Probing Psychoses

ANDREW LECLERC KNEW something was wrong when he heard voices when no one else was around. Some were those of people he knew, others were unfamiliar, but all had the authentic mannerisms of real people, not his imagination. He was in his early twenties, unsure of his direction in life, and had been taking synthetic marijuana to ease stress from past traumas. Disturbed by the voices, he sought help in an emergency room and voluntarily admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital, not realizing he would be kept there for six days. He was diagnosed with psychosis, but had little interaction with a therapist. “You mostly sit around with coloring books,” he says. It felt like a punishment, when all he wanted was help.

Afterward, he contacted therapists, but many were booked. An online search led him to a research study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston for people newly diagnosed with psychotic disorders. In January 2014, he entered a two-year study that compared two approaches to psychotherapy to help manage cognitive impairments and other symptoms. He was also prescribed an antipsychotic medication.

Eventually he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Now, about four years later, at 26, LeClerc is learning to live with the condition. “It’s hard for a person who’s diagnosed with schizophrenia to be told something’s not real when they think it’s real,” he says. He continues to take antipsychotic medications that help control his hallucinations and lives in an apartment below his parents in Middleton, Massachusetts. He’s hoping to start a small business, putting his love of gardening to work as a landscaper.Read the entire article on Harvard Magazine