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Henrik Unné

The introduction to my book

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I am working on a book on the role of philosophy in psychology. I plan to title my book "My Psychosis". I have just finished the introduction. My introduction is intended primarily to motivate mental health professionals to read the book. I wonder if the readers of the Forum could tell me whether my introduction seems to achieve that purpose. I post the introduction to my book below. Incidentally, I have finished writing chapter 1, and I am working on chapter 4. I will get to the other chapters later, including 2 and 3.

Henrik Unné

Skarpnack, April 5, 2010

INTRODUCTION TO ”MY PSYCHOSIS”

This book is intended to be read primarily by mental health professionals, especially by psychologists and psychiatrists. I hope that this book will have an impact on the science of psychology.

The subject of this book is the role of philosophy in forming men´s psychologies. The theme of this book is that “abstract” philosophical ideas play such an important role in forming men´s psychologies that *bad* philosophical ideas can, in extreme cases, bring about psychoses. When I decided to write this book, I wanted to make the world´s mental health professionals more aware that ideas, and specifically *philosophical* ideas, play a key role in forming men´s psychologies. I thought that if I could show that philosophical ideas could in at least 1 case, my own, cause a psychosis, that would be such a dramatic example of philosophical ideas playing a role in a man´s psychology, that it might get my more general point across also.

I am a recovered psychotic. I was stricken with schizophrenia, or at least I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, at the age of 15, after 2 unsuccessful suicide attempts. I am 55 years old today. When I look back, I am convinced that at least 1 of the most important factors in bringing on my psychosis was the philosophic poison which I was fed during my childhood by my schoolteachers, the culture and my parents.

How could the idea that philosophy helped to cause my psychosis occur to me? After all, most people take it for granted that philosophy is just a lot of hot air, a semantic game that is only of interest to useless eggheads in the ivory towers of universities.

The explanation is that in addition to being a recovered psychotic, I am a “died-in-the-wool” Objectivist. That is to say, I am a fervent supporter of the philosophy created by Ayn Rand. According to a credible estimate, derived from the size of the mailing lists of Objectivist organizations, there are only roughly 10.000 serious Objectivists in the entire world. So I am rather unique. There are relatively few Objectivists in the world, and of course, even fewer Objectivists who are also recovered psychotics. I have been a student of Objectivism for 30 years, and I am the only individual I know of in the entire Objectivist movement, who is also a recovered psychotic.

So I think that I can bring a unique perspective on the subject of philosophy´s role in causing psychoses.

Why should you read this book? Well, in addition to being a recovered psychotic, I have a quite deep knowledge of the subject of philosophy. I can therefore both describe the internal manifestations of a psychosis from my own personal experience, and also view those attributes of my psychosis from a philosophical perspective. In addition to having a knowledge of philosophy I think that I can express myself quite clearly, and even eloquently. I am a very verbal person. And despite the fact that I am Swedish, I am fluent in English. The reason for this is that I lived for 11 years in the USA, when I was a child.

Another virtue of mine is that I am by habit a very honest and open person. In this book, I “bare my soul”. For example, in chapters 2 and 3 I relate in detail the fantasies that I was absorbed in during my psychosis. And in the autobiographical sections of this book, I tell *everything* which I think might be relevant to understanding my psychology, and therefore the genesis of my psychosis. I tell about my sexual tastes for example. I do not think that sexual factors played any key role in causing my psychosis. But since the view that sexual factors are a key to understanding men´s psychologies is widespread in the science of psychology, I include information about my own sexuality in this book, for the sake of completeness. I think that if you read this book you will be impressed by my candor. Since I have a strong self-esteem, I am not shy or easily embarrassed.

Why is this book important enough to read? Well, I believe that the science of psychology is beginning to become aware that ideas play at least a significant role in forming men´s psychologies. The increasing respect for cognitive therapy in the mental health profession is a sign of that. But I doubt that many psychologists and psychiatrists, aside from the handful who are Objectivists, have any inkling that such “abstract” ideas as the ideas of *philosophy* play a central role in forming men´s psychologies. My intention is for my book to make at least a plausible case for the idea that philosophy does play a central role in psychology, such a central role that *bad* philosophy can, in extreme cases, even cause psychoses.

There are some facts which speak against the idea that I might be competent to address the question of what the causes of psychoses are. I have no formal education in the science of psychology. I am in fact a high-school dropout. That is not due to a lack of intelligence. When I was in grade school, I was a straight A student. I was always the best pupil in my class. When I turned 13, my parents sent me to a prep school in Massachusetts, Milton Academy. This prep school was an elite private school, intended to prepare its students for a college education. However, I developed severe psychological problems during the slightly more than 2 years that I attended Milton Academy, and as a consequence, I became psychotic, and lost my motivation to stay in school after I turned 16. As a result of my lack of education, I have worked as a factory worker for roughly the last 33 years of my life, to make a living.

But I believe that I have something valuable to say about the subject of philosophy´s role in psychology nevertheless. For 1 thing I am an independent thinker. A piece of evidence for that is the fact that I have chosen to embrace the philosophy of Objectivism, despite the fact that I am a factory worker, living in the very leftist society which is today´s Sweden. I am not afraid to go by my own judgment, even when I am alone in my views. Another piece of evidence is the fact that I am not afraid to speak out. I have been writing debate pieces on political and philosophical themes, and getting them published in the Swedish mass media, for 30 years. I include translations of 15 of these in chapter 7. As you can see when you read them, I am not afraid to “swear in the church”, as we say in Sweden about individuals who voice controversial views.

Here is an overview of the structure of my book, along with a short explanation of why it is structured in this way:

Chapter 1 consists of a detailed account of my life, and especially of the events leading up to my psychosis. I do not make any attempt in chapter 1 to explain why I became psychotic. I save that for chapter 4. I challenge the readers of this book, to try to use their existing theories of psychology to explain the genesis of my psychosis, given the facts about my life that chapter 1 relates. They can compare their theories´ ability to explain my psychosis credibly, with my own theory´s ability in chapter 4. Then they can decide whose theory is best. I believe that I will prove able to at least bring the idea that bad philosophy was a major cause of my psychosis into the realm of possibility, thereby proving that in some extreme cases at least, the cause of psychoses is largely philosophical.

Chapter 2 consists of a detailed account of the fantasies which I was preoccupied with during the depths of my psychosis, the years 1970 through 1973, and during the first 5 years of my recovery, until 1979. I relate in detail how my fantasies developed over the course of my psychosis, and my recovery. I doubt, but do not know, that many former psychotics have been able to recall the state of their consciousness during their psychosis in such detail, and relate it with as much verbal precision as I do here. So I think that this chapter will be of value, regardless of whether the main hypothesis of my book is true.

Chapter 3 consists of a detailed account of the development of my fantasies after the fall of 1979, when I discovered the philosophy of Objectivism. One general pattern was that I became less deeply immersed in my fantasies, although that was a development which had started already in 1974, as I began recovering from my psychosis. Another general pattern was that my fantasies became much more abstract, and even philosophical, after I began studying and learning the philosophy of Objectivism. Some of my fantasies during this period were highly original.

Chapter 4 is, in my opinion, the most important chapter in this book. This chapter consists of a detailed account of the ways in which, I believe, certain basic philosophical ideas, which I unfortunately had come to hold as true, at least contributed in a major way to making me go psychotic. I argue in this chapter that certain very specific philosophical errors had certain specific effects on my psychology.

Chapter 5 relates the ways in which the philosophy of Objectivism helped me to recover from my psychosis. I believe that Objectivism played a decisive role in improving my mental health, and in making it possible for me to succeed in life, and to achieve happiness. I hope that the reader will realize that he, if he is a practicing psychologist or psychiatrist, could help his patients immensely, by helping the patients to learn the most important ideas of Objectivism. Incidentally, I believe that all psychologists and psychiatrists need to have a thorough knowledge of Objectivism, in order to best be able to help their patients.

Chapter 6 presents a description of the state of my psychology and personality today. This chapter tells you a lot about who I am. This may provide you with empirical data which helps you to understand my past psychosis.

Chapter 7 presents a lesson relevant to the science of psychology which I have learned from my life´s experiences, including my psychosis. This lesson concerns the factors which determine the course of every man´s life. I believe that there are only 2 factors which, fundamentally, determine the course of each man´s life. They are – philosophy and volition. A man´s philosophy (and all men have a philosophy, whether or not they know it) is the programming which runs him, so to speak. A man´s use of his own volition is the factor which programs him, i.e. that which determines what philosophy he will discover and hold to be true.

Chapter 8, the last chapter, consists of a collection of translations into English of 15 debate pieces which I have written for publication in Swedish media over the years. I include these essays because I want to give the reader some idea of what kind of intellect I have. I believe that the current state of my intellect demonstrates that a rational philosophy, i.e. Objectivism, is invaluable in making it possible for a recovering psychotic to rebuild his mind. I have selected the 15 essays for the purpose of showing you my abilities in a variety of thinking skills, e.g. thinking in principles, inducing from concretes, concretizing esoteric abstractions, etc.

I also include an extensive bibliography of books which I think would be of value for most or all mental health professionals. Most of the books in the bibliography are works of Objectivism. I do not mean to imply that Objectivism is the only field of knowledge which is of value to mental health professionals. It is just that I have read the Objectivist literature more extensively than any other. I do not have much of a knowledge of the books on the science of psychology. It is only in the area of Objectivist literature, that I have something to offer mental health professionals, when it comes to recommending valuable literature. I strongly recommend all mental health professionals to look into the Objectivist literature. Philosophy is the foundation for all the other fields of knowledge, including the special sciences and psychology. The better your understanding of philosophy, the better a command of the science of psychology will come into your reach.

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I don't have any opinion on your theory of the importance of philosophy to your early problems, but I do offer the following:

1) Don't write 1 for one.

2) Don't mention Objectivism in connection with your book, other than in passing; it switches the focus to an area that the reader either has to evaluate, or has no interest in. Besides which, it implies some connection between Objectivism and your theory.

3) Don't tell them how good you are at English, or anything else. Surely they will see this for themselves.

4) Don't get into personal details that are not directly connected to your theory. You may be broad-minded, but others may see any deviation from accepted norms as a negative.

5) Do keep the focus on the point you wish to make, and put every point to the test - does this support and connect to the point of my book.

6) Keep your whole personal background to a short paragraph that goes into the back flap. Otherwise bring up only those character and historical acts, that actively contribute to your theory. You don't want to come off as grandstanding.

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I don't have any opinion on your theory of the importance of philosophy to your early problems, but I do offer the following:

4) Don't get into personal details that are not directly connected to your theory. You may be broad-minded, but others may see any deviation from accepted norms as a negative.

5) Do keep the focus on the point you wish to make, and put every point to the test - does this support and connect to the point of my book.

6) Keep your whole personal background to a short paragraph that goes into the back flap. Otherwise bring up only those character and historical acts, that actively contribute to your theory. You don't want to come off as grandstanding.

I see what you mean. But I wonder if I should not give the readers as much information as possible about my life, so that the readers, who hopefully will be professional psychiatrists and psychologists, will be able to "test" whether their own current theories adequately explain my psychosis, and will be able to see whether my hypothesis is more effective in explaining the details of my case history. Of course there is a risk that the book will become too long, and that I might come off as grandstanding.

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