On Schizophrenia -or- On Suicide, Killing and War

Dreams, Personality Development and Psychopathology

Ernest Lawrence Rossi Dreams and the Growth of Personality: Expanding Awareness in Psychotherapy explores with his patients the problems they are faced with in their inner and outer worlds. From a dream perspective his patients report their aporic experience; "I am lost.... I am in a fog.... I am in a dark room...." One of his aims of therapy is to help the patient with their phenomenal and existential impassses, confusions, doubts, and feeling lost. Dante's Divine Comedy has provided us with an archetypal literary illustration of aporia when he tells us; "In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost." Freud's Dora (read second dream found in wikipedia article) was such a confused and suicidal young girl who and felt lost in the un-empathetic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy milieu of Vienna Austria. Dora (aka Ida Bauer) terminated her unhappy experience with Freud's psychoanalysis, because she felt she could not follow his course of treatment. Freud realized in hindsight that he had made therapeutic errors, especially as it related to the problem of his own countertransference

The causes of mental illness have been explained by using such theories as the diathesis-stress and biopsychosocial model of personality development. Gardner Murphy's Personality: A Biosocial Approach to Origins and Structure provides such a work that employs the biopsychosocial approach. The individual growth drive (self-actualization) plays an important role in Murphy's thinking about personality development. For Murphy dreams provide access to an individual's inner "private world". The data collected by the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) supports many of the biopsychosocial developmental ideas of dream work and the "diathesis-stress model" of psychological coping disorders.
For those searching for a better understanding, much has been written about the nature of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia can be defined as the disintegration of the whole living personality, this disintegration can be seen from the perspective of the persons ability to function, socially relate (empathize), speak (use language and communicate), think, feel and cope. In the 19th and 20th century such prominent psychiatrists such as Emil Kraepelin, Eugene Bleuler, Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, Alfred Adler, Eugene Minkowski, Hans Asperger, Franz Fanon, John Bowlby, Harry Stack Sullivan, Abraham Maslow, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Otto Kernberg have provided insight into the complex nature of psychological development and dysfunction. The IIDR has used and applied all their psychological theories to provide the foundation for understanding both healthy and psychopathological dreams and dreaming.

In his book Interpretation of Schizophrenia Silvano Arieti decribes the psychogenic factors that cause schizophrenia. Schizophrenogenic parenting induces traumatic experiences in the child thereby causing psychological injury. The anti-psychiatry activist Ronald D. Laing The Divided Self Laing provided insight into the psychopathological problems of the persona (outer self/mask) and the real inner self. Laing saw the self as being divided primarily due to cultural pressures and ontological insecurity. Laing used dreams to illustrate the existential dread and nightmare of existence many people feel. Said another way, existential dread is also popularily known as "Angst" a term coined by the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Laing uses the metaphor of the "black sun" to communicate the sense of depersonalization the feelings of estrangement and derealization that come with the experience of schizophrenia and depressive psychosis. Laing in Politics of the Family provides a transgenerational view of the psychopatholgy of the family, similar to the views of those of the psychohistory tradition.

The Kafkaesque of Everyday Life or On Suicide, Killing and War

In her works Black Sun and Powers of Horror Julia Kristeva provides a theory of abjection that can be seen as the existential equivalents of depersonalization, dread and Angst. Laing points to Franz Kafka's literary work to archetypally express the experience of nightmare infused thoughts of despair. We sense the nightmare of Kafka's Metamorphosis when the protagonist awakens from "uneasy dreams". The IIDR has posted many such dreams that address the Kafkaesque (read IIDR article Black Comedy) continuum of human experiences (read also the IIDR's General Hospital, The Kafkaesque of Everyday Life). The horrors of everyday life include such behaviours as suicide, murder and war. 

Emil Durkheim On Suicide provides sociological insight into the political and economic process of individual and collective dissociative states of a community. Durkheim believed that suicide was regulated by the forces of social (dis)-integration and moral regulation. Schizophrenia and mental illness can be seen as a socially disintegrating force both on individual and collective levels. Many dreams received by the IIDR point to feelings of alienation and anomie. One of the finest illustrations of Durkheim's theory of suicide is found in the popular film Its a Wonderful Life the narrative not only is about the aporic and anomic experience of the suicidal protagonist (Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey) but also the nightmaric transformation of a community as a consequence of his loss (not being born).

Dave Grossman On Killing believes that military training creates depersonalization of the enemy by suppressing all empathy. The everyday process of being and becoming a person and depersonalization of face to face communicative relationships has been discussed in the works of Erving Goffman. The work of Harry Stack Sullivan focused on individuals development of a self and the problems of living. Sullivan believed that greatest problems individuals are faced with, is a sense of loneliness and the need for security in response to the vulnerabilities of the self. 

Carl von Clausewitz On War provides a cool analytical perspective on the dynamics of war. Other dream interpretations such as Apocalypse, Reflections of World War I, Remembering the Cold War, War on Terror and The Culture Wars posted at the IIDR website discuss some of the aspects of militarism and the historical dynamics of irrationalities and destructiveness of geopolitical wars in the global village. The IIDR screens this historical movement of the dreams of war in order to expose the horrific and nightmaric costs of war both individual and collective with the aim of promoting peace and the peace movement

Schizophrenia in Popular Culture

From a non-fiction literary perspective Joanne Greenberg's I Never Promised You a Rose GardenMarguerite Sechehaye Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl and Susanna Kaysen Girl Interrupted represent narratives that convey the psychological and emotional problems of mental illness. From another popular film narrative perspective the film A Beautiful Mind featured the life of Nobel Prize winner John Nash. The IIDR has endevoured to provide an understanding of the psychodynamic problems of aporia and anomia and make them visible to the public via the use of dreams. As discussed in another dream interpretation Civilizations Die of Suicide we can see the pathological effects of a divided society (In R.D. Laing's sense) both on the individual and the collective communal level.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.