Schizophrenia
by Natalie Taylor

Reflection

I chose to focus on schizophrenia after an insightful home visit to an elderly couple during my time on GP home visits. The husband defined medically as a ‘burned out schizophrenic’ had burdened himself and his family with the rollercoaster of mental illness for over forty years. The most outstanding aspect from the visit for me was his wife’s avoidance of the term ‘mental illness’ and the label ‘schizophrenia’. She focused all her efforts talking about other aspects of her own and her husband’s health. The stigma and anxiety she felt in regard to schizophrenia was palpable. For me, this powerful avoidance tactic only served to emphasise the impact the condition had on her family.

Coming away from this visit I felt compelled to understand the true nature of this illness. The poignant true story of John Nash the famous schizophrenic mathematician who inspired the film ‘A Beautiful Mind’, inspired me to create a collage of photographs in an effort to characterise some of the feelings possibly experienced by an individual sufferer.

I felt photography was an appropriate way to capture emotion through lighting and facial expression. The centre of the piece shows a number of faces exploring the fear, isolation and uncertainty of the schizophrenic. Encircling this are individual hands, eyes and mouths. These sense organs represent the hallucinations and the stigma dominating the mind.

The feeling of life drawing in on you, unable to run away, not sure what is real and what is not real. These are all concepts I wanted the audience to perceive when viewing my collage.

As clinicians making the decision to deprive someone of their liberty is not something to be taken lightly, removing privilege and free will. The sufferer and indeed every patient must be treated in a holistic manner and ultimately as a whole person.

Natalie Taylor, Year One, Whole Person Care, 2013