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SPD and Psychic Phenomena

by Virgil

Last updated 1/13/99. Copyright © 1999 by Virgil. All rights reserved.

Throughout the 20th century, the mental health organizations have attempted to explain situations that the public may misunderstand or fear by placing said situations under the blanket definition of a "mental illness". Prior to 1973, the mental health community classified homosexuality as "sexual deviation disturbance" and considered it a mental illness. The reasoning behind this is obvious; people don't like what they don't understand, so they consider it crazy. People try to pigeonhole things they don't understand, with the aim of "understanding" or at least feeling better about them.

This has been the case with psychic phenomena. The mental health community has actually managed to give a clinical diagnosis to people who have (or believe they have) any kind of psychic ability. The name for it is SPD or Schizotypal Personality Disorder. The clinical definition for this condition is as follows:

"SPD or Schizotypal Personality Disorder: Possess the same interpersonal difficulties of schizoid disorder (Dull and Aloof around others, no tender feelings for others) but with Schizophrenic symptoms not severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Symptoms include magical thinking or superstitiousness, beliefs that the patient is telepathic or clairvoyant and recurrent illusions, seeing, hearing, or feeling people or things not actually there."

Now this obviously looks in many ways like a blanket definition to describe something people are afraid of. Two major problems that occur for the social aspect of such a condition are as follows:

1) Classifying this illness within the Schizoid family may cause it to be over diagnosed. Unfortunately, the psychological community tends to use the Schizoid family as a "catch all" for hard-to-diagnose problems. (The reason behind this is that one cannot simply write, in a clinical report, that a person is "Fucked up.")

2) The diagnosis greatly discredits people who use their psychic abilities to help others, e.g. police psychics. Unfortunately, people tend to attach a negative stigma to most psychological problems and this diagnosis gives the public the ability to classify a great deal of people as "loony." This obviously gives fuel for the feared "witchhunt" (see Amy's article on this issue.)

The problems here are evident. However, the solutions are a great deal harder to figure out. The problems lie in the fact that people still do not understand psychic abilities and are still afraid of them. However, the Gay community was able to overcome its stigma, and it is probably possible for psychics to do likewise. But the information must be placed in the hands of the correct people so that the general public may better understand what psychics really are and that they are gifted, not insane.

Questions and comments should be sent to Virgil,

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