James Hicks, M.D., 50 SIGNS OF MENTAL ILLNESS (Yale University Press)

Dr. James Hicks
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You have noticed that something odd is happening. When you walk down the street people whisper to each other. Store clerks stare at you when you pass their windows. Women smoking in the doorways of buildings look at you and then look at each other and laugh. What are they looking at? You showered and put on clean clothes. Your hair is combed. Then you notice that some people pucker their lips together or wink at you when you cross the street or enter a coffee shop. That never happened before. Are your organs getting bigger or putting out some smell? Maybe your roommate has secretly added something to your laundry detergent.

Several weeks go by, and you are having trouble sleeping. You hear music from somewhere nearby, and it is getting louder; the walls pulse in time to the music. In the darkness of your room you see a pulsing light. Some ritual is taking place in another room, and something frightening could burst through into your room at any minute. You close your eyes, but you can still see the light. You start to pray silently, but your voice comes back at you from the wall. You think, "My God," and the word "God" echoes across the room. In horror you hear a voice asking whether God exists. What if they can hear you in the other room? What if God can hear you?

You grab a jacket and run out of the apartment. On the street you see shadows flying back and forth between the buildings. You run to a police car at the corner. The police officer rolls down his window, and you explain to him that something evil is happening in your apartment. He says that he cannot understand what you are saying. He asks if you need help. You start to repeat your story. Then you hear a voice from the back seat of the police car. You lean closer to see who is speaking. Someone in the shadows mutters, "You can get her now, or you can get her later." You turn and run, dropping your jacket. You don't dare look back.

This chapter covers the following topics:

  • Psychosis
  • Psychosis Is Most Commonly Seen in Schizophrenia
  • Psychosis Can Occur in Several Other Illnesses
  • What Causes Psychosis?
  • How to Cope with Psychosis
  • Antipsychotic Medication
  • Newer Antipsychotic Medications Have Fewer Side Effects


This excerpt may not be reproduced without written permission from the publishers.
Fifty Signs of Mental Illness: A Guide to Understanding Mental Health
Yale University Press / New Haven and London
Copyright © 2005 by James Whitney Hicks

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