psychotic disorders


Psychosis is a condition where, due to disturbance of perception, thought processes or behavior, the contact with the surrounding reality (in part) is lost. When the perception is disturbed, something that is observed is not necessarily true. That is something almost stranger than ever imagined and it leads to a lot of confusion and misunderstanding.


For example, someone who hears voices that another does not hear hallucinates. However, the patient actually hears it, interprets it and cannot but conclude that it is true. Research has shown that a person with acoustic hallucinations just hears. The same areas in the brain that are involved in registering and becoming conscious of sound stimuli are active at a hallucination.


How thinking can be disrupted is different. Also here is the criterion wether a thought is true, but there are so many thoughts that are not true (strictly spoken a thought is never more than a thought, ergo there is no true or false involved) that along this path we are unable to distinguish psychotic thought from normal thinking. It has to be about beliefs that are not shared, which are uncorrectable, called delusions that are not shared by people from the same cultural background.
By definition a belief is not delusional when it is a shared belief belonging to a religion, a faith and a cultural community. Religious delusions do exists, there someone might for example be convinced, to be the Messiah, sent to the world on special mission.

In addition to the above problem in the content of thinking, psychosis often interferes with its form. When someone is unable to keep the train of thought on track, without noticing so that it can become completely incoherent, then there is a disorder in the course of thought. Another disorder of thought might be the inability of differentiating between what is meant literally and figuratively.


There are many behavioral disorders. With psychotic behavior is incomprehensible, strange behavior meant. For example: only but walking backwards. It is behavior that seems to have a meaning for the person concerned but the meaning eludes to other people. Complete grind to a halt is another example.


Psychosis can occur under different conditions. Here we discuss the psychoses that occur with clear consciousness and that happens mainly in the context of schizophrenia. But severe mood disorders can also be associated with psychosis. These are discussed at length in the section about the mood disorders. Another common cause of psychosis is drug abuse. Often this affects people who already have a certain vulnerability to psychosis but some drugs (hallucinogens) can cause a (temporal) psychotic episode to everyone. Read more in the section on substance abuse and addiction.
Short-term psychotic moments may occur under the influence of severe distress, a "brief reactive psychosis". Here too, there usually is a pre-morbid vulnerability, (although not necessarily a personality disorder).