More than once, I emerged from psychosis at Kaiser Hospital in Martinez. And this was a very deep and profound experience. In one instance, a movie was played on the television: “Field of Dreams.” The movie taught me something about myself. It is okay to be crazy. On this basis, the portal was created that goes from insane to sane. “Field of Dreams” had a piece of land, on which a baseball field was built by the protagonist. It attracted all manner of deceased baseball players from the past, who were very passionate about the game. I’m not passionate about baseball, but I respect passion. The movie took me out of my psychotic headspace and put my mind in a mode of total rest. From that point, my psychosis was gone—at least for the time being. Of course, it would later come back at any time I would make the mistake of trying to do without medication.
Coming out of psychosis and into truth is an epiphany. It can be a religious experience. While I’m not referring to Christianity, I’m referring to “religious” in a generic form. Religious doesn’t need to specify one religion over another. Generic “religion” is very nonspecific, and that’s how I take my god. I don’t ascribe to any set of practices or any sect of anything. My heritage is Jewish, but I haven’t had a Bar Mitzvah, and I don’t identify with Judaism or with any organized religion.
It is like taking off a set of chains and shackles. Then you have to deal with the truth. And the truth isn’t always nice, but it’s all we have.
When I was young, I asked my father whether God exists, and he replied it was up to me to decide. That was how my father taught. If you can teach independent thought, that’s how it is done.
When a psychotic person realizes that all of that crazy stuff in their head can be discarded, it is like taking off a set of chains and shackles. Then you still have to deal with truth. And truth isn’t always nice, but it is all we have.
Jack Bragen is author of “Revising Behaviors that Don’t Work,” “Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia,” and “Jack Bragen’s 2021 Fiction Collection,” and lives in Martinez.