Comments by Robyn Thomas

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  • Hi there,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment… lots of interesting points to address! I’m certainly not aiming to glorify or romanticize psychosis or “promote” psychosis–my own experience of psychosis was horrible and I never want to have another episode. I don’t think talking about the way people make sense of their experiences and grow from them is going to encourage people to enter a psychosis, nor do I think people can wake up one day and decide to have a psychotic break.

    Your point about conflating psychosis with other experiences such as hypomania and mixed mood states is an important one. Yet, the people in my research study had all been diagnosed with psychosis and/or schizophrenia by psychiatrists, so if conflation is happening, it is occurring within the psychiatric system. Altered states, voices and anomalous experiences are pathologized, feared, and medicalised when they don’t always need to be. It’s also dangerous to think that we can neatly categorize these experiences into their own separate boxes.

    As to psychosis being pathological, as far as I know, we have yet to discover a biomarker that proves psychosis is a brain disease. If there are articles you can suggest that demonstrate clear and consistent evidence that psychosis is caused by some kind of pathogen or structural brain anomaly, I would appreciate knowing about such studies. Lots of people experience suicidal ideation for non-pathological reasons–oppression, social injustice, poverty, trauma, etc. Just because people suffer in psychosis doesn’t mean the cause is biological or that it needs to be medicalized–much research points towards social determinants.

    I think the post-traumatic growth model is definitely valuable. But it’s not the only model that people can benefit from. It’s vital that we listen to people’s lived experience, insights and perspectives on what they have gone through and what it means to them. Ignoring these insights and labelling them as delusional only increases distress and doesn’t make the psychosis disappear. There are many people who might benefit from the biomedical narrative to explain their distress. But many others are harmed by that narrative, and it does not address the wider context of their lives or provide them with the tools and understanding they need. I certainly do not believe that people need to have a psychotic episode to heal. I chose to focus on how psychosis can be a catalyst for transformation because it is a narrative that is too often silenced. It is certainly not meant to be a one-size-fits-all model or approach–we need to move away from those. My objective is to give voice to people’s diverse experiences and to understand what has helped them, so that we can create services that are growth-oriented, culturally relevant and consensual.

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