1. Understanding psychosis


Positive symptoms

Positive symptoms are those that add to or distort the person’s normal functioning. They include delusions, hallucinations and disorganized speech, thoughts and behaviours.


Delusions are false beliefs. Some common delusions include beliefs of:

    being followed by others
    being monitored by cameras
    having special abilities or powers
    hearing songs or comments that communicate a hidden message
    having one’s thoughts controlled by an outside force.


Hallucinations refer to changes in perception where people may hear, see, smell, taste or feel something that is not actually there. For example, they may hear voices or noises that no one else hears, see things that are not there or experience unusual physical sensations.

Disorganized speech, thoughts and behaviours

People experiencing psychosis may have thinking pattern changes and may find it hard to concentrate and follow a conversation. Their thoughts may speed up, slow down or become mixed, or their thoughts may not connect. They may also have disorganized speech, in which they switch rapidly from one subject to the next. A person’s behaviour also may be disorganized. For example, they may have difficulties with daily activities, such as cooking or self-care.

Empowering Families Affected by Psychosis © , CAMH.