1) Insight: the ability to understand people and situations in a very clear way, an understanding of the true nature of something, the power or act of seeing into a situation; the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively.
2) Insight: understanding or awareness of one’s mental or emotional condition; especially : recognition that one is mentally ill.
While the first definition is the definition that is generally meant when one says the word “insight”, in mental health circles, it is the second one: “understanding or awareness of one’s mental or emotional condition; especially : recognition that one is mentally ill” that is very valuable and looked for in patients with any mental illness. If a mentally ill person has insight, it is considered good, and of course it is good. If you can tell that the thoughts and voices are not yours but in your brain/head as a result of a mental illness, then you are miles ahead in getting better than someone who doesn’t realize the voices are due to illness.
If you can call the doctor and say you are having thoughts of killing yourself, you have exhibited an enormous amount of insight. You have also probably saved your life. For people with schizophrenia, who hear voices, auditory hallucinations, insight or the recognition that these voices are the result of their illness is obviously very important.
In my case, I have thankfully, thankfully, never had auditory hallucinations. I have however thought that a black witch was trying to damage my heart from afar. I have thought that I was in an Alice in Wonderland kind of a play where everyone was playing roles for my benefit. I have thought that my house is bugged and that evil people are plotting to make it seem like I was schizophrenic. The less severe the manic phase, the easier to have insight. In the case of the black witch, I would be completely involved in the story and then all of a sudden I would come to my senses and think “Oh my god, I was just out of touch with reality”, or “Oh my god, it happened again.” So I would come to my senses and have insight that I was sick, very sick. I even thought, and this is totally bizarre, that Nejat wanted to kill me because I had a theory about mental illness that would bring me a lot of acclaim, and he was jealous of me. Of course when I came out of unreality, I knew this was nonsense, I would realize that I was progressively getting sicker and thinking more and more bizarre things. And this would happen many times in one day. Luckily, at least this part is lucky, I do have insight. Not when I am in the dreamlike state, but when I come out of it. The black witch happened in December 2009. In my paranoid state, I didn’t want to be hospitalized in Buffalo, so I went to NYC and got admitted into the Psych ward at Columbia Presbyterian. My sister came to Buffalo and flew with me to NYC, because I obviously was in no state to fly alone. That wasn’t really the best idea because they had to hold me in CPEP (Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program.) Which basically meant that it was the psych emergency admission. They took my clothes, made me put on scrubs, they took all my jewelry, all my makeup, my purse, my shoes, and put me in this unit that was the size of two rooms in my house. This unit had been converted into a front desk, and four or five rooms. It was claustrophobic to say the least. There were large orderlies standing everywhere. There was no privacy, nothing in my room but a cot. I wasn’t allowed to close my door. I didn’t even have anything to write on so I wrote on my lunch and dinner placemats about the awfulness of the place. Nejat threw all that out, I wish I had the placemats, I could have scanned them and used them for the picture here. It was very frightening, large men staring at me all the time, I was still not in touch with reality all the time, so it felt like I was being observed by hogs or some strange, frightening animals. Some idiotic resident had decided I was a danger to myself and had me put in there. I was not a danger to myself, I had VOLUNTARILY gone to be admitted to the psych inpatient ward. They didn’t have beds in the psych inpatient ward so they “jailed” me in this abysmal, dungeon-like place called CPEP. I was there for two horrible, frightening, depersonalizing, did I say AWFUL? days, until a bed became available in the inpatient ward and they transferred me there. That place was like heaven after the dark, horrible dungeon. I had my clothes, it was a bright, airy, cheerful place. The staff were wonderful. They had Art therapy, television, board games. And my sister and brother came to visit everyday, and even Nejat and Aral came to visit me. I was there for ten days and then released. Totally in touch with reality but very anxious. The anxiety lasted for a while and gradually went away. i went back to Buffalo. My psychiatrist asked me why I had gone to NYC to be hospitalized. I couldn’t tell him it was because I didn’t trust him to do what was best for me… so I told him the ill phase had made me paranoid and I didn’t trust anyone in Buffalo… actually true… so I went to NY. Really not the best thing to have done but I did it thinking with a mind that wasn’t working very well. I did need to be hospitalized, but hospitalization in Buffalo would have been a much better idea. My aim now is not to ever get as sick as I did in 2009 and before that in 1986 (my two hospitalizations), not ever to get so sick that I will need hospitalization. So far so good! And I hope my insight will serve me well forever. Thank goodness for that!