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图片新闻【31】My struggle to STILL the 'voices'

2010-06-28 08:19:26 来源:世博英语

(Filed: 16/10/2001)
First, Emma Harding overcame schizophrenia. Now she wants to tackle our prejudice, she tells Christine Doyle

EMMA HARDING talks so enthusiastically about her career and plans for the future that you cannot imagine her trying to kill herself. But she almost succeeded when in the grip of acute paranoid schizophrenia.


Now, with her life transformed, she helps people with mental health problems to find work, and lectures at health department workshops. Her aim is to break through the stereotypes. If only, Emma tells her audiences, those with the early signs of this illness were treated sooner, many more would not suffer as she did.


The first serious sign that all was not well with Emma emerged during her first year of a degree in social psychology. Her lecturers, she was convinced, were "hot wiring" her brain and conspiring to drive her mad. Her whispery, increasingly frequent "voices" also told her that fellow students were always talking about her.


Because of her textbooks, she knew about voices and strange behaviour. Even so, in her mind the "conspiracy" was genuine and one day she decided to tell her tutor of her suspicions. Within hours, he had arranged for her to see a psychiatrist. However, Emma included the psychiatrist in the imagined plot and did not tell him about her voices. Thinking perhaps that she was another stressed new student, he prescribed Prozac.


Spotting early signals of schizophrenia is confusing for parents, who also find themselves worrying about potential signs of depression, eating disorders or drug abuse. In Emma's case, there were, in retrospect, some early warning signs. She says she began to feel "socially awkward" during A-levels and that this became worse at university. She related her awkwardness to a break-up with her boyfriend, or perhaps to earlier experiments with drugs - "mostly cannabis, but some amphetamines and LSD".

精神病的早期症状常常令父母们感到迷惑不解,他们也意识到他们只是担心那些可能是情绪低落、饮食失调或是滥用毒品的信号。回顾爱玛这个病例,我们可以看到在早期确有一些值得注意的征兆。在准备高级考试期间,她回忆说她感到了“社交障碍”,后来到了大学情况更加恶化。她认为她的心理障碍与她同男友分手有关,或者可能是她早年尝试毒品的结果 – “主要是大麻,不过还有一些安非他明和LSD(麦角酸二乙基酰胺)。”

Her paranoia intensified. She recalled words from harmless conversations, cut them out of newspapers and strung them together to form the sentences of invective that she believed her friends really meant. During a particularly bad patch, she overdosed on a mixture of paracetamol and Prozac. For four days, she lay in her student room with the door locked, drifting in and out of consciousness. When, finally, she asked for a doctor, she was rushed to a liver unit and was lucky to survive.


Even at this stage, her severe condition remained undiagnosed; one doctor suggested depression. For a while, Emma felt "purged". She managed to focus on taking exams, but failed two of them. Although she was determined to resit the exams, "God" intervened. "One of my voices told me I was God and I believed it."

然而直至此时,她的病情还是未被正确诊断出来 – 一位医生认为是抑郁症。之后的一段时间里,爱玛觉得好象“灵魂得到净化”。她努力集中精力于考试上,可还是有两科未通过。虽然她决心补考,但“上帝妄想”又不期而至。“一个声音告诉我我是上帝,于是我相信了。”

This was an acute psychotic development. The possibility of a return to university faded as the delusions overwhelmed her. She began to believe that, as God, she had caused a plague in India. She told her increasingly worried father about this, and the voices. "I thought he would believe me, but Dad went very quiet."


Her father arranged for them to see their GP, but Emma again denied the voices. "The doctor said that unless I asked for help, he could not refer me." Another chance to treat her was lost, and over the following months the psychosis deepened.


Finally, in desperation, her parents demanded a home visit from her GP. At last, just after Christmas 1994, Emma was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and schizophrenia was diagnosed, more than two years after the first apparent signs around the time of A-levels. Psychiatrists, such as Dr Adrianne Reveley, say Emma's story is typical and such delay is unacceptable. "We do not accept it with a physical illness; why should those with a mental illness have to suffer life-threatening symptoms?"

最终,她绝望的父母要求她的医师做一次家访。终于,1994年圣诞节一过,爱玛住进了一家精神科医院并被诊断为精神分裂症,这时距她最初在参加高级考试期间出现明显症状已有两年多时间。精神病专家们 - 比如艾德里安-瑞弗雷博士 - 说爱玛所经历的是精神分裂症患者典型的遭遇,类似这样的延误是不可接受的。“我们不允许生理疾病患者遭受这样的治疗延误,可是为什么精神病患者要无助地承受那些危及生命的症状呢?”

---to be continued

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