Understanding schizophrenia and paranoia from an adlerian perspective

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why are all psychological disorders described using the same words

Try to search for information about any psychological disorder online and you will get those pieces of information in order:

Cause: not exactly known but believed to be a combination of both genetics and environmental factors
Treatment: Medication and CBT

Its really funny how you always end up with the same exact words for different psychological disorder. Whether you were searching for schizophrenia, Paranoia , delusional disorder or anything else you will always come up with those same results.

Now the reason everyone writes those lines is because they are not quite sure how things really work. I am a Fan of Alfred Adler and the Adlerian school because its the only school that provides logical explanations to all of those disorders.

The Adlerian school acknowledges the fact that brain chemistry changes as a result of psychological disorders but the only difference between it and other schools is that it considers those chemical changes a symptom of the disorder and not the cause.

When you look at chemical changes that way you will realize that targeting brain chemistry directly will always be a temporary solution (even though it helps) and not a permanent one. In my book, The ultimate guide to getting over depression i said that medication can help the patient to withstand depression Symptoms but unless the root cause is dealt with depression will always be there.

Understanding schizophrenia and paranoia from an Adlerian perspective

According to the Adlerian School each person has certain important psychological goals that he will try to reach throughout his life. Some examples of those goals are becoming superior, feeling worthy, replicating a favorable past or grabbing attention.

Now when a person fails to achieve those important goals in a proper way his mind stars using unconventional ways to help him reach those same goals. If a person always wanted to feel important but failed to do it in a socially acceptable way then he might develop Paranoia and assume that everyone is plotting against him.

Here is how the mind of that person sees it. If everybody is plotting to kill me or harm me then i must be an extremely important person. Paranoia in such a case is just a method that the mind uses to achieve an important psychological goal that the person couldn't achieve otherwise. (see How Psychological problems develop)

When you look at schizophrenia the same way you will quickly be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. In order to understand the cause of schizophrenia for a certain patient you need to study his past behavior and know more about the psychological goals he was trying to reach before he developed the disorder.

You need to ask yourself what are the important goals this person is trying to reach by developing schizophrenia? Is schizophrenia helping him to achieve a goal that he previously failed to achieve?

The case of Lisa

After a devastating Breakup that blew her self esteem Lisa started believing that everyone is plotting to put her into jail. Lisa accused her close friends of betraying her without having any evidence.

After taking a look at Lisa's psychological goals it was obvious that believing that she is loved and admired was her most important goal since her parents never made her feel so when she was a little kid. (see How your past affects your present)

Now what that breakup did is that it prevented her from reaching her most important goal which was feeling loved. Because Lisa was not equipped to deal with such a problem her mind found no way out but to help her feel worthy by developing Paranoid schizophrenia.

Lisa started believing that the breakup happened because people were plotting against her and not because of any other reason. The whole problem was that she wasn't prepared to face the fact that she was dumped. The disorder in such a case was developed just to protect her self esteem.

In order to understand a psychological disorder just try to figure out the goal the person is trying to reach by developing that disorder.

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