• Share. Be Supported. Recover.

    We are a friendly, safe community supporting each other's mental health. We are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Do You Think It’s Real? Responding to Alternate Realities

cpuusage

ACCOUNT CLOSED
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
37,634
Location
Planet Lunatic Asylum
Do You Think It's Real? Responding to Alternate Realities | Mad In America

Will Hall

December 31, 2014

Everyone has beliefs that seem too bizarre, illogical, or fantastic to someone else to accept. Religious views, paranormal interpretations, political convictions, interpersonal conflicts — all can put us in a category where other people consider what we think to be incomprehensible. Just spend time with someone from a different culture than yours, and you are likely to encounter things that don’t make any sense to you at all, yet the other person is living with them as if they were true.

We’ve learned to co-exist with different beliefs as one of our most cherished values of tolerance in a multicultural society. That lesson can be key for encountering the different realities that in situations where someone is being called psychotic, delusional, schizophrenic or mentally ill. Respect and support may stretch our thinking, but can be vital to recovery. Cross-culturally, we accept that even the most strange or unfamiliar belief has value, meaning, and purpose in the person’s life. We give it the benefit of the doubt. The same is true of bizarre beliefs that get called psychosis. And using diagnostic language instead can amount to the same kind of put-down that goes with cultural supremacy and racist insult.

Arguing to convince someone to change their belief rarely works under the best of circumstances. And it rarely works in times of the high stress, conflict, and desperation — when someone is in extreme emotional suffering and their belief might be a part of them defending themselves. Pushing someone to change their belief, especially in the context of power differences and a history of argument and struggle, can just inflame a situation and drive people into greater isolation. Families and mental health professionals commonly forget this, undermining the relationships of support that are so crucial to recovery.

We forget this partly because of the ideology of mental illness as brain disorder. Strange beliefs, we are told, are symptoms of mental illness, nothing more and nothing less. Broken brain computation. But the biological ideology is only part of why we challenge strange beliefs. We also have common sense experiences of strange beliefs turning out to not be real. When people are feverish or intoxicated, for example, or distraught after a breakup or betrayal, they may start to believe something very unlikely or strange. Extreme sadness can color our thinking so that we start to believe very dire, and untrue, things about reality. We then reasonably expect the belief to pass and we can be confident in our insistence it isn’t real. And people often do want to be reassured about reality being “real,” that the feverish vision is a result of their high temperature, the rage they feel is from the wine they just drank, their suspicion is just a sign they are upset at ending their relationship, and their predictions of failing at work are just signs they are depressed. We often appreciate challenges to our mistaken ideas from people we trust. When someone is afraid and emotional, they can start to conjure possible realities, and having a friend dispell those beliefs and get us back in reality is often a very useful way to respond.

But not always. I do sometimes work with people through “reality checking,” and I have even said “Is that real, or is that part of your altered state? Might this belief change later?” to people. But only if that kind of questioning is useful to the person. In my own life I might have a worry or fear, and want my friend to say “Will, that’s just not true.” It can be enormously relieving – sometimes. Other times, someone challenging my reality is the worst thing they can do. It all depends on what kind of internal dialogue I might be having, what kind of needs I have, and the power of the emotional caught up in the belief. And if you get it wrong I am generally going to let you know pretty quickly, and trust in our friendship then requires you to listen and respond in a new way.

Generally I don’t challenge a person unless they are themselves in a dialogue of challenging themselves. I’ll help them explore both sides – but crucially I will suspend my own judgment, helping them discover their own belief and the best way for others to engage with them. Through getting to know the person I learn what is helpful to them.

Typically people I work with have strange beliefs held strongly because they have so often been challenged by the very people they need support from. A common scenario in family work is to explore the possibility of accepting, rather than challenging the belief. I often ask “how is it going to tell your son he is delusional? Is that effective?” If it isn’t, it is time to look at other approaches. And a belief held 99% can quickly become a rigid 100% belief when it is under attack. Telling someone they are mentally ill is one of the most extreme kinds of challenges imaginable, because it essentially says the person’s belief system — and their very act of thinking — should be completely discounted and ignored. This is why it is often so vitally important to drop the effort to convince someone they are mentally ill — not just because the science isn’t solid behind the biological and diagnostic model, but because it helps defuse the power struggle between who is right and who is wrong, and establishes the mutuality of respect for different views that is the foundation of any true relationship.

But what if the belief is just too strange to be true? Defies logic and reason and even the laws of physics? Personally I may have an advantage in these situations, because I have experienced some pretty strange things and as a result I have a very spiritual perspective on what is “real.” Demons, telepathy, synchronistic time travel messages — my world has visited alternate realities. When someone tells me about theirs, I can relate. I may say “I didn’t witness this, but I believe it is possible,” and I feel very comfortable saying this, because I know that reality — or multiple realities – are much stranger than things might seem. I’ve experienced that truth myself.

Often it is possible to find some parallel experience to help people relate. A good question to help defuse conflict is to ask, “Was there ever a time in your own life when everyone around you didn’t believe something vitally important to you? Do you think this might be parallel to what is happening to the person you want to support?” I also often encourage people to listen to the feelings and emotions around a belief. Someone who has survived violence wants to be believed because they want to be accepted and supported emotionally. Sometimes it can be very useful to set aside any doubts or challenge and instead focus on the emotional need for support, connection, and validation. If someone asks if you believe them, you can say you know their experience is real because you can see how it affects them, how emotionally hurt they are. You can acknowledge that you were not there and can’t be a witness, but you do witness the reality of their suffering. And you can ask them what they are experiencing now, and tell them that you believe 100% that it is real – because you trust they are not lying and you know that whatever they are experiencing is real. You might not know how to interpret it, but you know it is real.

The logic, objectivity, and debates about what is “real” generally start to have less and less importance once a relation of support, respect, and listening is established. The issue of “reality” is put in a different light .The real focus can be on the person’s life, their needs, and their experience of suffering – not whether they are in touch with “reality” or not. People can get on with relating with each other, and move beyond the narrow power struggle. Scientists and philosophers have been debating for millennia what is reality: there is no need to answer that question now. Instead we can focus on caring for each other.

My colleague Tim Dreby is a living example of this different approach to alternate realities. Parallel to the Hearing Voices Movement Tim developed his own methods that I find deeply inspiring. His personal ‘messages crisis’ is an extraordinary story that would make a great Hollywood film, full of intrigue and drama. Today he works with people in support groups and private practice by sharing his own experiences and how he manages them, and comparing with what others have been through.

____________________________________

I just interviewed Tim for Madness Radio, and you can listen to our show here — it’s free, so please support Madness Radio by leaving a comment and spreading the link:

Special Messages | Tim Dreby | Madness Radio | Madness Radio

Special Message from Tim Dreby | Madness Radio

What if coded messages, covert realities, and elaborate plots can be seen only by you? Does that mean you are out of touch with reality — “paranoid” and “psychotic?” Or could it be true that you really are a target – but you are so upset that everyone thinks you are the problem instead?

Tim Dreby, a psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay Area and author of an upcoming memoir, is a survivor of a schizophrenia diagnosis who endured a life threatening — and real — encounter with gangsters, police, and political conspiracy. Today he leads support groups for people facing overwhelming intuitions, coded messages, and mind control, helping them regain control and heal from trauma.

Welcome to Hidden Thoughts Press Tim Dreby | LinkedIn

___________________________________

Will Hall

Living With Mental Diversity: A Process Work therapist, teacher, schizophrenia survivor and host of Madness Radio writes about discovering new ways to understand mental illness as a meaningful and purposeful part of what it is to be human.
 

cpuusage

ACCOUNT CLOSED
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
37,634
Location
Planet Lunatic Asylum
Tamasin Knight: Beyond Belief - Alternative Ways of Working with Delusions, Obsessions and Unusual Experiences. EPUB-ISBN 978-0-9545428-2-5, MOBI-ISBN 978-0-9545428-7-0

http://www.psycope.co.uk/resources/beyond-belief recommendation.pdf

Tamasin Knight's first book Beyond Belief explores ways of helping people who have unusual beliefs. These are beliefs that may be called delusions, obsessions, or another kind of psychopathology.

Psychiatric treatment attempts to remove these beliefs by medication and other methods. The new approach described in Beyond Belief is different. It is about accepting the individual's own reality and assisting them to cope and live with their beliefs.

Beyond Belief explains the new approach in a very readable format.

Many psychological techniques to cope with unusual beliefs are described. These include strategies to reduce fear, strategies to increase coping and problem solving techniques.

Ideal for mental health professionals, service users/survivors and carers.

"Beyond Belief offers us a ground-breaking way of helping people deal with unusual beliefs. In Bradford we have found this publication to be extremely helpful to service users, workers and as the inspiration for a new self help group. I am sure that this publication will enable more people to benefit from this knowledge and approach and help us change the way we as a society approach beliefs we find unusual" (Rufus May; Clinical Psychologist, Centre for Citizenship and Community Mental Health, Bradford University, England).
 
BlueBerry

BlueBerry

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 13, 2014
Messages
1,261
Location
Edinburgh
It's an interesting article that makes me think a bit more about psychosis and delusions.

I've read in a book before that delusional beliefs are often a way for the individual to cover up some sort of extreme emotional pain and suffering, so I sometimes wonder if trying to "cure" the belief is actually the right way to go? Maybe they can live a much happier, safer and healthier life with the delusional belief in place? If they're not hurting anyone with their abnormal belief, then what's the problem?

I don't pretend to know what the solution would be... maybe just find a way to work around it or make sure that the belief is compatible with social norms or something?

Sorry, I'm babbling now. :LOL:
 
M

Mastiff mom

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 22, 2014
Messages
1,157
Location
Washington,DC
My personal experience with psychiatrists and hospitalizations has been mostly alienating. I had one psychiatrist ask me my history ( a childhood full of every kind of abuse) and when I recalled these painful experiences he cut me off, saying none of that matters, it's in the past. That pissed me off and I knew I was in the wrong hands. I needed someone to validate my experiences and really listen to where my head was. I have had a harrowing experience with psychiatry and therapists. Makes me wish I could live my life without any of them. I am very fortunate right now to have a good psychiatrist. He listens and doesn't impose on me. He may challenge me but he's very respectful. He' s a blessing to me. A rare experience.
 

cpuusage

ACCOUNT CLOSED
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
37,634
Location
Planet Lunatic Asylum
Do You Think It's Real? Responding to Alternate Realities | Madness Radio

Some thoughts after interviewing Tim Dreby:

Everyone has beliefs that seem too bizarre, illogical, or fantastic to someone else to accept. Religious views, paranormal interpretations, political convictions, interpersonal conflicts — all can put us in a category where other people consider what we think to be incomprehensible. Just spend time with someone from a different culture than yours, and you are likely to encounter things that don’t make any sense to you at all, yet the other person is living with them as if they were true.

We’ve learned to co-exist with different beliefs as one of our most cherished values of tolerance in a multicultural society. That lesson can be key for encountering the different realities in situations where someone is being called psychotic, delusional, schizophrenic or mentally ill.

Respect and support may stretch our thinking, but can be vital to recovery. Cross-culturally, we accept that even the most strange or unfamiliar belief has value, meaning, and purpose in the person’s life. We give it the benefit of the doubt. The same is true of bizarre beliefs that get called psychosis. And using diagnostic language instead can amount to the same kind of put-down that goes with cultural supremacy and racist insult.Arguing to convince someone to change their belief rarely works under the best of circumstances. And it rarely works in times of high stress, conflict, and desperation — when someone is in extreme emotional suffering and their belief might be a part of them defending themselves. Pushing someone to change their belief, especially in the context of power differences and a history of argument and struggle, can just inflame a situation and drive people into greater isolation. Families and mental health professionals commonly forget this, undermining the relationships of support that are so crucial to recovery.

We forget this partly because of the ideology of mental illness as brain disorder. Strange beliefs, we are told, are symptoms of mental illness, nothing more and nothing less. Broken brain computation. But the biological ideology is only part of why we challenge strange beliefs. We also have common sense experiences of strange beliefs turning out to not be real. When people are feverish or intoxicated, for example, or distraught after a breakup or betrayal, they may start to believe something very unlikely or strange. Extreme sadness can color our thinking so that we start to believe very dire, and untrue, things about reality. We then reasonably expect the belief to pass and we can be confident in our insistence it isn’t real. And people often do want to be reassured about reality being “real,” that the feverish vision is a result of their high temperature, the rage they feel is from the wine they just drank, their suspicion is just a sign they are upset at ending their relationship, and their predictions of failing at work are just signs they are depressed. We often appreciate challenges to our mistaken ideas from people we trust. When someone is afraid and emotional, they can start to conjure impossible realities, and having a friend dispell those beliefs and get us back in reality is often a very useful way to respond.

But not always. I do sometimes work with people through “reality checking,” and I have even said “Is that real, or is that part of your altered state? Might this belief change later?” to people. But only if that kind of questioning is useful to the person. In my own life I might have a worry or fear, and want my friend to say “Will, that’s just not true.” It can be enormously relieving – sometimes. Other times, someone challenging my reality is the worst thing they can do. It all depends on what kind of internal dialogue I might be having, what kind of needs I have, and the power of the emotions caught up in the belief. And if you get it wrong I am generally going to let you know pretty quickly, and our friendship then requires you to listen and respond in a new way.

Generally I don’t challenge a person unless they are themselves in a dialogue of challenging themselves. I’ll help them explore both sides – but crucially I will suspend my own judgment, helping them discover their own belief and the best way for others to engage with them. Through getting to know the person I learn what is helpful to them.

Typically people I work with have strange beliefs held strongly because they have so often been challenged by the very people they need support from. A common scenario in family counseling is to explore the possibility of accepting, rather than challenging, the belief. I often ask “how is it going to tell your son he is delusional? Is that effective?” If it isn’t, it is time to look at other approaches. And a belief held 99% can quickly become a rigid 100% belief when it is under attack – stopping the challenge may paradoxically make someone more open to change.

Telling someone they are mentally ill is one of the most extreme kinds of challenges imaginable, because it essentially says the person’s belief system — and their very act of thinking — should be completely discounted and ignored. This is why it is often so vitally important to drop the effort to convince someone they are mentally ill — not just because the science isn’t solid behind the biological and diagnostic model, but because dropping the challenge helps defuse the power struggle between who is right and who is wrong. It establishes mutuality of respect for different views, which is the foundation of any true relationship.

But what if the belief is just too strange to be true? Defies logic and reason and even the laws of physics? Personally I may have an advantage in these situations, because I have experienced some pretty strange things, and as a result I have a very spiritual perspective on what is “real.” Demons, telepathy, synchronistic time travel messages — my world has visited alternate realities. When someone tells me about theirs, I can relate. I may say “I didn’t witness this, but I believe it is possible,” and I feel very comfortable saying this, because I know that reality — or multiple realities — are much stranger than things might seem. I’ve experienced that truth myself.

Often it is possible to find some parallel experience to help people relate. A good question to help defuse conflict is to ask, “Was there ever a time in your own life when everyone around you didn’t believe something vitally important to you? Do you think this might be parallel to what is happening to the person you want to support?” “Were you ever hurt terribly – and have the pain become even worse because people didn’t believe you?”

I also often encourage people to listen to the feelings and emotions around a belief. Someone who has survived violence wants to be believed because they want to be accepted and supported emotionally. They want to not be alone with their terror. Sometimes it can be very useful to set aside any doubts or challenge and instead focus on the emotional need for support, connection, and validation. If someone asks if you believe them, you can say you know their experience is real because you can see how it affects them, how hurt they are. You can acknowledge that you were not there and can’t be a witness, but at the same time you are a witness the reality of their suffering. And you can ask them what they are experiencing now, and tell them that you believe 100% that it is real – because you trust they are not lying and you know that whatever they are experiencing is real. You might not know how to interpret it, but you know it is real, because they experience it happening to them.

The logic, objectivity, and debates about what is “real” generally start to have less and less importance once a relation of support, respect, and listening is established. The issue of “reality” is put in a different light. The real focus can be on the person’s life, their needs, and their experience of suffering – not whether they are in touch with “reality” or not. People can get on with relating with each other, and move beyond the narrow power struggle. Scientists and philosophers have been debating for millennia what is reality: there is no need to answer that question now. Instead we can focus on caring for each other.

My colleague Tim Dreby is a living example of this different approach to alternate realities. Parallel to the Hearing Voices Movement Tim developed his own methods that I find deeply inspiring. His personal ‘messages crisis’ is an extraordinary story that would make a great Hollywood film, full of intrigue and drama. Today he works with people in support groups and private practice by sharing his own experiences and how he manages them, and comparing with what others have been through.

I just interviewed Tim for Madness Radio, and you can listen to our show here — it’s free, so please support Madness Radio by leaving a comment and spreading the link:

Special Messages | Tim Dreby | Madness Radio | Madness Radio

Special Message from Tim Dreby | Madness Radio

What if coded messages, covert realities, and elaborate plots can be seen only by you? Does that mean you are out of touch with reality — “paranoid” and “psychotic?” Or could it be true that you really are a target – but you are so upset that everyone thinks you are the problem instead?

Tim Dreby, a psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay Area and author of an upcoming memoir, is a survivor of a schizophrenia diagnosis who endured a life threatening — and real — encounter with gangsters, police, and political conspiracy. Today he leads support groups for people facing overwhelming intuitions, coded messages, and mind control, helping them regain control and heal from trauma.

Welcome to Hidden Thoughts Press Tim Dreby | LinkedIn
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
T Cops may need real help like we do Mental Health Experiences 13
A Is this real or not? Mental Health Experiences 7
Ras getting real tired of psychiatrist, doctors and nurses Mental Health Experiences 13
T I feel like shit even though i don't have real problems Mental Health Experiences 22
Mr Oreo Bunny Everyone else has such real problems Mental Health Experiences 5
M Is there any real hope for me? Mental Health Experiences 3
H Have you been told you are paranoid? When you know its all real? Mental Health Experiences 8
H First Love - First real heartbreak, HELP? Mental Health Experiences 7
P Am I a real nobody? Mental Health Experiences 2
F I dont know what is the real mental issue is going on to me. please help Mental Health Experiences 6
R HELP. ROCD or real feelings! Mental Health Experiences 1
C Real memories of abuse or an over active mind ? Mental Health Experiences 1
W I really want a real life hug Mental Health Experiences 15
C Hearing voices was a very real experience Mental Health Experiences 3
myownveryone Getting Dreams Nad Real Life Mixed Up Mental Health Experiences 11
LoneKnight is anyone real anymore? Mental Health Experiences 1
C persecutery delusion or real???going crazy Mental Health Experiences 12
moyet Disturbing nightmares and feeling like nothing is real Mental Health Experiences 7
J Is my Mom's Fiance real? Mental Health Experiences 8
K my voices think they're real people. Mental Health Experiences 14
cpuusage ADHD 'not a real disease', neuroscientist claims Mental Health Experiences 7
Living dead How do I know what's real? Mental Health Experiences 10
NatP1 is it real? Mental Health Experiences 11
F real or not. Mental Health Experiences 7
L Feel real bad today Mental Health Experiences 7
M what reality is the real one? Mental Health Experiences 13
K I love someone who isn't real? Mental Health Experiences 11
F Believing in things that are not real Mental Health Experiences 3
S I'm getting in a real trouble Mental Health Experiences 8
A Just accept it: The voices are real Mental Health Experiences 1
V Talking to somebody who isn't real Mental Health Experiences 10
skitzofrantik had enough real life for one day Mental Health Experiences 11
J Remembering images and memories from childhood that aren't real? [Cannabis + Alcohol] Mental Health Experiences 7

Similar threads

Top