Managing negative emotions © Martyn Carruthers
Were you prescribed drugs as a poor substitute
for improving your relationships?
Self-medication with alcohol or nicotine, or other-medication with prescription
anti-depressants or stimulants, is easier than applying intelligence, maturity
and relationship skills to complex relationship issues – but …
Drugs are cheaper for the patient (in the short term) and much more profitable
for health professionals, but the consequences of psychoactive drugs are
unacceptable to many people. What else can you do?
Most normal, ordinary people can remember intense emotional experiences. Have you ever felt angry enough to hurt someone? Or depressed enough to hurt yourself? Or stuck in some HUGE conflict? Or obsessed with something (like finding a washroom) NOW? Have you ever been unsure if a dream was really a dream? Imagine that sense lasting for weeks … and you may have a vague idea of what psychosis might be like!
What is Real … What is Imagined?
Some people appear unable to differentiate between real and unreal experiences, logical and illogical thoughts, or appropriate and inappropriate behavior. They may be diagnosed by a health professional as suffering from psychosis or schizophrenia. These opinions cannot be supported or rejected by laboratory tests, and may be mistaken for other problems (such as allergies to common foods).
Scary labels like schizophrenia are opinions, applied to people who appear to lose contact with a cultural or shared reality. No cure for schizophrenia has been accepted by Western medicine. If people diagnosed with schizophrenia find lasting, drug-free solutions … it wasn’t schizophrenia. And if a patient disagrees with such an opinion – that’s called resistance or denial.
The duration of symptoms is critical. A combination of bizarre behavior, disorganized speech and/or social withdrawal may accompany severe hangover, a few days of sleep deprivation (e.g. jet-lag following flights from Hawaii to Europe) or a fever. If these symptoms last a few months, someone may be diagnosed as psychotic.
The terrible label of schizophrenia, as much as the symptoms, can devastate lives.
In Soviet Russia, dissidents could be diagnosed with schizophrenia without symptoms and be imprisoned. Something similar may occur in military organizations, prisons and cult-like organizations. People with views not accepted by social leaders are very often called mentally disturbed.
The differences between normal and psychotic are blurred. Psychoses refer to lost contact with reality … yet the symptoms are exaggerated normal reactions. Dr R.D. Laing suggested that: Psychosis is a healthy response to insane conditions.
Tragically, many homeless or street people seem to have symptoms of psychosis, but they cannot afford medical treatment nor specialized care.
The medical and the systemic coaching models are different in how behavior is perceived and interpreted. Yet medicine and systemic solutions both start from observed symptoms and both aim to provide appropriate treatment via accurate diagnosis. Ana Pejcinova, PhD
Symptoms of schizophrenia can be arranged into three overlapping groups called: positive symptoms (excesses of thought, emotion and behavior), negative symptoms (deficits of emotion and behavior) and psychomotor symptoms. People with positive symptoms are often prescribed antipsychotic drugs, while psychomotor symptoms can limit relationships and disrupt everyday events.
The more obvious positive symptoms are inappropriate behaviors: unexpected movements and disorganized speech, describing delusions (e.g. persecution), heightened perceptions and hallucinations. These indicate internal chaos and an inability to differentiate between subjective thoughts and objective reality.
The so-called negative symptoms or deficits may seem to show a lack of interest in other people and in the world. Their inexpressive faces, monotonic and monosyllabic speech, few gestures, inability to express pleasure or act spontaneously may motivate other people to avoid them.
The psychomotor symptoms include awkward movements, repeated grimaces and unusual gestures. These symptoms may take an extreme form called catatonia, and include stupor, rigidity and posturing. Some movements may appear to be made for magical or religious reasons.
People labeled as schizophrenia may research their diagnosis –
and become depressed or suicidal. Their depression may be a
reaction to their diagnosis – not to their symptoms.
Most symptoms associated with schizophrenia develop between the ages of 15 and 30. This is the age range where most people wish to commence a committed partnership leading to parenthood. Some people cannot consider partnership or parenthood due to identity issues and toxic relationship beliefs. Their abreaction to this lost chance of happiness may be severe; and they may cling to their symptoms to justify their inability to communicate.
My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and takes drugs to control his symptoms … However he likes his symptoms and sometimes stops taking his drugs just to enjoy
“other-world” communications that he does not want to lose. Warsaw, Poland
We find that people are whole, creative and resourceful … and we coach many people to access or better use their own resources. If we suspect that a person shows psychotic behavior, we refer that person for medical or psychiatric evaluation.
We do not diagnose or treat disorders, rather we help people explore their emotions and improve their relationships.
- We are collaborators not experts
- We help people find their own wisdom
- We coach people to improve their lives
- We do not diagnose or treat mental health disorders
- We focus on a person’s whole life; not only on symptoms
- We focus on the present and future; not so much on the past
We sometimes work with psychiatrists to help people diagnosed with schizophrenic symptoms to express their feelings appropriately – for example to to adjust their voices and facial expressions during communications with family members and in other relationships. This may include rehearsing social interactions and exploring the emotions that surface.
Please consult a physician about medical conditions.