About 3% of individuals will go into psychosis at some point in their life. Psychosis is not a disorder in itself but a symptom or condition that can occur for a variety of reasons. Psychosis can occur in mental disorders but can also occur without there being a disorder. Psychosis is a condition in the brain where the connection to reality is partially broken. Thus, it can be difficult for an individual with psychosis to distinguish between imagination and reality.
The main symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations, delusions and disturbance of thoughts. Hallucinations are seeing, hearing or perceiving something that is not happening in real life, such as hearing voices that others do not hear. Delusions are ideas that people believe to be true, but they are not the reality and other people in their community and cultural world do not believe in the idea. Delusions can be a variety of things, such as thinking that others are trying to hurt you. Disturbance of thoughts is described by disturbed structure and flow of thoughts. Thoughts either become very fast or slow, which makes it difficult to control or structure the thoughts. This often causes difficulties in expressionng and even speaking can even becomes incomprehensible.
Psychosis affects thoughts, emotions and how people experience the world. Psychosis is often accompanied by anxiety and sadness and the symptoms of psychosis can lead to social isolation, both because people in psychosis can be scared of or avoid others as well as because others often feel the symptoms to be repulsive and experience incomprehension of the situation.
The manifestation of psychosis in books, episodes and movies is often psychosis in its most exaggerated form and very unrealistic. There, psychosis is often associated with violence and crime when the reality is that people with psychosis are no more dangerous than others, neither to themselves nor others. The recourses for people with a psychosis illness are also often shown in a very unrealistic way. In most books and movies where psychosis occurs, the recourses are either archaic and are not related to the treatments used today or they are very inhumane and in fact illegal. Resources for people with psychotic disorders are many, diverse and completely different to what is often shown in books and the media.
Psychosis is often seen in people with drug abuse but it can also occur when people experience very serious depression or are in a mania and lose connection with reality. Some substances are purely intended to induce a psychotic-like condition, such as hallucinogen drugs that are supposed to produce psychotic symptoms of hallucinations. When people experience such symptoms and are high on drugs it is not considered psychosis but, on the other hand, it can become abuse related psychosis when the drug has passed through the body and psychotic symptoms are still present or appear.
Psychotic disorders are several, but the most common psychotic disorder is schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a term that many people misunderstand and think that a person with schizophrenia has a split personality or a multiple personality which is not a symptom of schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia experience at least one psychosis. Schizophrenia is accompanied by so-called negative symptoms as well as psychotic symptoms. These symptoms can cause difficulties and impairments in skills, such as communication skills, performing daily activities, studying, working and more. Sometimes people with schizophrenia who are in a psychosis or have recently experienced psychosis have less of a need for communication with others, which can contribute to social isolation. People with schizophrenia are not more violent than other people, although it is often the manifestation of schizophrenia in the media and movies. In fact, people with schizophrenia are usually restrained and do not interact much with others. Violence is a personality trait and if a person with schizophrenia is violent they were violent before the disorder occurred and that would be independent from the disorder.
Although schizophrenia is often portrayed as a difficult disorder that is almost impossible to overcome, the reality is that many people achieve full recovery and most learn to live with the disorder.