Morag Coate on the Essence of Schizophrenia

Robin Cunningham Health Guide

    At the conclusion of my last SharePost, submitted on 4 January, 2009, I cited a quotation by Morag Coate and asked that visitors read the quote and give us their reaction to it in the form of a comment to the SharePost.


    The quotation reads as follows -


    " To one who is mad, the world is still real, but it has a new meaning; people are real too, close and powerful and perhaps dangerous, but among them all, the individual is alone.  This is the essential feature when we penetrate insanity.  Not that the world is less with us, but that another world pervades it too, and we, seeing and experiencing life on a different plane, are cut off from communication with the sane around us: the sane and blinkered folk who do not see and must not know or would never believe the vast, vital, urgent and perhaps cataclysmic truths of which we, alone among them, are aware."

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                                                                                                                                                                                ----- Morag Coate


    My reactions to this quotation are several, which I set out below, point by point.  Remember, I am not a provider (psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or a licensed clinical social worker).  I write from my own experience and am not rendering any form of therapy or advice.


    I believe the author is describing some of the symptoms of paranoid delusions.  His description is consistent with my own experience.  I believed Satan, three of his demons, and a whole of "orphaned voices" were talking to me and about me.  Such paranoid delusions are common among individuals with schizophrenia, but can occur with other diagnoses as well.  In contrast with the author, I felt alone only in the very early stages of my illness.  This was, I believe, in large part to the "unconditional acceptance" extended to me by my first psychiatrist, as well as his empathy for my plight.  While my psychiatrist never endorsed any of my delusions, I always felt that he understood what was happening to me.  In my experience, feeling alone was not the essential feature of my illness.


    Like the author, the world was not less with me.  I too found another world pervading the one that everyone else acknowledged.  In contrast with the author, I was also taught many things about this second world in church, and Sunday and parochial school classes.  [Religious content is very often a part of paranoid delusions.]  The difference for me was that when I began to describe my experiences in this second world to my family [for example, the intrusion of Satan and his demons] they and our religious leaders, if they did not first conclude that I was possessed, decided I was insane or simply acting out.  I was shocked by their response, which in my mind, was a denial of what I learned for years under their tutelage.  Many went to great lengths to convince me that I was mentally ill.  Others avoided me at all cost.


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    To protect the beliefs in which I had been schooled, I put up a protective wall around me, as did those that now feared me.  Communications were cut off with everyone except my psychiatrist.


    The walls I had created to protect myself, especially from my family and the church, came down once my psychiatrist and I found a medication that worked for me.  Over the ten years I had been actively psychotic my psychiatrist had taught me very effective coping skills, which, with the new medications, I was then able to fully implement.  I reentered society fully functional.


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    Please remember, this writing reflects my own experience and opinions.  If you, or a loved one, are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, you should seek professional assistance.


Published On: January 11, 2009