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Get curious about psychedelics. Responsibly.

Schizophrenia is a mirror

From John Weir Perry’s The Far Side of Madness on the mirror-like qualities of schizophrenia:

The extraordinary thing about schizophrenia is that it is a condition of the subliminal psyche making itself manifest in the clear light of day. Like the depths of the psyche it is so alien and unknown to us that it appears to be just exactly whatever we make of it. Schizophrenia acts as a kind of mirror held up before us, reflecting what we project upon it. In this way it becomes also a sort of eerie touchstone for psychiatrists by virtue of which they discover and establish their view of human nature and of the deviances from its norms. On the other hand, the schizophrenic person is in an equally extraordinary state. He so loses his identity that he becomes highly suggestible and identifies with any powerful impact from inside or outside. So, when society says to him, “You’re too different, a menace, sick, and we’ll have to lock you up,” he feels correspondingly crazy and reprehensible, dangerous and unmanageable. Hence, he reflects like a mirror what is expected of him. We have only to convey to a patient the tacit message, “You’re so sick you need my help to make you sane,” to convince him that he is beyond the pale and isolated. The more sane-making we become in our good will, the more crazy-making we find ourselves; we entangle ourselves in our own preconceptions, and the patient becomes hopelessly ensnared along with us.

In our cultural transition toward tolerance for the nonrational and natural, might it not make all the difference to forego our presuppositions about normality and cure? If the psyche were allowed to be what it is and to act as it is inclined, to further its own ends, how much of what now leads to psychosis would resolve itself before coming to that unhappy pass? Might we come to view even “psychosis” as something awaiting a person on the forward path rather than on the regressive road away from the challenge of life?

1 Comment

  1. Might we come to view even “psychosis” as something awaiting a person on the forward path rather than on the regressive road away from the challenge of life?- While this may sound poetic it lacks the reality of the inexplicable horror within a severe case of schizophrenia, for the suffering person and their family and friends.

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