Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia – A Valuable, and Free, Online Report


An individual having unusual difficulties in coping with his environment struggles and kicks up the dust, as it were. I have used the figure of a fish caught on a hook: his gyrations must look peculiar to other fish that don’t understand the circumstances; but his splashes are not his affliction, they are his effort to get rid of his affliction and as every fisherman knows these efforts may succeed.

 — Karl Menninger


What would happen if a team of highly qualified psychologists joined up with a team of people who knew psychosis from the inside, from their own journey into madness and then recovery – and if they collaborated in writing a guide to understanding the difficult states that get names like “psychosis” and schizophrenia”?

Well, you don’t have to wonder anymore, because the result was published a couple of days ago in the form of a report that is free to download at Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia

A fundamental point made by the report is that “‘psychotic’ experiences are understandable in the same ways as ‘normal’ experiences, and can be approached in the same way.”

I believe this report will be useful to a great many people, because of the way it combines a thorough knowledge of the science with common sense and perspectives drawn from actually listening to people who have had these experiences and then have made sense of them for themselves.  The knowledge in this report will likely both change the perspective of many professionals, as well as be of assistance to many individuals and families who want a deep understanding of the subject that is also  very accessible and easy to read.

It includes  a list of resources at the end which many people may also find helpful.

Jacqui Dillon, Chair of the UK Hearing Voices Network, was quoted as saying:

This report is an example of the amazing things that are possible when professionals and people with personal experience work together. Both the report’s content and the collaborative process by which it has been written are wonderful examples of the importance and power of moving beyond ‘them and us’ thinking in mental health.

I fully agree.

* * * * *

"Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality, and what can help."
Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality, and what can help.”


Thurstine Basset
Professor Richard Bentall
Professor Mary Boyle
Anne Cooke (co-ordinating editor)
Caroline Cupitt
Jacqui Dillon
Professor Daniel Freeman
Professor Philippa Garety
Dr David Harper
Dr Lucy Johnstone
Professor Peter Kinderman
Professor Elizabeth Kuipers
Professor Tony Lavender
Laura Lea
Dr Eleanor Longden
Dr Rufus May
Professor Tony Morrison
Dr Sara Meddings
Professor Steve Onyett
Dr Emmanuelle Peters
Professor David Pilgrim
Professor John Read
Professor Mike Slade
Yan Weaver
Professor Til Wykes


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Thank you Ron! I just glanced through the report and will find time to read it thoroughly.

    So far, it seems to really capture the unique complexities of people’s experiences, what helps, what hurts and the need to rethink the current biological model of mental health differences…

    Thanks for sharing with us!

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  2. Good.

    There are two distinct phenomena: ‘psychosis’ the political, bureaucratic, institutional label, and the poorly-charted altered states of mind that exist in the wild. It’s a rigid dichotomy that runs along the (also very rigid) walls of the psych ward. While recognizing that there is an overlap, let’s not conflate these things.

    Sane uninteresting people are in fact hospitalized based on unsubstantiated claims by third parties, forcibly tranquilized and coerced into treatment with antipsychotics regardless of whether or not they are indeed psychotic. This shouldn’t come as a revelation: mental health legislation quite explicitly gives a free pass to cops and health workers to do anything in their power with zero accountability and zero transparency, in effect revoking basic human rights of the victim of the psychiatric encounter.

    A useful diagnosis comes weeks, even months later only to justify the treatment (read: disabling drugs) in retrospect, and to stigmatize (‘flag up’) the patient-subject as a lifetime recipient of such treatment. Doctors openly use symptom judgments such as ‘psychotic’ as bureaucratic tools to push through new decisions with no regard for their subjects’ actual state of mind, not that there’s any evidence-based method to access it, or that patients are free to speak their mind when everything they say is being used against them.

    The moment you take a psychiatry-naive person who, say, claims to hear voices and plonk them in front of a clinical white wall, you’re blanking out all the measurable interactions between the individual and their environment, which are all you’ve got to go by if you hope to understand or do some real science.

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  3. Thanks Ron,

    I’ve downloaded the document. I was labelled with the big diagnoses myself, and I got better with the help of psychology. There was nothing wrong that could not be put right.

    I think the opportunity of full recovery, rather than chronic illness needs to be exposed. It would save the country billions, as well.

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    • Yes Fiachra, I think you are right, we could save billions, plus avoid a lot of misfortune, if we figured out how to help recover instead of just endure chronic troubles (some of which are caused by misguided attempts at helping.)

      Of course we could save even more if we quit “helping” people who don’t need help at all, as TitA proposes. One problem with a system that uses force too readily is that it also resists even discussion of the possibility it might be making mistakes – a more collaborative system would be happy to discuss such possibilities, which then would also allow for fine tuning, dealing with ambiguous areas where a person might need help in some sense, and actually be doing really well in other senses, etc.

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  4. Thanks, Ron, it looks like an interesting read – and it’s free! It seems the British psychologists are possibly a decent bunch of chaps, kudos to them.

    I agree with Fiachra that the psycho / pharmaceutical industries are nothing but a staggering waste of billions of dollars with the additional cost of extreme and almost unfathomable iatrogenic damage to millions of people. And I, too, dealt with a psychologist and psychiatrists who had odd delusions that all thoughts, gut instincts, and dream queries were “psychosis.” How sad that the American psychologists and psychiatrists harbor such odd beliefs, but at least others are now also pointing out that these “professionals” are “mindless.”

    I’ve yet to read the book but do hope it points out the reality that the antipsychotics can CAUSE “psychosis” in people who were inappropriately diagnosed as “psychotic” – the antipsychotics / neuroleptics can CAUSE “psychosis” both when one is initially put on the drugs, they caused me personally to have evil and incessant “voices” the entire time I was on them, AND they cause “psychosis” after being withdrawn from them (super sensitivity psychosis). I mention this because I’m fully aware of the fact the psychiatric industry adamantly denies this reality, despite the fact there’s a fair amount of medical literature pointing out this is true for many people (not just me).

    And I’m glad it’s being pointed out that a person’s “psychosis” is perfectly logical within the context of that person’s life, since that was my experience, yet the current mainstream psychiatric belief system is to ignore the human “patient’s” real life and drug, drug, drug … with drugs that CAUSE “psychosis.”

    I pray the psychiatric insanity goes away. I’ve never in my life met more insane, ungodly disrespectful, and delusional people than those who work within the “mental health” field.

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