Psychosis & the paranormal
How can you best engage with a person who is experiencing paranormal incidents and activities due to psychosis .
As a paranormal investigator and researcher in parapsychology since 1986 I came across so many individuals that claim they saw, heard or felt an entity close to them, touching them or talking to them, some even see them in their mind.
In fact more than 90% of my paranormal investigation is with those who have a psychosis, paranoia, severe anxiety , severe form of depression and anger, schizophrenia ,and other personal behaviors, and it got nothing to do with the paranormal at all.
Consider a Monday morning you wake to the sound of dog barking set as your alarm. Your dog or cat ran away from fear . Instead of snoozing, the music and curling up for a few more minutes, you realize that today feels very different somehow. It’s Monday and many researchers indicate that People have more heart attacks or call in sick on Monday. You start listening to soft music you like, or a voice of reading from the holy book while you are brushing your teeth and take a shower to be ready for work.
At first you cannot place what is wrong, but you start to notice that the lyrics of the songs or the prayers are about you. Not just that you can relate, but there are messages behind the songs or the quran reading that specifically refer to you. You start thinking that your pet is staring at your eyes as if trying to tell something.
You are about to dismiss this as the glitches of a sleep and after waking up fog, when you notice that the light filtering through the curtains looks peculiar. a shadow figure moves in the house, and the door on the other side of the room moves by itself! You can’t quite describe it, so you approach the door. Looking at your dog on the other side fixating his eyes on the door is like seeing a ghost.
The cat and the dog were looking at one spot, you ask yourself, are they looking at a fly in the wall ? or something is out there that you can not see?
Distracted by what you’re seeing, you then notice you can hear the voices of your pets, as clear as if they were beside you. Yet they don’t appear to be barking or growling.
As the itchy discomfort of your anxiety takes hold, you go to your patio in the hope that the cold fresh air will bring you down to earth while you are sipping a fresh cup of coffee. Sitting on your favorite chair looking at your tree and shrubs, you spot a piece of your pet toy : another day, you might not have noticed; today, you see it is the unmistakable shape of a weapon , a bullet perhaps! You start suspecting that someone threw it or put it in the garden.
This sight is a catalyst in your mind, which then races as you realize you can put the pieces together. The messages in the music / or the prayers were telling you that you are part of a special mission, the bullet is a warning about those who mean you harm, but you are flooded with relief as you understand that you were chosen to save the world from the next pandemic.
Your pet runs and takes hold of that toy and brings it to you while your heart is rising so fast , then you realize that it was just a small toy that looks like a bullet. But instead of letting it go , your mind dwells on the message behind it.
Your partner can’t seem to grasp the reality of what you know to be true. You lay out all the pieces of the puzzle, but other people cannot (or will not) understand. It would not seem so improbable if they knew what you knew. You grudgingly agree to see your family doctor (out of courtesy to your partner), only to be told that mental health services are what you need.
Thats why when I go to see people with paranormal activities , I always start searching for the obvious, for family anxiety, the key factors of their anger, stress or depression, ask if someone just passed away, divorce, lost his/her job, or having an addiction to substance . People don’t like to be judged and hear that so I have to do that slowly and ask them the questions indirectly . Sometimes I do check their medicine cabinet and on many occasions I do find psychosis medications , anxiety meds etc.
They told me that no one believed them, they repeated their story for a third time to the clinician in a small room , with a tissue box strategically dividing your side of the table from theirs, they said that they are not taking it seriously. When you explain the connections, they pause (or worse, cut you off). They keep changing the topic, while you’re trying to follow the threads. They keep asking questions instead of offering the answers their need.
For those people a clinical psychologist is a judge , As the meeting starts to feel like an interrogation, their trust vanishes away. When they suggest they may need medication for your ‘psychosis’, thier doubts about their intentions grow. No one like to be called crazy.
They leave the consultation room in a hurry as you fear this is part of the same conspiracy, and they need to fulfill thier mission to save others. They feel scared, angry and confused when a group of professionals they have never met comes to thier houses talking about hospital admission.
By now, their worst fears about these people are confirmed. So that is why when I investigate I try to earn their trust, use the placebo effect, and let them be part of the solution without giving them false hope and fake answers , and slowly bringing them to realize that they need to try and seek the help of professionals and explain to them why that is so important. As some entities are attached to those who have psychological problems, stress, anger, anxiety , bipolarity and depression.
This is a fictional example of how things go wrong in a clinical encounter. Nonetheless, despite countless examples of positive interactions in mental health services, this type of situation is not uncommon. Nor is the use of legal powers to detain or treat vulnerable people against their will, with the aim of protecting them from harm. As some of them can committee suicide or harm others.
The reason being that the clinician may be trying to find an immediate solution to a clinical problem or maybe he was trying to avoid disagreements rather than engaging in a dialogue with the person in front of them.
Many patients report being disparaged, disbelieved or ignored and have been subject to judgmental and paternalistic behaviour from those caring for them. That’s why they call the paranormal investigators , and in many cases unfortunately they are calling those who have experience in science and psychology and make things worse even with their best intentions.
Let’s suppose that, during the consultation, a patient expressed concerns about one of the neighbors abusing a relative. Their concerns were dismissed as they were assumed to be paranoid ‘delusions’ (defined by the DSM-5 as ‘fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence’).
However, it later transpired that their belief about the abuse is factually accurate. In this case, a prejudiced assumption was extended to the whole of the person’s communications, leading to epistemic injustice (where her capacity to relay knowledge competently was wrongfully denied), and harm resulted due to a delayed investigation.
For many of those people who called the paranormal investigators, firmly believe that the mission that they was given makes them feels like there life has purpose and significance , again after a very stressful period when they felt worried, isolated and hopeless. They feel a new sense of connection and belonging, which is helping them overcome negative emotions. So they are seeking help to be a part of something, someone who listens to them and trusts them.
However, societal stereotypes can exert influence without us realizing. Our protagonist may internally associate the concept of ‘psychosis’ with ‘illness’, ‘madness’, ‘irrationality’ and ‘dysfunction’. As a result, they now feel shame and distance again, and feel at a loss to understand who they are as persons .
This can include the harm that arises when a person attempts to reconcile their own self-understanding with a different explanation of their difficulties imposed by others. Hermeneutics is the study of interpretation, and the term is used in this context to refer to the interpretation and meaning of human experience.
A key virtue in this context is that of ‘giving uptake’. Merely listening to someone’s utterances and hearing their words is insufficient. Giving uptake requires that the listener reorient themselves to the speaker as a person with inherent knowledge of their experiential world, whose communication is worthy of consideration. This does not necessarily mean endorsing and promoting someone’s delusional beliefs, but rather entails keeping an open mind as to their experiential origins, function and meaning.
Just like President Bush and Trump thinks
In the context of psychosis, phenomenological research has shown that the person may be confronted with a radically altered experience of reality and feelings of perplexity .
The narrative (or delusion from the clinician’s perspective) created from this altered experience may be the most compelling way that the person can make sense of their life during this time. And yet, miscommunication abounds when trying to relate something so novel and implausible, that no ready-made words or concepts seem to fit.
In other cases, a delusion may help maintain a sense of meaning and purpose in the face of serious adversity and overwhelming negative emotions. This is, of course, not to claim that delusions are usually a positive experience. In many cases, delusions are associated with tremendous suffering and difficulty in life.
Careers, clinicians and family members of individuals with psychosis have a challenging task in learning how to listen., and that is what the paranormal investigator should do too.
All the while, the individual having the psychotic experience is dealing with a far greater challenge of their own. Listening well entails perceiving others as individuals with valuable and credible knowledge of their experience, and engaging in communication that does not discount or distort what is meaningful to both parties.
These meanings may not always overlap, nor neatly reflect a shared reality; however they are revealing the truths of people’s experience. This process has value beyond the consultation room. Perhaps the ability to bridge the divide between people with markedly different beliefs and experiences is a skill we all need to cultivate.
So you must listen, dont judge, give different solutions based on psychology and science before you jump to demons and entities. Focus on the positive points that the person has and work to encourage these points and boost morale, then do cleansing methods as placebo effect to make them feel that something was done if you think that you are dealing with a psychosis and not paranormal.
Thank you for reading