Reflections on Psychotic Disorders


Many people, including mental health professionals, see how severe psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, can be and instantaneously presume it is mostly biological. Now, most do believe in the value of talk therapy, and it is widely recognized that schizophrenia often starts with a stressful trigger. These triggers can include things as normal as a first year of college or as terrible as a trauma such as a sexual assault. Now, I’m not doubting genetic factors or other biological factors exist in those of us with psychotic disorders, but I have a pet theory on what these disorders are. While, I admit the following is more of a personal opinion than science. I, also, doubt it would be considered complete pseudoscience.

I think it is at least possible that mental disorders are an over reaction to stimuli. (There has been scientific discussion on this.) For example, it is normal to be anxious about an exam. It is not normal to have a panic attack over an exam if one is well prepared. Still, people see psychotic disorders, and think psychosis is so strange it has to be an exceptional case. Well, maybe it is not so different. People without psychotic disorders do have hallucinations on occasion. For example, a person who is sure they heard their phone ring when it wasn’t, in fact, ringing. Now, this doesn’t rise to the level where most people would be bothered, and, yes, people with psychotic disorders have a greater level and frequency of these hallucinations.

In earlier times, certain aspects of mental issues (notice not I didn’t say disorder) were probably more beneficial than they are today. Think about anxiousness. It might be good to be anxious when someone thought they heard footsteps at night. It could have been a dangerous animal. Even, if someone gets anxious half a dozen times when there isn’t a good reason, the fact that this person is on edge might help them realize a real threat with greater frequency. It is better to be wrongly anxious half a dozen times, than wrong about a deadly threat once. Similarly, it might be good to be wrong about, actually, hearing a growling bear a few times and then, always be on the look out and be right once. This is especially true if the person has some previous experience where they felt at risk (stressor.) Now that there person has previously experienced a terrible event, there mind is on the look out.

Now, I am not suggesting that in ancient times mental disorders were a good thing. I’m saying what any mental health professional will tell anyone. We all have aspects of mental disorders. We all can get too anxious sometimes. We all can have some hallucinations. Still, some people are so chronically anxious or hallucinate chronically, and these people can’t function normally. My point is this: psychotic people aren’t as different from the norm as people think. Anxiety disorders might be over reactions, and I, personally, think we shouldn’t look at psychotic disorders any differently.

I, highly, doubt most of what I have said about anxiety is that far away from what a lot of people in psychology say about it, but it has been my experience that as soon as someone says something about psychosis people back away. They can’t see how psychosis could work the same way. Well, I disagree.

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