Psychosis

Returning to the experience of encountering the mentally ill, I said I would return to the theme of the incomprehensible nature of mental illness. Having absorbed the notion that the utterances of the psychotically ill, if approached differently, could be found to yield meaning, this did not stop it being obvious that there was not so much a boundary between the ill person and the rest of the world, as a gulf. This gulf sometimes was in place because the client or patient completely lacked the normal boundaries by which we live our lives. They seemed at times unable to distinguish their inner world from ‘real life’, from the objective physical world. If they had an emotion, it was not their feeling; rather it was an object in the external world. If they were anxious, the sky was falling; if they were afraid, they were being poisoned by the television or by their spouse. For others, the inner emotional world was just too frightening to share with another person. They may therefore be frozen in a catatonic trance or may talk any sort of nonsense whose main quality was that it literally could not be understood, as though the only purpose was to prevent understanding. It is not an original thought but it seemed that the inability to understand how the client felt could sometimes be a clue to the psychotic nature of the condition that they were facing.

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