Friday, 22 November 2013

Are we all psychotic?

I have been watchign the excellent series "Bedlam" on Channel 4, which has proved a very interesting and challenging series. Some people have raised some (very valid) questions about consent issues, but I do think it has provided some very important insight into the reality of mental illness and treatment. The consent issues are significant because most of those filmed are seriously ill.

I think my response to the consent issues are that many of them are controlled well at some point usually at the end, and one presumes they are then able to give informed consent. However I do accept that for some, informed consent cannot really be clarified.

However, one aspect that is covered especially in the final episode is that of the elderly suffering significantly, in some cases because of some trauma. What struck me is that they often express a fear of some unreasonable issue, that they do not quite believe what is around them. One believed that the hospital and doctors were all fake - actors, stage sets - and that something terrible was going to happen to them.

Not unlike some of the entertainment shows we see. The Truman Show comes to mind, but there are others. There have been all sorts of shows like "Beadles About" (I would have said Candid Camera, but that is really before my time), where precisely this situation happens. We watch programs like "I'm A Celebrity" where people have horrible things happen to them. Then I used to watch Fort Boyard, where volunteers take on all sorts of challenges, usually drawing on their worst fears.

All of this makes me wonder if these sorts of entertainments actually drive the psychosis we see in these people (and others too). If you don't know a hospital, it might be a set-up. A cruel one, but them so much entertainment is cruel. The presence of the TV cameras might not have helped this problem.

So what did people do before the television? Well, I think the problems were the same, it is just that the fears were different. Thirty years ago, it might have been the possibility of nuclear war. A hundred years ago - and for centuries before that - the fear of hellfire and damnation, or the other similar images from the religious teaching. This was the language in which fear was instilled.

All of which makes me wonder if some important aspect of psychosis in the population is the instilling of fear in people. We spend so long making people dread something, that when the brain has a challenge, it latches onto these fears. We might dismiss them, but they stay there, in our subconscious.

Religion that works primarily on fear is, I suggest, damaging to people, leading some of them into serious mental problems. Entertainment that works primarily on fear is damaging. As the bible says "Love drives out all fear" - true faith, true Christianity is about love, not fear. If you cannot explore your faith to me without using fear, then I want nothing to do with your faith.

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