This is the fourth article in the NY times “Lives Restored” section by Benedict Carey. This is a link to the article by Ben Carey.
In it, he profiles Mr. Milton Greek and his journey from sensitive, passionate and eccentric to delusional and psychotic… and how he returned to being his sensitive, passionate and slightly eccentric self again.
Here are some excerpts:
“When I began to see the delusions in the context of things that were happening in my real life, they finally made some sense,” Mr. Greek said. “And understanding the story of my psychosis helped me see what I needed to stay well.”
I really like how Mr. Greek is able to use a variety of methods to treat the psychotic symptoms while retaining an appreciation of the feelings, beliefs and dreams that became distorted in the symptoms.
Mr. Greek’s regimen combines meditation, work and drug treatment with occasional visits to a therapist and a steady diet of charitable acts. Some of these are meant to improve the community; others are for co-workers and friends, especially those dealing with a psychiatric diagnosis.
And, of course, he talks about the impact of childhood trauma as contributing to his psychosis.
To help others experiencing psychotic delusions, he relies on his own theory of what delusions may mean. In an analysis of 20 delusional experiences, all described by sufferers in the first person, Mr. Greek identifies four story lines.
Among them are the rescuer (on a mission to save a particular group); the self-loathing person (lost in a sense of extreme worthlessness); the visionary (on a journey to spiritual realms to bring back truth); and the messianic (out to transform the world through miracles, or contact with deities) — the last of which is his own psychosis story.
Each, in Mr. Greek’s reading, grows out of a specific fear or trauma, whether isolation, abuse or family dysfunction, in the same way his own delusional story symbolized a fear of being a social reject.
He interviews ISPS-US Member Paris Williams as well:
“By exploring a person’s anomalous beliefs and experiences, we are better able to understand the underlying feeling and needs that give fuel to these experiences,” said Paris Williams, a psychologist who has struggled with psychosis and recently published a doctoral dissertation analyzing the content of six people’s delusions, which has informed Mr. Greek’s work.
For instance, said Dr. Williams, who is working on a book called “Rethinking Madness,” “we can find ways to make them feel safe when they believe they are being persecuted by malevolent forces, or find ways to help them feel empowered when they experience demanding voices.”
By the way, there is a word for this phenomenon of listening to people and putting their current distress in the context of their past experiences while helping them to feel safe in the present moment: It’s called PSYCHODYNAMIC THERAPY!!!