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Alternative Complimentary Therapies

Chapter 1 Part 2

One sketch was a self-portrait, showing a man's face as a tangle of horns and bones. There was one swirling eye. Antennae sprung from its head. It was the demonic geometry of how Nate saw himself. Nate's other self-portrait was of a joker marching down a bumblebees back.., the joker is a smiling, carefree trickster with a bulging belly. Nate portraying himself as a fool, an emblem of naivete* on the back of an insect...

The two serial and very different self-portraits produced by the schizophrenic suggests an altered sense of the physical self. This is characteristic of schizophrenic sufferers. In one drawing the individual perceives himself in a demonic way and in the other, a joker. Torrey (2001) attributes an unclear sense of self as not knowing where the body stops and where inanimate objects begin, alterations in bodily sensation, such as indentations and ridges over the body, disassociation and detachment of body parts and confusion in distinguishing oneself from another person. These physical alterations of the self can be seen through Nate's self-portraits.
*pejorative (of a word, an expression, etc.), a depreciatory word.
*naivete (also naivety), the state or quality of being naive.

The first portrait with one swirling eye, an antennae that sprung from his head and the tangle of horns and bones suggests alterations in bodily sensations and the detachment of body parts. The second portrait, the joker, suggests identification with another image or person, revealing that he has an unclear sense of himself.

The symptom of paranoia can be identified, again, in most schizophrenics. Craig, a schizophrenic sufferer comments on living with the illness and reference is made to behaviour marked as paranoia. "... I would play the clothes game. It also dealt with the colors I wore. I'd change a few times a day to confuse anyone who might be after me to kill me or hurt me." Craig as cited in Emmons et al (1997, p134). The predominance of the eyes in self-figure drawings with schizophrenics can be known to reflect paranoia. This is marked in Nate's drawing with the one swirling eye. Psychologists' comment on a number drawings by the sufferer, Craig. Most of his drawings display a Cyclops image, (Appendix 3). The psychologists suggest that, "From a mental health perspective, such emphasis on the eyes indicates paranoia." Emmons et al (1997, p185).

Another schizophrenic symptom is that of having no boundary between the self and the outside world. One study carried out by Buck (2002) concerned with the issue of boundaries and schizophrenia explores sufferers' self-portraits looking for a relationship between the lines and edges in their artwork to the absence of boundaries characterised by schizophrenia. It was discovered that there is a relationship between the lines and edges drawn and the individual's boundaries. Buck (2002, p1) comments on this by stating, "Lines and edges in the drawings can be boundaries between the self and other, separate internal from external experience, and distinguish reality from fantasy." Another example of boundaries can be recognised, again, in the drawings of Craig's artwork (Appendix 4). The lines and edges do not clearly show where the figure starts and finishes and what particular part belongs to what, thus reflecting uncertainty between the self and the outside world.

Although self-figure drawings cannot entirely be relied upon for the diagnosis of schizophrenia, since it consists of a mixture of symptoms. However, some indications in drawings of the self can be recognised as symptoms of schizophrenia.

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