Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Monday, March 29, 2010

Inside the beautiful mind of a schizophrenic psychologist


"Schizophrenia gripped the mind of Frederick Frese in the usual fashion, with an abrupt psychotic break in his early twenties that felt like terrifying insight.

Now a prominent clinical psychologist and mental health advocate, who is still afflicted by his field's most mysterious delusional pathology, Dr. Frese was then a U.S. Marine captain with an advanced math and science education, fluent in Japanese, and assigned to guard nuclear weapons at the Jacksonville, Fla., naval base....

...his singular medical accomplishment, which is to provide psychiatry with a first-hand scientific account of psychosis, one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted medical conditions.

He understands, for example, why the bizarre writings of the prophet Ezekiel, "one of our people, no question," are most often favoured by schizophrenics, followed by the naked preacher Elijah. As for angels, he reports that Muslim schizophrenics tend to prefer Gabriel, and Judeo-Christians prefer Michael.

Dr. Frese cites the question of suicide in schizophrenia -- often by falls from a great height -- as a particularly misunderstood phenomenon, with so many investigations lacking the kind of sympathy his personal experience provides. He means that if someone believes he can fly, jumping off a bridge is not suicide, and in cases such as former U.S. Defense Secretary James Forrestal, who jumped out of a 16th-floor hospital window, what looks like suicide might in fact be medical negligence. Ever since that death, in 1949, windows on U.S. psychiatric wards are fitted with "Forrestal screens."


We would be interested in knowing Dr. Friese's thoughts on diagnosis of the physical causes of mental illness.

We don't think Dr. Frese's desire to dance - cited in the article - is a sign of mental instability; we think it is a sign of mental health.