ON MENTAL ILLNESS: About Development. Category: Columns from The Berkeley Daily Planet – Berkeley Daily Planet

Psychotic delusion in the early stages could manifest as an extreme system of denial. In my teens, if I think back, I ignored a number of bad problems that I should’ve faced and addressed. Had I faced these difficult realities, I might have been able to salvage friendships and other situations. Instead, my mind was off on another track and was headed for psychosis, and this only created more complications in my pre-adult life. 

Many psychiatrists who strictly ascribe to the medical model of psychiatric illness would disagree with what I’ve said above. Some might say that my observation holds true solely because, in early stages of psychosis when the symptoms are beginning to develop in the brain, the disease shows itself as milder forms of what a psychiatrist would call “abnormality.” 

Causes of psychosis are believed to be partly genetic and partly environmental. I believe that part of environment includes the internal environment, consisting of the thought patterns we have adopted, our desire systems, and our fears. If we set ourselves up for something unattainable, we are headed for a confrontation with facing or not facing obvious and unfavorable facts. When the reality of our unrealism becomes more apparent, we can assimilate this and we can and dial back our expectations, or we could go into more extreme levels of effort. Some of this effort will be non-productive because of it being distorted. 

Those who enter political contests are obsessed with symbols of success. They do not believe they are worthy of self-respect unless they rise to the top. This is not merely ambition; it is a character flaw. It could be classifiable as a disorder. This is so if the politician is obsessed with power and does not care so much about doing her or his job, which is to serve the public. 

Many mentally ill people have something similar. The difference is politicians usually can act normal and be accepted as normal while doing insane things. Another difference between most politicians and most psychotic people is politicians can acknowledge the reality of losing a political contest. This has some notable exceptions. 

Obsessed people often overdevelop their capacity for effort. Yet effort piled atop effort doesn’t necessarily help a person’s goals; sometimes it has an adverse effect. And it often it can a person to blow a neurological fuse. 

When a mentally ill person or an obsessed non mentally ill person realizes they’re not getting what they’re after, sometimes a meltdown occurs. We saw the example of Donald Trump losing the Presidential race. He soon resorted to planning an attempted coup, one that might have overthrown democracy in the U.S., but for the bravery of a few security personnel and officers on hand. 

Donald Trump is not “normal.” And this is fine by me. However, not okay includes everything else about him. “Normal” is not always a virtue and “abnormal” isn’t always a drawback. However, when you are destructive with your power, that power should be taken away. 

Some mentally ill people are extremely high functioning and are recovered to the extent that they fully acknowledge physical realities. The very same individuals have been highly creative, highly flexible, and highly aware. Not much remains that would be considered “mentally ill” except that they may continue to take medication. 

I’ve interacted with enormously successful, creative, aware people and with remarkably high functioning, successful mentally ill people, and the two categories have a lot in common. One difference is in how much a person can handle. There isn’t much difference with respect to basic personality. Mentally ill people can be intellectually highly developed and can cherish rather than feel shame concerning the idea they aren’t “normal.” 

It is those who have shut down consciousness and have embraced hate, self-absorption, the lust for power and the wickedness of greed who have something to be ashamed of, and not mentally ill people, who have a brain illness and who are rudely regarded as “abnormal.” 


Jack Bragen has produced several books, including “Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia: A Self-Help Manual,” and “Jack Bragen’s 2021 Fiction Collection” available on lulu.com and elsewhere. <!– = @article.copy.gsub(/\n/, "

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