Intended for healthcare professionals


A patient's journey: living with paranoid schizophrenia

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 21 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:636
  1. StuartBaker- Brown (
  1. 15 Acreman St, Cerne Abbas, Dorset DT2 7JX
  • Accepted 21 August 2006

Stuart Baker-Brown developed paranoid schizophrenia in 1991 and received a diagnosis in 1996. This is his story.

Moscow 1991

Paranoid schizophrenia took its strongest grip on me after I had visited the former Soviet Union in August 1991. During my visit I took part in the marching on the streets of Moscow against communism and against the communist hardliners who attempted a coup against Mikhail Gorbachev. During my stay I began to feel very stressed because of the political unrest and uncertainty. I marched with the people not because of any political beliefs but because of the vast importance and history of the occasion.

I can clearly remember the moment paranoia took its grip on me for the first time. One night after I had marched on the streets I was woken by a telephone call in my hotel room. To my surprise, a man on the other end was shouting and swearing at me in Russian. I immediately put the phone down. I was extremely worried, and my heart began to pound heavily. Within a few minutes I found myself feeling very anxious about being in Moscow alone and began to regret my involvement in the marching.

A difficult homecoming

On my return to London I felt sick with worry. I was panicking about the situation I had just returned from and became concerned about possible persecution by the KGB, being a foreigner involving myself in their country's business.

As I look back now, I feared the KGB not from any personal experience but from reputation and the negativity planted in my mind by “home beliefs” about the Soviet Union. The worry of the phone call in Moscow and fear of the KGB began to take a hold on my life. As I write these words, I can recall my paranoia and fear building …

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