Do you have any questions about healing, intuition, or guided imagery? Ask our expert, imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek, the creator of the Health Journeys tape series and founder of The Guided Imagery Resource Center


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My sister has seizures that are controlled by medication, but the electrical activity in her brain results in delusions that are a lot like schizophrenia. It makes life very difficult for all of us. Because she has such a hard time focusing on reality, I'm wondering if she'd get anything out of guided imagery tapes, without her mind wandering as it usually does.

A: I have never heard of seizures causing chronic psychotic delusions, but let me address your question without necessarily agreeing with your family's assumption about the cause of your sister's thought disorder.

Guided imagery can help, but it's not a cure. Regular practice of guided imagery can help calm your sister, and it can probably help to balance her brainwave activity by helping her to relax. Listening to a tape is probably the easiest place to start.

The use of structured fantasy can actually be a very good modality for someone who has trouble staying grounded in reality because, first of all, your sister is very good at this "daydreaming" stuff, and, secondly, it gives her a legitimate, functional way to make use of this tendency.

The nice thing about guided imagery is that it offers some sense of choice and control about using it, and listeners are being guided toward helpful images. It becomes a way that she can train herself to discriminate when she's in a delusion, and when she's "plugged in" to "normal," consensual reality. And she can also get much better at knowing the difference between a delusion and a healthy fantasy.

In the long run, this should help her with focusing and concentration, though it may not seem like it at first. Don't worry about the mind-wandering part. Minds are supposed to wander during an imagery experience. So, in a sense, you're giving her a technique where her "problem" becomes normal within its context.

I'd definitely give it a try. The worse thing that can happen is she won't like it and won't use it.

Good luck, and don't give up on her! I'm sure you already know this, but the more you give her concrete, reality-based things to do and respond to, the more you help her. Try not to treat her as if she is incapable of normal functioning. Keep placing expectations on her.

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