A Beautiful Mind

From BBC News.

Stuart Baker-Brown, 43, a photographer and writer based in Dorset, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1996. On World Mental Health Day, he delivers a unique personal insight into how his condition has nurtured his artistic expression.

In the past, schizophrenia has broken my life and taken away many of life's opportunities, such as work and the ability to interact with society and family or even myself.

The symptoms have been very disabling and destructive and have included psychosis (delusion and hallucinations) which is understood to be a disturbance of sensory perception and creates the inability to recognise reality from the unreal.

Other daily symptoms, such as depression, suicidal thoughts, the feeling of being controlled by outside forces, paranoia and fear of persecution, have made life very difficult to cope with.

There is also the stigma and discrimination attached to the condition, especially the perceived link to violence - less than 1% of those diagnosed are violent towards others.

Many people with schizophrenia are naturally creative and turn to the arts to release their inner thoughts and emotions and to express the meaning of their symptoms.

In my experience, schizophrenia is potentially a very creative tool which, as yet, has not been understood or recognised and is mistreated and so its powerful symptoms manifest as confusion and destruction.

I am now in a very fortunate position and my creativity is beginning to be achieved. My symptoms have eased greatly, due to my own personal belief and will to survive and finding a medication, Seroquel, that truly works with me.

The symptoms feed me the tools to become creative. I seem to be thinking all the time and the psychosis is not necessarily destructive. The experience of a hallucination can often be recalled in the creation of artwork or poetry, for example.

Sometimes it feels that the symptoms of my condition are very naturally creative and often without any prompting my imagination comes alive. My mind, as others with the condition, is often very stimulated, as if on a more heightened awareness than people without it.

But the problem is expressing what I see or hear because strong cognitive difficulties - such as memory loss, disorganized thoughts, difficulty concentrating and completing tasks - impair my ability to enhance and capture my true creative potential.

Unfortunately psychiatry leans far more towards controlling schizophrenia, rather than showing understanding towards a patient's true needs and potential capabilities.

There needs to be far more emphasis on working with the symptoms. A far greater holistic approach needs to be adopted.

Creativity linked to Schizotypy.

Is Calvin (Hobbes) a schizophrenia?

Read The Letter D: Calvin: An Intimate Portrait.

Calvin, I have to lead off with a question that I used to debate with my friends. When no one else was around, was Hobbes real? Or was he just a figment of your imagination? ..


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