The first time I learned about ‘aphasia’ was when my husband and I watched Alphas–years ago. There was a particular episode where individuals would be induced into aphasia by someone with special abilities, a criminal. One scene that I remember is toward the beginning of the episode where a man is walking around the city with all of the words displayed on signs and televisions in a complete muddle, incomprehensible. He walks into a convenience store, picks up chlorine, and turns to the cashier. Any presence of words are immediately encrypted so that the audience doesn’t understand the texts and so that they may, at least partially, understand the man. To the man, the cashier says, “Kill yourself,” and the man starts chugging the chlorine. To demonstrate that the cashier hadn’t said that, reality sets in and the cashier is frantically trying to stop the man from chugging (to no avail). All of the words are normal after that.
The National Aphasia Association states the aphasia is an impairment of language. It can either affect production (speech) or comprehension. Aphasia is the result of brain injuries of all kinds.
So what does this have to do about schizophasia?
There is the same effect of aphasia, but the cause is quite different. The most frustrating thing though it that a peripheral search on schizophasia yields an underwhelming amount of accessible and trusted sources. Even Merriam Webster is vague, describing it as a language issue that have traits of schizophrenia. The following are a few sources that I found.
Experiencing schizophasia is disorienting, and for some, it’s a brief flash of incomprehensible input and output. Or it could be for an extended period of time. Some might think of it as dyslexia, but schizophasia is basically a breakdown in communication where your brain is sending and receiving language. What makes it “schizo-” is the stability of brain chemistry. In my case, when I become especially stressed or manic, words become numbers and strange symbols. It might explain why word problems were a struggle for me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Either way, this symptom of mental illness isn’t nearly talked about enough in our communities. To anyone who does experience it, you aren’t alone, and you’re people are with you.