center, she says, and for the help they gave her. “I cannot imagine having no control over this,” she told me. “I don’t know, if I never went to the center, maybe I’d be diagnosed with schizophrenia.”


(Taken from Joseph Frankel's article of the same name, initially published in 'The Atlantic').