I Split – Mind (Ancient Greek)
People often jokingly describe themselves as “schizo” when they have opposing feelings about a single thing simultaneously. Or if they’re feeling ambivalent and can’t make up their mind. They think schizophrenia means “split personality.” This is probably because the origin of the word schizophrenia is schizo, meaning “I split,” and phrene, meaning “mind” in ancient Greek.
However, if you have ever met a person suffering with unmedicated symptoms of schizophrenia, you are well aware that what they are experiencing is far more complicated than ambivalence.
Alternatively, people think of schizophrenia as totally mysterious and kind of scary. This is usually because they have only seen some of the more extreme symptoms of a person diagnosed with it.
In an effort to dispel the myth that schizophrenia is simply ambivalence, and to cast some light on the mysterious symptoms of it, I offer this idea: schizophrenia: the waking dream state.
Schizophrenia: The Waking Dream State
First, imagine yourself a dreamer.
You are asleep.
Your body is almost completely still.
Your consciousness is not connected to reality. All your emotions, urges and tensions are expressed as images and sounds in your mind, with no bodily involvement. Reality rarely impinges on the experience. Sometimes, even when it does, it is incorporated into your dream. For instance, an alarm clock creating a noise coming from some object in your dream.
You, the dreamer, are completely separated from reality in the sanctuary of your mind. As a dreamer, you are in a schizophrenic state. Your conscious mind is “split” from the feelings in your body and from reality around you.
Feelings Become External
Just like sleeping dreamers, people who suffer from schizophrenia often have bodies that are very still and soft. They do not have a lot of muscle tone. Their faces can have a mask-like appearance.
Under stress is when symptoms of schizophrenia are apparent. At this time, the person’s conscious mind can be out of touch with reality. Most of their feelings, meaning, their emotions, urges and tensions, are represented in their minds as images or sounds instead of experienced consciously as coming from their bodies. As a result, those things are experienced as coming from outside of them and intruding on them. Or as being outside of themselves so they are experienced as sights or sounds that no one else sees or hears. Hallucinations.
The Waking Dream State
Schizophrenia would be as if you, the sleeping dreamer, were suddenly awake and perceiving your surroundings as you continued to dream. You are not consciously aware of the emotions, urges or tensions in your body. And you are still experiencing your dream as if it were real. You would not be consciously aware of your emotions, but the part of your mind (your unconscious) that is connected to the feelings in your body would be sending you that information through images, sounds, voices, etc. Just like when you are the sleeping dreamer.
So, as you can see, the symptoms of schizophrenia are not such a mystery after all. It is a “split,” just as you might guess from the word. However, rather than being a split in “personality,” the split occurs between the conscious mind and feelings in the body. This is similar to your experience as a sleeping dreamer, it’s just more extreme and happens while the person is awake.
Why it happens is more mysterious. Although currently classified as a mental illness, schizophrenia is now scientifically accepted as a neurobiological brain illness. But without the CDC reclassification of schizophrenia as a brain disease, there is very little money available to research a cure or implement more successful protocols.
However, there is a grassroots movement to change that. And it is coming out of Harvard Medical School, led by Dr. Chris Palmer. He is getting to the physiological origins of schizophrenia and implementing successful treatments that address the metabolic disorders that are creating the symptoms of schizophrenia.
“Mental disorders are metabolic disorders of the brain.”
Read all about it in his 2022 book, Brain Energy.
If you want to understand more, give me a call. We’ll talk.