A recent article in Schizophrenia Magazine outlines the experiences of several people diagnosed with schizophrenia and includes a link to Mindstorm—A Virtual Hallucination, a video that gives viewers an experience of schizophrenia’s auditory and visual hallucinations. Author Peggy Thompson writes that the mother of a young man diagnosed with schizophrenia found the video disturbing:
She’s watched her son, diagnosed when he was 18, as he listened to the voices in his head; observing his expressions and reactions.
But she’d never actually heard them herself until she experienced Mindstorm—A Virtual Hallucination. Through a 3D virtual simulator, Mindstorm presents to the viewer a genuine feeling of what it’s like to suffer from the powerful symptoms of the debilitating illness known as schizophrenia.
Here’s the Mindstorm video. Caution: some people find it too disturbing to watch.
The full article by Thompson, “Understanding Voices,” tells the stories of several individuals with schizophrenia who have managed to build independent lives for themselves. Despite their distracting symptoms, the distressing side effects of some anti-psychotic medications, and widespread societal stigma, many succeed in completing their education and finding employment.
But they often live in isolation, sharing our public spaces but invisibly roped off into the social category of “the mentally ill.” We don’t do this kind of thing to people suffering from cancer – we don’t ostracize them or call them “the cancerous.” But the American view of mental illness is still so primitive we tend to reduce persons who have psychiatric disorders to collections of symptoms, and to avoid contact as if their affliction were contagious.
I’m trying in a small way to change this by choosing a few individuals suffering from mental illness- even choosing just one makes a difference! – to meet at a cafe each week for casual friendly conversation. Please join me! See How people Freestyle Volunteer above (see tab at top).