How Do Psychiatrists Diagnose Schizophrenia?

How Do Psychiatrists Diagnose Schizophrenia?

Hello, my name is Arjuna D. Ghose (formerly known as Jacob), and I am a spiritual seeker who has studied the Sri Chinmoy philosophy for 27 years. In this article, I’ll describe what I have learned about how psychiatrists diagnose schizophrenia after dealing with at least 25 different psychiatrists in both Toronto and Halifax, Canada for several years.

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia because of my spiritual communication abilities. A diagnosis I know is wrong. Unfortunately, simply by saying that, it sounds like I have schizophrenia, especially to a psychiatrist. Because every single human being on the planet who doesn’t have schizophrenia has a symptom of that mental disorder simply because they don’t believe that have it.

So, how do psychiatrists diagnose? For starters, they don’t tend to use an intuitive faculty involving insight as one might think. They simply try to determine whether they think you have symptoms.

If you want to read about how I began speaking to psychiatrists in the first place, please read this story. Hint: it wasn’t to get help with a mental health disorder.

How Psychiatrists Diagnosed Me The Very First Time

The very first time I was diagnosed, I was at a hospital in Toronto. The medical professionals performed several kinds of blood and urine tests on me. They determined that there was nothing physically wrong with me.

Then I met with a large team of psychiatrists. They told me that since there was nothing physically wrong with me according to the tests, that must mean I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. Even though they could provide no science to back up that logic.

And even though the fact that I had nothing physically wrong with me still didn’t prove or disprove whether I did indeed have spiritual communication abilities.

It was just simply based on the psychiatrists’ beliefs about spiritual communication, which was not based on science.

Actually, science has very little say on human consciousness:

Science does not deal with planes of consciousness; it deals only with the facts that it gets from the physical world. Consciousness is something which science is not approaching and cannot approach.

—Sri Chinmoy, Spiritual Master (Source: Astrology, The Supernatural and the Beyond)

What Am I Proposing About How Psychiatrists Diagnose Schizophrenia?

I’m drafting an open letter to the Nova Scotia Health Authority Board of Directors. I may or may not publish it, or even send it to them. First, I hope to get advice from my lawyer. I certainly feel that I need it.

One of the points I make in that letter is: why aren’t there mandates for NS Health Authority mental health care workers to: a) set aside their predispositions before concluding anything about a client; or b) use their intuition as opposed to their faculty of perception to diagnose those clients?

A Spiritual Perspective

Spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy, one of the greatest spiritual geniuses to walk the earth, detailed the difference between perception and intuition this way:

There is a great difference between perception and intuition. Perception is of a very, very low origin and intuition is of a very, very high origin. Perception comes from the mind proper, from the vital, or from even lower regions. Perception can never go beyond the ordinary level of mental consciousness. Even when we perceive something to the fullest extent, this perception comes from the mind.

But intuition comes from a very high level of consciousness far above the mind. In perception, there is very rarely a direct knowledge of Truth; there is no direct wisdom. Perception is an indirect way of approaching the Truth, a roundabout way. But intuition is an immediate and direct way of approaching the Truth. There can be no comparison between perception and intuition.

— Sri Chinmoy (Source: Aspiration-Plants)

It is shocking, to say the least, that psychiatrists do not understand the difference between diagnosing with their intuition and diagnosing with their perception. How are you an expert on knowing the consciousness of another individual when you can’t understand something that basic? It seems that management at the NS Health Authority does little (or no) discerning as to whether a psychiatrist has any intuitive capacity.

Many Psychiatrists Use Their Predispositions To Diagnose

Furthermore, these psychiatrists—at least the ones who have misdiagnosed me—don’t value the significance of setting aside their predispositions prior to a clinical process with a client.

Dr. Nelson, for example—the psychiatrist I met with from 2013 to 2018 to get a letter allowing me to help my daughter with a mental health problem—concluded that I needed to take antipsychotic medication for the rest of my life before she even met me for the first time. Before she even met with my family members or friends, the latter of which she has never done. She just “figured all this out” by looking into my health record, which is typical of how a psychiatrist diagnoses.

The following are my journal notes from my very first meeting with Dr. Nelson on August 28, 2013:

I met with my new psychiatrist, whom I’ll call Dr. Angela Nelson, for the first time on this date. She had already decided that I have schizophrenia before even speaking to me, just from looking at notes about me in my health record and from reading the letter I wrote on May 21, 2013, while I was in the mental health clinic the last time. So, it was already decided, before even speaking to me, that I will have to take the antipsychotic medication Risperidone. She doesn’t really understand the concept of oneness with Guru, which I tried explaining to her, and she wasn’t really all that interested in hearing about it.

She also told me that I will have to take the Risperidone medication for the rest of my life because of the type of mental illness I supposedly have, and she told me that she will be my psychiatrist from this point forth, i.e. I will no longer be switching to different psychiatrists. Dr. Nelson also told me the reason why she thinks I have a mental illness is because of the fact that inner communication with a Guru is not something that people normally experience in society. That’s how she diagnosed me, but there was more than that based off my history in my health record.

During my meeting with Dr. Nelson, I told her how I was addressing my anxiety and how I was overcoming some of it. She didn’t really seem to understand that and just wanted to focus on my schizophrenic delusions.

I mentioned to her that I thought maybe it would help if I could take some additional medication (in addition to the Effexor, which is helpful for anxiety) to help me deal with my anxiety, but she didn’t want to address that; she just wants to focus on the Risperidone for now.

Three years later, still just trying to get a good letter from Dr. Nelson, I asked her what method she uses for determining whether one has delusions. Her response was as follows:

Well, that’s a good question. Ultimately, Jacob, from a psychiatry perspective, the practice of psychiatry is that it is a clinical assessment. So, there’s no ability to do, like, blood tests or X-rays or physical exams to help in that regard. It’s a clinical assessment, and ultimately what we need to consider is not just someone’s beliefs from a delusional perspective or from a diagnosis perspective, but also how they’re doing in life and how their beliefs differ or are similar to what is considered their cultural and religious norm. So, it is a clinical assessment, which means the method we use is by talking to people, patients, and getting collateral from their family and friends.

Sometimes There’s No Clinical Process Before You’re Diagnosed

So, what was the clinical process I went through with Dr. Nelson and what family and friends of mine did she speak to before determining I needed an antipsychotic for the rest of my life? Dr. Potlick is another psychiatrist I met with. He is a forensic psychiatrist who declared me Not Criminally Responsible after I was involved in a separate incident. He also never spoke to any family members or friends of mine to help him conclude whether I am schizophrenic. This is what I mean when I say she diagnosed me with her predispositions.

I didn’t go through any clinical process with her before she stated that I need to take an antipsychotic for the rest of my life. These were beliefs she already had prior to any kind of process with her. She did not look into my beliefs to see if they were valid. For example, she had no knowledge of spiritual communication abilities in general and did no research into how this is common for a Sri Chinmoy disciple.

She could have read the book, On Sri Chinmoy’s Sunlit Path: Stories by Disciples of Sri Chinmoy in which there is an entire chapter called Inner Communication, or she could have spoken to Sri Chinmoy disciples who are friends of mine. Although I may not have had any Sri Chinmoy disciple who could speak to her on my behalf at the time, she didn’t even consider the notion of talking to anyone prior to arriving at her diagnosis. And I could not penetrate these predispositions for the entire four and a half years I met with her.

The NS Health Authority psychiatrists I’ve dealt with do not admit that they haven’t done anything to discern whether I’m: a) someone with spiritual communication abilities coupled with mental health problems stemming from childhood trauma (which I claim I am); from: b) someone who is schizophrenic with both psychosis and delusional beliefs.

An ‘Expertise’ Based On Not Being Familiar With Something

How can they discern that I’m not experiencing a spiritual relationship with Sri Chinmoy when they know nothing of spiritual communication? It’s far more likely they don’t believe this type of communication exists. They are predisposed against my belief. They do not know what it is like to be Sri Chinmoy’s disciple. These psychiatrists simply have a limiting belief that he is an ordinary man.

My head psychiatric nurse while I was at the Abbie J. Lane Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who had an East Indian background, told me something privately one day. He said he thinks the reason the psychiatrists think I have schizophrenia is because they are not familiar with how one can have spiritual communication abilities with one’s God-realized Master.

I was pretty convinced that not only were they not familiar with spiritual communication, they were also not familiar with how one can be God-realized. And they certainly were not familiar with how one can be a God-realized Master of the highest order, as I believe Sri Chinmoy (aka Guru) to be.

I’d also doubt most psychiatrists are familiar with how:

God is our own highest and most illumined part.

—Sri Chinmoy (Source: Fifty Freedom-Boats to One Golden Shore, Part 4)

How can they be experts on human consciousness when they are not familiar with things like this?

Science can’t prove/disprove the existence of God. Science can’t prove/disprove whether God is our own Highest Self. And it can’t prove/disprove the capacity to spiritually communicate with God or one’s Master. So, how does psychiatry have it figured out?

Fun Fact:

Research also reveals that cultural and ethnic factors can play a significant role in mental health misdiagnosis. “African-Americans, for example, are more likely to receive misdiagnoses of schizophrenia and less likely to receive accurate diagnoses of depression or other mood disorders [according to a U.S. surgeon general’s report],” writes Erica Goode in The New York Times.

(Source: The Dangers of Mental Health Misdiagnosis: Why Accuracy Matters)

How Can You Dispute A Psychiatrist Diagnosis?

The only way to dispute a psychiatrist diagnosis is for another psychiatrist to do that, even though they are practicing what they call a “not an exact science.”

(And they call it a not an exact “science” even though other scientists have claimed that psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless.”)

Take Dr. Potlick’s declaration of Not Criminally Responsible against me, for instance. The only way I can dispute that is in regular criminal court, and I’m not going to be able to challenge this decision against me unless I find at least one other expert to testify on my behalf.

Unfortunately, I can’t find someone who is known for an intuitive capacity or who simply has expert knowledge of spiritual communication—such as a sage or a medium or a fellow Sri Chinmoy disciple—unless that person is also a scientist or psychiatrist.

Only an expert can provide such opinion-based evidence. And the party calling the expert witness bears the burden of showing that he/she is an expert in a particular field and that that particular area of testimony has some accepted scientific validity.

I’d have to ask another “expert” who hardly knows me to testify. I can’t ask a friend or a family member to take the stand—someone who knows me very well, and who could easily provide their knowledge that I’m thriving, making it absurd to remove me from this balanced and productive life I’m living. No one close to me can say I shouldn’t be mandated to take a potent antipsychotic medication or risk being sent to a jail-like forensic hospital despite my having no history of violence if I refuse to do so. That person would have to be an expert and have the court be willing to overlook their relationship with me.

Standard Procedure

I was eventually able to meet with a review board after I was made an involuntary patient at the Abbie J. Lane Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A stay brought on by my Higher Self tricking me as I relayed in this true story about a spiritual experience. This should not be confused with the Criminal Code Review Board under whose jurisdiction I’ll be placed if I lose this NCR trial. This review board at the Abbie J. Lane was to determine whether I could get my status changed to voluntary. They agreed that my status should be changed to voluntary and noted that one of their justifications for this decision was:

When [Jacob Miller’s psychiatrist] was asked about deterioration, she told the Board that her concern was that his behaviour is unpredictable due to his psychosis and that he may become a danger to self or others. There is, however, no history of violence or aggression and no reason to believe that this will suddenly become a problem if he were to be made a voluntary patient.

I was made a voluntary patient at this hospital because I have no history of violence or aggression. But I will be forced to stay at the jail-like East Coast Forensic Hospital simply by refusing to take the potent antipsychotic medication the Criminal Code Review Board will likely order me to take.

Diagnosing With Illusions And Delusions

  • Psychiatrists tend to believe specious arguments.

    • If it seems like you have a particular mental disorder, you are likely to be diagnosed with that even if you do not.
    • This is how ordinary human beings, who aren’t experts, often judge.
  • If you are going through something very rare, you will highly likely be misdiagnosed.

    • For example: “A 2012 study by Bipolar UK, the Royal College of Physicians, and Bipolar Scotland found that ‘people with bipolar disorder wait for an average of 13.2 years before they are diagnosed, and often spend years receiving treatment for other conditions.’” (Source: The Dangers of Mental Health Misdiagnosis: Why Accuracy Matters)

      If you can easily be misdiagnosed when you have bipolar, imagine how much more likely you will be misdiagnosed when you are experiencing something far rarer.

  • Have you heard of the The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon in psychology?

    • In short, our brains are hardwired to focus on recognizing familiar concepts, especially when they’re new to us.
    • Many psychiatrists have no insight. They just think they see things they are familiar with even if that’s not what they’re actually seeing.
  • Dr. Nelson—the psychiatrist I met for 4.5 years in attempt to get a letter about my mental health—believed she knew what she didn’t know. It was evident in her demeanor and the way she talked to me. Most sessions, she would lecture me, naysay me, or gaslight me. And yet I was the expert on who I am.

Yes, they euphemistically call their practice a “not an exact science.” And other scientists call a psychiatric diagnosis “scientifically meaningless.” However, other people often believe psychiatrists know what they’re talking about because they pose as experts and present their opinion as fact. This, unfortunately, is what helps fuel stigma.

How Does One Develop Intuition?

A psychiatrist diagnosis contradicts the ‘know thyself’ philosophy taught by the masters of meditation from the hoary past.

The great question “Who am I?” was first asked in India’s Upanishads before the time of the Buddha. The answer was given that the Self exists in all beings and the entire universe. Much more advanced than modern psychology focused on the brain. Time to honor true Self-knowledge.

—Dr David Frawley, Pandit Vamadeva Shastri, Vedacharya, author of over forty books, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedanta, D.Litt., Padma Bhushan recipient
(Source: Tweet)

It is we who are able to know ourselves. And we are on an endless journey of learning to do so. Somebody may help point you in the right direction, but nobody is an expert on who you are unless that person is a God-realized Spiritual Master. And those are very rare.

Studying books and going to university to study the brain, the effects of various medications on the brain, and the symptoms of what psychiatrists consider mental health disorders doesn’t magically give one insight. Aspiration, meditation, and making spiritual progress does. In fact, the more spiritually developed you are, which depends not only on your aspiration in this life but in previous incarnations, the more you are able to read others and to know yourself.

Question: How can I have more intuition?

Sri Chinmoy: You can have more intuition only by developing more aspiration. By increasing aspiration, you can get intuition. Aspiration is absolutely needed to develop intuition.

(Source: My Heart-Door I Have Kept Wide Open)

Question: Does intuition come about from having previous incarnations?

Sri Chinmoy: Everybody has previous incarnations, but very few people have developed intuition. It is not that. It is something that you have to acquire, either in this incarnation or in a previous incarnation or in a future incarnation. You will not get it because you have had thirty, forty, fifty or one hundred incarnations. It is like a university degree. If I have not studied, no matter how many incarnations I take, I will not automatically get it. Intuition is a subject that you have to study. In one of your incarnations you have to study it well and learn it.

(Source: The Eternal Journey)

Accusing someone of having schizophrenia, of having no insight and labeling them as such because they don’t believe they have it reminds me of the logic used in the 1700s when women were accused of being a witch.

A Double Standard

I was accused of having schizophrenia and gaslighted by psychiatrists, especially Dr. Nelson. The only way for them to believe otherwise would be for me to prove my spiritual communication abilities. I would have to prove with some kind of DNA-like evidence in order for them to believe me.

However, there’s no science that says I need to take an antipsychotic for the rest of my life. Just simply beliefs. And beliefs are not science.

You may also notice that psychiatrists are allowed to be deceptive to their clients. For example: if I talked about my inner relationship with my Guru, they would secretively replace the word ‘Guru’ in their mind with the word ‘delusion.’ I was talking about one thing, but they twisted it around to something else and wouldn’t tell me about that because they wanted me to keep talking about it.

But psychiatrists disprove of their clients lying to them.

How Do Psychiatrists Know What Medication To Prescribe?

First of all, it’s like a guessing game.

Secondly, it’s trial and error.

But that doesn’t explain how they know the medication is working.

So, how do they know whether it is working?

They use post hoc, ergo propter hoc logic (literally “after this, therefore because of this”):

The fallacy of Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc begins with the observation that two events occurred in sequence. As such, it appears to be good Retroductive reasoning, since such a temporal ordering is just the kind of concomitance that might suggest a causal connection. However, it is also possible that the temporal ordering is just a coincidence, or is the result of some further causal factors–indeed, unrelated events occur in temporal sequence all the time.

(Source: Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc)

There are many other reasons why a person may begin to do better or begin to do worse than just the fact that they took medication (or stopped taking it) and because of the medication’s chemical effects on their brain.

Some Facts About Psychiatric Drugs

One of the biggest misconceptions about the psychiatric drugs is that they are these medical remedies that only act in a particular way on this presumed disease, or abnormality, or chemical imbalance that we have. That idea is a commercial idea.

—Dr. David Cohen, an author, professor, and Associate Dean for Research and Development at Luskin School of Social Work, UCLA. Dr. Cohen’s research looks at psychoactive drugs (prescribed, licit, and illicit) and their desirable and undesirable effects.
(Source: The Dangers of Psychiatric Medication | Dr. Jim Wright & Dr. David Cohen – MP Podcast #83)

This whole idea that drugs will correct a problem is very naïve. The complexity of the brain and how we function is so great that the idea that you could actually put a chemical in there, and it would correct a specific problem is extremely naïve. And the whole serotonin hypothesis has been disproven many times. So, that’s definitely not true. There is no chemical imbalance that these drugs correct. It’s basically marketing, but doctors have bought into that marketing, and maybe believe it. Then they follow along with that, but it’s not true.

And there are no psychiatric conditions that can be corrected by drugs. It’s all symptomatic treatment. There are no long-term trials, so we don’t know what the benefits and harms are over the long term. Probably the number of people who are being harmed, my guess is that the harms outweigh the benefits for most of the drugs that are given long-term for a psychiatric illness.

—Dr Jim Wright, a clinical pharmacologist. He has a Ph.D. in pharmacology from McGill and spent his career studying prescription drugs.
(Source: The Dangers of Psychiatric Medication | Dr. Jim Wright & Dr. David Cohen – MP Podcast #83)

Final Thoughts

I hope that these psychiatrists will open their minds to intuitively diagnosing others without strictly relying on what previous doctors have said and prejudgments based on their own beliefs.

How do psychiatrists diagnose schizophrenia? Certainly not by using advanced techniques.

It is spirituality that has the inner wisdom to solve all our problems, and it alone can kindle our true consciousness.

—Sri Chinmoy (Source: Soul-Education for the Family-World)

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for general informational purposes only. It should not be considered complete or intended to be relied upon to offer a solution to a specific situation or as a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional.

Arjuna D. Ghose lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (most of the time). When he's not working on writing for this blog or his multi-volume memoir, The Struggle Within, he's usually working on web development projects or trying to help his daughter to grow up believing in herself and making good choices. He became a member of the Sri Chinmoy Centre in 1994 and continues to follow the teachings of Sri Chinmoy with the intention of making continuous progress toward the goal of fully actualizing and manifesting his spiritual nature.

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