Psychosis is a mental state in which where perception of reality is distorted. Persons having a psychotic episode may hear voices, have visual halluciations, and exhibit paranoia and disorganized thinking. Typical beliefs held by persons undergoing a psychotic episode include thought broadcasting, thought reception, delusions of grandeur. It is important to note that to be classified as psychotic, a patients pattern of thinking must not be culturally sanctioned or shared by people with the same background.
Psychosis may the be result of an underlying mental illness such as Bipolar Disorder (also known as Manic Depression), and Schizophrenia. Psychosis may also be exhibited by otherwise normal people who have undergone enormous mental stress or who have taken high doses of drugs such as amphetamines. This situation is known as "brief reactive psychosis" and in the absence of any mental illness, patients spontantenously recover normal functioning within two weeks.
The division of the major psychoses into Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia was made by Emil Kraepelin, who attempted to create a synthesis of the hundreds of mental disorders identified by 19th century psychiatrists, by grouping disases together based on classification of common symptoms. Bipolar Disorder is characterised by problems with mood control, and patients will generally have periods of normal functioning between psychotic episodes even without medication. Schizophrenia is characterized by problems with the perception of reality, and patients who are not under medication will generally not return to normal functioning between psychotic episodes.
- Wikipedia commentary/The Problem of Defining Sanity for a discussion of the problems of defining reality in this context. This article, however, is fatally flawed in that sanity is a legal term and not a medical one
- the works of the science fiction author Philip K. Dick for a view from inside (Dick suffered from psychotic syptoms throughout his later life)
- mood stabilizer
- an article from the medical journal Bandolier on the difficulty of telling the difference in non-acute cases http://www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/band39/b39-8.html . This study has been criticized on the grounds that persons with mental illness can be free of symptoms between attacks of psychosis, and therefore if the patient is not being honest about his or her background, the diagnosis that the patient has a mental illness in remission is a perfectly reasonable one to make.