Emerging from schizophrenia.


If you had passed through Yale College in the early 90s, you might have noticed that a poster appeared on all the poster boards and public spaces. If you read the poster, you would have been taken aback—the author of the poster believed he was the subject of a movie taken in secret. This movie was supposedly very embarrassing. The author was using this poster to defend himself against this supposed underground scandal. I was the schizophrenic who put up those posters. My delusions began in 1984. I was a 26-year-old programmer working in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I thought of myself as a little odd, but sane, and so did the people I worked with. This was soon to change. One night I walked into a building in Harvard Yard. There were a few men and women rehearsing a Greek play, and one of them seemed to be my former girlfriend, who I will call ‘‘Crystal.’’ Crystal seemed very hostile, and she looked at me and uttered the words ‘‘The Gods Will Strike!’’ I left the building, bewildered, but the thought hardened in me that I had indeed met her. This was the beginning of years of delusions. Shortly after the encounter with Crystal, I seemed to run into hostility by strangers on the streets of Cambridge. This hostility included people spitting at me (or were they just clearing their throats?) and people calling me names. I tried to understand why they were hostile. Did they believe something bad about me? Was a rumor being spread about me? Or worse yet,—was a film of my x-rated past being shown secretly and then being passed covertly from person to person? My parents tried to reason with me—but did not succeed. I definitely wanted to talk and argue about what I believed was happening, but our debates persuaded neither them nor me. A few weeks after the posters went up, and 10 years after I supposedly met Crystal, my mental illness took a strange turn. I came home to my apartment one day with a bottle of Poland Spring water. I drank some, and put the rest in my refrigerator. Then I read the paper, and made my daily phone call to my parents, and then went to sleep. The next morning, I got dressed, ready to go to work, and then remembered to drink the rest of the water in the bottle. This innocent act became a dramatic delusion. Within 5 minutes of drinking the water, I was hit by violent and extreme symptoms. This experience convinced me that someone had entered my apartment secretly and had drugged me. This person must have put a drug in the water bottle during the previous night. The symptoms were strange: I felt like punching the walls. I felt pains in my kidney area. But the strangest symptom of all was that my sex drive climbed to the roof and beyond. I said to myself that some mysterious and evil group of people, perhaps a mafia or a ‘‘hate group’’ drugged me. And the choice of drug made sense—an xrated drug for an x-rated person. The symptoms did not go away after a day or two. They lasted over a month. I ended up in front of a psychiatrist who prescribed Zyprexa. The Zyprexa had an interesting effect—within a short time it stopped me from acting on my delusions. I stopped putting up posters. The paranoia, however, accelerated. For instance, when I saw a dead bird under my mailbox, I thought the ‘‘bad guys’’ had put it there to send me a message. One day, I walked downEdgewoodAvenue with a portable radio in my hand, listening to the Michael Reagan show. A caller named ‘‘Crystal from New Haven’’ called in and then hung up. I took this as evidence that Crystal (my angry former girlfriend) was mocking me. I hired a detective to find Crystal. The detective eventually found Crystal, but he told me she lived quite far away, and thankfully, I did not pursue that angle. At night—at 2:00 AM, I would ride a taxi to work, and sleep in my office to temporarily escape the bad guys, who I was convinced were poisoning the air in my apartment. I believed the ‘‘bad guys’’ even followed me to Switzerland on my bike vacation, and that they used a drug on me there too. I felt like I was in an ever-tightening vise, as the ‘‘bad guys’’ sabotaged more and more aspects of my life. Back in New Haven, I paid a poor black man to show my photo to asmany people as possible, in hopes that one of them would tell him (and me) the ‘‘truth’’ about the movie. In addition, I taped a paranoid speech on cassette that I distributed in various colleges. When I told my brother what I had done, he said ‘‘There’s no movie, but now there’s a tape!’’ pen name. Schizophrenia Bulletin vol. 34 no. 3 pp. 406–407, 2008 doi:10.1093/schbul/sbm036 Advance Access publication on May 4, 2007

Cite this paper

@article{Cohen2008EmergingFS, title={Emerging from schizophrenia.}, author={Marvin B. Cohen}, journal={Schizophrenia bulletin}, year={2008}, volume={34 3}, pages={406-7} }