Rob Cook

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Understanding psychosis


One of the things that adds to the stigma of having experienced psychosis, is the difficulty in articulating to others just what has happened to you. After three episodes I find it easier to cope, but still find myself groping for the language with which to explain it to others. From the outside looking in, you just look odd, out of sorts. From the point of view of the one having the psychotic episode any number of bizarre, terrifying, or just plain weird things can be happening to you. The lack of common ground makes talking about it in any meaningful way very difficult. (Many people simply have no comparable point of reference for this stuff in their own life experiences.)

A book that covers the ground expertly is The Heartland: finding and losing schizophrenia by Nathan Filer. (Note: the book is soon to be published in paperback under the less disturbing title of This book will change your mind about mental health.) The author is a researcher in mental health who previously worked in front line psychiatric care. Chapters alternate between the related experience of someone who has endured a serious mental health issue, and Nathan's reflections thereof.

Please read it. Aside from confronting many of the assumptions society and medical professionals hold about this subject, it is an astonishingly clear account of what psychosis and serious mental health issues are like for those touched by it.

In an area of human experience we seldom like to tread, this book is a welcome guide.