24 August 2019
We live in a fast-paced, stressful and pessimistic environment that is not conducive to good mental health. Photo: CNSA
We live in a fast-paced, stressful and pessimistic environment that is not conducive to good mental health. Photo: CNSA

Understanding schizophrenia

Recently, the case of a mainland woman named Tang Lin-ling, who was found guilty of contempt of court after she took pictures inside a courtroom, became a favorite topic of conversation among gossipers.

What is probably worth discussing isn’t the verdict; after all, her action during a High Court hearing was undeniably punishable.

What caught the attention of many was her eccentric remarks and behavior.

One day she rejected help from a barrister, saying that he might manipulate her. The next day she claimed to have had a conversation with Jesus who told her she was innocent. Onlookers made fun of her, wondering if she was mad.

The city’s overall mental health is said to be deteriorating, especially in the case of those living a fast-paced, stressful and pessimistic environment.

Two years ago, Ching Chi (an alias) came to me for psychological therapy. She was only 25 and had been presenting some symptoms for over six months.

She sat in front of me with a blank expression in her face. When asked about her background and other information, she gave vague and irrelevant answers. Her father, who was with her during the therapy, appeared helpless.

Ching Chi was born into an affluent family but she was overwhelmed by her father’s demand for perfection. Gradually, their relationship soured. The more he wanted to control her, the more she wanted to run away from him.

The daughter felt like being under constant surveillance and developed hostility toward her father. As her illness developed, she even thought her food had been poisoned and believed she was being persecuted.

At that point she was showing signs of early schizophrenia. Common symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, lack of emotion, disorganized speech and bizarre behavior.

Back to the story of Tang. Regardless of what people think, nobody can really tell her condition based on media stories alone without clinical examination.

However, there has to be a certain reason or history behind every strange behavior.

Instead of being judgemental or critical towards seemingly abnormal people, perhaps we could all be more understanding.

Nobody deserves to be a laughing stock, and nobody would have been one if we were just a bit more caring.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 22

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]


Clinical Psychologist

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