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What Does This All Mean?

nichiren daishonin's buddhism, determination

I attended a brief Q&A with our new SGI General Director last Friday, and I gave him a copy of my memoir to take back with him to Los Angeles. I told him my determination is to share my experience (based on my memoir) with SGI President Ikeda at the Hall of the Great Vow for World Peace in Tokyo. During the meeting, my mind frequently wandered about the ongoing events over the past 10-15 years or so. Ultimately, what strikes me as the most extraordinary of all is the fact that it actually happened.

What I mean by this is the fact that the schizophrenia diagnosis my psychiatrist gave me in 2002 turned out not to be a mental illness, but a truly terrifying and bizarre reality. According to the accepted psychiatric definition from the DSM-V, (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association), the following “characteristic symptoms” are listed for schizophrenia:

A. Characteristic symptoms: Two (or more) of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period (or less if successfully treated):

  1. Delusions – false beliefs strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness: for example,
    1. Paranoid delusions, or delusions of persecution, for example believing that people are “out to get” you, or the thought that people are doing things when there is no external evidence that such things are taking place.
    2. Delusions of reference – when things in the environment seem to be directly related to you even though they are not. For example, it may seem as if people are talking about you or special personal messages are being communicated to you through the TV, radio, or other media.
    3. Somatic Delusions are false beliefs about your body – for example that a terrible physical illness exists or that something foreign is inside or passing through your body.
    4. Delusions of grandeur – for example when you believe that you are very special or have special powers or abilities. An example of a grandiose delusion is thinking you are a famous rock star.
  2. Hallucinations – Hallucinations can take a number of different forms – they can be:
    1. Visual (seeing things that are not there or that other people cannot see),
    2. Auditory (hearing voices that other people can’t hear,
    3. Tactile (feeling things that other people don’t feel or something touching your skin that isn’t there.)
    4. Olfactory (smelling things that other people cannot smell, or not smelling the same thing that other people do smell)
    5. Gustatory experiences (tasting things that aren’t there)

During my experience, starting in 2002, or perhaps a couple of years earlier, I experienced Delusions #1, #2,  and #3. Of the Hallucinations, I experienced #2, the Auditory. However, Delusion #1, the “delusions of persecution,” and Hallucination #2, the “hearing voices,” have been the most significant and the most persistent over the years. They have also been based in reality (i.e. they are neither delusions nor hallucinations, although given that there is no scientific proof of mental telepathy, whether or not the auditory hallucinations I experience are based in reality is up for debate). Although I notice that the definition does state, “false beliefs strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence.” So, while I myself do not possess any “invalidating evidence”, the fact that “invalidating evidence” does in fact exist, proves that my “delusions” are not in fact delusions, but rather a horrible reality.

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At any rate, whenever I think about the possibility of this happening – of a person (any person) who experiences in his or her life, a horrifying variety of acts that exactly match the definition of a severe and incurable psychiatric illness, what are the chances? Zero. That tells me that this was not a coincidence and it was no accident. There was a reason this happened and there is meaning in it. I just haven’t determined yet what it is.

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