Sensing the unreal

Prospect Magazine

Sensing the unreal

/ / 1 Comment

Psychosis is more common than you think—even in children

In tests, 40 per cent of adults and over half of children report “unusual” perceptions or ideas

When I first met Helen she didn’t want to talk to me, or anyone else. She stayed in her room in the ward, sitting alone with her hood up, emerging only for mealtimes. Only after several attempts did she agree to come out for a short walk in the hospital grounds. It took many more walks before she began to talk about her experiences.

Helen was being listened to, continually, by the judges from a TV talent show. Anything she said could be heard by all of them. Sometimes they responded to what they heard by talking to her through the television. No one else could tell they were speaking directly to her, a 13-year-old girl from Edgware, but she knew. It made her feel good. It made her feel special. It also

You need to be logged in to see this part of the content. Please either subscribe or Login to access.
  1. September 30, 2012


    Most interesting article on psychosis I have read. I suffered from severe psychosis for the best part of a decade from my early twenties and the ideas that this article explores fits my perception of what went on with me and others in a similar situation quite closely. To connect the experience of psychosis with the everyday, I can recommend the Brene Brown talks on She talks about the universal nature of shame which both results from and causes the feeling of being alone. Although I haven’t yet heard anybody say it, seems to be closely aligned with the biblical notion of original sin.

Leave a comment


Lucy Maddox

Lucy Maddox
Lucy Maddox is a child and adolescent clinical psychologist working for the NHS and a lecturer at the Anna Freud Centre. 

Share this

Most Read

Prospect Buzz

  • Prospect's masterful crossword setter Didymus gets a shout-out in the Guardian
  • The Telegraph reports on Nigel Farage's article on Lords reform
  • Prospect writer Mark Kitto is profiled in the New York Times

Prospect Reads

  • Do China’s youth care about politics? asks Alec Ash
  • Joanna Biggs on Facebook and feminism
  • Boris Berezosky was a brilliant man, says Keith Gessen—but he nearly destroyed Russia