Identifying the Trickster Phenomena During A Message Crisis or “Psychosis:”


When a message receiver can identify the fact that some of their messages are tricksters it can go a long way towards improving efforts to fit in, heal trauma and reduce consensus reality confusion. A supporter who is trusted may be able to articulate the concept, spot it when it’s happening, and teach spiritual skills that can help the message receiver mitigate damages.


According to Wikipedia, the concept of a trickster is a cultural archetype. In other words, a trickster is a cultural reality of the collective unconscious that Carl Jung identified. Accordingly, all cultures feature tricksters in their mythology. In Navajo culture the trickster is a coyote. In Greek mythology Hermes, patron of thieves, was a trickster character. In the bible, Jacob was. The trickster as an archetype is a revered spiritual character that cheats or cons people for their own material gain or just to cause mischief. In effect, a trickster is a very real part of reality that must be negotiated.


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How Diversifying Causation Beliefs Can Lead to Recovery from Psychosis

I believe that a powerful dialectic exists when participants study their similarities in psychoses focus groups. Converse to the great opportunities for growth that result when participants genuinely identify with each other, there are often important points of difference highlighted that likewise can lead to growth when nurtured properly.

I have observed that participants often become more aware of their diverse beliefs regarding the causation of their psychosis experiences. I also believe that the causation of psychosis experiences is a natural preoccupation for people who suffer. In fact, this preoccupation is so powerful, it warrants becoming part of the definition of psychosis in the model of treatment I have created.

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Two, Trauma-Sensitive Solutions for Psychosis

When I experienced two years of psychosis early during my career as a mental health counselor, I was already getting good at managing trauma with my master’s level training. I always been pretty good at being safe for others.

I wanted some of that trauma support when I found myself confined to a ward on a State Hospital. I knew I needed to establish safety with someone but couldn’t find anyone who would deal with me. Instead, no one treated me as though I was traumatized because they didn’t want to reinforce my delusions. This only made the trauma of what I experienced worse. Invariably, hospital workers were punitive and denied anything unjust was happening to me at all.

Because I worked tirelessly and had family support, I was able to return to my career in mental health. I got my psychotherapy license ten years ago and since that time I have worked to create trauma-sensitive treatment to address the needs of individuals who experience psychosis. Here, I intend to convey two trauma-sensitive solutions I have developed, working with people in groups and in individual treatment.


The Challenge of Establishing Trust: Continue reading “Two, Trauma-Sensitive Solutions for Psychosis”

Why I Say Special Messages Instead of Psychosis

For the past ten years I have used the words special messages to bring people together behind a better-defined notion of psychosis. I hope in this article will help better define what I mean by special messages and why I think that messages are part of a process that includes seven other components that I defined in my last article.

Many people who have worked with me presume that when I say special messages I mean voices. It’s true that the words hearing voices ring true as music to my ears. Indeed, the hearing voices movement has vastly improved the social understanding of what is happening to message receivers. Less dominant are the memes associated with all the “psycho” stigma that gets equated with the psychosis word. However, I still argue that just saying hearing voices fails to unite all people under the umbrella of the word psychosis.

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A New Definition of Psychosis

Psychosis is an antiquated word that leads to huge misunderstandings that play a large role oppressing a larger and larger portion of the population. For the past nine years I have run professional focus groups, going through the process of listening, exploring, reflecting, writing, seeking feedback and rewriting to get a better definition of psychosis.


Defining Psychosis, the Mainstream Way:

I remember using the mainstream definition as a young professional during the job I used to get me through my Master’s Program. Wondering how I was to connect with people who had delusions and voices that I clearly didn’t experience with my neurotic, highly-medicated self, I filled the white board with a list of labels and complicated words I was proud to be able to define. It was my college education that got me the job, and this was one way I could use it to be useful.

positive symptoms

Hallucinations:           reports of sounds (voices,) visuals, tactile sensations, tastes, and olfactory sensations that others do not experience

Delusions:                   “an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational . . .” In spite of the “preponderance of the evidence”

Disorganized Speech: Frequent derailment or incoherence): Word salad, tangential, or circumspect speech

negative symptoms

  1. Andhedonia
  2. Avolition
  3. Amotivation
  4. Alogia
  5. Attention Problems
  6. Catatonia
  7. Posturing
  8. Lethargy
  9. Flat affect
  10. Social Withdrawal
  11. Sexual Problems


The Errors of These Ways:

Life has taught me that the mainstream definition, as such, does little to depict what it feels like to have a break from reality. Indeed, not understanding this can cause a supporter to make things worse even when they have the best of intentions. Indeed, miscommunication, pain, and strained relationships often result once a sufferer has a break.

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The Special Messages Project


Learning Question One: How do in-reach efforts that connect residents of board and care homes, single room occupancy (SRO) hotels and unlicensed boarding houses to social and recreational opportunities in and outside of the facility reduce social isolation and improve quality of life for isolated adults and older adults with serious mental illness?

To answer our first learning question we used several strategies to obtain participants who receive special messages from SROs and Board and Care homes.   Initially, we envisioned providing individual services to people who responded to flyers and presentations in board and care homes and SRO hotels; however we found we had to adjust our strategy.

Instead our strategies included:

  • Passing out flyers to locations where residents in these locations are likely to frequent;
  • Direct emails to the board and care and SRO facilities;
  • Partnering with three social service agencies (PREP, East Bay Recovery, and Bonita House) and providing presentations and groups at those sites;
  • Partnering with Gladman Hospital, a long term inpatient settings, and providing presentation and groups at that site;
  • Outreaching to the homeless population;
  • Presenting at Saint Vincent De Paul Shelter, the Pacific Care Senior Center; the Fairmont Partial Hospitalization Program, and to Villa Fairmont Inpatient Hospital;
  • Coaching board and care staff;
  • Working with families.

The Program Manager pointed to safety issues associated with marching directly into board and care homes and SRO settings and providing groups. Indeed our trainees were transitioning into peer support experiences and promoting safety was paramount.  Instead, we initiated the process of gaining visibility in the community and training via general outreach. Next, we outreached to the homeless and practiced using our stories and strengthening our presentation skills. Once we started presentations and got invited to conduct groups in more staffed and protective settings, the trainees ran groups and initiated one on one relationships with individuals who were receptive.

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Reconstructing a Culture of Psychosis Across Diagnostic Divides

Perhaps one of the greatest ways to oppress a people is to convince them that they don’t exist.

In America, this is what many people who have experienced psychosis face in standard treatment.  In the absence of a sense of a supportive and functioning self-support community, many who have experienced psychosis don’t feel we belong to a rich, interesting, and meaningful culture.

Consider all the categories that the DSM V has that includes the phenomenon of psychosis. I have collected a rough list below:

Schizophrenia Spectrum and other psychotic disorder
Brief Psychotic Disorder
Schizophreniform Disorder
Delusional Disorder
Shared Psychotic Disorder
 Attenuated psychosis syndrome 
Psychotic Disorder NOS
Schizotypal personality disorder
Psychotic Disorder due to a medical condition (many)
Schizoaffective Disorder
Bipolar with psychotic features
Depression with psychotic features
Disassociative Identity Disorder
All Substance Induced Psychotic Disorders (ten different types)
Dementia of the Alzheimer’s type with early onset with delusions
Dementia of the Alzheimer’s type with late onset with delusions
Vascular Dementia with Delusions
Postpartum psychosis


Above, the construction of tall differentiated towers of illness, often grow taller and more isolated in the current system of care. Most provider-folks who use these words to bill would not want to be faced with the limited life they envision for their clients.

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