The disorders that fall under the umbrella of Psychosis are marked by the individual having a break with reality. He or she will be unsure what is real and what is not. Psychosis effects approximately 1% of the population, and impacts each gender equally. Psychoses may run in families and can be treated using psychotherapy and antipsychotic medications. See article on Schizophrenia for more detail on these medications and their side effects.
In the Schizophrenia article, the symptoms of auditory, visual, olfactory, and tactile hallucinations as well as delusions of grandeur or persecution were detailed. Likewise disorganized and confused speech and behavior were discussed. Schizophrenia is the most common psychotic disorder. Symptoms must present for 6 months or more for an accurate diagnosis.
Other types of psychoses are closely related and include Paraphrenia which is simply Schizophrenia presenting in the elder years. Other individuals experience acute (sudden in onset and lasting generally a month or less) incidence of psychotic behavior known as Brief Psychosis. This is commonly brought on by severe stress. Medical issues such as a brain tumor or other physiological condition may trigger Medically Induced Psychosis. This is self-explanatory, as is Substance-induced Psychosis from use of methamphetamines, alcohol, etc.
Schizoaffective Disorder presents as a combination of Schizophrenia and a mood disorder such as mania, depression, etc. Schizophreniform Disorder is diagnosed when a person exhibits symptoms of Schizophrenia for fewer than 6 months.
Relevance to National Paranormal Society: Given the nature of psychotic symptoms, it is clear that claims of phantom sounds and smells are likely in a person living with a psychotic disorder. Likewise feeling touched, seeing things that are not physically present are also common. Observation of a client requesting an investigation of their home is important; the nature of the claims will likely trigger concern. Is the person confused, feeling persecuted by what they feel is in their home? Are they claiming seeing, hearing, smelling things that do not add up? Since a person living with a psychotic disorder is not sure of what is real and what is not, knowing their status, if possible, is important and must be handled gently. Debunking skills would be in the forefront of an investigator’s tools.