Schizophrenia is a severe and long-term mental disorder.

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A serious and long-term psychiatric illness is schizophrenia. It influences the way a person feels, thinks, and acts, leading to a breakdown in the synchronization of feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Victims suffer from delusion and imagination, impaired vision, detachment from reality, and other psychological signs. Unlike other mental disorders, schizophrenia may not be as common. The repercussions, however, can be dramatic for the perpetrator, family members and friends alike (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2016).

Schizophrenia caused Michael Bottoms to fall victim. The novel 'Angelhead' is his brother's account of Greg Bottoms. It tells of the impact on family members that paranoid schizophrenia can have. His description is a first-hand experience from his brother Michael Bottoms (Bottoms, 2005). The manner in which the book depict Michael, the responses from family members and the psychological explanation to the situation are the subjects of this paper.

Depiction of Michael

The author's portrayal of Michael is that a young man in ultimate despair and desperation. According to Bottoms, it is not possible for a person to recover from the kind of trauma that his brother went through. Michael took a long, painful journey into madness. Bottoms tell of how his brother got into the situation. Michael developed schizophrenia after consuming Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a psychedelic drug famous for its psychological effects. It is not clear from Bottom's description the extent to which LSD contributed to the situation. According to the author, Michael had always been mean, odd, and violent. According to his father, the condition could have passed from the either or both of the parents. He claims that many members of their family had some mental disorder. The author also hints that the parents, especially the mother, felt that God had a hand in the situation. Most likely, this reasoning prompted them to believe that God would provide divine intervention. Bottoms suggest that the religious disposition of the parents only served to graven the matter. Thus, he presents the problems associated with paying for care. The brutal trauma that Michel went through disintegrated his physical and mental abilities. He soon developed fear, shame, and a feeling of resignation. Eventually, his violent actions earned him a maximum imprisonment term.

Family Response

When a disaster strikes, people respond differently to the situation. It was the case with Michael's family. His gradual disintegration caused rage and frustration to the household members. They have to cope with terror and grief. They feel that Michael's condition has jeopardized their happiness and destroyed their hope of ever having a normal life. The frustrations have also eroded their goodwill. It is common for family members to express feelings of denial, anger, guilt, fear, or sadness in the event of a mental illness. Such is the situation with the Bottoms' family. They are not willing to accept the condition of Michael. Moreover, they express optimism that he will be well one day. The author also depicts the obsession for God, an attitude that he appears to condemn.

Individually, each of the family members has responded differently to the present circumstances. For instance, his father believes it is a family sickness. On the other hand, his mother thinks that Michael's predicaments are punishments from God. She got headaches she blamed on the stress of Michael. The mother appears to be the most vulnerable. She cries most often. She also experiences frequent headaches resulting from stress. In many occasions, she locks herself up in her bedroom. No one has the slightest idea of what she does in her room. Bottoms state that they hardly discuss matters to do with Michael. One possible reason for this attitude is that his actions have become part of the family. Michael always behaved queerly. Accordingly, they have gotten used to his strange character. Another reason is that the circumstances are too much for them to bear. It is is not easy for them to express their feelings through words. Moreover, the author asserts that they have nothing to say.

Apart from such common expressions of sorrow, the three have shown some discrepancies in their response. On his part, Greg began the unceasing reading of books. He has been in constant search for a solution to the mess that his brother's situation has put them. His readings and unending quest for answers prompted the writing of the book Angelheads. In the book, he expresses disdain for the parents concerning the manner in which they handle the crisis. He feels that prayer alone is not sufficient and that the parents need to exert themselves beyond their current state. Moreover, he expresses fear, shame, and sympathy towards his brother. Nevertheless, despite the difficulties and the varied reactions, each of the family members reveals the family's unconditional love to their son.

Psychological Perspective

Sigmund Freud brought the concept of psychoanalysis into existence. These theories are valuable tools in studying the unconscious mind. Therefore, they are applicable in analyzing human mental disorders. Psychologists employ different approaches to model the nature and the consequences of the various mental illnesses. One approach to human actions is the use of cognitive theories. These models argue that Schizophrenia results from disorganized thinking. The psychologist that I believe offers a plausible explanation to schizophrenia is Bentall. He bases his argument on the cognitive theory of human behavior. According to Bentall, schizophrenia results from biases arising from the perception of emotional or threatening stimuli. Such stimuli include those associated with pain, violence, or others of a similar nature (Freeman et al., 2002). I chose Bentall because scientific research has produced evidence that supports his theory of processing bias. For instance, it is a fact that individuals who have schizophrenia are more sensitive to photographs depicting electric shock than ordinary persons. Nevertheless, some argue that the sensitivity arises from the perception and collection of stimuli. Still, the theory offers a plausible explanation.


In summary, Schizophrenia results in long-term physical and emotional distress both to the victim and family members. Michael Bottoms has suffered Schizophrenia for a long time. His misery brought pain to all family members. Even though both his father, mother, and brother express their love and support to him, they have responded differently. For instance, while the mother prefers involving God, Greg feels that the caring by prayer is not sufficient and may not be practical to the present situation. Still, all of them have had to cope with feelings of fear, guilt, denial, and other feelings that come along with mental illness. Psychologists have put forward many theories to model the nature of this disorder. Among them are the cognitive models. Bentall's theory associates Schizophrenia with biases that arise from the stimulating of emotion or threat receptors.


Bottoms, G. (2005). Angelhead: My brother's descent into madness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Freeman, D., Fowler, D., Garety, P., Kuipers, E., & Bebbington, P. (2002). A cognitive model of persecutory delusions. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 41(4), 331-347.
Schizophrenia (February 2016). The National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from

July 24, 2021

Psychology Health

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