By Paul Forrold
Key Themes: memoir, schizophrenia, artwork, psychosis
‘Madness – a document’ charts one man’s descent into insanity. In a world of spirits he engages in a war on the oppressive society he sees around him, until he is sectioned and returned to ‘normal’. It contains writing and artwork produced during those convulsive years. The whole adds up to a unique picture of a life in extreme circumstances.
About the Author
Born in 1966 Paul Forrold is a midlands based artist and writer. Experiencing episodes of psychosis from the age of 16, he saw these as merely part of an artistic sensibility, until aged 25 he was absorbed into a world of magic which turned out to be full-blown paranoid schizophrenia. Banged-up in one of the old rural asylums, he was put on mind-bending drugs which returned him to sanity. In recovery, he chooses not to cling to his delusions, but is interested rather in presenting them as curiosities.
What is schizophrenia?
It is like some ancient dream of the Earth, tuning in to extra-terrestrial frequencies; alternatively, it is the Chaosmos at the heart of everything – INFINITY. It is regaining something but it is also a permanent loss.
The content of schizophrenia is ‘characterised by religiosity’. That the spiritual world is real, and this is constantly re-enforced by coincidence, synchronicity even. I began while ‘well’, how well was I? To summon the spirits of the earth. I was becoming stressed, I was worried basically. About the country, about the planet, about my future, the world’s future. It became at the instant that I became mad a panic – the world was going to hell. It was going down the wrong path – towards ecological catastrophe, Fascist government and mass extermination. This was the content of my panic. And my only refuge was in the spiritual – the earth spirits I’d begun to summon.
In 1991 I saw a UFO, but rather than an inter-planetary vehicle I saw it as a message. It indicated to me that reality has holes in it and that they were black and round. This ‘damned thing’ took that form. This sighting sparked an interest in UFOlogy leading me in my reading to the Dog Star, Sirius and how it figured in history. I was particularly intrigued by the idea of a dark companion, invisible to the naked eye, now known to accompany Sirius, also known to an African tribe, the Dogon for hundreds of years apparently. The Dog Star is significant in European Magic and Freemasonry as well. I now see the UFO as a harbinger of mental illness.
Noise is what you experience when you become schizophrenic, not sound, but psychic noise. The kind of noise, which can be converted into all kinds of messages. Noise that participates in the infinite. The mind comes alive, it is over-working. Ideas, concepts from your background, in my case academia, ideas from a kind of mythos that I had created as an artistic project. Also religious ideas, to the schizo religious notions are real; they are alive in every moment in the cascade of all enveloping psychic overload.
In April 1992 I was twenty-five, living in Muswell Hill, North London and attending Middlesex Poly, studying the History of Art, Design and Film (amongst other things). On Election Day I traveled to Southgate to vote.
The result of the election came through in contradiction to the exit polls and I had a problem with it. Panic gripped me; I relived the events of the day. Michael Portillo driving around Southgate in a sandy coloured Land Rover. Then there was John Major on TV standing in front of a similarly coloured wall to accept victory. I jumped to many conclusions one of which was that there’d been a military coup.
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