Schizophrenia (Barbara O’Brien)

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BARBARA O’BRIEN, author of Operators and Things: The Inner Life of a Schizophrenic

On Schizophrenia
“There is an amazing lack of accurate knowledge among laymen concerning the effects of schizophrenia upon its victims. The most prevalent current notion is that, when the mind is split in schizophrenia, the individual becomes two people, two distinct personalties, or even multiple personalities—that the subconscious mind, rebelling against the repressions imposed upon it, has declared civil war, deserted the conscious authority; and that in the resulting schism, the new personality which emerges periodically is composed of the parts of the personality which the individual has consciously, deliberately, persistently repressed.

In infrequent cases, this appears to be just what does happen. The unconscious has rebelled, assumed control, created the person it wishes to be, forced the conscious controller into a small, tightly closed box where it cannot even see what is going on, and then taken over the floor of the conscious mind.

In most cases of schizophrenia, however, the unconscious appears to prefer not the techniques of the actor, but those of the director. It does not create a new personality but, instead, stages a play. The major difference is that the conscious mind is permitted to remain, an audience of one sitting lonely in the theater, watching a drama. on which it cannot walk out.”

BARBARA O’BRIEN, Operators and Things: The Inner Life of a Schizophrenic, ARLINGTON BOOKS Cambridge 1958, page 5

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