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Finding purpose after living with delusion.

Finding purpose after living with delusion.

Here is an excerpt from the link:

ATHENS, Ohio — She was gone for good, and no amount of meditation could resolve the grief, even out here in the deep quiet of the woods.

Milt Greek pushed to his feet. It was Mother’s Day 2006, not long after his mother’s funeral, and he headed back home knowing that he needed help. A change in the medication for his schizophrenia, for sure. A change in focus, too; time with his family, to forget himself.

And, oh yes, he had to act on an urge expressed in his psychotic delusions: to save the world.

So after cleaning the yard around his house — a big job, a gift to his wife — in the coming days he sat down and wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, supporting a noise-pollution ordinance.

Small things, maybe, but Mr. Greek has learned to live with his diagnosis in part by understanding and acting on its underlying messages, and along the way has built something exceptional: a full life, complete with a family and a career.

He is one of a small number of successful people with a severe psychiatric diagnosis who have chosen to tell their story publicly. In doing so, they are contributing to a deeper understanding of mental illness — and setting an example that can help others recover.

“I started feeling better, stronger, the next day,” said Mr. Greek, 49, a computer programmer who for years, before receiving medical treatment, had delusions of meeting God and Jesus.

“I have such anxiety if I’m not organizing or doing some good work. I don’t feel right,” he said. “That’s what the psychosis has given me, and I consider it to be a gift.

Doctors generally consider the delusional beliefs of schizophrenia to be just that — delusional — and any attempt to indulge them to be an exercise in reckless collusion that could make matters worse. There is no point, they say, in trying to explain the psychological significance of someone’s belief that the C.I.A. is spying through the TV; it has no basis, other than psychosis.

Yet people who have had such experiences often disagree, arguing that delusions have their origin not solely in the illness, but also in fears, longings and psychological wounds that, once understood, can help people sustain recovery after they receive treatment.

Now, these psychiatric veterans are coming together in increasing numbers, at meetings and conferences, and they are writing up their own case histories, developing their own theories of psychosis, with the benefit of far more data than they have ever had before: one another’s stories.

“It’s a thrilling time, because people with lived experience are beginning to collaborate in large numbers,” said Gail A. Hornstein, a psychologist at Mount Holyoke College and author of “Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness.” “They are developing their own theories, their own language about what their experiences means from the inside.”\

See the link for the full story by Benedict Carey


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