Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – On Listening to Schizophrenia by Robert Wertzler


Welcome to the series where you can share four of your links from your archives here on my blog to a new audience. Perhaps posts that you wrote at the beginning of your blogging experience that deserve another showcase. If you have book promotion posts then please contact me separately for other options.  Details of how to get in touch with me at the end of the post.

Welcome back to Robert Wertzler with the second of his posts in his series of four. Today the subject is Shizophrenia and the need by anyone suffering from any mental illness to be listened to and understood. It is fair to say that many of us shy away from both the subject and those that we know or assume are suffering from mental illness. However, most of us will encounter it in one form or another in our family and close friends. This post will definitely give you a different perspective that will guide your approach to disease of the mind going forward.

On Listening to Schizophrenia by Robert Wertzler

I have written elsewhere on the subject of listening to those afflicted with mental illness, especially to those diagnosed with schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder without the assumption that they do not or cannot make sense. In his own account of his psychosis, treatment, and recovery, John Perceval, an English gentleman who became psychotic in 1830 puts the case more clearly than I can:

That need to be understood, or at least for someone to be willing to listen and to try to understand is universal. Someone in the throes of psychosis, or depression, or anxiety, or flashback of PTSD, or mania is no different. Another thing which Mr. Perceval makes clear in his account in his very detailed telling of his hallucinations and delusions, and how he was dealt with by others, is that he remembered all of it. I think that too often when someone is seen as not making sense, it is assumed they will not remember when they are in some less disturbed frame of mind. He shows us that it ain’t necessarily so.
He has little good to say about the “lunatic doctors” who tried to treat him. From his pen that term seems to carry more than one meaning.

I have found among the various blogs and posts only a few writers from the lands of schizophrenia and schizo-affective. From knowing those I worked with who had these labels, I can see how that would be very difficult for many. But, I hope that more of those who can, even with help, even poorly will try. We, who have been fortunate enough not to have experienced such states of mind can only do no more than guess (often badly) what it is if the stories are not told. If a first draft comes out like what is popularly called a “psychotogram,” that’s ok. You can edit and rework it if need be. If it comes as poetry, or with drawings (like a graphic novel, perhaps), or a vlog, that’s great. There are eyes ready to read and ears ready to hear.

And to those who know such folk as family, friends, peers, and care givers, listen. If you don’t understand, still do not dismiss. However strange the story, see the person before the “disease.” They really are there.

Since first writing this I’ve realized that the end of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is also significant in this context:

So, he who has heard the Mariner’s tale is also changed. We are not told what he has learned or what he makes of it, but changed he is. We are told only that he is wiser. In the end, this is why such tales as Percival’s need to be told and heard, that both the teller and the hearer may find wisdom and, in the Mariner’s words, “loveth well.”

©Robert Wertzler 2017

About Robert Wertzler

Currently I am retired from almost twenty years in the mental health field in California and Arizona. There are times I like the title, “Recovering Therapist”, but that does seem a bit excessive. In 2006 I retired to move here in Western North Carolina at my father’s request, and found him in the early stages of Dementia. I took care (with some help in the late stages) of him in that worsening condition until he died in late 2013 at the age of 98. Before all that, I worked at various times as a soldier (US Army 1967-70), community organizer, cab driver, welfare case worker, wooden toy maker, carpenter, warehouse worker, and other things.

I cannot look down on what anyone finds they can and must do to make their way in the world that is not intended to do harm. An undocumented migrant farm laborer, for example, deserves as much respect as the CEO of a major corporation, perhaps, in some cases, more. Politicians are often a different category.

But, there is a life beyond work and keeping myself fed, clothed, and sheltered, and for me that has been much involved with reading, writing, and listening. I leaned to read and love books from my father reading to me at bedtime and gradually transitioning to me doing the reading. It was not generally those things called “children’s books” that I remember, although there must have been some.

My sharpest memories are of the works of Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson (What 6 year old boy wouldn’t want to meet a real pirate like Long John Silver?), Robert Heinlein, Louis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway (age 7 – “The Old Man And The Sea”), and others. Nothing the school presented could hold a candle to those story tellers. I credit whatever skill I have as a writer to that experience, and those examples absorbed as if by osmosis. Parents, whatever else you may do about your children’s education, read to them. Read the great writers and classic stories.

Connect to Robert on his blog and social media.

Blog: https://cabbagesandkings524.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009494928086
Google+ :https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RobertWertzler
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-wertzler-548b97b7/

My thanks to Robert for sharing his post with us and he will be back again next week same time.

If you have up to four blog posts in your archives that you would like to share with my audience, then send the links to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Thanks for dropping by.. Sally

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Posts from Your Archives – We Are Stories by Robert Wertzler of Cabbage and Kings


Welcome to the series where you can share four of your links from your archives here on my blog to a new audience. Perhaps posts that you wrote at the beginning of your blogging experience that deserve another showcase. If you have book promotion posts then please contact me separately for other options.  Details of how to get in touch with me at the end of the post.

A new blogger to the series  is Robert Wertzler of Cabbages and Kings and his first post is about how we as humans create stories, almost with an instinctive need to communicate with each other and sometimes with pets and inanimate objects.. I had a pet rock!  I am sure you will enjoy.

We Are Stories by Robert Wertzler

It has been said the man is the story making animal. We are really quite compulsive about it. From gossip and tweets to tomes of history and scripture to novels to sweet nothings in the night, we make stories. We fill libraries and cable channels and theaters and bar stools with them. We have painted them on the walls of caves and tombs and every other possible surface, carved them in stone, inscribed them on clay tablets, sculpted them in clay and stone and bronze, and told them in dance and mime and music. When we wake from sleep, somehow we know that today is a continuation of the story of yesterday, that the “I” of the morning is the same “I” that went to sleep. I have seen too that peculiar form of devastation we call dementia in which a person looses their stories until the time line of their life is only the last few minutes. There is a thing that humans do which, when I think on it, looks to be made of stories. We call it mental illness.

What are the voices and visions of schizophrenia doing but telling stories? Is not much of OCD built on stories of what could or will happen if a certain act is not done just so or avoided at all cost? And the dark whisperings of grief, guilt, unworthiness, and disaster of depression, are these not stories? So are the fantasies of invincibility and ecstasy in mania. The implacable worries of anxiety are woven of stories. Even when they torment us or lead us into folly, we cannot resist the story making instinct. Of course, over the centuries we have made many different stories of how those conditions happen.

At an even more basic, deeper level we are another story. From the first strands of DNA that intertwined into the double helix and leaned to separate and copy themselves, and then how to combine with others into new pattens, we each and every other living thing on Earth are the latest telling of a story. That tale of leaning, adapting, survival, and of ancestors beyond counting has been told in every one of us, our shape and structure down to our most basic chemical details. Now, we learn that even our personal stories of pain, joy, trauma, success, stress, and excitement is noted in our epigenetic inheritance and passed on.

We go to stories for so many reasons. In what those of the theater call The Scottish Play we find a cautionary tale of ambition. In Othello, among others, the price of listening to the counsel of jealousy. We go to hear of tragedies that make any of ours seem bearable, for romance, for adventure, for laughter. We go across seas with Odysseus sharing his hope of returning home to the land and woman he loves. In The Mahabharata, the great Vedic epic, on the eve of battle the hero Arjuna is assailed by doubts and the god Krishna sits him down to explain the nature of life, Karma, and reality while the world holds its breath, and gives us the teaching recorded as the Gita. We go to stories for inspiration and wisdom too. We have made stories of creation, seeking explanation of how the world came out of nothingness or primal chaos, how life and consciousness arose, that greatest of all mysteries. We go to our books to borrow, like Mr. Poe, surcease of sorrow. We go too to learn what love is in all its variety.

Our stories matter. We live in them and through them. They shape how we see the world and our place in it. The story is told of the wise man who sat by a road. Travelers would stop and ask him what the people were like in the city ahead. He would ask what the people were like in the city they had come from. They would say whatever they said about that, and he would answer that they would find the same sort ahead. Our stories matter, those we choose, and those that choose us. Each one we invent or encounter becomes part of us and we of it. The ones we create together are our relationships, our cultures, our histories. They always matter. We live them. They live in us. Feed the best of them.

©RobertWertzler 2017

About Robert Wertzler

Currently I am retired from almost twenty years in the mental health field in California and Arizona. There are times I like the title, “Recovering Therapist”, but that does seem a bit excessive. In 2006 I retired to move here in Western North Carolina at my father’s request, and found him in the early stages of Dementia. I took care (with some help in the late stages) of him in that worsening condition until he died in late 2013 at the age of 98. Before all that, I worked at various times as a soldier (US Army 1967-70), community organizer, cab driver, welfare case worker, wooden toy maker, carpenter, warehouse worker, and other things.

I cannot look down on what anyone finds they can and must do to make their way in the world that is not intended to do harm. An undocumented migrant farm laborer, for example, deserves as much respect as the CEO of a major corporation, perhaps, in some cases, more. Politicians are often a different category.

But, there is a life beyond work and keeping myself fed, clothed, and sheltered, and for me that has been much involved with reading, writing, and listening. I leaned to read and love books from my father reading to me at bedtime and gradually transitioning to me doing the reading. It was not generally those things called “children’s books” that I remember, although there must have been some.

My sharpest memories are of the works of Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson (What 6 year old boy wouldn’t want to meet a real pirate like Long John Silver?), Robert Heinlein, Louis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway (age 7 – “The Old Man And The Sea”), and others. Nothing the school presented could hold a candle to those story tellers. I credit whatever skill I have as a writer to that experience, and those examples absorbed as if by osmosis. Parents, whatever else you may do about your children’s education, read to them. Read the great writers and classic stories.

Connect to Robert on his blog and social media.

Blog: https://cabbagesandkings524.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009494928086
Google+ :https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RobertWertzler
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-wertzler-548b97b7/

My thanks to Robert for sharing his post with us and he will be back again next week same time.

If you have up to four blog posts in your archives that you would like to share with my audience, then send the links to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Thanks for dropping by.. Sally