In this chapter we shall explore some of the ways in which people with a history of schizophrenic illness develop an understanding of themselves and their situations over time, and learn from hard experience to become active strategists in the reconstitution and negotiation of their lives. As we have seen, a severe schizophrenic breakdown typically wreaks havoc upon the agent’s sense of his own biographical continuity and telos, upon the narrative coherence of his life. To start with it may not seem that there is much the agent can do to control his fate. For example Bob was asked what advice he would give to a younger person who was experiencing a schizophrenic breakdown for the first time:
I don’t think there is any advice you can give except that you’ve got to find your own destiny through it…. I used to feel like a pin-ball in a pin-ball machine being banged about all the corners and the bumpers and things like that. You actually feel like that when you’re having a nervous breakdown…. You’re out of control…. The ball has to find its own way out of the pin-ball machine somehow.