Psychosis– what is it?
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In simple terms, Psychosis
involves certain specific symptoms relating to conditions/illnesses/disorders/effects of substances
etc. that affect the mind & thoughts of an individual and where there is a degree of 'loss of
contact with reality'. The degree of 'loss or contact' can vary, depending upon the individual,
the condition, the circumstances and so on. These are generally the following:
These involve the senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell & touch). As such,
a person may ‘see things that are not
there’ or ‘hear things that are not
there’. They may sense ‘odd
tastes’ or ‘strange
smells’ in the absence of any evidence of those sensations.
Auditory hallucinations can be particularly disturbing & distressing;
being often derrogatory, abusive, threatening etc.; they can also be of a
'command' nature; 'telling' or 'commanding' the
individual to 'do something'. The latter can have tragic
consequences if they involve 'self harm' or 'suicide';
'assault', 'violence' or even
Thought - This applies to the
individual's inability to 'organize their thoughts or thinking'; often
becoming confused & 'disconnected' in content & how they convey
their thoughts to others. The individual may find simple sentence construction
difficult; disjointed & 'odd'. Their thoughts might be
'jumbled' - thinking 'fast' or 'slow' and there might
be marked disturbance in the capacity to concentrate.
beliefs that are not based in reality and cannot be altered through any
reason or logic. Someone may believe they are ‘Prime
Minster’ or ‘God’ or
Jesus’ (grandiose delusions). They may believe they have ‘no stomach,
limbs or other body parts’ (nihilistic delusions). They may
believe the coach is going to ‘kill
them’ ....literally! (paranoid delusions). The definition of a
delusion is:- 'a fixed, firm
belief that does not conform to conventionally held beliefs and ideas, that
is out of ‘sync’ with societal mores, norms & culture and which cannot be
altered by rational argument or explanation to the
Delusions & Hallucinations are generally considered common
to all psychotic presentations. Disordered
thought may not be a 'stand alone' symptom, but
somewhat secondary or subsequent to these two
Other associated symptoms may include changes or alterations to
feelings, where mood & emotions change for no observable reason or are inconsistent to the stimuli; the
individual may feel decidedly 'up' when a situation would ordinarily indicate the contrary
emotion.They may feel 'numb' or unable to express any emotion; often referred to as
'blunted'. They may also feel somewhat 'detached' from the world around them; in an
These symptoms mentioned above are those the individual experiences
and that which is noted by the observer; being manifested by the individual through the consequential
'behavioural' changes. If a psychotic person is experiencing auditory hallucinations of a
'persecutory nature', maintaining delusional thoughts of a 'paranoid kind'; observably
'distracted' & unable to communicate their thoughts in conversation, the behavioural changes
will generally bear this out.
'drug induced' - 'a
The subject of Psychotic
Illnesses in relation to Rugby League is most probably not entirely necessary as the recorded
incidence is very low and it is very doubtful that someone with a psychotic illness could participate
successfully in the sport. It is important, however, that the player and those associated with the game have an
overall concept of the types of illnesses that are ‘out there’. There is a highly likely probability
that somewhere in an individual's life they will experience someone who has one of these illnesses or at least
exhibit the associated symptoms.
There is also a need to understand the differences between mood
disorders and psychoses and the correlation between stress, other mental health conditions such
as 'Bipolar Disorder', 'burnout' and drugs and alcohol; all of which can result in psychotic symptoms.
As with most mental illnesses & disorders, the use of a
'bio-psycho-social' model is extremely effective in determining causative or contributing factors
for their development, as it covers each of the realms of human existence;
Biological (including biochemical, neurological, genetic or heredity);
Psychological (developmental factors, including coping skills, role modelling etc.) and
Social (stress, abuse, environmental factors).
Below is a list of some of both the postulated and proven
causes or contributing factors for the development of psychosis and/or psychotic disorders:
Genetic - theories & evidence
suggest the strong possibility of a genetic link with many
Psychotic Disorders &
other mental illnesses; such as Bipolar Disorder & types
of Depression. Whether it is
purely heredity, or whether there is a 'genetic
predisposition' or 'vulnerability' has yet to be
proven. One cannot also discount influences during developmental
stages & years of an individual's life. 'Nature vs
Primarily involving 'hallucinations'
(sometimes referred to as alcohol hallucinosis), the symptoms are
considered a 'secondary psychosis'; as a result of 'acute
intoxication', 'withdrawal' or 'significant reduction in
consumption'. Diagnosis is more definitive when symptoms subside
or disappear in the prolonged absence of alcohol.
Stress (reactive) - There appears
a requirement for 'predisposition' in the development of
Psychosis secondary to stress or 'stressful events'.
Where some might develop 'anxiety'
or 'anxiety disorders', 'depression', 'bipolar' & so on, other
individuals may develop psychotic symptoms. Treatment for both the
acute psychotic symptoms & the precipitating stress
will generally result in the elimination of the
Hormonal - Imbalances in
hormones, particularly in women, can result in the development of a
variety of mental illnesses, including the development of
'psychosis'. The primary areas for hormonal problems
are the 'Thyroid' &
'Adrenal Glands'. 'Hyperthyroidism',
for example, can result in 'Thyrotoxic Psychosis'.
Restoration of 'balance' and levels will result in the
elimination of the psychosis.
As stated above even
disorders such as Depression & Bipolar Disorder can involve the
development of Psychosis.
Please click here for Psychosis 'Fact Sheet'.
Should you have concerns regarding any issue relating to your 'mental or
physical well-being', 'Kick off' strongly recommend you seek professional assistance. This
may entail contacting your GP or similar clinician (Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counsellor etc.). You may
also contact the appropriate agency or service that might assist you. Irrespective of your choice, ensure you
see someone who might help.