For my senior project I wrote all about Schizophrenia and what the causes and effects of the mental illness so for this blog post I am going to show examples to show the point of view of a character with Schizophrenia…
In the novel Lowboy by John Wray the reader is able to gain first-hand perspective into the mind of a person with schizophrenia. The novel is written from the perspectives of 16 year old William Heller, his mother Violet, and the police detective Ali Lateef who has been charged with the responsibility of finding Henry after his escape from a mental institution. The chapters alternate between Lateef and Heller giving the reader alternating view points on the effects of schizophrenia. The main character William Heller describes his delusions and visions as well as his other symptoms of schizophrenia as well as how the world reacts to him. His experiences allow for the reader to learn what mental illness institutions are like as well as how the stigma associated affects individuals afflicted with mental illness.
Lowboy also provides details about the delusions and symptoms associated with schizophrenia. As Heller describes his thoughts and actions on the subway, it becomes clear to the reader that Heller is extremely paranoid and is under the belief that he is somehow involved in a government conspiracy involving global warming and Earth’s destruction (Wray, 16). Heller describes how two men called “Skull” and “Bones” were chasing him and were sent by a federal agency in order to scare him into submission (Wray, 14). Heller describes how he is constantly watching for anyone that looks as though they are involved in this government plot and comes across as clearly paranoid to the reader. Throughout the novel Heller describes his paranoid delusions allowing the reader to gain insight into what the thought process for a person suffering with schizophrenia is like, hopefully increasing awareness of the disease and lessening the stigma.
Because Lowboy is written in alternating chapters narrated by both William Heller and Ali Lateef, the reader is able to get two different perspectives on the same situations. As William Heller describes his interactions with society, the reader sees the world through his eyes. Heller’s interaction with the Sikh man on the subway is seen as a casual yet strange interaction between two people. Though it ends on a somewhat violent note, the extent of what actually transpired is not known to the reader. It is only in the next chapter where this social interaction is described as what it really was; an incident of assault (Wray, 27). The reader gets to see the world from both the perspective of a schizophrenic as well as a person not afflicted with mental illness. This allows readers to gain a better understanding of how schizophrenics perceive situations, hopefully making people more sympathetic to their plight.