Schizophrenia and psychosis as states of chronic fear and terror

What is defined as schizophrenia and psychosis is typically a state of chronic fear and terror. Individuals have been shattered by trauma. Within them, mental images of past events continue to haunt them. The inner voice (or conscience) which we all possess becomes amplified to a level where visual and auditory hallucinations become present. Grandiose thoughts arise as an attempt to either stave off depression or to escape from the painful reality of a distressing situation and disordered world. Anti-psychotics have been used to diminish the hallucinations and other distressing behaviors, but they have never addressed the reactions of the person and the underlying trauma and factors that have led them to seek a departure from defined reality. Therefore, in collaborating with these individuals, we must meet them in their sense of reality. We must join in respectfully and in a dignified manner, slowly and gently addressing the various disturbances in thought process. We must uncover the hidden traumas and seek to “be with” the person as they develop new coping mechanisms. It is entirely possible for individuals even in the states of severe mental anguish and distress to recover. And it is indeed possible for this to be accomplished without the addition of toxic drugs. The key is relationship. That is what these individuals are lacking and need. They need to know that there may exist, if even but one, stable and loving relationships in a world so often filled with pain.

Fear leads to great emotional turmoil. Other so-called mental disorders also often arise from a sense of fear: a fear of individuals, a fear of society, a fear of having been hurt and possibly being hurt again, a fear of life, a fear of death, a fear of not understanding who we are or maybe even being afraid of discovering who we are or who we were, a fear of the uncertainty surrounding what we may become. A fear that maybe we are not a person, or our identity as a person. A fear of challenges, a fear of not knowing the answers, or maybe a fear of not understanding the question, or even a fear of not knowing what questions to ask. A fear of not being loved or maybe a fear of not knowing what love really is, or what it could be, or what we have been told that it is. A fear of being controlled, a fear of our freedom being taken away. A fear of what others may do to us, or have done to us, or will continue to do to us.

This is the human condition; we all have levels of fear, some more, some less. We all have the desire for security, for safety, for solace. If we begin to understand this, we will then begin to understand life, we will be able to connect with others, and realize that the only way out of this fear is for us to journey together. Life is a journey, it is filled with moments where we stray into thorns, yet it is filled with moments of delight. To truly describe day, we must see night. To truly describe that which is beautiful we must have something to compare it to. Thus, we have the conditions of suffering. We would not know joy fully unless we had something to compare it to.

  • Dr. Dan L. Edmunds
  • http://psyche.healthwyze.org/
  • Dr. Dan L. Edmunds is an existential psychoanalyst, psychotherapist, and autism specialist in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and a Diplomate of the American Psychotherapy Association. He holds many prestigious degrees, and is the author of "The Meeting of Two Persons: What Therapy Should Be" and "Being Autistic: An Approach Towards Understanding and Acceptance." Dr. Edmunds can be reached for consultation at batushkad@yahoo.com.


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