Full Recovery from Schizophrenia?

This is the first of a series of blog postings related to my own series of research studies (my doctoral research at Saybrook University) of people who have made full and lasting medication-free recoveries after being diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. This is very exciting research because it is one of the few areas within psychological research that remains almost completely wide open. One reason it is so wide open is that most Westerners don’t believe that genuine recovery from schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders is possible, in spite of significant evidence to the contrary. Since there are some very hopeful findings that have emerged within this research, I want to begin this series of postings by summing up one particularly hopeful aspect of my own research, which is a group of five factors that emerged which are considered to have been the most important factors in my participants’ recovery process. But before looking closer at these factors, we should back up for a minute…

Upon reading the statement in the preceding paragraph, “…people who have made full and lasting medication-free recoveries from schizophrenia…,” it’s likely that many readers did a double-take. Yes, you read this correctly. Contrary to this widespread myth about schizophrenia, the research is quite robust in showing us that not only is full medication-free recovery from schizophrenia possible, it’s surprisingly common, and is actually the most common outcome in many situations—such as in many of the poorest countries of the world, such as India, Columbia, and Nigeria, and as the result of certain psychosocial interventions, such as the Open Dialogue Approach used in Lapland, Finland.

This is likely to come as a surprise to many because we simply don’t hear much about this in the mainstream media. In fact, we generally hear quite the opposite message repeated again and again in various forms — something to the effect of, “Schizophrenia is a degenerative brain disease from which full recovery is not possible.” Considering how robust the evidence is that full recovery is possible and actually quite common, coming from sources no less prestigious than the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Mental Health, it is really quite tragic that the myth of no recovery continues essentially unimpeded. But for now, rather than going further into the details of this recovery research (which is well documented in my book, Rethinking Madness), let’s return to the topic at hand — the factors that appear to be particularly important for those who have experienced such full and lasting recoveries:

Factor #1Hope in the possibility of real recovery. All participants in all three of my research studies expressed that in order to even begin the journey towards real recovery, they first had to believe that such recovery is actually possible. And in order to do this, virtually all of them had to extract themselves from the intense hopelessness generated by the toxic (and untrue) belief that such recover is not possible — a belief that they all reported was forced upon them (quite heavily handed in most cases) within the mental health treatment that they had received.

This takes us to Factor #2Arriving at an understanding of their psychosis alternative to the brain disease theory. Every participant went through a process of developing a more hopeful understanding of their psychotic experiences, generally coming to see their psychosis as a natural though very risky and haphazard process initiated by their psyche in an attempt to cope and/or heal from a way of being in the world that was simply no longer sustainable for them.

Factor #3: Finding meaning. All participants expressed how important it was for them to connect with meaningful goals/activities that made their life worth living—that provided them with some motivation to greet each new day with open arms and to channel their energy productively. And they all expressed having to overcome significant inhibition to this factor coming from the mainstream treatment they had received, which typically included strong motivation-inhibiting drugs (antipsychotics in particular) and the advice to generally lay low and avoid stress at all costs.

Factor #4: Connecting with their aliveness. All participants reported how important it was for them to connect more deeply with themselves—particularly with their feelings, needs, and sense of self agency. And again, they all reported finding significant hindrance to this factor coming from the mainstream treatment they had received—both from the inner conflicts arising from the belief of having a diseased brain as well as from the serious aliveness-dampening psychiatric drugs they were on.

Factor #5: Dealing with their relationships. All participants expressed the importance of healing and/or distancing themselves from unhealthy relationships and cultivating healthy ones. They all felt that unhealthy relationships played a significant role in their vulnerability to developing psychosis in the first place, and so this kind of work was extremely important. A number of them expressed gratitude to a therapist or friend who facilitated this work.

So, as we look at the sum total of these recovery factors, what we find is the rather disturbing idea that the mainstream paradigm of care for psychosis/schizophrenia may often cause more of a hindrance than a benefit in one’s recovery. In particular, there are two generally unquestioned aspects of the mainstream paradigm of care that should probably be seriously reconsidered:

(1) In spite of the widespread belief that one must remain on antipsychotics or similarly powerful psychiatric drugs for the duration of one’s life, the emerging recovery research reveals a very different picture. Not only have we discovered this in my own research, but the most recent longitudinal research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (no less) paints a very similar picture. This study essentially consisted of following a number of people diagnosed with schizophrenia in a non-interfering manner, simply allowing them to go about their lives in their own way, and allowing them to choose what kind of treatment they wanted. At the 15 year mark, it was found that of those who chose to stop taking their psychiatric drugs, 44% were considered “recovered,” compared to only 5% of those who have remained compliant with these prescriptions. This is a difference of nearly nine-fold in favor of those who stopped taking their prescribed psychiatric drugs. The World Health Organization studies have also shown in the so called “developing” countries in which psychiatric drug use is quite rare, well over half of those diagnosed with schizophrenia have gone on to make full recoveries, compared to only about a third of those in the U.S. and other so called “developed” countries, where psychiatric drug use is much more common.

So we find ourselves in quite a predicament. On one hand, it’s considered extremely dangerous to suggest that those diagnosed with schizophrenia should consider coming off these drugs, and even the mention of this possibility is considered one of the worst forms of taboo within the mental health field; but on the other hand, the research suggests that for many people, this is exactly what is called for. Of course, the research also shows that coming off these powerful drugs is very risky and should be done very slowly and under the careful guidance of a professional.

(2) Another major aspect of the mainstream treatment model that we find particularly problematic is the practice of trying to convince someone that they have a brain disease from which they will likely never recover. But the reality is that the brain-disease hypothesis remains unsubstantiated (see Rethinking Madness for a thorough discussion of this), and that full and lasting recovery is quite common. We also find that the hopelessness so often generated by this belief often leads to a self fulfilling prophecy — it appears to be very difficult to experience real recovery when you don’t believe it’s possible. Considering these points, then, it’s clear that we need to seriously reconsider the harm/benefit ratio of pushing these beliefs onto people and even the ethical implications of continuing to do so.

So we find ourselves at a crucial juncture in our treatment of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders. We can take the path of least resistance, ignoring the results of the emerging recovery research, and carry on with treatment as usual, continuing to pay the ever increasing costs of this treatment model to society, the diagnosed individuals, and their families. Or we can take up the challenge of really embracing the emerging recovery research and its implications. This path will surely require a major overhaul of our mental health care system, but it offers the potential of significantly more hopeful outcomes for those so diagnosed as well as the greatly reduced burden on our increasingly struggling society as a greater percentage of people recover and regain the ability to take care of themselves. The choice is ours.

For a much more thorough discussion of these and closely related topics, as well as a detailed discussion of the finding of  Dr. Williams’ own recovery research, you can find Dr. Williams’ book, Rethinking Madness (Sky’s Edge Publishing), on Amazon and other major retailers. More information is available at www.RethinkingMadness.com


Harrow M, & Jobe TH (2007). Factors involved in outcome and recovery in schizophrenia patients not on antipsychotic medications: a 15-year multifollow-up study. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 195 (5), 406-14 PMID: 17502806

Harrow, M., Jobe, T., & Faull, R. (2012). Do all schizophrenia patients need antipsychotic treatment continuously throughout their lifetime? A 20-year longitudinal study Psychological Medicine, 1-11 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291712000220

Hopper, K., Harrison, G., Janca, A., & Sartorius, N. (2007). Recovery from schizophrenia: An international perspective: A report from the WHO Collaborative Project, The International Study of schizophrenia. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Seikkula, J., Aaltonen, J., Alakare, B., Haarakangas, K., Keränen, J., & Lehtinen, K. (2006). Five-year experience of first-episode nonaffective psychosis in open-dialogue approach: Treatment principles, follow-up outcomes, and two case studies Psychotherapy Research, 16 (2), 214-228 DOI: 10.1080/10503300500268490

Williams, P. (2011). A multiple-case study exploring personal paradigm shifts throughout the psychotic process from onset to full recovery. (Doctoral dissertation, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center).

Image via Zacarias Pereira da Mata / Shutterstock.

  • This all assumes that the diagnosis of schizophrenia in a “recovered” patient was accurate in the first place. It seems equally plausible to suggest that if the patient becomes normal, he or she did not have true schizophrenia to begin with.

    • This is a common argument and at first glance it appears to hold some merit. However, if we keep in mind two things, we find that this argument doesn’t hold any real value:

      (1) A diagnosis of “schizophrenia” is purely subjective in the first place. There are no biological tests or markers to determine whether or not someone has it. It’s based on a set of criteria that was literally voted in by the board of the DSM (the diagnostic “bible” used in the mental health care field), and then a licensed professional simply uses their own subjective opinion as to whether or not someone satisfies this criteria. This is very different from a clearly established biological disorder such as a stroke, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, etc. (I’ll discuss this in more detail in a future post.)

      (2) This argument is known as a tautology (defined as “using different words to say the same thing, or a series of self-reinforcing statements that cannot be disproved because they depend on the assumption that they are already correct”). In other words, this argument actually doesn’t provide any new information and is impossible to falsify. The assumption in this case is that there is such a thing as “true” schizophrenia (see point one above). If someone satisfies certain criteria (essentially distressing anomalous beliefs and/or perceptions and/or behavior for a certain length of time), then they satisfy the criteria for the construct we have come to label “schizophrenia,” pure and simple. All of the participants in these studies were documented by licensed professionals (numerous different professionals in most cases) to satisfy the criteria for either schizophrenia or another closely related psychotic disorder. (Please stay tuned for future posts for more info or check out my book, “Rethinking Madness.”)

      • rosalba imbornone

        I just need practical help; i have a friend that has a psychotic disorder, so what now, what can we do or what is there that will help her to get better. We are from Toronto. She takes medications, but really she is not getting better, thinks are suppressed not moving to getting rid of it. So please can you help?

        • I apologize for responding to this so late. I didn’t see it before. I recommend looking through the Resource page on my own website. In particular, since you are from Toronto, you may want to consider contacting Family Outreach and Response.

          In support,

          • Christopher Siddall

            Paris, was diagnosed with schitzaphrenia in 1997 after serious life traumas. Have been stable since 2003 and now work as support worker in mental health since 2005. However continue to take clozaril and it keeps me down, I struggle to really engage in life but if I try and stop the tablets I feel I’m on a massive come down. Any suggestions on coming ofvthe medication. My sister lives in finland. Ovrall I’m a success story but want to feel how I used to feel!

    • Eric Henry

      If they did nt have it before, they probably had it after. But it is possible to recover from emotional and psychological disturbance and the dreadful drawn out reaction to coming off strong psychiatric drugs.
      It is possible to reduce anti psychotics to a point of ‘being challenged’, and with the help of a good psychologist to devise means of coping with what comes through the surface.

      Over a period of time a person can gain enough control over ‘irrational thought’ to move into complete recovery.

      The Department of Psychiatry,NUI,Galway,Ireland (under Professor Colm MacDonald), have information on successful recovery.

    • Eric Henry

      If they did nt have it before, they probably had it after. But it is possible to recover from emotional and psychological disturbance and the dreadful drawn out reaction to coming off strong psychiatric drugs.
      It is possible to reduce anti psychotics to a point of ‘being challenged’, and with the help of a good psychologist to devise means of coping with what comes through the surface.

      Over a period of time a person can gain enough control over ‘irrational thought’ to move into complete recovery.

      The Department of Psychiatry,NUI,Galway,Ireland (under Professor Colm MacDonald), have information on successful recovery.

    • Ivanete

      I have waitnessed psicotic behaviour of schisophrenic without medication, it was bad not only for the person with
      I enjoyed reading your publication, I believe schisophenia, have different causes,like poverty, environmental,famin, stress, and genetic causes. In some cases like poverty, distress I belive they can recover when out the condition!
      schisophrenia but for others around her, she was caring loving but her behaviour and toughts was hurtfull for herself and others, her son could not eat because she saw horrible things in the food, and would take it out of his hand! she attacked the syster that she loves so much beliving the food she was presenting to her son was lively etc. Her son is ill today quite schisophenic and incapable to care for him self, I thinc in future separation even if it seems cruel should be done?
      I truly hope that one day the side effect of medication will be sorted, because medication is necessary, one thing I think is for more undertanding of this people and the need to keep them into some jobs, for them not to feel so helpless and unimportante, give them some responsibility trust them… they are great people, because they are not so helpless they can cook, clean,answer the phone to perfection, help people, confort people, give love.

    • You have to remember, “schizophrenia” is a label designed to allow us to be able to communicate about a cluster of symptoms. It’s not a “thing” in and of itself. So while there are diagnoses and misdiagnoses… let’s not forget the purpose of them.

      • sue sturevski

        Very true. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • I think many strong individuals are able to overcome schizophrenia, though usually with the introduction to some form of support, therapy, or medication. I also know several members of the forum I mention, who are off medications but also on the Vitamins I listed below.

      Schizophrenia is scary. Though my brother thinks I am “worrying too much” about it, I noticed after reading over many of my journals, that I may be on a slow descent into madness.

      If Schizophrenia is indeed neuro-degenerative, does anyone know what happens after long-term use of prescribed stimulant medication, such as Vyvanse, I only recently started taking it to help me focus. My therapist is under the impression I have Bipolar and Adhd, she simply doesn’t believe I’d be doing so well if I had schizophrenia.

      This is the problem, because the stimulants could make it come back, and it’s been affecting me interestingly and making me a bit manic. It’s not hearing a voice or two that bothers me, it’s the dissasociation of it all. I started thinking with a few vitamins I could help slow the disorder down.

      Folic Acid, C and B12 complex, Niacin, Tryptophan and GABA as the catchall for mania.

  • onergk69

    I am open to the possibilities that some persons w/ schizophrenia do substntially recover. Here in the US, wem presume that the majority do not. We believe the world prevelance to be about 1 in 100 persons. While there is no known gender difference in expression, males tend to show it earlier than females; & males show a poorer treatment response.

    We think there are at least 3 variations: disorganized, catanoic, & paranoid. So are there any differences in recovery across this spectrum?

    And I know that use of neuroleptics does great harm based on dosage & duration.

    So I

    look forward to further discussions of these & other findings.


    • Thanks for your comments and question, Rich. That’s a very good question.

      As far as I know, none of the major schizophrenia recovery studies significantly controlled for the subtypes of schizophrenia. I believe that the main reason for this is that even though these various categories are used by professionals in the field, we often find that it’s very rare that an individual’s experiences/behavior fit neatly into any one category, very often satisfying the criteria for one subtype at one time, and a different subtype at a different time, and even showing a mix of more than one at any given point in time. Furthermore, many people diagnosed with one psychotic disorder (such as schizophrenia) often also satisfy the criteria for an entirely different psychotic disorder (such as Bipolar Disorder) at different times, or even at the same time when diagnosed by different professionals. Recent statistical analysis (conducted by the British Psychological Society) suggests that all the major psychotic disorders (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder) may actually be simply different manifestations of a single common underlying phenomenon. And still further, if we call this phenomenon “madness” (just to give it a name), we find a more or less common continuum between “madness” and “sanity,” with “mad” behavior/experiences being simply behavior/experiences on the extreme edge of more ordinary human experience. (All of this research is well documented in my book, “Rethinking Madness.” I’ll also discuss this more in a future post.)


      • Agreed. Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Schizo-affective…Paranoia…I’ve been diagnosed in the past and now I came to the conclusion that I have one and only one problem, that would be treatable. I am simply more prone to mania than the average person, and without medication I can’t function as well, but sometimes i function better. I believe vitamins and biological cures are the future of medicine. real medicine.

        • liliana

          hi there i struggled with this diasase for two years I’ve been not myself i truly believe that medication make you worse. That’s just theres natural cures out there you just have to do some research not everything u hear is true. I truly believe to recover you have to get enough sleep at least 8 hours a day. Drink plenty of water to keep you feeling good. Exercise is a very good thing to do. Drugs and Alcohol will make things worse for you. Going for walks is great. Having healthy relationships is good too. Omega 3 is good some vitamins are good for you. Fish, Blueberries,Spinach etc….

        • David rocks

          I am a schizophrenia sufferer. I believe establishing your independence ie moving out of your parental home can begin the recovery at pace that is possible for lasting results. I still take a therpertic dose of copixol once a month.

  • Pingback: Full Recovery from Schizophrenia? | Brain Blogger | My Blog()

  • Davinchy

    This is a dangerous thing to say for many people. Many people without medication do not recover and get much worse. You are suggesting that anybody with schizophrenia can recover without medication. You also bring up third world countries as your proof. In third world countries many times there is treatment that is not medication related but community and family oriented. The people in the family just consider the schizophrenic as different and learn to deal with the disorder. That is great and is a good way to deal with things. Unfortunately those that don’t have that treatment end up in the streets talking to themselves and become lost in a world of their own making. Those people need medication.

    I know in my case I tried a year without my meds and did pretty well for most of that year. Unfortunately I relapsed and had to get back on some form of medication. I take a very low dose now just as a little bit of help to keep my mind from wandering to much. I agree that the medications are as much a problem as the disease in day to day life. However when the psychosis is in full effect there is no question which has the worst effect on your ability to live a normal life. The meds help and they are invaluable for someone to regain a foot in the real world.

    You need to allow that no medication recovery “can” work but that is doesn’t always and it isn’t always the way to go. Suggesting that any schizophrenic should try it is dangerous and uninformed.

    Also You use a lot of studies that talk about a full recovery. Of course somebody that is on a medication that has side effects that mimic the disease can never fully recover. That is the problem with the current drugs. However the question in that instance shouldn’t be “are you completely well”. It should be “can you lead a normal life” I bet the numbers are different for those questions. Also “are you completely disabled” would be good because I bet a lot of your no drug people are much more likely to be really messed up as apposed to less than perfect for the medicated.

    • I’m surprised that you got “anybody can recover from schizophrenia without medications” from this article–I recommend you peruse it again. But I do understand your concerns. There is no doubt that there are some people who experience less distress and limitation on antipsychotics than they would if they were to stop, but the research suggests that given alternative methods of psychosocial support, this percentage is quite small, perhaps about 15-20%.

      The intervention currently used in the Western world (in Lapland, Finland) which shows the highest recovery rate after being well researched and documented is known as the Open Dialogue Approach. After several decades of experimentation, they have found that the most effective approach is to encourage everyone to try to avoid taking antipsychotics initially (but won’t refuse them to someone who wants them), and to offer intensive family/social support to the individual and their family. If an individual remains seriously distressed after some weeks, they will encourage the use of some antipsychotics with the intention of trying to wean them off as quickly as possible. The end result is that after two years, approximately 82% fully recovery (return to the ability to meet their needs and experience well being at least as high as that which existed prior to the psychosis, without having to take any psychiatric drugs); and the remaining 18% remain on some regimen of psychiatric drugs and experience reduced functioning to a greater or lesser degree. So, the key it seems, at least according to this study, is not the complete abstinence from psychiatric drugs, but rather using them as a last line of treatment (and not the first, as is generally the case in the U.S.), and then, very judiciously, and only temporarily if possible; keeping in mind that there are probably a small percentage who may do better remaining on the drugs long term. The reality is that every individual is different–so while these generalizations are important for shaping treatment policy, every individual still should be treated/supported on a case by case basis.

      All of the other recovery research I have come across tells a very similar study, including the finding that antipsychotic drug use offers relief from the distress and limitations associated with psychosis in the short term at the cost of a greater likelihood that a transient psychotic condition becomes more likely to harden into a chronic condition.

      The World Health Organization has carried out by far the largest, most extensive recovery research on schizophrenia, following over 1,000 participant (who were carefully diagnosed) from over 13 countries (of a full range of socioeconomic status) for over 25 years, after careful diagnosis. Their conclusion: “The overarching message [is that] schizophrenia is largely an episodic disorder with a rather favorable outcome for a significant proportion of those afflicted.”

      All of this research is very thoroughly documented in Part One of “Rethinking Madness,” which is available for a free download here. I hope you will consider at least perusing it:

      click on the “View Excerpt” button to download the entire Part One (with all of this research) for no cost.


      • Nick

        My son has read your website and stopped taking medication and his life has fallen apart.
        He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia aged 20 and for 12 years has taken a low dose of Olanzapine (5mg). He has held down a full time job as a IT programmer at the same organisation for the last 5 years, been promoted, lived with his girlfriend for 7 years and was due to be married this May.
        He stopped medication in May 2012, was OK for two months, then voices started so that their flat became unconfortable to live in, then anxiety about his food being tampered with, then paranioa about people at work bullying him so that he handed in his notice without another job to go to in November although they asked him to stay. His fiancee left him next day, the contents of his flat that he has worked so hard to build is back in our garage, and we are dealing with his understandable bewilderment and anger.
        I understand for a proportion of people the condition is a single episode and they recover, and I know the tablets have very uncomfortable sideffects, but I think you should take great care in what you recommend. And cautionary experience such as ours should be shared on all the websites recommending withdrawal from medication.

        • Kerry

          Hi Nick,
          I’m sorry to hear about your son’s situation. It sounds like things were going well for him.
          You say that he went off of his meds in May 2012. How long did he taper them for? One month seems like a short timeframe to come off of anti-psychotics in one hit.
          Besides that, there does need to be, in my humble opinion, as a person who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia myself, a back-up plan in the sense that life will not correct itself automatically just by means of stopping medication.
          The reality is that medication does produce appreciable and positive differences in a person’s outlook towards life, if it is doing its job properly. The drawback is that it can leave the person without the necessary life skills to deal with challenges and setbacks, because life has gotten too easy for that long. When something big hits, even if the person is on meds, they can get really knocked around. I’m getting this from autobiographies I’ve read recently written by people who have stayed on their meds. They sometimes “need” to up their dose or switch to a stronger medication, with clozapine or multi-medications as a last resort. So staying on meds is not a guaranteed line of defence either. The only necessity is really that life needs to be dealt with. It just does.
          I know from personal experience that psychosocial supports are not necessarily in place for people with schizophrenia. If you have case management and/or a psychiatrist, they are primarily concerned with whether you have a job, whether you are getting up on time, whether you are taking your meds etc. It’s a bit patronising. It is not the same thing as being willing to discuss (or listen to) the very real and unique issues in your life that have been illuminated by the content of your delusions.
          I relapsed in 2008 (because I had only been diagnosed with delusional disorder and I was allowed to gradually discontinue my meds). It took a number of months for me to relapse. One of the first signs that something was wrong was the voices I heard when I was riding to the gym and exercising at the gym. The voices were commenting on what I was wearing. It has only just occurred to me recently that my sister’s battle with cancer at the young age of 27 earlier that same year might have been a stressor for me. Not only that, but my mother was saying to me that my sister had gotten cancer due to her own negligence in failing to watch her weight over the previous 8 or so years. My mother was also saying that people with bowel cancer did not deserve for anybody to contribute towards research because they would not have gotten the cancer if they ate better. My mother was also saying to me that I should lose weight.
          I think that what is happening with schizophrenia is that people are sensitive and are coming across very real life issues, but they have not learnt the strategies to resolve the emotions successfully. Hence, they opt out of reality. It is too much. By the time I got to the hospital, I was only able to tell the psychiatrist that I heard voices when there were circles around (the wheels on the bike), but I couldn’t explain why I heard them at the gym too, because I always used to use the stepper, not the stationary bike. The psychiatrist was not interested in exploring this subject. It made no sense to him, and he seemed to think I was talking ridiculous nonsense.
          There were other issues in my life too, such as the pessimistic attitudes towards human nature I was coming across in my psychology studies at university at the time. I talked to my aunt about it, but that really didn’t get to the heart of how much it upset me. I ended up with a delusion that educational institutions are cults. I’m still a bit anti-accredited -qualifications. I believe that life is learning, and taking people’s word for things is not, even if they are university lecturers.
          I do very strongly feel that your son needs to be seen as more than a worker, more than a fiance, more than an apartment-occupier. He’s a person and he deserves to have the best life possible, just as everybody deserves to be allowed to blossom uniquely. I don’t know what the answer is with his meds, but it’s a logical fallacy to assume that, just because the meds work, they are also necessary and/or sufficient.

      • liliana

        please tell me exactly what to do to recover from scizo i had for two years im ok but it comes back every summer that fuckin sucks so please tell me what to do. im stopped taking meds i dont think there useful.

        • Hi Liliana,

          There are some good peer support groups and therapists out there, though they can be a little difficult to find. I recommend going to the resources page on my website HERE

          …and don’t let yourself forget that there is light at the end of the tunnel,


  • But there is a problem about the validity of a schizophrenia diagnosis, as has been pointed out in one of the comments above. We could go further and say (as some people are doing now) that the whole concept of schizophrenia is questionable. I think a diagnosis of schizophrenia is sometimes used to describe what are really reactions to ongoing traumatic experiences.

    I was diagnosed with schizophrenia (simplex) in my teens. By the time I reached 21 showing ‘no improvement’ the diagnosis was ‘chronic schizophrenia’. A few years later I decided to come off all medication, which was making me feel dreadfully drowsy and depressed. That was back in 1974 and I have been medication-free and absolutely fine since.

    In a way I’d like to say I made a full recovery from schizophrenia and offer hope of at least the possibility of cure to others with this diagnosis. But I do not believe I should have ever been given that diagnosis in the first place (nor does one of the psychiatrists I saw during my years of treatment). Perhaps the psychiatrist who diagnosed me would say I’m in denial and that I really did have an ‘illness’ called schizophrenia, but then it seems he (and other psychiatrists) would have kept me on harmful neuroleptic medication for life. What can’t be disputed is that once off the medication, my ‘chronic schizophrenia’ disappeared. I resumed work, returned to study, obtained a first-class degree, made new friends, became happily married, got my mental health memoir published …

    Maybe the schizophrenia label should be abandoned altogether. I’m sure that this label, and the treatment it dictates, often does far more harm than good.

    • Thanks for these very important comments and for sharing some of your own story. I’m sorry that happened to you and I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to work through it all.

      I plan to address the question of whether or not “Schizophrenia” is even a valid construct some in a future post (and I do address it in “Rethinking Madness”).

      The very short summary of my understanding of the research around this idea is that:

      (1) Yes, of course many people experience anomalous experiences (so called “delusions”) and perceptions (so called “hallucinations”) that cause them significant distress and even limitation.

      (2) …but no, we still haven’t been able to confirm that these correspond to any single brain disease or even to a common valid construct. The types of experiences that typically get lumped under the label “schizophrenia” are often extremely varied, and as a clinician, there’s a real debate about how helpful it is to try to do this (stamp a common label onto all of these different kinds of experiences). It really makes much more sense to support each person based upon their own individual challenging experiences.

      …again, I recognize saying any of this continues to seriously challenge the mainstream understanding of “psychosis” and “schizophrenia,” names for human experiences that remain very mysterious. There is an unbelievably wide array of myths and unquestioned assumptions around this topic, making it fairly complex to capture within just a few paragraphs — which is why I’ve written an entire book on the subject 🙂


    • Hi Jean, I do not remember replying. This is what happened to me. I had a manic episode as a teen, “chronic schizophrenia”…now my doctors say mania or bipolar, though they are giving me stimulants. I would like to get off the neuroleptics but I’m afraid my brain is too used to the idea and effect of a certain prescription for it. It also seems to work ok.. It makes me less sensitive to stress…it helps me numb it out a bit although I think I could, after withdrawal psychosis was gone, recover without it.

      • A Doc.

        Hello Garbielle.(window)

        That is all.very.interesting.
        Whatever are neuroleptics?
        Just don’t take it with the grapefruit!
        Tha sound aweful falling from the trees.
        Thump thump bump bump bump etc.

        How can we keep you on them a bit longer?

        Sincerely yours,

        A doc.

    • gloria

      please let me know how you did it. i have son that they say he is schizophrnic.

      please help!!!


  • max

    does the recovery extend to the emotional numbness and cognitive problems that accompanies psychosis and the anxiety and ptsd symptoms

  • An interesting post. Although by no stretch of the imagination am I an ‘expert’ on schizophrenia, I understand that there is more emphasis these days on a schizophrenia spectrum similar to the autism spectrum and there is the important issue of comorbidity to think about.

    I am taken back to the work of the late Curt Dohan and his ideas about schizophrenia, some cases of schizophrenia, potentially having a diet-related element though not necessarily being cases of coeliac disease for example.

    It is only speculation, but I do wonder whether changes to the diet – to the very Westernised diet – to include exclusion of foods containing wheat and mammalian dairy products might be one possibility to account for recovery?

    Without wishing to ‘push’ my blog, there are some interesting and potentially relevant studies to Dohan’s arguments:




    Just a thought. 🙂

    • Now we’re getting into another challenging line of questioning: What actually causes schizophrenia — or if we want to debate the construct of “schizophrenia,” then what causes psychotic experiences?

      After looking at the sum total research on this topic and around this question, what I believe emerges is the idea that there are numerous factors that can all contribute to the susceptibility of developing psychosis — perhaps (almost certainly) trauma, perhaps genetics, perhaps diet or other health issues, etc. But then it seems that ultimately, psychosis itself is brought on when an individual finds themselves either in an intolerable situation or having arrived at an intolerable way of being in the world / experiencing the world. These other factors may each contribute towards pushing an individual closer to this tipping point, but then at some point, when it seems that there is no other option of finding some kind of tolerance within our experience, our very own psyche (i.e., that aspect of ourselves that continually strives towards survival) may intentionally initiate psychosis as a last-ditch effort to cope/heal/grow from this intolerable situation. Sometimes this situation/experience is fairly obvious to onlookers, such as when psychosis is initiated by severe torture, isolation, trauma, etc.; and other times this intolerable situation takes place more or less quietly within the individual’s personal experience until a tipping point is reached.

      Understandably, many readers may find this idea a little hard to believe, while others may think, “of course, that’s just common sense.” But as we inquire more deeply into individuals’ experience (intensive case study research, such as my own), this is what we discover again and again. Food for thought, anyway…


      • K

        I am finding what you say very interesting. I was diagnosed after 5 psychotic episodes and believe that childhood trauma played a big part in my experiences and I did experience it as my psyche letting go of one way of being to come back to relate to the world in a new way. I am currently on meds but am functioning well and totally believe in a med free recovery! My journey has opened me up to christianity and it is through relationship with Christ that I find I am being healed.

      • Cathy Brown

        I agee with what you have said, I have research ed and studied many aspects of psychosis. Ironically the same formula that the psychiatric community tries to create to improve the out come of a good recovery. Is inclusion into the community. Yet the very template that is consistently in place is stigma based, and archaic. In many of the hospitals patience are treated with minimal respect. A cancer patient would never be treated with the attitude that is recieved by a individual with psychosis. Heart, lungs, feet have been explored in advancing treatment when medical issues arise to heal any and all areas pf our body. Yet the one organ that has the least amount of established understanding is the brain. Eastern medicine does approach the entire body as a entire system. Dr. Ralph Hoffman at Yale (researching TMS treatment for schizophrenia. This is the use of energy very similar ti Qi-Gong used successfully for thousands of years on China, sound and vibrational medicine has also successfully treated schizophrenia using white and pink noise while researing tinnitus.
        Metabolic methods successfully have been used as if Dr. Piefier at Princeton.
        When we allow the medical community to lead the way for a way to heal. It is financially driven. Not driven by wellness. It is nearly impossible to move forward when pharmaceuticals
        Companies are in charge of our psychiatric recoveries. If you do not have a designer illness such as obesity, depression, anxiety ect. Medications that to filter down to the patient with a pychiatric condition are one size fits all and mask the cause.
        Unbelievable it is sad and frightening at best for many. My son was diagnosed with audio hallucinations, as a honors student in collage. After a few rounds of medication….horrific side effects. Recieved treatment from a Grand Qi Gong Master. This was successful for a couple of years. He relapsed and is now using a white noise earpiece.Doors need to be opened and a broadcer less archaic sensible approach needs to avaible. That can be applied without fear.
        One that is not monetarly driven.

  • Anonymous

    does the recovery extend to the emotional numbness and cognitive problems that accompanies psychosis and to the anxiety and ptsd symptoms

    • Good question.

      In my own recovery research, I used very strict criteria to determine “full recovery,” requiring that someone has to have been free from “psychotic experiences” and not using a significant amount of any psychoactive drug (either recreational or psychiatric) for at least three years, and to have witness testimony in this regard.

      In addition, they also have to experience a general sense of wellbeing and ability to meet all of their needs that is equal to or exceeding that which existed prior to their psychosis. I used both qualitative (interviewing essentially) and quantitative (statistically verified questionnaires) assessment to determine any change in this regard. It turns out that for every participant in all three of my studies, their wellbeing and ability to meet their needs not only returned to what they experienced prior to their psychosis, but actually significantly approved(!) This suggests that there is something about experiencing the full resolution of one’s psychotic process that may actually involve healing and even growth. (I discuss this at length in “Rethinking Madness.”)

      • btw, I’m not sure if it was clear in an early post, but if not, you can download Part One of “Rethinking Madness” free from the following link:


        Part One is entitled, “Deconstructing the Myths of Madness,” and it essentially takes the enormous web of research on schizophrenia and recovery and boils it down to the essential key conclusions that I think you’ll really enjoy.

  • Ganpat

    Thanks for giving hope of recovery to my brother who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at age of 19. In our case, it is sort of genetic problem. There are many in our clan(people with common great-great-great….grand father—living in same village for 100s of years).

    Do you think, the kind of approach you are suggesting can help us?

    • liliana

      laughing is a good medicine watching comedians works very well with anger issues i had scizo for two years i cured it. i stoped meds they just make it worse. I work out drink plenty of water eat healthy. Wheat is very good for you omega 3 is well. im drug and alcohol free.

  • Is someone diagnosed with schizophrenia always psychotic at some stage? The words are often used interchangeably. As I’ve said, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia (this was in the UK) back in the late-60s and early-70s. Yet I was never psychotic, unless appearing to be ‘abnormally introverted and withdrawn’, ‘no longer interested in things’, ‘gross flattening of affect’ and ‘lack of spontaneity’ (I’m quoting from my case notes) are in themselves seen as ‘psychosis’.

    On a slightly different note, it’s interesting also that these so-called ‘symptoms of illness’ listed above were the same as the side-effects of the drugs given to treat it!

    • The short and oversimplified answer is that “schizophrenia” is essentially defined as long-term psychosis. But then that begs the question, what is psychosis? For a much better answer, download Part One of my book by clicking the “View Excerpt” button on the page below:


      …Then read Chapter One — “First, Some Terminology”


      • Is there anything in your theory of madness that diverges from the earlier thinking of R.D. Laing and Thomas Szaz? That is to say, do you believe there is such a thing as mental illness? Or do you believe it is all environmental coping mechanisms aimed at creating sanity in an insane world, as Laing would have it?

        • Anonymous

          I do resonate pretty strongly with the work of both Laing and Szasz, though I also have some differences in my perspective. One way to look at what I’ve done is that I’ve updated much of the earlier work and thinking of pioneers such as Laing based upon the latest recovery research (including my own), and also including a broader range of perspectives of mind and consciousness, including many of the more recent developents within the major fields of Western psychology (Cognitive, Developmental, Attachment Theory, Existential, Transpersonal, Psychodynamic/analytic, Humanistic, Somatic) as well as drawing from the findings from some of the Eastern traditions (especially the nondual traditions such as Buddhism and Taoism).


        • I don’t find Laing or Szasz in any way dismissive of other people’s mental and emotional personal experiences and suffering. I include a couple of quotes here:

          “I have never idealized mental suffering, or romanticized despair, dissolution, torture or terror. I have never said that parents or families or society ‘cause’ mental illness, genetically or environmentally. I have never denied the existence of patterns of mind and conduct that are excruciating. I have never called myself an anti-psychiatrist…” Wisdom Madness & Folly, Laing

          “contemporary human problems are real enough. It is the labels we give them that concern me, and, having labelled them, what we do about them.” Ideology & Insanity, Szasz

      • Thank you for your reply. Your book sounds interesting. It heartens me that you are drawing attention to important questions on this blog. I will download Part One of your book, and I look forward to reading it.

    • This is my current experience Jean. I’m told I will relapse off this prescription, but even if I deal with the rebound effect from getting off medication I don’t even mind hearing things. It’s the anxiety that I hate most. I started hearing things immediately after being prescribed Geodon. Truth be told, I was baker acted for a fight with my mom. And the medication worsened my thinking enough to cause voices, plus stress and all. But I was actually Waaay more stable the moment before I was put in there, and in fact I think I had finally withdrawn from the meds and my parents fcked it up again.

    • nitram

      There’s positive and negative symptoms where negative means the removing of something like affection. Flat affect (absense of expression) is a negative symptoms. So does apathy and anhedonia. In schizophrenia simplex there’s no sign of “madness”. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s rather the opposite. There’s also a “personality disorder” Schizoid Personality Disorder which resembles Simplex. Selling books or blurring definitions doesn’t make those syndromes go away.

  • Richard Kensinger, MSW

    In regards to psychosis, our current version indicates that there are + & – clinical indicators. The + ones are: hallucinations (primarily auditory), delusions, & looseness of association in regards to cognitive processes. The – ones are: lack of initiative, inappropriate affect or blunted/flattened emotions. In my clinical experience every client w/ this diagnosis was psychotic some of the time.


    • Thank you for this. I don’t know if what was called the ‘simplex’ form of schizophrenia is still used. My understanding is that (certainly here in UK) a patient could be given this diagnosis solely on the basis of the so-called ‘negative’ symptoms of schizophrenia, without necessarily ever having any ‘positive’/’psychotic’ symptoms. The treatment for it was the same as the ‘standard’ treatment for any form of schizophrenia, eg. neuroleptic medication, and often ECT. If the ‘negative’ symptoms persisted (and it’s hard to see how they wouldn’t with the heavy, debilitating medication), the patient might then be said to have ‘chronic schizophrenia’ (as happened to me).

      It seems to me that ‘schizophrenia’ was (is?) a blanket term covering a wide range of conditions. Surely this means that statistics and research (taken from lumping people together who were given a schizophrenia diagnosis) is bound to be skewed.

    • nitram

      Thanks. What I don’t get is that if they got my diagnose correctly then it’s likely about a change of perception. I got the Schizophrenia Simplex diagnose back at 17. I was exposed for quite a deal of stress. At some point I had enough, got a panicattack(?) and just let everything go. Everything has since that seemed unreal or possibly more like flat.The thing you wrote about “loose association”, what about seeing the world as flat? I’d say there’s a lack of associations in Simplex Schizophrenia (hypodopaminergic(?) and overabundance in “positive” versions. It also seems to go together with the study of NMDA-receptors. See NMDA hypofunction Stephen M Stahl at CNSspectrum for instance. Arvid Carlsson also made a study regarding Glutamate some decades ago.

      However 18 years later I’ve run into a doc who seems a bit naive and actually think it’s depersonalization (which I’ve been studied for at least a decade). Therefore he want’s to try Lamotrigine which inhibits Glutamate and may remove dissociative effect of NMDA-antagonist Ketamine.

      So it’s a real mess. Is it some form of Melancholia? Seeing everything flat and gray? And no antidepressive helping except for maybe Wellbutrin but psychostimulant Methylphenidate helping against anhedonia?

      Depersonalization Disorder?

      Or is it the first diagnose Schizophrenia Simplex?

      Oh well. I haven’t tried out Lamotrigine fully yet and I don’t know if I want the sideffect of getting stupid on top of these little “quirks” of mine.

      I just get the thought that after enough stress those NMDA-receptor get burnt out or maybe it’s the opening of calciumchannels (excitotoxic).

      The only part of the brain seemingly to still work seems to be the one handling language. (non verbal learning disorder?)

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  • I just bought your book a week ago and have gotten about halfway through. It is truly, truly fantastic.

    Thank you for writing it! (tempted to put that in all caps) I’m thrilled that you’re doing this blog, too, and can’t wait to read more…

  • The possibility of recovery has never left my mind, even after five years of taking anti-psychotic medication, there are still doubts. Still questions. Should I be this well without the possibility that they were wrong? Or that the system is fundamentally biased towards the depth of human experiences? I’m feeling hopeful and I’m starting to taper the medication. I need grounding or something. I just don’t understand schizophrenia. The research seems like it’s hiding a bunch of real answers. I’m not the simple minded. I don’t just buy into this stuff, faith in medical professionals who market themselves to the masses.

    They are playing God with people who have real issues that need addressed. A majority of us are simply suffering with no way to express ourselves. A lot of us are different. I’m quite normal. Is it true males are diagnosed earlier than females? I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age 16 and I’m a female. Later, the diagnosis was downgraded to schizoaffective. Why they added the mood component beats me. It’s like they just don’t care what they call it. Because I mean anyone can convince you you’re too happy, but there’s something really sick about calling a night of watching tv mania and bs like that.

    Being called sick is what really hurts.

    • Kerry

      I believe that anti-psychotics can have an anti-psychotic effect on the brain. But just because they do work to alleviate psychosis doesn’t mean that they are necessary. (Other methods might work better.) Neither does it mean that they are sufficient. (The meds don’t necessarily fix everything either.)

      I think that the way I have been treated by various people who have known of my diagnosis has shown up their ability and motivation to help with my real and actual issues since being on meds. If they are not interested in helping me achieve my best possible quality of life while I’m on meds, why is there any reason to think that they ever would have anyway? And was this a contributing factor to the psychosis?

      According to Ray Oldenburg, sociologist (not a schizophrenia researcher at all), industrialisation leads to specialisation. As people are expected to play different roles in society, they lose the ability to understand how similar they are to each other. “We are continually in situations where we are dependent on others, and the others do not seem to care much about us.” This is my way of explaining to myself why people seem not to realise what I need, even though it seems so obvious to me – it’s the same as what they need. I don’t believe in any conspiracy theory ideas about why psychiatry would want to mislead me about my options.

      I totally agree with the points about needing to have positive relationships in one’s life if one is going to succeed with living medication-free. I also like the ideas about neural plasticity and neurogenesis. There are three key conditions for brain growth – experiences of novelty, environmental enrichment, and voluntary physical activity (not just any physical activity). Also, we apparently tend to learn better when the outcome exceeds our expectations. If the outcome is only as good as our expectations, we don’t learn as effectively.

      In the end, I believe that it comes down to this – grow or perish.

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  • I am a schizophrenic in New Zealand(NZ). I ratted out my psychiatrist and keyworker using my psychic powers as I lay awake at night.. little did they know because I was always nice on visits. Their names are Mr. Warren Allerly and Dr. Nicholas Hoeh and I have an appointment on the 4th of July at the Taylor Centre.
    I told you I ratted them out. Aren’t I bad?

    • I was trying to acquire some Mariana seeds before spring time.

      I wan tabout 6-16 seeds in a line on a peice of cellotape, fold it over and post it to my home address, please.

      Or just drop in for a cup of tea and drop something in my tea before I rat you out.

      9 Murdoch Road
      Grey Lynn
      New Zealand

  • This article is truly beautiful! It reminds me of a Bible passage that has aided my own sanity, which can be found within the first book of the Corinthians. The biblical entry highlights the endless healing influence found within the recipe of patience, kindness, and grace (i.e. love), as well as the health discovered with hope and faith. Perhaps forgiveness of our imperfections and a dedication to abolish inward negativity and ignore its outward contributors could help us all, and not just those suffering from this specific mental illness. At least those are my sentiments on the matter! Bless you, Dr. Paris Williams!

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  • chris

    I have been suffering for over 20years with what im sure is schizophrenia, I had a pshycotic break after a bad trip, I really thought that people might be watching me and may have even bugged my apartment to spy on me (ludicras i know but there is a small part of me that really believes it could be true. Its only when im writing this that its sounds stupid and could never be) The effects of that were relatively short lived however I had a re-occurrence whilst smoking pot only a week later, this time the effects were long lasting. In-fact they have been with me for the last 20 years. I suffer from a kind of “Trueman show reality” and sometimes believe that this could be true. This all happened at the age of 16 and till I was nearly 19 I carried on with pot smoking and recreational drug use, extacy, acid, speed and small amounts of cocaine, just to try to fit in. It wasnt until I had stopped all that and started drinking, around the age of 21, that I actually gained any confidence. I probably over used alcohol, I did depend on it for social events and could never relax until I was slightly intoxicated. I have always known that the reasons for my drinking, extreme sports and the urge for my next sexual encounter have just been a front to help me cope with the feelings hidden away inside, the secret me.
    I have never told anyone about it and have lived a somewhat normal if not painfull life. None of my family know of this however I am seriously considering getting help now. I have always been afraid of the stigma that surrounds anyone with schizophrenia or any other mental illness and even more so of the drug use involved in the so called rehabilitation but after reading about some of the new treatments becoming available I am not so afraid of coming forward and talking to someone about my experiences. These articles are so so helpful for someone like me, the fact that there may be hope and that myself and people like me can overcome this challenge in our lives is truly a life saver.
    A very thankful

    • Meryl Burbank

      Chris, we all think it, the trick, as you have mastered over 20years, is not to speak about it. Don’t go screwing your life up now…

  • Jamie

    I was diagnosed with schizophrenia about a year ago and I got to say I loved it at the time I was tripping out. I thought I was the leader of Asio, I was being followed by thousands of people around Melbourne. At first I was worried but then I thought I was training them up as a spy. At one point I thought I was a robot and that other people around me where robots, that got a little scary. At one point I tried to lose my followers by throwing my wallet away and running through a series of levels through crown casino. I then ended up at a hotel where I went into the back rooms where I got a curtain and preceded out the door with it over my head. I got into the back of someones ute, hiding under the tarp thinking the agency that was protecting me from the robots from foreign countries would drive me to a secret location with me in the back. So I got naked and with the rope I found tied myself the ute, thinking I might be airlifted as well. After about ten minutes, I put on some clothes that I also found in the ute and preceded back out onto the street. I went back to the casino and thought there would be a booking for me in the hotel. After a while of the staff telling me I had no booking I went to lost property and got my stuff back. At one point i thought I had been uploaded into a computer game and that I would live forever solving crimes and that I already had accessing to anything I want and that everything was mine. So I went to another hotel and in the car park I thought I could get access to a car because they were all mine. After failing I then preceded to work out the best place to trap a landing alien space craft. I throw my shirt over a ledge onto a footpath to try and catch robots that I thought were trying to find ways to enter my body and control me. Then I found my clothes in a charity bin. I went to another hotel that I thought was mine and saw a number of people going down into a meeting room, I followed them in and started to help myself to the buffet before I went into the back of the kitchen to check the chef wasnt a robot who had poisoned the food. I asked about my friend who I thought was part of asio too. Then shortly the police came and I was arrested. Before they closed the back the cop was standing there and I said whats taking so long? and he said ” you’re driving” so I said we are leaving right now, and he closed it and off I went. I now thought I was in full control, ever control of the car I was in the back off. They released me a short time later, I went back to my van and smashed it up with a tyre iron thinking it was a transformer. A man came along who I thought was a robot on my side and said im going down the pub at the back of crown at 4am. I asked him if that was a clue, and he said yes. So he disappeared and I went to the loading bay at crown where the bounces came out and asked what I was doing and I said I was instructed to come here. They said try the exhibition center. So I headed through the car park upto the exhibition centre and somehow it was already 8am. I didnt feel any hunger or thirst or tiredness. I got into the exhibition where people were setting up there shows and I thought I had a display which was selling beds. So I thought that this was were I was supposed to sleep. Because of the lights I started to make a cubby house out of the mattresses. I started to fall asleep with everyone around probably wondering what the hell I was doing. The security came along shortly who I thought were all part of the game. I thought I was being security processed, I thought they were testing to see if I was a good secret agent and that I could hold a secret. They took me into the security room where I thought was my head quarters. I thought they were securing the area while I wait. The police came again and I had to give my real name. I was arrested and at the police station the chief of police was doing a press conference, so I put on his glasses and started going through his notebook he had left behind. His staff member quickly told me to stop that and later he came up to me and said I should take over his job soon. All adding to my belief I was the head of security or about to be inducted. My mum was called and she picked me up and I thought she was a robot. I later caught public transport to my friends house, all while thinking I was being followed and closely monitored by spy agencies around the world. My friend caught on that I was unwell because he didnt really believe I was being followed. He said I think you need help. I immediate thought that meant help me with my security clearance so I agreed. We got in a taxi and off we went to the hospital. I was thinking he was in on it and he was an agent himself. That car ride was the best Ive ever had. I believed the taxi driver was someone of top secret clearance and the best driver around. I thought the taxi was armoured like the presidents limo. I thought I was finally being inducted into the agency. I was so happy. When I got to the hospital I thought it was another security test because it was taking along time for someone to see me which normally happens in the emergency department after hours. So I hit the floor pretending to have a fit and they quickly dragged me into the hospital where I was watched by security. I then thought I had to stage my own death and the security guard suggested he sit on me. I then try to run deeper into the hospital where they chased me and I was put on a bed. I then thought I was in the top secret centre then. So stated that I wanted a helicopter to take me to America. I stated I worked for Asio and the doctor quickly said Dont say that! I was then drugged and fell asleep and woke up in a mental hospital the next day. I believed I had to spend time in there because it was all part of the security process. I believed everyone else thought I was dead after me faking my death. After about two weeks in a realized it was all in my mind. I got out after a month and had to be on a community treatment order where doctors came to see me every week and inject me. I felt the flat effects of depressing and loss of speech and motivation. I had trouble sleeping and mass anxiety which was part of the side effects of the drugs. I relapsed a week later where I flow across the country to goto my friends wedding. I thought I had to go through a security clearance once I arrived in perth so I didnt tell them where I was for them to pick me up but gave false addresses. I ended up trying to goto my friends house by public transport while giving them fake locations thinking that my calls were being tracked. I ended up at a construction site where I thought I had to make a trap for the robots. They played along with my games and to this day dont know if I imagined them playing along or if they were. I was shortly arrested. I ended up in the perth mental ward for 2 weeks which was absolute hell. It was prison, I knew after the first day that I had relapsed and I missed my mates wedding. I flow home and spent the next year un-employed recovering from the flat effects of it. I have now fully recovered, have a place and a new girlfriend and job. Im completely off all medication. I still sometimes think that it might all be true. I still loved the whole experience and actually want it to happen again.

    • To our mate “down under”. Elements of frank psychoses can be those of granduer & grandiosity, & are less adverse than themes of paranoia, punishment & persecution. In clients that I’ve treated who clearly had schizophrenia, most psychotic episodes became darker & disturbing.

      So glad you are well!


    • Giulia Dicarli

      how is possible without meds? how you do that?…

  • lymegreens

    Have a look at the link between schizophrenia and Lyme Disease. I am doing a study on the link, and in EVERY patient with schizophrenia, I find marked levels of spirochetes in the blood. A hundred years ago, a large percentage of insanity was explained away by syphilis. Perhaps the remaining cases are borrelia related?

  • Matthew Newman

    I often find these the entire question to merely be a rubric for many more questions. I do, however, believe that there is something to what you have to say. More and more I see it in my own life.

    I have been in the psychiatric system since the age of 14 and have, for the most part, learn to master my ‘disorder’ (inverted commas merely because I am unsure of the nature of mental malady, at this point) and have met with increasing success over the years.

    I’ve been in positions where I might even have hurt other people badly, but I have weathered the storm and always managed to maintain at least some semblance of control where others would end up in a lockdown unit.

    My IQ tends to hover between 175 and 185, and a couple of nurses have even said as much as that it might be a representative problem in ot itself.

    I’ve almost ended up in places like Broadmoor, here in the UK, for the simple reason that psychiatrists are human too, and despite being placed above the law, in most strokes, they are indeed only human as well, and just as prone to making bad decisions or flatout being fucktards.

    I do, have a lot of questions, if you don’t mind, Doc. Please email me. I would have made this a private message, but I also wanted it to be an example for some of the naysayers in this thread.

    I thank you.

  • patricio

    I think this is a brilliant article. I had several psychotic periods since my teenage years. Then at one point i was okay and started to drink alcohol and also smoke weed maybe twice a week for a few months to a year. I gradually got bad again but only after stopping completely did i get to a point of hearing voices, thinking cameras where in my room and many others noicing my hallucinations and paranoia. Then had something similar a year later. Now im about as good as i get since my teenage years I often get paraniod etc but am looking to get a job and start sports and make new friends again.
    I avoided meds and i think only this way with help from family have i got to this stage [ through a lot of patience from family who i was very paraniod about ]. However i know people who get to the level of paranioa i got to after lots of stress very easily and so for them the difficult process and help by family needed may be to difficult or impossible.
    But the point in the article about seeing it as a my psych or something outside of me getting me out of an unsustainable lifestyle, friend group etc through a difficult process completely resonates with me. If i hadnt got to the stage that through hallucinations and paranioa i lost most of my friends and job etc i would have been heading on a dowward spiral.

  • Richard Kensinger, MSW

    To Gabrielle,

    Vyvanse is a Schedule 2 controlled agent like all other psychostimulants. One of its major adverse reactions is psychosis. And I also have concerns about using it in persons w/ bipolar disorder especially, when a sufferer enters a manic phase.

    All psychostimulants are also so very often used illegally & illicitly. They are readily available from “street vendors”.

    Stay well,


    • To Rich,

      Thanks for your reply. I lowered the dosage today, but I’m still on the fence about it. I’ve been thinking it might be ok short-term, but long-term might not be such a smart idea. My brother thinks it’s crazy that I was diagnosed with ADHD when I have a history of schizophrenia symptoms, though they’ve been mild for quite some time, suggesting Bipolar instead. When I withdraw from it, I feel sick irritable and upset.

      It helped at first because I got out of the house, passed license, made more friends, etc. then the euphoria like effects wore off so I wanted a higher dose, then it just got worse and didn’t keep helping me or motivate me. I feel like I’m actually just inducing manic symptoms and not treating anything…I might get the same effect if I just decreased my anti-psychotics over time, I’m on a high dose of one. @ 30 mgs Abilify, got rid of all my symptoms but makes me kinda numb.

      Also, I am curious because I’m not sure the doctors are being forthright or accurate. If Vyvanse is a schedule 2 CNS stimulant, then wouldn’t Abilify be a central nervous system depressant? Wouldn’t the two medications be completely counter-acting each other? I asked but they aren’t giving me straight answers, saying Abilify works differently.

      I’ve had most psychiatrists tell me not to take stimulants or anti-depressants, because it would risk mania. I had a pictorial impression of stimulants making me feel like I was climbing an endless hill made of ice, lol. And that if I did that, because the psychiatrist scared me sufficiently plus my own helplessness when the mania started, I would never return fully 🙁

  • Richard Kensinger, MSW


    Abilify is an antipsychotic/neuroleptic that is not a CNS depressant. It is not a controlled substance, & cannot be found from street vendors! If indeed you have bipolar, an antidepressant alone can cause a manic episode. Typically, a mood stabilizer + an antidepressant is an effective combo.

    All CNS psychostimulants used over time create tolerance & cross-tolerance to all subs in this class. Thus, over the duration, users take more to achieve the original therapeutic effect.


    • Thanks for the information. A number of people have advised me on the risks of ADHD stimulant medication now. TBH it only seems to enhance my perceptions or motivate me for a brief time. I withdrew from it completely now. While I’m spacier/zoned out, more sensitive to space/light, nervous etc. I’m actually more able to focus on things than not. On Abilify alone I seem to do reeally well at learning and studying. I just have bouts of depressive or flat phases especially during october-winter time.

      I found that Abilify, in response to this discuussion on psych meds, has increased my motivation, gotten rid of disturbing hallucinations and paranoia, and helped repair my ability to reason there-fore ability to journal and track symptoms. Since I treated the onset earlier and consistently took Abilify, it seems over time my illness has gone into remission. I also have amazing therapist and doctors where I go to get help.

      They recognize my investment in recovery. Being vocal definitely helps someone recover, and open-dialogue seems like a very beneficial approach to psychological disorders, but schizophrenia is probably the most difficult one to treat with that alone.

      I can’t have hindsight on whether or not open-dialogue on its own would have helped me at the onset of the disorder, because when it first hit I was very receptive. Over time the conditioning seemed to make me less receptive to alternatives.

      So the systematic influence could be a potential issue. On the flip side, my mom has never been a supporter of psychiatry and her symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar have progressed severely over time. She got worse. I got better. I treated it. She didn’t.

      One thing that helped me recover the my lost language and reasoning was to write every single day. Really, forcing the words out of my unbalanced brain. Over time, (eight years) strictly through therapy and Abilify at high dose, I recovered everything I had lost. Including happy childhood memories, ability to learn rapidly, writing skills, etc.

      It’s still such a struggle, so much that people don’t notice because they can’t see inside my head–how much I’ve worked to regain control over my brain, self, mind.

      Because to me, it’s like schizophrenia is losing your entire will plus cognitive reasoning skills. It’s a real illness. My friends with it are constantly struggling with delusions, sometimes mania sometimes voices. I think hospitals and psychiatric facilities in the U.S. just like American public schools should educate mastery over symptoms and mastery of skills at coping with them.

      If I hadn’t had good therapists, I wouldn’t have been so motivated to self-educate once symptoms began to abate through medications.

      Lastly, referring to a previous comment: paranoid schizophrenia is thought to be more treatable than other subtypes of schizophrenia. Although my paranoia was brief, I noticed the trait of paranoia, when I was on stimulants returning…which does connect to the overload of dopamine theory, one type of cause of schizophrenia disorders. Obviously why I write and think so much, lol.

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  • As the CEO of William Glasser International, I can’t tell you how happy I am to read of your research. I’d love for you to read Dr. William Glasser’s book, Warning: Psychiatry Can be Hazardous to Your Mental Health and let me know what you think about his theory, Choice Theory, and treatment, Choice Theory focus groups.

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  • sam

    Thank you for this article.
    I completely agree that there is hope. I have 2 siblings with schizophrenia who are on antipshycotics. My father was also schizophrenic but he made a recovery without any medication. I surprised and when

  • sam

    Thank you for this article.
    I have 2 siblings with schizophrenia who are on antipshycotics. My father was also schizophrenic but he made a recovery without any medication. I was surprised and to a degree sceptical when he told me this- he told me his medication was his trust in god and that he would constantly recite Quran (the religious book for Islam) and eventually he realised that these hallucinations were all in his head. About 17 years from when he last suffered an attack he seems to be doing fine 🙂
    When I consider all these points mentioned in the article I could tick each one to say they all contributed to his recovery- though I think that he could have increased the effectiveness for each of these factors.
    This article as well as my fathers story provide me hope that my siblings will recover.

  • Julian Pilbrow

    Thank you for this article.
    I have 2 siblings this are in the work force. I was a schizophrenic but now wish to become an expat and go to Australia. I am afraid they will find out about my criminal convictions and refuse me entry. I am a captive in New Zealand and after treatment am quite afraid to leave. God help us all in this country updated with Chinese technology that no-one can use but for them ZN migrants and those tech savvy enough or multilingual. The proles are in big trouble and either walk the streets or stay home.

  • Anonymous

    I was diagnosed with schizophrenia after a traumatizing car accident I suffered a contusion on my brain and a cracked pelvis I emerged my self in drugs to cope with my paranoia and delusions which was EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND DONT RECOMMEND it made things worst especially trying to cope with reality and the anti psychotics they prescribe me which made me emotionless and vulnerable to EXTREME NERVOUSNESS & PARANOIA I found after going years with out the meds I was able to distinguish right from wrong and got my emotions back I’d rather deal with the voices in my head which I figure is my conscious AND A Physic. Appt. monthly then to take meds and suffer with making poor choices due to mind altering drugs with EXTREME SIDE EFFECTS knowing your illness and having someone to express feelings to helps me better then those AWFUL MEDICATIONS “My Opinion & proven fact for me” I don’t approve of being a science experiment with boat loads of meds I just needed someone to understand me and have knowledge that my brain trauma just made me more sensitive and alert it also open up my creative thinking it has its PRO’s & CON’s but more PRO’s then CON’s off meds THE MED’s have more CON’s then PRO’s and I experience that first hand IM NOT SAYING THROW YOUR MEDS AWAY IM JUST IMPLYING THAT INSTEAD OF DRUG’N YOURSELF UP TRY TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOURSELF AND HAVING SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS AND CARE FOR YOU AND YOUR ILLNESS WHICH MAY REALLY JUST BE A SUPER POWER WITH MILD SIDE EFFECTS!! I say that to say at the end of the day some of the way you feel is HUMAN NATURE taking med’s to block that is INSANE WITHIN ITS SELF JUST DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BECOME A RESEARCH!! FOLLOW YOUR HEART!! Sincerely -Anonymous ?

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  • Anonymous
  • K

    I am finding what you say very interesting. I was diagnosed after 5 psychotic episodes and believe that childhood trauma played a big part in my experiences and I did experience it as my psyche letting go of one way of being to come back to relate to the world in a new way. I am currently on meds but am functioning well and totally believe in a med free recovery! My journey has opened me up to christianity and it is through relationship with Christ that I find I am being healed.

  • E. element

    I DONT Believe This crap i prefer to Take my medication , at least i know what I’m counting! Best regards

  • Rich Arnold

    Hi. Here’s my story simply put. I’m sixty four now and I’ve worked all my life in a challenging profession, and have had a full lifetime recovery from SZ through never once missing a dose of risperidone (originally it was thorazine!) since my diagnosis when I was 22 years old. It’s the medication, silly! That’s the only way. Side effects? The body grows used to the medicine over time, and then you never even know you’re taking a tranquilizer. No I don’t feel “drugged” on my meds–ever! I don’t agree that they make me feel “less than myself”. No, sir! I’ve had my moments of stress and strain, but have never been hospitalized again for SZ. You may question the validity of my original diagnosis of SZ, but two things I know: I was/am 100% compliant and I have stayed out of the hospital. My brother was similarly afflicted, but he never had insight into his SZ and always went off meds and was an alcoholic to boot. His life has been an absolute mess, and I’d say he was not his true self when psychotic, but more like the true brother I knew during periods when he’s taking the meds. People don’t realize it’s “that simple, silly!” So I tell people: take your meds!

  • Jeff C.

    I think the message you are conveying is very important and invaluable. While not being someone who has experienced schizophrenia or psychosis, I am very familiar with the experience of severe and chronic depression. In my opinion mental illness (as is true with illness in general in the western model), is not understood for what it is.

    I suspect you are likely informed at least to some extent with the fact that many have found great success in addressing mental illness via proper dosing of micro-nutrients rather than medication. There is an outfit in Canada which was started by a father whose wife and children suffered from severe Bi-polar disorder. The Discovery Channel did a documentary on their story and the nutritional product which they wound up utilizing with great success and then marketing it to others. At this point there are thousands who are benefiting from the product and I am one of them.

    It also occurred to me that if you are not already familiar with it, you may find the following autobiographical book to be of value; “Manic Depression; Illness Or Awakening” by; Robert Kelly.
    It is a rather unknown yet IMO rather invaluable book in which the author describes his very intelligent ‘holistic’ journey towards healing without the use of medication. Your book and premise is certainly very related to Mr Kelly’s.

  • Weronika

    It’s very hard to achieve full recovery. I have a blog about schizophrenia in Poland and I know a lot about this problem – http://schizofrenia.net.pl/

    • Gabby

      Schizophrenia is a really complex disorder and still not widely understood. I was treating it for years, but recently consulted doctor and I went off the medication. I didn’t experience side effects or withdrawal. The only thing I notice is that when it’s late in the evening I begin to feel more energy. I’m not sure whether or not anti-psychotics are the best or most successful treatment, they can block out undesirable symptoms but do not treat the illness itself completely. I believe there are studies on Ketamine and MDMA as more successful ways of treating depression and mental illness. There are certain drugs which can completely reverse the disease, and yet patients are given ones that make them dependent and do not cure them. I personally believe that faith and conscientiousness is the most potent cure of any disease.

      I’m really tired of taking the same ineffective treatment, I want change I want the recovery I am paying for–I don’t want to take pills for the rest of my life.

  • chris

    I used to have schizophrenia. It lasted for over five years. Most of what you say here is true…to the skeptics I would say even if you cannot accept that this is curable, at the least you should accept that this approach is a positive experience for those who no one believes in that want something to believe in. Its harmless, well intentioned, and gives people the strength to deal with this disease. If I believed I couldn’t get over schizophrenia, I never would have.

  • Julian Pilbrov

    We only said you have schizophrenia twice or 3 times.
    Why dwell on it?
    Please become rubbish picker uppers now.

  • When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Thank you!

  • Kamil

    a short story of cry, anger, sadness, madness ~ ~oh. and>>
    No longer my enemies, my friends. ~Emotions

    Basically, all I had to do when I got a little used to the attacks at first was to endure, it’s started rapidly, he could always let my biochip be taken out then. Almost had a heart attack and then these scary faces and hallucinations there- no where is it? is it here orrr..
    hor temar. it’s no time von dinner. WHAT?!
    Is_it_possible that I’m losing control over my thoughts?
    Can’t do nothing to win, they know my every move, im done for.. And suddently I’m in my head there was an answer. wow. ^Hey me, are you over here?
    -how did he???…
    -So I’d guess, lucky guess. who are you? my emotions?

    And remember, dont fight them, unless you’re a maniac (hey fellow)
    Just keep in mind, I’d rather meet them and be fine. They can react perfectly both defensively and offensively on your best pulled-out-of-nowhere attack, coz you forget they saw where this attack is flying before you even your arm. Theyre great friends and can teach u many great things, but well you gotta keep that share alive. They all are powerful, and they are with you, don’t forget. Destructive – but not only – theoreticaly their powers can show here, it’s a more than theory now.
    So basically good terms with them and their condition is in my opinion other to [self-esteem/great awareness and precised goal] to be enlightened. I can’t even imagine my prev way of life. Just can’t hold perspective that close.

    Just remember, your every enemy, every problem, every dose of bad starts in you, not in your’s body, but you. be honest 🙂 don’t play around with them, be nice for them as they can return the favor nicely, you won’t regret it. Oh and along with my
    It doesn’t have to look like this, you just got the idea,
    That conversation, mine took place between november and december
    universe, basically i just expressed over 15 years of emotions in less half an hour, and that was my first lesson of emotional intelligence. Got it pretty good by now. 🙂 So as far as I know , only borderline and bipolar are left, getting closer and closer there.

    and remember that if you want to find your inner peace, maybe there is an emotion you forgot ? that very pitchy tone of it. you gotta forgive for what you’ve done, then find yourself once more, stronger and wiser than ever and more capable and potent or most of humankind.
    Good Luck!

    which is currently burning in the sea?


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  • Rita

    Hey Paris,

    I have a brother who has paranoid schizophrenia for almost four years now. He is currently on medication and is doing better than before. However, every now and then he will go through couple of months vomiting and then will stop for a while and then he starts again. I think everytime he feels like he is doing better and wants to start something new in his life like going to work or starting school he starts vomiting again. Do you know why that is and what might be the cause of it? could it be his medication which I don’t know if it is bcoz the “vomiting season” comes and goes while he takes his medication everyday. Please, any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

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  • M

    It’s not about making a full recovery and somehow mystically living with it. It can lie dormant for years without medication and then the slightest thing can spark it again.

    Yes, you can recover from it. Yes, you can live with it without medication… But you have to know damn sure what the signs of it returning are, or have someone you can anchor yourself to, because if you hit another psychotic episode without expecting it, your life is ruined.

  • Santo Musumeci

    my wife and I are at our wits end…..after our son was diagnosed
    with schizophrenic. After nine years of one psychiatrist after another and four trips under a 302 in handcuffs to the hospital our son has said “enough is enough” and has sworn off of all medications and psychiatrists.

    Is there anyone here in the Philadelphia area we can speak with about our boy?

    Please advise and thank you.

    • Hi Santo,

      If you’re willing to send me a short paragraph about the situation with your son (his anomalous experiences, behavior, etc.), I can post it on one of my forums (leaving out any identifying information) and see if I can find someone in your area who may be able to support him/you all. Also, I recommend taking some time to peruse the resource section of my own website to see if any of these may be helpful.

      Best wishes,

    • I was diagnosed with schizophrenia
      98 percent of all psychiatrists are stupid and treat their patients as their salves
      sometimes being very intelligent and noting able to use it may cause diseases
      I’m quite happy to stopped medication in the best time after 7 year
      tell him to don’t afraid of his shadow!

      feel free to contact me

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  • GregM

    How I Cured My Mental Illness
    I read that omega-3 was being used for psychiatric disorders and gave it a try for myself. It didn’t work, but I noticed that after 13 years my urine had no calcium sediments in it anymore. Before omega-3 supplements any extra calcium I ate showed up as extra urine sediment. I then read that calcium was important for proper neuron function and added calcium supplements to my diet thinking that I might not be getting enough. I increased the amount until I started seeing calcium sediments in my urine again. My mental symptoms stopped then. I believe the mechanism for the success of omega-3 is through its ability to allow the body to maintain a higher blood level of calcium. Higher calcium levels are known to reduce the level of excitability of neurons. Perhaps omega-3 allows the kidneys to reabsorb calcium to a level that satisfies all the body’s requirements. Incidentally, lithium also lowers urine calcium (increases blood calcium) and omega-3 is also being used to treat kidney stones (indicates high urine calcium).

  • khandkar G. Sabir

    Dear Paris,
    It happens one in millions. We got back our youngest brother after 18 years
    Of missing in December 5, 2013. He went missing when he was 13 years old and a
    Student of Grade 5 in a reputed Govt. Boys School in Dhaka, Bangldesh in 2005. Last month
    We discovered him in a remote sub urban city of Jessore, a sothern district of Bangladesh,
    Adjacent to neighboring Indian state of West Bengal. He was playing and living with
    Nearly 15 dogs. He hardly ever spoke with the local people. He shared most of his food
    With those dogs. When we admitted him in the Central Medical University of the country, Docors declared that he has been suffering from negative schizophrenia. But he accurately
    Recognized our family members. Even the recalled the name of the country river. The problem is he has forgotten his mother tongue- the Bangla. He speaks well in Hindi and English.He doesn’t say anything until anything is asked about.And replies with few words.

    What could be the right kind of treatment for him? Where can might get the best possible treatment of this.Have there any international organization or world class state of the art institution to help us to get the full recovery of his illness?

    With best


    • nitram

      Got diagnosed with negative schizophrenia(schizophrenia simplex) in 1997. New docs doubt the validity of that diagnose but I unsure as I doubt theyre not stupid,

      Risperidone 6-8 mg worsened condition,
      SSRI Fluoxetine helped for depression, Despite asking for them 97 I wasnt given them until 2000 or so, maybe they thought you cant be depressed and suffer from schizophrenia negative symptoms.
      SSRI + Wellbutrin worked for social anhedonia for 5 days. Got urticaria and had to quit, dont know about longterm efficiency.

      Abilify may be interesting but personally I suspect the sideeffects isnt worth it, as is low dose amisulpride.
      Sarcosine powder also seems interesting sadly there’s scums in the custom.
      Get a pet or two. Animals are good in all sorts of way.

  • Philip Plöger

    This blog is a source of healing itself.

    • Philip Plöger

      What I ment was, that it’s a “proof” of healing, and that itself is helpful.

  • Ward Clifford

    I read the blogs and it’s very interesting. I have a question here. Are people who have drug addiction problem can be the cause of Schizophrenia?

    • Anonymous

      Stupefaction and death walk hand in hand through the aons.
      Opiates, nicotine, alcohol.
      All addictive,
      and they all practice stupefaction when it gets bad enough.

      You do the numbers!

    • mojtabi

      The reason for addiction can cause to psychosis
      I was diagnosed with schizophrenia
      now I don’t use of any drug and almost healed


  • Jim Taylor

    For recover from schizophrenia from Ayurvedic treatment-

    Natural home remedy using cardamom powder:

    1. Take 1 glass hot water
    2. Add 1 tsp cardamom powder
    3. Mix well
    4. Leave it for 10 min
    5. Sieve the mixture
    6. Drink while lukewarm

    Natural home remedy using licorice powder:

    1. Take 2 tsp licorice powder
    2. Add 200 ml water
    3. Boil it till the water reduces to half
    4. Strain the mixture
    5. Consume the water when lukewarm, first thing every morning

    source- http://www.homeveda.com/mental-and-neurological/natural-ayurvedic-home-remedies-for-schizophrenia.html

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    • nitram

      Spamming crook, what does your males coitushabits has to do with this blog?

Paris Williams, PhD

Paris Williams, PhD, works as a psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area. He holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Saybrook University. He offers the rare perspective of someone who has experienced psychosis from both sides — as a researcher and psychologist, and as someone who has himself fully recovered after struggling with psychotic experiences. In his book “Rethinking Madness,” Dr. Williams takes the reader step by step on a highly engaging journey of discovery, exploring how the mainstream understanding of schizophrenia has become so profoundly misguided, while crafting a much more accurate and hopeful vision of madness.

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