Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Schizophrenia and religious rituals

Hello everyone, I am new here.
I have been lurking for a while now, and have learned so much from all of you.

My son has not been specifically diagnosed with sz, but has been released 14 days ago from a 27 day inpatient stay ( non voluntary) at age 19 with the diagnosis of psychotic disorder. They were unable to confirm sz, and are waiting 6 months to see if it was drug induced due to his history of heavy pot smoking and use of hallucinogens.

I’ve been trying to learn all I can to better help and support him.

My question is this: he says his prior use of hallucinogens has caused a spiritual awakening in him. This is something that caused him to behave bizarrely prior to his hospitalization. Although he is currently prescribed, and compliant with his medications, he is still secretly creating alter like spaces in his bedroom, with colored pens , candles, and meaningful objects like coins.

I am looking for input from other family members and those of you who are diagnosed as to what to make of it. Should I be concerned or let it go?

It seems harmless, and he has told me he is now focusing on positive energy rather than evil energy like he was doing previously.

Excessive moral perfectionism is often a presenting manifestation in sz. So is obsession with rituals and authoritarian pronouncements that seem to offer a sense of explanation and/or security. Deities or spirits are often created to provide sources of communication about those matters “only the deities and I understand.” Obsessive guilt, shame, remorse, regret and morbid reflection are typical, even when there’s no (seemingly) evident reason or cause for them. Thinking sometimes becomes polarized into “all good” and “all evil,” and “completely right” vs. “completely wrong.” Shades of gray and ambiguity are seen as intolerable. The conflicts and resulting anxieties are intense; resolutions are desperately sought, however fantastic or bizarre they seem to those looking on. Comfort is sought regardless of how strange it appears to others. Comfort has a logic all its own.

I would be concerned and talk to him about it to see what exactly his spiritual beliefs and awakening are about, and what these rituals and altars are for. What they mean to him and what he is attempting to get from it. If it seems harmless enough and it isn’t causing problems, then let it go. It’s definitely just a phase, but there’s not enough information in your post for anyone to know what impact this phase is having. Humans are said to be creatures of habit, so any ritual behaviors can have a big impact. We can see the damage these altars and rituals can cause by looking through history at religions.

In my opinion it sounds like he’s copying forms of meditation and/or worship from the Old days. When polytheism, astrology, ritual sacrifices, superstitions, magic, and the like were more dominant in the world. Before the rise of philosophy, spirituality, monotheism, science, logic, reason, and the like became more dominant. Maybe reading some Plato, Confuscious, Heraclitus, Buddha, Christ, and other big figures since the end of the Old days, or during and after what some people call the “Axial age” could be good for where he’s at. If this activity is done in secrecy, then it’s impossible that he’s only focusing on positive energies like he says. Or else they wouldn’t have to be secret. That doesn’t mean evil… but it does likely mean confused, lost, hiding things, and seeking something.

Was he admitted to the inpatient stay due to long term consistent psychotic behavior or was it a one night or occasional thing? If it was after long term consistent psychotic behavior for months+ then It was likely not drug induced. If it was a one night or occasional ordeal, then it could be drug induced. If it seemed to start suddenly and then continue consistently, then he likely had a pre-existing condition that drug use made more apparent. The most drugs can do is make pre-existing mental conditions come out more, or make them better or worse. They can’t cause actual schizophrenia, but can bring it out more. That’s why drugs used to counteract these conditions are never a cure, but are merely a band-aid to suppress certain unwanted symptoms, and can aid in recovery or worsening the condition. I don’t understand what the paid experts could be doing for 6 months to make a conclusion on this, besides using money as toilet paper.

I believe my son’s sz was caused by drugs and hallucinogens over five years ago. I hope your son recovers from this episode and it’s not long-lasting.

My son also has an obsession with candles, crystals and semi-precious stones that he insists have healing powers and help him. He has many of them all over his room. There are a few dream catchers in the windows of his room too.

Recently my husband was looking for our brand new container of sea salt but it was nowhere to be found. A few days after that, we discovered that son had poured all the salt on the threshold of his bedroom door that leads to an outside deck. We were really scratching our heads on that one, but let it go. His sister later informed us that it is a old superstition to repel evil.

But to answer your question, I have found it’s best to show an interest in his new found beliefs, and not to question or diminish them. Although it seems odd, they are harmless and seem to provide some comfort.

Best of luck to your son and you.

Thank you all of you for your replies. It helps me to further understand.

It appears he is doing it for comfort, and when I gently asked him to share with me what he gets from it, he calmly told me he meditates, and it helps him not feel anxious and to relax. He is prescribed Atavan and he is fearful of becoming addicted to it so meditates for a while before deciding to take it to see if that helps.

I am so thankful I found this board!

This could take a while to work itself through. Your son has just got a diagnosis , and has no real experience with the illness , over time hopefully with support , he can get better. Psychosis turns someone’s life upside down , he is just trying to make sense of it. The brain usually operates in the cast iron security that what is coming in through its senses are very close to accurate , when that sense of accuracy decreases and with the addition of hallucinations , the mind unfortunately collapses onto itself. So he needs to get that sense of accuracy right up again. And he’ll probably have to accept that his mind( sensing & thinking )will not be as accurate in the future , and that takes getting used off , it really does.

I wouldn’t worry about the spiritual aspect. Its is a good thing if he is focusing his life on God and good spiritual forces. Schizophrenia is a spiritual illness, so the fact that your son is focusing on good things is indicative that he will make a good recovery.

In my opinion from the way you described it, it sounds harmless, and chances are he’ll outgrow it. Just my opinion.

You should ask the dr if that med is habit forming. Confirm with him/her on this but I think that if it is non habit forming there is a very low chance of addiction.

Once more, please confirm that.

Hi onceapoet,

I think you meant to direct your comment to @Letitbe instead of me. But I can speak to the addictiveness of Ativan. It is addictive and I know this because my mother was addicted to it.

Also, Mom had given me a couple of Ativans here and there for anxiety when I had an important test to take, or an interview. I recall that I really liked the way they made me feel and I probably would have become addicted if I had had an endless supply of them. Glad I didn’t.

Some of them are habit forming but not all of them. I have an addictive personality but so far I’ve managed to not get addicted because I recognized that in myself and I don’t go near addictive things like drugs or alcohol. But there are non habit forming meds out there. I used to demand only non habit forming meds until I started to get desperate.

@lovemyson you were right. I clicked the wrong post! I’m sorry :frowning:

Hi Letitbe, your sons story reminds me of my own. Maybe it will help you to understand your son if I talk a little about my own. I also had religious rituals, which were very real to me. Some made sense, some didnt. It gave me some emotional comfort like @Notmoses writes. At the time this was what kept me going. I cant advice you to what course of action, but your son might be sincere that he is into something positive. At least that is what he thinks. I often read PsychologyToday online for advcie.