One patient, who was so eloquent on the subject of music, had a great difficulty in walking alone, but was always able to walk perfectly if someone walked with her. Her own comments on this are of very great interest: ‘When you walk with me,’ she said, ‘I feel in myself your own power of walking. I partake of the power and freedom you have. I share your walking powers, your perceptions, your feelings, your existence. Without even knowing it, you make me a great gift.’ This patient felt this experience as very similar to, if not identical with, her experiences with music: ‘I partake of other people, as I partake of music…’
Does the nature of psychotic delusions change over the centuries? Or are “crazy” people crazy in the same ways regardless of where and when they lived and died?
Slovenian researchers analyzed more than 120 years’ worth of patient reports from the Ljubljana mental hospital, and their findings suggest that psychotic delusions are profoundly shaped by contemporary society, with the technology of the day—be it the telegraph or the television—playing a prominent role. The researchers also found that the “persecution delusion” (a paranoid narrative in which the subject feels hounded by evildoers) is a relatively modern phenomenon: a reaction to the possibility of nuclear war and to Cold War conspiracy flicks like The Manchurian Candidate. In this sense, schizophrenic delusions are a twisted mirror to the world we live in.