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Tobin Erebusan
03-24-2008, 03:39 AM
I need expert information on typical schizophrenic delusions, and maybe some firsthand accounts of living with (preferably) visual hallucinations with accompanying auditory ones for my protagonist in my new novel.

Can anyone help?

zenwriter
03-24-2008, 04:09 AM
This website has a slide show that might be useful:

http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2002/aug/schizophrenia/

Also, I recommend the movie Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)

James81
03-24-2008, 04:16 AM
The book (fiction) "I Know This Much is True" by Wally Lamb is about Schizophrenia. It'd give you a little fictional insight into how to write it. It's an excellent read (long, but excellent).

Hillary
03-24-2008, 05:32 AM
I have a friend with schizophrenia, and I'm a psychology major... I can give you all kinds of real life examples.

Typical delusions are those of grandeur. Like someone believing they will win the Nobel Prize, despite not having done anything worthy. Or being 100% positive they are going to become the US president, despite never having run for office.

Aliens are a VERY common delusion, as well. The belief that they were there, or come at night, or are coming, etc. (John Nash thought aliens were coming, and so spent a great deal of time trying to get world citizenship, because he believed the only way to save the world was if someone could negotiate with them who represented the whole world, yeah?)

Voices, voices, voices. Not a cliche. Very true. Sometimes, they know only they hear the voices, and sometimes they think other people can hear them too. (Ex. "They" told my boss to fire me, and that's why I lost my job!) Sometimes the voices are quiet, sometimes so loud they can't concentrate. Sometimes that makes the person think "they" are closer or farther away, sometimes it doesn't mean anything.

For specifics? I had a friend who would ask me who I was, if I knew where Poodle was (that's my nickname), if I knew who had put hands in his freezer and if he should leave the door open to let them out... He thought he saw people picking up and eating gravity that fell from the sky (I asked why, and he said "so they could be heavier")... He believed I was in on a plot to kill him, but he had to act totally normal around me so I would never know he knew... He would lose weight during bad episodes, because he was scared his food had been tampered with...

I could basically talk about this all day! I know plenty about the medications used to treat them, the typicals and atypicals, how they affect the brain, where they work, why they work, why they are different, who they are used in, reversible vs. irreversible side effects, etc. So feel free to ask any questions.

bluntforcetrauma
03-24-2008, 05:37 AM
The shrink I saw is convinced I haven't seen or heard the things I say I did. She's a quack. I suffer manic depression...not some strange psychosis. I may be crazy but I'm not stupid.

Sorry for the hijack, but you hit a nerve. Back to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

inkkognito
03-24-2008, 05:43 AM
I have worked with schizophrenic clients; I have to change things a bit so I don't break confidentiality, but I can share some commonalities. The voices are a big one, i.e. people supposedly talking about the person and even media personalities (television and radio) referencing them on the air. Another big one was the person believing they had a condition that they did not and everyone noticing and making fun of it. It's scary and sad at the same time to see how real these delusions can be to a person. It makes it difficult for them to reach out for help because they even come to believe that those who are trying to assist are part of the "conspiracy."

Hillary
03-24-2008, 05:50 AM
The voices are a big one, i.e. people supposedly talking about the person and even media personalities (television and radio) referencing them on the air.

Quite true. There are the voices in their heads, but also they often feel people on the TV and radio are communicating directly with them, which is quite unnerving. My friend didn't have a television for many years because of it.

bluntforcetrauma
03-24-2008, 06:02 AM
Shhh...Hank Hill and I are conversing.

inkkognito
03-24-2008, 07:52 AM
Shhh...Hank Hill and I are conversing.
Rusty Shackleford told me you are lying.

bluntforcetrauma
03-24-2008, 07:53 AM
And blunt... although there are times when schizophrenia and bi-polar seem to overlap, they are very different animals.

See...there they go- talking about me again. My little sister is schizo. She scares the shi# out of me.

bluntforcetrauma
03-24-2008, 07:54 AM
Rusty Shackleford told me you are lying.

Ain't what he told me. Are you mental? ;)

shakeysix
03-24-2008, 08:13 AM
i spent my share of time with schizophrenics when i worked in social services. blood seems to have been a common delusion. one lady thought "they" were draining off her blood to make revlon nail polish. another was convinced there were buckets of blood perched just above the ceiling tiles in her trailer house. she was always going on about this. in an interview i had to keep her off the subject. she had just gotten out of prison for murder. craziest story. two men were fighting outside her trailer one new year's eve. she told them to stop. they told her to go to hell. so she shot them. one died. somehow they did not lock her up for crazy but put her in prison for some type of manslaughter. her family wanted it that way because she did well enough in the real world, except when rattled. i tried never to rattle her.
my own daughter has schizo affective bi-polar. it is a different disorder but when stressed out and not taking meds she sees faces. they don't talk, but they are there. in her first breakdown she saw people standing on the roofs of burning houses. my husband and i would look out the same window and see a normal neighborhood. the weirdest thing she did was make up on the spot anagrams for things--like her pills were her "slips". --s6

heyjude
03-24-2008, 03:44 PM
Blood for Revlon nail polish.... okay, yours definitely trumped mine. :)

I had a client who was schizophrenic with paranoid delusions. Finally had to intervene when she became convinced that people were on their way to take her away. She had been living alone with little trouble till then, and she just kind of cracked. Really sad. She was a nice lady, too, aside from the voices in her head.

I don't know if this counts as visual hallucinations or not, but she said she could see wires running under her carpet. This is how "they" were spying on her.

shakeysix
03-24-2008, 04:49 PM
always they in a schizophrenic's delusions. one man swore the city of abilene kansas was stealing his light bulbs. another wore a raincoat w/ reflective tape to deflect "their" thoughts. one lady thought "they" had sucked her soul into a tv so she kept her house jammed w/ junked tv's. can't use her--she is a character in one of my novels.

when my daughter had her breakdown she was in college and stressed out over grades--one of those kids who freak out over a B+-- and had gone days w/out sleep. the doctor suspected simple bi-polar at first, so he treated for that. only the treatment was the worst possible thing for schizo affective bi-polar and she went catatonic.

after that they were trying to diagnose her as schizophrenic or schizo affective. my husband and i spent long hours at the library and reading every brochure and hand- out at the asylum. we also asked questions and took notes.

it seems that our daughter was "warm"--she liked people, was social, hated to hurt anyone's feelings. there are "warm" schizophrenics but the social interaction thing was one factor that pointed to the possibility that she was not schizophrenic. the other was that the faces were not "telling" her things. they were just there. at 19 she was having her first experience with hallucinations and naturally she was totally unnerved. even her auditory ones were not giving her orders. she heard people screaming for help from an approaching fire, so figured she must be in hell and had to break out. this caused her to run into doors and plate glass windows. no one was telling her to kill herself--she just wanted out of a bewildering and unbearable place. her mind was "racing". that means that her thoughts were going so fast she could not speak--a scary kind of babble for days--or think clearly.

i am no expert on this. my degree is in literature and language, but after my work experiences with schizophrenics i was terrified that my daughter was one. so naturally i studied what was going on, questioned the doctors carefully--3 different asylum stays in 4 months--kept notes and made observations--all from a mom's point of view. anyone struggling w/ mental illness is welcome to this family's experience, but that is all it is--just our own take on it.

years before my grandmother had suffered from a mental disorder--doctors called it "manic -depressive" in those days. i was too little to know what was going on then. grandmother was a nice, funny lady, wealthy and social. the family kept it a secret. if they had been more open i might have seen my daughter's illness coming--s6

inkkognito
03-24-2008, 06:04 PM
Long before I became a counselor, I was working in corp. communications which was part of HR. The HR people got two separate letters from a woman explaining that she could not hold a job, nor even leave her house because various famous and non-famous people were spying on her and even breaking in and standing around to watch her (as well as the classic watching her through the TV). She named all sorts of people, like Bill and Melinda Gates, actors and actresses, and even a band. At the time it was very funny, but now that I am a professional and have worked with people with this disorder, it's very sad. I often wonder if she was living on her own, receiving any sort of treatment, or what. She must have just gone through employment ads and sent out her letters to various companies.

Tobin Erebusan
03-25-2008, 01:06 PM
This is fascinating stuff, and it's kind of hard to believe when you've never met a schizophrenic before. Almost mystical, this talk of "they." I will definitely do things with this concept basis for paranoia.

Thank you, all of you. Any further stories or examples would be just as helpful.

DWSTXS
03-25-2008, 09:07 PM
Shhh...Hank Hill and I are conversing.

That wasn't Hank Hill. That was me. I am the only one you can hear.
Now, take off your clothes and go play in the street.

shakeysix
03-25-2008, 09:36 PM
volunteer at a homeless shelter. you will meet many schizophrenics. sad, but starting w/ mr. reagan this country does less and less for our mentally ill each year. the gov. has the laws chingaed so badly that family member cannot intervene even when they see their loved one is not taking meds or needs therapy. all responsibility is placed on the shoulders of the people least able to deal w/ the real world. a sad pass---s6

IceCreamEmpress
03-25-2008, 10:27 PM
A number of people have shared first-person accounts on the Schizophrenia.com (http://www.schizophrenia.com/stories/out.of.it.htm) website.

Shwebb
03-25-2008, 11:27 PM
The schizophrenics I've met do suffer from delusions and auditory hallucinations. Visual hallucinations are quite rare, I've been told. Matter of fact, one Ph D therapist who had done more than his share of work with mental illness patients is that one way to tell someone is faking schizophrenia is to ask them if they have visual hallucinations. If they answer yes, then something isn't right, there.

That's not to say that no one has visual hallucinations. I've had them before, after weeks of no sleep. I've known others who have experienced them. But it's not something as common as what people think.

I've often wondered, though--why is it that auditory hallucinations are usually so negative? Why aren't they positive? Or do those just not get reported, because they don't cause distress?

Um, sorry--personal question in there, but anyway. The delusional stuff is right on, too, in here.

GeorgeK
03-26-2008, 09:22 PM
"Do you see things that aren't there?"
"Of course not! They are as real as that vampire on the ceiling."

I'm more used to seeing ICU Psychosis than actual schizophrenia, the former usually a temporary result of extreme health stress, insomnia, pain and all manner of "helpful medications". One guy going though DT's and pancreatitis was having a stream of consciousness array of hallucinations based on the original "Star Trek". Nobody else understood his concern about the salt vampires since they weren't trekkies. Finally at the end of someone's rotation they asked why he'd let me change his dressing but not them. I asked, "Do you feed the salt vampires?" I would pour a little pile of salt on the corner of the bedstand and he would calm down, since he knew any salt vampires would go straight for that. Obviously the cleaning personell were salt vampires becuase every day that pile of salt would disappear.

ishtar'sgate
03-26-2008, 10:41 PM
I need expert information on typical schizophrenic delusions, and maybe some firsthand accounts of living with (preferably) visual hallucinations with accompanying auditory ones for my protagonist in my new novel.

Can anyone help?
Unfortunately I have a friend with schizophrenia. When she refuses medication, which is frequent, her delusions are pretty alarming.
She believes her neighbours have killed women and most of their dogs and buried them in the back yard. She says she heard the women and animals being tortured and killed. She says the neighbours have followed her and tried to kill her, sending children to entice her to her death, posing as doctors and trying to poison her in the hospital. She worries that the police don't do anything. She is frightened for her life and won't eat and sleep. It almost imobilizes her and she'll cry for literally weeks on end until she's back on her meds. We all feel pretty helpless. Her husband lives in another town and although hasn't divorced her his visits are infrequent. She does not accept a word against her delusions and we don't dare argue with her or contradict her. In her own mind she is absolutely right and the police are conspiring with the neighbours to cover it up so if we tell her it isn't so then we are conspiring as well. The only thing I do when she's delusional like this is wait for an opportunity to divert her attention to something else. She's not happy about it but once I've managed to turn her mind elsewhere we can have a normal conversation - for a while anyway. It's all very sad. I do wish there was some kind of permanent help for these poor tormented people but there doesn't seem to be.
Linnea

Hillary
03-27-2008, 01:20 AM
The schizophrenics I've met do suffer from delusions and auditory hallucinations. Visual hallucinations are quite rare, I've been told. Matter of fact, one Ph D therapist who had done more than his share of work with mental illness patients is that one way to tell someone is faking schizophrenia is to ask them if they have visual hallucinations. If they answer yes, then something isn't right, there.

That's not to say that no one has visual hallucinations. I've had them before, after weeks of no sleep. I've known others who have experienced them. But it's not something as common as what people think.

I've often wondered, though--why is it that auditory hallucinations are usually so negative? Why aren't they positive? Or do those just not get reported, because they don't cause distress?

Um, sorry--personal question in there, but anyway. The delusional stuff is right on, too, in here.

It's true that visual hallucinations are rare. It's mostly auditory hallucinations and delusions.

And, to answer your question, "positive" delusions are quite common. (I don't like using the terms positive and negative, since those are the categories for types of symptoms in schizophrenia, so I've put it in quotes! :) As I posted above, many schizophrenics suffer delusions of grandeur. They FIRMLY believe they are going to become president, win the lottery, become a doctor, win the Nobel Prize, etc. all without any logical reason behind the delusion. These can all be thought of as "positive" delusions, and are widely reported.

Visual hallucinations DO happen, but it's much more common for someone to think something is going to happen, or is happening, than for them to see it happening.

The most important symptom (and I just got this question right today on a schizophrenia quiz in psychopharmacology) is that patients suffer thought disorders. Schizophrenia is thought to actually be a cluster of thought disorders, and that's likely one reason we don't know the exact cause.

By "thought disorder" I mean incoherence, loosening of associations, illogical thinking, etc. Schizophrenic people, who are undergoing treatment and can talk lucidly about their illness, will often say it's like they have to pay attention to everything, and thus can't pay close attention to anything.

What this means is they have extreme problems with sensory gating (or as a few call it, sensory filtering). This symptom is widely studied, simply because we can replicate it in animals and then test drugs on them using Prepulse Inhibition (PPI) tests.

chevbrock
03-27-2008, 02:07 AM
I think Barack Obama's name is a gift for you and your character. His name sounds like it's the most thinly-veiled anagram about. Just an idea

Jenan Mac
03-27-2008, 03:37 AM
Just a piece I don't think I've seen anyone mention: Schizophrenics tend to be smokers. Not that smoking makes you schizophrenic-- nicotine actually may inhibit auditory hallucinations, which is a plus when you become convinced the pharmacist at Walgreen's is poisoning your meds and you refuse to take them.

Skyraven
03-29-2008, 07:29 AM
Another piece that people may not be aware of, schizophrenics can be addicts because they self-medicate to get rid of the voices.

Keyan
03-29-2008, 02:56 PM
I have worked with schizophrenic clients; I have to change things a bit so I don't break confidentiality, but I can share some commonalities. The voices are a big one, i.e. people supposedly talking about the person and even media personalities (television and radio) referencing them on the air. Another big one was the person believing they had a condition that they did not and everyone noticing and making fun of it. It's scary and sad at the same time to see how real these delusions can be to a person. It makes it difficult for them to reach out for help because they even come to believe that those who are trying to assist are part of the "conspiracy."

If you check out Usenet, there's a chap who regularly posts bunches of entries about the MI5 being after him - in just the way you describe.

Keyan
03-29-2008, 03:27 PM
It's scary and sad at the same time to see how real these delusions can be to a person. It makes it difficult for them to reach out for help because they even come to believe that those who are trying to assist are part of the "conspiracy."

One of my friends is I think schizophrenic. We met because our kids were pals at playschool. She seemed like an intelligent woman who just hadn't done much with her life and was on welfare. I urged her to get the quals she needed for the kind of job she wanted. Something must have clicked; she went back to school, got an AA degree and then a BA...she seemed all set for a positive future. Her family were so pleased they bought her an apartment.

And then suddenly it all fell apart. One night, she called me while I was in another city, saying someone was trying to break into her apartment. I told her to call the police. I heard nothing more for a couple of days, though I kept calling her. Finally, she called back. Apparently, the police had come, and had taken her into care. She was on medications. I was shocked. She'd seemed fragile, and a little afraid of crowds and big stores, but nothing like this.

She became obsessed with a professor. At first she believed they were in love (he was happily married). Then she believed that he was breaking into her place at night and doing unspeakable things. She had an array of locks and chains on her door. When I asked why that wasn't enough, she said he controlled her mind and could *make* her let him in. She had to get away from that place so he wouldn't know where she lived. She was utterly convinced. She said she'd show me proof. She'd keep saying things like "You'll think I'm nuts..."

She came over and parked outside, as she usually did, and we had a pleasant afternoon. Then, as I was seeing her to her car, she pointed to her rearview mirror and said that proved he was doing something strange; it had been moved while she was upstairs at my place. She made a tiny fractional adjustment to the mirror as she got in to drive.

She's marginal - not dysfunctional enough to be placed in an institution, but barely functional in the real world. She takes up with men who have problems themselves, and the relationships don't last. She gets exploited, but says she's more dysfunctional alone.

She lives a near-homeless existence in a different city now, supported by welfare and cheques from relatives. She calls me from time to time. I don't really know what to do, except let her talk and offer practical advice.

Tobin Erebusan
04-02-2008, 10:55 PM
This is all fascinating stuff so far. You know, I recently had called up a friend I remembered telling me had schizophrenia, and she's been telling me just--harrowing stuff about her own experiences. And she has both auditory and visual hallucinations. She has particularly repetitive ones when she has sleep paralysis concerning what she claimed was an incubus, and once she even saw a fictional character she made bounce down a hillside when she was riding in a car.

Any new stuff, I'm up for it if you guys have anything more to share.

inkkognito
04-03-2008, 04:24 AM
Another piece that people may not be aware of, schizophrenics can be addicts because they self-medicate to get rid of the voices.
Yet ironically many are dead set against taking medications that would help them. Mind you, I believe that we're an overmedicated society but there are some people who can truly be helped by the proper meds. Sadly, I have clients who cannot be convinced to take meds even though it would make a huge difference in their functioning. For schizophrenics with paranoid delusions, it can be nearly impossible to convince them that medication may be appropriate. It's almost like watching someone suffer with a physical condition like a gaping, painful wound and refusing to allow it to be bandaged.

archetypewriting
04-04-2008, 09:05 PM
There are a couple of accounts of what's it's like to have schizophrenia on my website: http://archetypewriting.com/real/real_disorders.htm#psychotic. One is about what it's like to have hallucinations. The author's writing is a little convoluted, but that's part of the disease as well.

Since how-are-bipolar-schizophrenia-and-multiple personalities-different question seems to come up frequently at AW, I also did a little explanation here: http://archetypewriting.com/articles/articles_ck/DIDmisconceptions.htm#differences

Cheers!