Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterized by delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, loosening of thoughts and very low self esteem.

So many books have been written about this "mysterious" illness. There is truly nothing mysterious about Schizophrenia. If someone has extremely low self esteem (not just low self esteem) then he or she would attempt to escape reality through delusions, hallucinations and paranoia. It is a defense reaction of the unconscious. When treating Schizophrenia, therapists must address both angles, that is,

  • extremely low self esteem (the cause)
  • disconnection from reality (the effect)

Current psychiatry focuses exclusively on the reality disconnection part neglecting the emotional counter part that is, extremely low self esteem. It treats extremely low self esteem as just another symptom.

All of us are disconnected from reality to a certain extent. The difference between a schizophrenic patient and a "normal" person is that the delusions of the latter are not that extreme as that of the former. Nevertheless, they are delusions. It is impossible to convince a "normal" person that he or she is just having a perception or point of view (See Universal Truth fallacy). He or she may accept the alternative point of view, but trainers and coaches in the personal development field know pretty well how people don't really get it at all (See Force Fitting). Schizophrenic patients function exactly as "normal" people do. Only thing is that they are in the extremes in the continuum.

(That schizophrenics have 'chemical imbalance in their brain' is just laziness on the part of the therapist and justification for not exploring the psychological causes of schizophrenia. What causes this "chemical imbalance"? There are a lot of justifications in this area, and the psychotherapy field has never explored this in the light I have presented here.)

Also it is important for the coach to trust the innate goodness, gifts and competence of his client. This is especially true of therapeutic patients. Sadly, this factor is missing in current psychiatry and psychotherapy. Therapists treat their patients (especially schizophrenics) as out of the world lunatics.

No wonder schizophrenia is an incurable illness. The trouble is also with the therapist and not only with the patient. What requires is a higher level of maturity on the part of the therapist.

Listening is still a neglected practice in the field of psychotherapy. Under the guise of counselling, the coach keeps tallking, not really giving space to the client. Schizophrenics need to be treated by improving their self esteem as well as by connecting them to reality. Unless both approaches are made simultaneously, schizophrenia would continue to be propagated as "incurable". Current approaches of forcing the patients to take pills are quick fixes. Those who force the patients to take pills know this, but rationalize it away. After all, what effort did they make in treating the illness from a psychological point of view? Usually, nothing.

Entering the patient's reality

Richard Bandler treated schizophrenics by entering their reality and then connecting them to reality from there. If a patient hears voices, then he would set up speakers in the room and talk to the patient through the speakers. Once Bandler can enter the patient's reality, he can direct the patient from then on.

Pattern Interrupts

This is done by getting the patient to elicit particular details of his delusions. The delusions might get interrupted at this procedure.

Patient: "I am married to <celebrity>"

Therapist: "When did this happen?"

The schizophrenic delusions are typically like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. By letting them have a look at the missing pieces, you can connect them to reality.

Evidence procedure

I have used this technique successfully to connect a schizophrenic patient to reality. The key is to ask the patient, as if you trust what he or she is saying and let him take a look at the evidence procedure, that is, the evidence that an internal belief is in accordance with what is observable.

Patient: "I know this is what is happening. I am receiving the recordings."

Therapist: "How are you receiving these recordings?"

Patient: "Radio. In my ears."

Therapist: "How are you finding out that the radio is true?"

The patient takes a long silence.