Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How common is it for people with schizophrenia to talk about their voices with family members

Jung’s theory on this is what he coined the “collective unconscious” which is a well of patterns, stories and themes all humans share. And it relates to a personal unconscious which elaborates on these themes within an individual’s experiences and social context. Dreams and manifestations of schizophrenia are similar in that they act out these patterns and make them conscious to the dreamer/sufferer. A difference is the dreamer wakes up and realizes it’s a dream, whereas a person with schizophrenia experiences the unconscious content while they are awake—assuming it’s all real.

Dreams may all seem different to dreamers, because they are focused on personalized specifics of dream content. Just as people with schizophrenia are heavily focused on the specifics of their delusions. In my case the story of the FBI following me was all in the personal details, how they came to follow me, why they wouldn’t go away, how I became aware of them, steps I took to communicate to them, what they had done/are doing/would do to me, etc. These details are meaningless and at times nonsensical to outside observers, because first, they don’t accept the premise that the details are real, and second they lack the back-story context that makes these details “real” to the person with schizophrenia. They all sound the same, and the details don’t matter. Yet in a hospital context, we might pick apart another patient’s story as “crazy” while professing ours to be completely “normal”. My experience is folie a deux is less common than you’d think. Caregivers often don’t take the time and considerable effort it takes to extract and understand the point of view of the sufferer. Dr. Amador’s LEAP process offers a practical (if laborious) way to get at this information for lay people.

While I was in analysis my therapy alternated between talking about my life and bringing in dreams to discuss. Some dreams were less useful than others, just as I’m sure some of you have bizarre dreams that seem like cleaning out the garbage of experiences from days or events before. Sometimes I would have “diagnostic dreams” which were interesting to my therapist and we’d talk about them at length and she’d ask me about details and what they meant to me.

Similarly I expect you’ve had dreams with similar patterns to other people and perhaps your own—you just think no one else has them because you are focused on the details and not overall patterns. To illustrate this, here’s a recurring dream I have: I’m backstage at a theatre and I have to perform in a play I’m unfamiliar with and in a role I don’t know. A variant of this might add that I have to perform nude or in my underwear or otherwise embarrassing or compromising position. This may seem very specific to me as an actor, but it’s essentially the same as the unexpected test, or exam, or report, or speech, or job presentation dream countless people have had. Or the “being vulnerable in public” dream many people have. In these simple examples the “collective unconscious” part might be “fear of being unprepared” or “fear of being exposed” and the personal and social elaborative context might be the setting or the audience or the subject.

One way to think about it is the collective unconscious is a set of outlines, stock characters and tropes, and the personal unconscious is the experiences and settings that we as dreamers use to write our own stories as dreams. When you have active schizophrenia the stories manifest as more elaborate delusions, since you can “write” more complex narratives when you are effectively dreaming 24/7 and while conscious can retain much more of the dreams that dreamers quickly forget, so delusions can be truly “epic”.

Joseph Campbell built on Jung’s work and wrote “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” which posits that essentially all of mythology is parts of a universal mono-myth retold over and over and spans cultures millennia. He writes mainly about the universal “hero’s journey”, but also other common recurring stories about creation, salvation; destruction ( ex. flood stories) and oblivion (ex. Armageddon). His work in turn inspired George Lucas to create the Star Wars myth as a myth for modern times.

This is all a gross oversimplification of Jungian thought, and I don’t profess to be an expert or its efficacy for other people or as a treatment for schizophrenia. One of the first questions my analyst asked me was how much I knew about Jungian Psychology, and I said “not much”. She said it didn’t matter, I didn’t need to know anything about it for it to work.

I know more now, but bear in mind Jungian Psychology predated modern psychopharmacology and my psychologist required I be evaluated by a psychiatrist for treatment prior to working with her. It has its flaws and is not a panacea, and isn’t particularly useful in those without insight. It was developed before we had drugs and brain imaging and the like, and there’s now a post Jungian movement which seeks to merge Jung’s ideas with modern neuroscience and research on consciousness. I don’t post about Jungian theory much other than mention my Jungian therapies, as it’s not as universally helpful as psychiatric treatment and LEAP, but it serves to help offer possible explanations to your questions.

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Thank you for your response and great information - you are a wealth of information - Turkey dinner is almost ready - Happy Thanksgiving from Canada :maple_leaf::fallen_leaf:

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@Lovemom
In contrast my government are following me was completely without details.
They had maybe put cameras in my room to stop people like me ever seeking a job in government or becoming an M.P
Because I sometimes used drugs
That was as elaborate as the thinking behind it went
It was so vague… one of the least detailed and also had no backstory or content and was more than more off than on and only lasted about 3 days

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Hello,
My son is the same. He is 27years old. He never discusses what is going on in his head with us his parents or his mental health team. I know he must hears voices and sees things but will never tell me so. Its so hard to watch on and not be able to help. He also likes to switch the topic when its related to his mental health or important conversations about it.

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Thank you for sharing your experience - it’s always helpful

The first days and week of my surveillance delusion were similar. It took weeks and months to fully elaborate. At first I just had a feeling I was being watched and then starting observing and building a picture of what was going on. It was all speculative to me until I thought I heard someone speaking from a building above saying something like “yeah, we’re FBI or CIA or something alright.” This was after I said something to that effect over the phone a few days before. I was like living in a spy novel or detective story at times.

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I’d love to talk to people about the content of my voices. If asked, I would do so very happily, but for me the best strategy to life after diagnosis is to perfect the art of acting like a healthy person. That means keeping the world in my head separate from the world outside of it. I’m diagnosed btw, very rarely post, just wanted to throw that out there though. My voices are mostly positive (not insulting) and I’m not delusional so I don’t believe they are coming from anything other than a misfiring brain. It’s sort of like listening to a person in a dream, except it happens while you’re awake. Would not mind talking about it or revealing exactly what the voices say, especially to a friend or family member. That’s just me though.

Wishing you and your brother the best!

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This is very helpful to me. I just want to try to understand what it is like to be my brother so I can better relate to him. I am assuming that you are on medication now?
I am wondering how the medication makes you feel? Does it make the voices disappear completely? Or does it just make them less noticeable?

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You are such a wealth of knowledge and it really helps reading your posts. I am just trying to understand what the best way for me to interact with my brother so that he will trust me in the future. My parents were the ones dealing with him for most of his life post schizophrenia. I was living in another state and raising a family. I definitely saw my brother when I came to visit, but our conversations were all on the surface.
Now my father is dead and my mother has dementia, so it will be me that will have to figure out what his future will look like. The only way I can move forward with that is if I build trust with him.

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The LEAP method and training seems to me the best approach to build trust and gain insight into his experiences. It’s probably clear by now there’s a wide range of experiences of DXed people, so you’ll only learn his experience by asking in a trusting environment. For me most of this was within therapy. I have talked about voices and other symptoms in a couple other contexts, and my experience is people seem either uncomfortable or disinterested or both. They clam-up or want to change the subject.

As @agent101g says, there were certainly times early on in my illness I was more than willing to talk about “voices” and delusions, over time though as arguments over whether medication would changes things or my experience being just in my head, reticence to talking about them became a learned behavior. Depending on past experiences, you may have trust building to do before you can talk about them. Schizophrenia as an experience can be very lonely and lack of willingness to talk about symptoms without judgement can feel devaluing.

If you are interested in getting someone with SZ to open up about voices or any other symptom, my advice is to project interest in the person’s experience without judgement, be patient, be a good and accurate listener, make them feel valued and important, let them be the expert about themselves, don’t tell them what they are supposed to think and feel. LEAP training favors the ‘reporter’ model. I might add a scientist or researcher model would likely work equally well. People like to tell their own story and be valued.

If you are interested in LEAP training, there’s a session offered this weekend. It’s the last one offered this year. See the following link:

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I really like this statement

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I am on medication now. It doesn’t make me feel that much different than normal, but I’m on a much lower dose than I used to be on. I’m taking 7.5mg per day of Zyprexa. When we started out we were doing 20mg… and when I was on a different antipsychotic, Seroquel, they had me on a very high 600mg dose which caused me to feel lethargic.

The doctor originally told me 7.5mg was not enough of a dose to be considered theraputic, but it still manages my symptoms and more importantly isn’t strong enough of a dose to knock me out or make me feel “zombified.”

For a lot of people the medicine gets rid of voices. For me, it simply changes them. They go from mean, critical, and commanding to benevolent and benign. I would prefer they go away altogether, but no medicine has accomplished that for me so I have to settle for this. They usually say things like “I love you,” or “you’re a good person.” Sometimes they will narrate my actions. On rare occasions they claim to be voices from heaven, but I take this very much with a grain of salt. I keep all my beliefs very grounded and treat them as if I were talking to someone in a dream. In other words, I don’t believe them. I remember very well the times before I found the right medicine, when they would torture me with insults and commands.

I think comparing it to hearing from someone in a dream is the best comparison I can make.

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Is the LEAP Training described in the book surviving schizophrenia?

Thank you for describing. This really helps me try to understand my brother and also understand whether the meds which he only started recently ( past 3 months) are helping. I cannot ask him about voices or delusions but I would think that I would be able to observe differences when I see him in person.

I don’t believe so, I believe the book predates it. It may be mentioned in later editions. I’m afraid I don’t own a copy, but I’ve read it. Dr. Fuller Torrey’s bent and mental health advocacy leans heavily on the medical and pharmaceutical models and his solutions to the challenges of anosognosia seem (to me at least) focused on forced or coerced long term injection pharmaceutical therapy.

Dr. Xavier Amador’s book I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help is definitive for the LEAP method. He is a psychologist and LEAP is a form of lay talk therapy to gain trust of someone with anasognosia with the hope of helping them to seek help and improve their lives. I apologize that I didn’t make this clear when I suggested it. The book comes up on the forum frequently and is advocated by NAMI, likely because he developed many of their training programs like Family to Family. I had assumed you had come across it already within the forum or within the LEAP Institute’s website. Both approaches have their merits and can be used in tandem.

Here a link to a video describing it. It is likely one of the most shared videos for newcomers to the forum by myself and others of late: