“There are voices that I hear that threaten me, entertain me. I see what you can’t and my world is beyond your imagination. My world makes me fight and my world makes me scream, What I go through is my reality and my world. This is my despair, my demon I fight everyday.”
The world of Schizophrenia is confusing to the other person. We may be baffled. Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms experienced by patients suffering from schizophrenia is a wide range like, losing some aspect of the reality, to disruptions of normal emotions and behaviour. The cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are subtle, but for others, they are more severe and patients may notice changes in their memory or other aspects of thinking.
- Thought disorders (unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking)
- Movement disorders (agitated body movements)
- “Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone)
- Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
- Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities
- Reduced speaking
- Poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions)
- Trouble focusing or paying attention
- Problems with “working memory” (the ability to use information immediately after learning it)
A lower self–esteem of the individual would make a person escape reality through delusion, hallucinations and paranoia. It is actually the defense reaction of the unconscious of the person with extreme low self–esteem. One can say that the low self-esteem is the cause and the disconnection from the reality is the effect. Our psychiatric science concentrates only on the disconnection of the reality and not the emotional conflicts or the encounter of the individual. Like Paulo Coelho said, ‘We all are different and the problem is we want to be same’. So we have to understand that we all have an alternate world, a reality which is only true for us. But in the case of schizophrenia, the ego has completely collapsed and the subconscious takes charge. Their altered reality is too zoomed. In normal people, we keep visiting and yet coming back from that space. But with schizophrenia, that is not happening.
Can NLP be one of the tools to help Schizophrenia
Neuro Linguistic Programing or NLP has been a type of psychotherapy which has been constructed from various psychotherapeutic models like Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls Gestalt therapy. While conversing with a schizophrenic person, it could be like immersing oneself into a Milton Model of pattern – Mind reads, layered presuppositions, deletions, etc. In NLP terms, this man was unfamiliar with
meta-modelling his experience. One person, for example, came up to Richard at the start of a training day and said “Thank you so much for what you did last night. It was beautiful.” Richard had not had any contact with her the previous evening. Another time, a client told us “I know what you are doing here. I know you’ve called down Pavlov’s dogs.” The person diagnosed schizophrenic is experiencing a profound trance state. It is, as if they are continuously building some kind of an air castle.
Rapport: The Medium Is The Message
As the rapport is build up with the patient, the therapist tries to understand the core issues while the whole therapeutic goal is around to chunk down their emotions, make meta-distiniction about their thinking. This is a practical challenge when it comes to use this tool of NLP in patients suffering from Schizophrenia because their thoughts are all jumbled, confused. There is a mismatch and their reality is far away from the real world. However, if we can use our best skills and sanity approach, we can help their clouds to settle and make them envision their visions and goals very easily. While building the rapport, though you know, that what they are perceiving, feeling and telling is a lie, you may not believe it. But while doing so, you need to respect the “map of the world” of the patient. The first key to build a good therapy work for better result is to convey them your powerful intention of helping them and respecting their reality. A good rapport building is the first successful step of the therapist.
Dr. Karl Whitaker gives an interesting example of such an approach: “For instance, in one first interview with a family with a schizophrenic girl, I turned to the girl after I’d been talking fairly emptily with the parents and asked, ‘What are you here for?’ She said, ‘Contact is good for colds.’ I said, ‘How long have your parents been cold?’ and she said, ‘Twenty years.’
Metaphor – One of the strongest tool of NLP
With a mental disability like Schizophrenia, the person is crowded with hallucination and delusion, in a world of a different story. Allowing the clients metaphorical model is one of the strongest tools of NLP . You can’t take them to the real world and make the shift. In order to change their story, one needs to get the part of their story. Like once, when Milton Erickson met a client, and he would throw salads and use one or two words in his conversation. Erickson took the help of this salad and communicated with him. We need to talk to them in abstracts for them to understand and shift their focus.
Use of metaphor can be a strong tool of NLP to understand the journey of the patient. The patient himself is lost in his reality but understanding them and manipulating with the patient’s metaphor can help the patient’s journey of healing.
Their word is full of metaphors, in form of vision, voices or the stories but they are unable to interpret that. Their own metaphors they can’t interpret. A therapist can use the intellectual ability and utilize this metaphor as an important tool to change their focus and reach the goal of the therapy.
An assisted reframe, either with an abstract story or a metaphor, or simple presence of the therapist with complete compassion and readiness, to make a journey into the altered world of the person can help to achieve goals of clients with schizophrenia.
To know what people experience during the NLP course, click here.
To know more about the course itself, click here.