I thought I would stop for a moment and talk about psychiatric disorders and specifically schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia, like my mother, are generally unable to filter sensory stimuli and often have enhanced perceptions of sounds (hearing voices) colors, and hallucinations. She could see things that others did not see and perhaps her photographs give us a glimpse of what she saw or how she saw the world.
Most schizophrenics, if untreated, gradually withdraw from interactions with other people and retreat into a “different reality” which can result in the lose of their ability to take care of personal needs.
My mother had anosognosia (meaning lack of insight or “no knowledge”) which occurs in about 50 percent of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Trying to get a person with anosognosia to see that they have a mental disorder may be a lost cause because they simply cannot believe there is anything unusual about their behavior or thought processes therefore they refuse to take medications or undergo psychiatric treatment. This is actually quite logical because why would you take medication for an illness you don’t know you have?
She lived in the “acute” phase of this “different reality” for decades. The acute phase is when someone has obviously lost contact with what is our reality and has become psychotic. The subtype of schizophrenia she lived with is paranoid schizophrenia which usually includes a combination of delusions and auditory hallucinations. These delusions often involve thoughts of being persecuted or under attack and they can believe they have magical powers or are famous people. The delusions are typically organized into a coherent story and my mother’s delusions took her to a whole different reality. Yet – who is to say if my mother’s reality was worse or better than “the norm?”
I hope Joan Bancroft’s artwork and photography on this website demonstrates the positive creativity of living within an alternative reality.