Schizophrenia or psychosis

  • Do you sometimes lose touch with reality?
  • Have you experienced hallucinations (a perceptual break from reality) or delusions (fixed, bizarre beliefs that have no basis in reality)?
  • The ability to assess yourself can be very limited when you are coping with schizophrenia or psychosis.

For centuries, philosophers have debated the question: “What is reality?” A fundamental aspect of normal mental functioning is the ability to distinguish between thoughts that originate from within our minds, and the sensations that come from the outside world. This ongoing (and always imperfect) process of distinguishing reality from imagination is called “reality testing.”

Most of us are fairly good at “reality testing” when we are awake and not taking mind altering drugs. During sleep, we have all experienced the “reality” of dreams and nightmares. It can become impossible to function if your view of reality is severely distorted by hallucinations and delusions. This loss of the capacity for “reality testing” is a major feature of psychosis and schizophrenia (schizophrenia is a serious disorder of thought, emotions and behaviour and not split personality).

You have had particularly unusual experiences or upsetting beliefs that seem to puzzle other people or make them think you are strange. You might be convinced that strangers are talking about you, that you are being followed or plotted against. It might feel like others can hear your thoughts or control you. You may have heard voices of people talking when there was no one around. It’s important to let people that you trust, determine what is really happening in your life, before anyone labels you with a mental illness. Unfortunately, when suffering from schizophrenia or psychosis, you will have an absolute belief in the “reality” of your hallucinations and delusions.

  • Each person with schizophrenia or psychosis has unique characteristics and should be thoroughly assessed.
  • Every individual with schizophrenia or psychosis would benefit from connecting with a skilled psychotherapist.

Blog posts on this topic

Psychotherapy for Early-Onset Psychosis

The rate of new-onset psychosis peaks during young adulthood.  This is the time when most people are going to school or just starting to work. Psychosis can negatively affect a person’s intellectual, social, and personal growth for the rest of … Continue reading →