Question about novels

My son may or may not have schizophrenia (certainly has bipolar symptoms). He has expressed hearing voices, but he has not been formally diagnosed. He is currently in jail and is requesting the book Valis by Philip K. Dick. This could be a very good book for him as he searches for meaning and may or may not identify with the author or characters in the book. The book was written in 1981 and some have said that the author had schizophrenia and may have had hallucinations from drug use. Apparently he was a brilliant author and many of his books were made into films. Does anyone think that this could be a negative book to read or positive? How much of a difference do books that someone reads make on mental health? Thanks

I can only speak for myself. Before I even had an inkling that I was mentally ill and schizophrenic I was interested in psychology. When I was 17 I read a book by a famous doctor. Oliver someone I believe. It was a non-fiction book about some abnormal psychiatric cases.Very interesting. I got diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when I was 19 by the way and I’m 53 now. But anyway when I was 18 I got my own subscription to Psychology Today. When I was 19 before I had ever seen any mental health worker of any kind and I was still holding it together I read the book by Kurt Vonnegut’s son, Mark Vonnegut. It was titled The Eden Express and it was his own story about his experiences with becoming schizophrenic. Well, just 5 or 6 years ago his diagnosis was changed from schizophrenia. But for all intents and purposes his book was about schizophrenia. But when I first read it I was fascinated by the whole thing. It was one of the better books I’ve read. Well to make a long story short, ironically I became schizophrenic myself. I had a very bad case (well, they all are bad). Anyway I tried reading that book again. And I couldn’t. It was simply upsetting and a trigger for me.Trigger is a word you will run into every now and then when it comes to schizophrenia. A “trigger” is a book, a movie, stress, or anything that sets off a schizophrenics symptoms. It can be a situation, a memory, even a place. But for a couple years when I first got diagnosed I couldn’t read certain books. Now, I am fine with it. I can sit through “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest” and find it both funny and close to home. But I can safely read anything about mental illness including schizophrenia. Heck I got a B in a psychology class in college in 1984. I guess I’m trying to say that I don’t know how impressionable your son is at this point. Some people are in a fragile state during psychosis.Some people latch onto religion delusions when they’re sick or weird theories or other such things. So you have to be careful. I don’t know if this will help. I don’t know the content of this particular book you are talking about. Why don’t you read it yourself first? It might help you make a decision.

1 Like

Thank you for your response. He is 21 and fairly impressionable and was latching on to religion delusions when he was recently in psychosis/mania, just prior to going into jail. However, now he is not in mania now and it is a relatively safe place to read and no substances available. Partly, I was thinking that it is a “safe” place for him to read this and wondered what he would think while he was not in psychosis/mania. I’m sure if I read it, I would think that it was a bit insane, but better than the stuff that he is exposed to on the Internet (prior to jail, no Internet in jail.) Since he is an adult, I cannot regulate what he is exposed to, only now because he is in jail. I could just not send it to him and send him something else. But, then I worry that he will ask why and then feel like I am treating him like a child, censoring what he should read.

Two things strike me. One: I’ve only been in jail for one day in my life. But I’ve heard drugs or other contraband are often available in jail. Two: What about a little white lie ? “You couldn’t find it”? “You think this book would be better”? OR…just take the risk and tell him straight out you have a book that you think would be better for him?

It’s true that P.K.D. became more and more involved with psychotic thinking as he got older. He was a brilliant writer but he was not successful in coping with his mental problems. In my opinion it is a bad idea to follow him into psychosis, especially if one is unstable.

I would be cautious about giving him items that could further his delusional thinking. My son is legally an adult as well and I know that I can’t protect him from certain things but I do try. I look at it this way. I can’t stop some things but I don’t want to contribute either. I can’t stop him from drinking but I’m not going to drive him to the liquor store either :wink:

Movies have shaped my son’s beliefs a fair bit. There have been times when I’m watching a movie and it will click… That’s where he got that from. Because the line between reality and non-reality can be pretty iffy at times than when not stable ideas from movies and books can get mixed up with what is real.

My son doesn’t read much so I don’t know what a good book would be. Would your son be open to another form of self-help book?

Well, it’s about alien space probes, gnostic Christianity, and such. And some similarity between the alien satellites beams and what Firemonkey posted in the article The Woods For the trees about the guy who said he experienced satelite laser beams controlling his life.
PKD mentioned his own experiences may have been caused by Sz or drug use, but no one is quite sure. An alleged warning from VALIS led him to believe his son was in danger of dying and when he took him to the doctors they discovered a hernia that could have killed him without immediate intervention…PKD attributed this to VALIS.

Honestly I cannot say how anyone might react to a book that deals with deep or fantastical topics. Could be received in a number of ways.

Agree with @77nick77 on this one. Tell him you havent found time, or couldnt find it. He can always pick it up himself when he gets out.

I read valis and it does suggest some things that may be triggering. It’s pretty much harmless though, the stuff is to fantastic to believe. Don’t know how your son would handle it. It might encourage psychotic thinking.

My brother is schizophrenic and continually denies it. Because he is in denial he will not take meds. For years he thought he could hear angels, then God, then he was a special agent of God getting special psychic messages and now thanks to Valis he thinks he IS God. That is actually why I joined this group hoping to get advice because his delusions are getting more intense.

1 Like

One of the more challenging difficulties of having a family member with schizophrenia is the symptom called anosognosia. Over 50% and possibly as many as 60% of the people with schizophrenia suffer from anosognosia.

This symptom keeps them from understanding they have a mental issue. Why would they take meds when they don’t believe there is anything wrong with them?

Someone once said “they are too sick to realize they are sick”

Use the search tool to find threads about anosognosia and Dr Amador’s book “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” He has developed techniques for helping get our family members with this symptom on meds.

Welcome to the forum!

1 Like