From another listserve member, keeping the discussion going from the last post:
I have two experiences of acute psychosis; one occurred in the heady
days of the early seventies, when, complete with ‘help’ from the
British (anti)psychiatrist David Cooper (a colleague of RD Laing) the
well-meaning souls of the house I lived, in tried to hang onto,
support, one of our members who had developed an acute psychosis.
After about a week, we had turned ourselves inside out, taken leave
from our jobs, and found ourselves living in fear of coming home. Not
the least because we discovered that not only had she set the last
house on fire, but we found all over our house boxes of matches, the
contents spilling everywhere. We also found our rooms in states of
disarray, possessions tossed all over. Chris (the woman concerned)
never slept. We became nearly psychotic trying to stay up with her. We
cared. We were passionately anti-psychiatry. We called a halt when in
her mania she decided to ‘drown the Archers ( a long-running radio
serial – not a bad idea!)’…She was in the bath, and tried to dunk
the radio while it was connected to the mains. Only the quick thinking
of the current house ‘minder’ stopped her from being electrocuted.
In total exhaustion, fear, and exasperation, we took her to hospital.
Which she hated. We had group therapy, afterwards, with David Cooper.
I won’t go into that…
My second, and more personal experience is my sister, in England,
whose untreated schizophrenia has left her, 34 years later, with close
to no executive function, no understanding of why she has no friends,
no job, no joy, no life. Her first breakdown was a similar experience
to the one I have described above – except that I was alone with her
and her then partner trying to ‘hang on to her’ hoping that the crisis
would pass. It didn’t. All that happened was that we became exhausted,
disoriented and crazy ourselves, but had enough insight to realise it.
Meantime, she could not be trusted to cross a road. This breakdown was
brought to a halt by hospitalisation, drugs, and unfortunately, no
real attempt to find out what had happened for her.
She broke down a second time two years later, slowly, and this time
with a determination (on her part) to keep out of the medical
establishment. She has been so successful at this that she has made my
parents’ life a nightmare (as she has been completely dependent on
them), and managed to fly under the NHS radar. (Recently I thought
about writing an article entitled “you have the right to remain
insane”……)The system , which will not intervene except on the
referral of a GP, (and she has had no GP) has protected her from
treatment of any kind, to her detriment I believe…It’s not fair, for
her, or the others she has depended on. She is desperately unhappy,
and is aware she has no life. Unfortunately, she has no awareness that
she has no ‘reason’ or coherence either.
I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but I would seriously
question any idea that psychotic breakdown is positive, romantic, or
somehow easily treated if you just care enough.