Sunday, June 26, 2022

Comments by highfellow

Showing 8 of 8 comments.

  • There is a much better written account along these lines here, written by a psychiatrist who was part of a trial of droperidol and a benzodiazepam on healthy volunteers. (PDF download). Personally I would like to see all mental health workers made to take one of the medications they will be involved in prescribing for a week or two as part of their training. I don’t think many of them really recognise how unpleasant the side effects can be.

  • Rasselas.redux – I wanted to say mainly that your post was funny and made me laugh.

    Also that I said the thing about ‘are thoughts real?’ as a way of maybe holding in check people who are too willing to tell people that their experiences ‘aren’t real’ without having ever thought about existential questions like this that are actually quite a live issue for people who hear voices. It definitely made my psychologist stop and think for a moment when I asked him.

  • Another thought I had about this article is that the process you describe sounds a bit like adolescence. In our teenage years people also go through a period when the worldview we inherit from our families starts to break down and be replaced by our own individual one. Also I think many people’s experience of ‘psychosis’ begins in adolescence. I wonder if anyone has done any studies which make this connection explicitly?

  • Yes that’s pretty much how I see it. Having people trying to persuade me that ‘the voices aren’t real’ isn’t helpful because usually they feel that once that’s settled, the question is closed and there is nothing more to be said. This means I don’t get to talk about my – very real – experience of hearing distressing voices in a way that helps me make sense of what is happening, or resolve the equally real underlying issues that the voices stem from.

  • To say that antipsychotics destroy creativity is definitely right from my experience. When I am able to, I can be quite creative, and I have various tech / craft projects which I work on at times. But a lot more of the time I am just ‘knocked out’ – in a really dull state of mind where I can’t find the motivation or creative energy to get on with stuff like that.

    In Bessel van der Kolk’s book ‘The body keeps the score’, I read that antipsychotics can actually inhibit recovery from trauma by suppressing ‘motivation, curiosity, and play’. These are precisely the qualities you would think somebody might need to move on in their lives and find their way to something new. My feeling is that while they can be effective in keeping down distressing thoughts and emotions, because they have such a blanket effect they also have the effect of keeping people stuck with the same problems over long periods of time. This has certainly been the case with me – I have been troubled by essentially the same issues which I go over in my head obsessively again and again for around 17 years now. I know that I need to move on and resolve things somehow, but I am fairly sure that part of what makes it difficult for me to do this is the dulling effect of the medication.

    Ages ago, I was reading out the product label of the antipsychotics I was on to a friend, and I got to the bit where it said ‘supresses paranoid thoughts’. Her reply was ‘how does the drug know which are the paranoid thoughts and which are the other ones’? This is a fair point I think.

    Personally, I think that every person responsible for prescribing this class of medications should have to take them for a few weeks as part of their training, as I think that professionals really don’t understand how unpleasant it is to take them for a long period of time.

  • Thanks for this. I have been trying to get across to the psychologist that I see that this is how I understand the reasons for my original psychotic breakdown and subsequent hospitalisation – as a result of being torn between two social worlds with conflicting beliefs and values. To his credit he does seem to see what I mean on a human level, but then doesn’t seem to have much to offer in the way of help that really connects with what I am saying. Reading something like this helps me to hang onto a point of view that is important to me. I find it difficult to do this when the story of ‘psychosis as personal tragedy requiring lifelong treatment’ holds such sway in society. To think that there may actually be something positive in the experience is quite encouraging, even though nobody who has been through it would want to say that it is a pleasant or easy thing to experience. I often think of myself in terms of how I am not like most people, and that that is a problem I need to overcome, but in other ways it can be a strength. For example I find it hard to take sides, which can be a problem for me because sometimes in life you need to take a stand, but at the same time there is something good in being willing to see things from more than one point of view.