© Copyright 2010 Kurt Snyder
Previous Chapter Home Page Table of Contents They Say I have Schizophrenia
What follows is an assessment of the dysfunctional thought patterns I had when I was the most severely ill, and thought patterns which have been reported to me by other people with schizophrenia. This assessment is not intended to be used to diagnose any illness, it is simply a compilation of the observations I have made about myself and how other schizophrenic people might have similar thoughts. In the passages below, I use the term ‘you’ to mean someone who is schizophrenic. I believe these distorted thoughts probably apply to most paranoid schizophrenics. There are other types of schizophrenia (like the disorganized type) for which this compilation may not apply. Also, many people without schizophrenia may experience these thought patterns at some point in their lives. The difference between the average person and someone with schizophrenia is the frequency and intensity with which the schizophrenic mind has these types of thoughts. Someone with schizophrenia may be experiencing these faulty thinking patterns every day, or even every minute, whereas the average 'mentally healthy' person may experience these thoughts rarely (like once per year). If you are unsure whether or not you have schizophrenia, you should consult with a pscyhiatrist for an evaluation.
1. Delusions grow and expand, but you are not always consciously aware that it is happening. Irrational thoughts about a single person becomes an irrational thought about two people, then a dozen, then a hundred, and finally is generalized to everyone. So when you think you’re neighbor is watching you, a year later you’re thinking everyone is watching you. This expansion of the delusion is not just limited to numbers of people, but it can be an abstract idea. You might get nervous one day about the traffic cameras at an intersection. Then a while later you are nervous about the shoplifting cameras in your local retail store. Eventually, you are wondering if there are cameras you don’t know about in your car, in your house, in your bathroom. The delusion changes and grows.
2. You believe something BEFORE you have any evidence to support that belief. Most people draw conclusions after seeing the evidence, but you draw your conclusions before you have any evidence. For instance, you might believe you are being followed, then AFTERWARDS you start to look for people following you. Or in an extreme case, you might believe an alien is living inside you, and AFTERWARDS you are convinced that your stomach grumbling is evidence that it is true. You then start to take a mental inventory of all the things that support this conclusion. You also may not realize that you had these thoughts before the evidence was present.
3. Certain events, objects, or people in the world have some special significance just for you. You might think that a stranger you see on a street corner is there because of you. The fact that you got a parking ticket means that the government is out to get you, and you alone. A newspaper lying on the park bench was put there specifically for you.
4. You have an inflated sense of self importance and grandiose ideas, often paired with a delusion. You think that people are following you because you are special or that you have some quality that no one else on earth has. You think you are the smartest person around, or that you are important to everyone on earth. In association with religious thinking, you might believe that you are God, or Jesus, or some other divine being, like an angel. ( I actually never seriously thought this myself, but I had similar grandiose ideas – I thought I was going to discover some fabulous mathematical principle that would transform our entire understanding of the universe, and in that respect I was special or important to the entire world).
5. Things that you never noticed or thought were related now seem to be related. The relationship is one that you know most people would not believe. In other words, most people would consider the relationship to be non-existent, but you think you are so smart, or so observant that only you know about the relationship. This relationship may seem to be related to other irrational thoughts you are having, or may be related to a delusion you are having. The relationship may have some special significance for you. For instance, upon hearing someone saying the word 'Cafe', you think that it is a code word for your house, or upon seeing a flashing red traffic light, you think the flashing light is related to people dying (like everytime it flashes, someone is dying). Of course, this last part about the flashing light is true, because people are dying all the time, no matter what is happening. But of course the two things (the flashing light and people dying) are not really related at all, they are merely coincident. In a similar fashion, you see that other things which are coincident (occurring at the same time) are actually related, but you never thought that before, and most people would not think that, but somehow you in particular are aware of some connection that no one else knows about. (There are literally many trillions of things going on at the same time. Somehow in the complex web of the universe they may be indirectly related, but somehow you think you can see the relationship directly where no one else does. It is a relationship that is not reasonable, but to you it is completely logical.) This personal understanding may be connected with your belief that you are special, and that only you are able to recognize the relationship because you have some special ability.
6. You believe you have some special power that no one else has. Like the power to kill someone simply by touching them, or the power to bring things back to life, or the power to read people’s mind, or see into the future, or to live forever. This can be related to the feeling that you are somehow special for the world.
7. You are keenly aware of certain sounds, sights, smells, or tastes that most people ignore or do not perceive the same way you do. This could be certain gestures that other people make, like scratching their nose, brushing their hair with their fingers, rubbing their chin, etc. Or a peculiar taste that seems to be different than anything you’ve tasted before. Also you can’t ignore sounds that most people ignore, or in some way you are acutely aware of certain sounds like car horns, screeching tires, birds chirping, fans running, people talking nearby. Most people are only minimally aware of these things or if they are, these things are forgotten almost immediately, but with you, you are painfully aware of them and can’t ignore them even when you try to.
8. You think your actions affect everyone in the world, somehow. (ask yourself….Really?)
9. God communicates directly with you. (This is certainly never true, in my opinion)
10. Someone or something is playing tricks on you.
11. You think things are happening to you, or around you, which are unusual and which you were never aware of years ago. Also, in the past you would have thought these things were very unlikely to ever happen to you. For example, you might think the CIA is following you, or that your neighbor has bugged your house, or there is an alien living inside you, or that a single corporation controls the whole world. No matter what your state of mind is now, in the past you would have thought these things to be very unlikely, but now you strongly suspect these types of things are true. Something that was extremely unlikely before has now become your reality and your worldview is based on that.
12. The government, or some organization, is infinitely powerful. They have the ability to manipulate everything, to your detriment or your benefit. (Of course, no one and nothing is all powerful and in most cases we all have less power than we would like).
13. You feel like you are being watched or observed, most of the time or all of the time, like people are specifically watching you with intention more than they watch other people. But, you have no DIRECT evidence that this is true. Your evidence for this is circumstantial, or intuitive. Your belief is stronger than your evidence.
14. You believe your communications are being monitored, but you have no DIRECT evidence that this is true. Your evidence for this is circumstantial, or intuitive. Your belief is stronger than your evidence.
15. You think that people on the television, radio, or in movies are talking to you directly. You think that things printed in the newspaper, in magazines, or in books, are referring to you or your life. You think all these productions are made especially for you, or because of you.
16. You think that you can hear other people's thoughts, or they can hear your thoughts. Or, you believe that thoughts are being inserted into your mind when they are not your own thoughts.
17. You hear voices that other people claim they do not hear. These voices may say disturbing things to you, comment on your actions or behavior, or talk about what is going on around you.
This is the end of the list. However, again, these are only the thought patterns I have noticed in myself and other schizophrenics I have spoken with.
If you have schizophrenia, and can suggest other faulty thinking patters, or if you disagree, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would love to hear what you think. Please use the subject line ‘SchizoWorld’, otherwise my spam filters will reject it.
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© Copyright 2012 Kurt Snyder