People with psychosis can heal by rebuilding their life stories

This article by Henry R. Cowan has been published on the Psyche website. Although it uses the scientifically meaningless term “schizophrenia”, it nonetheless has valuable things to say.

It begins:

What would you say if I asked you to tell the story of your life? If you are like the thousands of people who have participated in life stories research around the world, you could probably tell a pretty good story about where you came from, how you became the person you are today, and where you are headed in the future. You might talk about your childhood experiences, your education or career, significant challenges or accomplishments, important relationships, or themes that connect your experiences together.

Here are a few things you probably would not say:

‘… what scared me the most was a sense that I had lost myself …’

‘I couldn’t relate to the world around me, as my reality became increasingly fractured and confused.’

‘My illness eradicated my sense of self, and now I am engaged in the lifelong process of obtaining, maintaining and slowly modifying my sense of who I am.’

These are excerpts from the stories of people living with schizophrenia, a psychotic disorder that can include delusions (strongly held beliefs that do not seem to fit reality), hallucinations (seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not there), disorganised thought and speech, loss of motivation, blunted emotional expression and social withdrawal. Schizophrenia is a rare but serious mental illness. Although it affects fewer than one in 100 people, schizophrenia’s worldwide disease burden, in terms of years lived with disability, is roughly equal to that of Alzheimer’s disease and alcohol abuse combined. This is because schizophrenia is a chronic, disabling condition that manifests early in life – it is commonly diagnosed between late adolescence and the early 30s …”

You can read more from here.

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