You may now be able to stream this BBC2 Horizon programme from YouTube. The subject of psychosis is huge so after the usual introductory stuff, this programme focused on new therapies, mainly to cope with hearing voices.
The programme was specifically about a group of people who all have psychosis, with the 3 main elements of hearing voices, visual hallucinations, and paranoia. By showing these people having psychotic experiences it gave a good insight to what psychosis is. It then went on to explain dopamine overload in the brain and how medications try to dampen it down, side effects etc. It explained that the medics still don’t know why somebody develops psychosis, and then explored a few surprising reasons that increase the likelihood, including being brought up in an urban environment, and abuse in childhood. Of course, this only touched the surface as the root causes are far more complex and wide ranging. I think the program was trying to show that research is uncovering some surprises about what can increase the risk of developing psychosis.
After all this introductory stuff, the program turned to new non medication therapies that are often still at the research stage. Most of these therapies are not yet widely available, and are expensive. The cheap and easy option for psychiatrists is still, unfortunately, to prescribe a pill.
—psychiatry has treated voices and hallucinations as an enemy—
Some of these new therapies are working on the idea that a person hearing voices can communicate with their abusive voices (the enemy) to condition them to become friends, for example, or subordinates, rather than the enemy. So instead of trying to push the voices away, which perhaps gives them strength, the psychiatrist works with the person to befriend the voice, or assert authority over them, or to have dialogue with the voices to understand what they are trying to achieve.
There’s nothing revolutionary in this programme, but we can all take some relief in knowing there is research going on out there, and some of it is a little more enterprising than a new drug that will only work in some people and will have bad side effects.