A Medical Expert on Healing, Meaning and Purpose Tells Us More About How Valuable Reading Plans and Celebratory Notes Can Be to Mentally Ill Persons

From Dr. Richard Petty in Atlanta:

I have enjoyed your books and blog, and was particularly heartened to read your sensitive blog item: “For a Seller of Books and Music Products, It Seemed Like the Mother Lode, and Still Does. But It Has Also Turned Out to Be a Remarkable Window on a Gifted and Disturbed Mind” [see item for May 27, 2006].

You probably know this already, but it is common for people with some types of major mental illness to use external anchors to try and keep some semblance of mental cohesion as they feel their world collapsing. Many succeed to a remarkable degree.

I would never presume to diagnose someone whom I have not examined myself, but having seen many thousands of psychotic individuals around the world, the use of reading plans and celebratory notes can not only be a help in diagnosis, but also in therapy. In others, art and music have helped provide oases of solace.

The incredible creativity of people struggling with psychosis, both to make sense of their unusual experiences, and to find safe havens is utterly remarkable. Some psychotic illnesses produce profound cognitive impairments, yet many are still able to show extraordinary creativity and resilience. The trouble comes, I think, when they are projected into the second tier (Beta?) without having stabilized all the earlier developmental levels.

Dr. Petty was for many years on the Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, and served as the Director of Clinical Research of the Mental Health Clinical Research Center, one of the largest schizophrenia research programs in the world, and also Director of the Inpatient Neuropsychiatry Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He was Founder and the first Director of the Integrated Medicine Program within the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his medical credentials, he has had extensive training in acupuncture, including advanced work in China, as well as hypnotherapy, homeopathy, and Reiki. He is currently Scientific Director of the Promedica Research Center in Atlanta, and Adjunct Professor at Georgia State University College of Health Sciences. I appreciate his kind words and additional insights into the workings of the mind. For more, go here: “Dr. Richard Petty”.

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