Winner of the Van Helsdingen Award 2022
The number of psychoses I suffered from largely depends on the way you define this word. If hospitalization is a strict requirement, then my story typically seems to be one of a ‘one-time’ psychosis. Browsing through my medical record reveals only one period of medication and admission to a clinic, which would help a diagnostician to distinguish my case from schizophrenia. I myself tend to split the period into two psychoses, but I will certainly not deny that it is actually one story. For the later psychoses I can only give the duration of my euphoria’s as a criterion, the state of frantic mental excitement. This includes all later psychoses, including what I call my liberation psychosis. If I were to maintain ‘a week of euphoria’ as a criterion, I would arrive at a total of five psychoses, and if I would reduce it to one day, then the estimate is roughly about ten.
Then there are a few other options, one of which is that I’ve suffered from three psychoses, having got stuck in the last one. The idea of something remaining, the idea that actually I am still living in some kind of stabilized religious madness, aesthetically appeals to me. Even nicer is the idea I haven’t had any psychoses at all, but that, at the age of 19, a conversion story was started up in my life, a story which was a couple of times rudely interrupted by psychiatrists. Then the title of my book could become A Conversion with Pauses, which almost sounds as beautiful as the title of Etty Hillesum’s diary, An Interrupted Life.
The truth is, my sailing and hiking capacities have been improved. Nautically, alpinistically, I have made substantial progress. I have learned, by trial and error I may say, how to descend. No helicopter had to be sent in search of me in moments I ventured in high ecstasy above the tree line , or even into the eternal snow.