Archive for February, 2011

Okay I have no life.  During Chinese  New Year instead of shamelessly collecting ang pows (shameless considering my age) I was reading an article titled ‘arresting psychosis in the young’ in The Straits Times just this past weekend. In this article, it talked about a large-scale research study that the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) initiated in a bid to find out more about the difference between normal and at-risk persons for a mental health condition known as psychosis.

Psychosis is little know among many of us. We are familiar with terms such as clinical depression, anxiety disorder and anorexia/bulimia but considering that psychosis that leads to schizohprenia is most likely to start between the ages of 15 and 29, it’s palpable how little we know. Psychosis is a condition of the mind and a person suffering from psychosis can experience hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there), delusions (e.g. thinking that people are watching you) or other abnormal behavior (e.g. talking or smiling to yourself).  You can see that some of these symptoms can be a bit ‘scary’ for some people  especially family members and friends of persons suffering from psychosis.  Often it has been mistaken as demonic possession or as the Chinese puts it ‘Gui Shang Shen’.  No doubt this is attributed to ‘The Exorcist’ and other horror films depicting demonic possession and in some cases these ‘spirits’ or ‘demons’ can even jump from person to person! What then happens is that instead of receiving psychiatric treatment, these people suffering from psychosis are brought to mediums or priests who could help to ‘cast out’ the demons and ‘cure’ the person.

I’ve been asked what my views are of possession, whether I believe there’s such a thing.  I think that’s really missing the point because it doesn’t matter what my views are of possession.  What matters is that many of these cases are really incidents of psychotic episodes which is highly treatable with medication if it’s detected early. Really what is needed more is information, knowledge and empathic understanding. Do check out the Early Psychosis Intervention Program (EPIP) website to find out more.