One morning I heard a demonic voice coming from my belly – ‘I am the Devil’. I simply carried on, perhaps slightly perturbed. The next morning I heard the same voice from the other side of the room – ‘Do not challenge me’… With utter certainty, in that moment, I knew three things – (1) I was going to challenge the Devil, (2) I was going to walk out over the Forth Road Bridge outside of town to meet with the Devil, and (3) If I couldn’t defeat the Devil I was going to jump off of the bridge.
I walked out across the bridge that afternoon. It was dark and foggy and with the noise of the traffic roaring behind me I felt like I was in the centre of a huge engine. I remember looking down with nothing more than faint curiosity. But I waited for a while and the Devil didn’t show up. I got a bus back into town and went home – I’d say I was placid through the whole experience. Quite strangely, to me, I still feel placid thinking about it, in spite of the obvious potential for disaster. I just remember the almost quiet acceptance of what was happening. There are varying degrees of psychosis – varying degrees of insight, but on this occasion I was completely wrapped in it with no insight at all. Just getting on with dealing with the Devil.
So I think that there are 3 features of psychosis that are like the dream-state:
(1) there is an ability within dreams or psychotic states to utterly accept strange things.
(2) in dreams or psychotic states it’s possible to have back-knowledge ie to know a whole back-story or complex piece of knowledge without having explicitly been told it.
(3) there is possibility for evolution within a dream (as John described in his most recent post) – and I believe there is also possibility for evolution within psychosis across time. Much more on this later.
The very obvious difference between the two is that in the dream state you are protected by the fact that you are physically disabled in bed. In the psychotic state you can take yourself out across a bridge.
I always used to be ashamed of this story, and very few people have heard it. I’m not sure why – I’ve always felt a sense of shame when I’ve ‘come back’ from delusional or psychotic places. It’s the same when my mood crashes after a significant high – a huge ‘cringe’ that lasts for several days. I wonder if others feel the same way. This is worth thinking about further I think. From here on in I’ll acknowledge shame where it arises but try not to bow to it.