Notes from Inside, II

So a very important thing with the bipolar/schizophrenic/drug-addled crowd is that they are mostly harmless. This could be because their meds render their bodies sluggish and oils their brains with glue. It could also be because, despite even their most violent-sounding outbursts, the Pavlovian reflex to four-point restraints and additional sedation keeps them one step shy of actual violence. The outbursts, however, can be quite disturbing, frightening even if you’re new to the ward. Once you’ve encountered a few psychotic rants, you begin to pick up the general rhythms and frayed webs of association that can lead from doctors to the CIA to chemical weapons to omnipresent software. Yep. A schizophrenic outburst from R. would be typical — a situation in which he staggers into the common room and announces to anyone who will listen that the voice of God speaks through him and that the world is ending soon. Eschatology seems a major theme in many such outbursts. As are conspiracies involving various covert agencies and operatives, not to mention violence, often horrific, often involving necrophagy and other unsavory practices.

An example (which may be disturbing to some) from a particularly troubled woman in her early 30s (this from earlier today; sedation with haloperidol was required to shut her up): “I fuck children in the river of blood. Because I’m a pedophile? Because I like having sex with children? Stay away from me! Stay away from me!” Granted, I have no idea whether or not the above is true, and I highly doubt it, but it’s a pretty good example of the sort of utterance to which one quickly becomes accustomed here.

But a little research will turn up countless examples of the particular phobias, obsessions, and stomach-turning imagery that turn up in schizophrenic thinking and verbalization. Elyn Saks’ memoir The Center Cannot Hold is a powerful look at the manner in which schizophrenia tears and twists even the most brilliant minds into menacing and unfamiliar shapes, and I highly recommend it. John Wray’s recent novel Lowboy, though fictional, is an arresting detective story centered around a schizophrenic 16-year old who’s escaped from his hospital in New York City.

I had intended to write more on this subject, but the day went by more quickly than I had expected. I’m in much higher spirits; the new medication is helping immensely, and I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with some really wonderful individuals here, some of whom I will definitely be seeing on the outside.

~ by Benji on October 4, 2010.

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