What Is Psychosis?

We've probably all heard of the word psychotic. In everyday language it's generally used to mean something like "really mad".

Psychosis, in psychological language, is a condition in which a person isn't in contact with reality like most people.

Psychosis can take many forms, it can include:

In Psychiatry there are a number of disorders that come under the general title of the psychoses. They all differ in symptoms, but all are joined in the fact that the person is in someway not experiencing reality like most people.

These are:

In fact, there is quite a lot of controversy about the psychiatric classification of the psychoses. With many experts, now arguing, that it is more helpful to treat people according to the specific symptoms that they have (e.g. hearing voices in their head) rather than putting them under a label such as "schizophrenic", which can cover widely different people, with widely different problems.

People suffering with a long-term psychosis often have problems looking after themselves, and getting on well with other people.

What Causes It

No one really knows, pretty much every possible suggestion has been made throughout the years. Some popular theories include:

Although we know psychosis can be brought on in some people by:

What Treatment Is There?

Psychosis has been shown to respond well to treatments such as antipsychotic medication, and more recently Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy has been suggested as working well. Family and Group therapies are often suggested as working well with certain individuals.

Despite providing quite useful ways of thinking about psychosis, traditional Psychodynamic therapies are generally not thought to work well, and some people even consider them potentially harmful.

Social skills training, occupational therapy, and supported employment schemes have been shown to help some long-term sufferers, without necessarily treating the underlying psychosis.

Current thinking reckons that if you catch psychosis at it's early stages (called prodromal), you have better prospects in treating it.

Do People Recover?

Some people who experience a psychosis may only experience it once throughout their whole life (this is called a 'single episode'), other people may have problems with it for the rest of their lives.

We are creating a SimplePsych factsheet on Psychosis which goes into more detail while still using easy to understand English. If you would be interested at this service being offered to you please let us know by emailing us Click Here

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If you are interested in going into even more depth, the following book(s), sold by, are recommended by us. Each is followed by a rating for ease of reading (1-3).

1=Simple and Easy to comprehend.
2=More Complex but still a good read.
3=Very Complex, only for professionals/those studying to degree level.

Early Interventions In Psychosis (Birchwood, Jackson & Fowler)

RATING SCORE = 3  An extremely up to date book, focusing on early treatment, both medical and cognitive-behavioural.

Cognitive Therapy For Delusions, Voices & Paranoia (Chadwick, Birchwood & Trower)

RATING SCORE = 3  An excellent book explaining the exciting prospects of treating Psychosis with CBT.

Unbearable Affect: A Guide To The Psychotherapy Of Psychosis (Garfield)

RATING SCORE = 3  A psychoanalytically orientated book.

First Episode Psychosis (Meeham et al)

RATING SCORE = 3  A small pocketbook on 1st Episode Psychosis mainly intended for Doctors - Very Handy.

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