"Maybe He Was in Love With You?": How to Talk With People in Psychosis

May-May Meijer; Femke Meijer


Schizophr Bull. 2020;46(1):6-8. 

In This Article

"Maybe He Was in Love With You?": Example 1

May-May and her husband in 2005 were on holiday in Cuba. Her husband mentioned that there were secret agents in the streets of Cuba. They met a young British man of their age traveling alone. He accompanied them, and asked May-May questions like: "Did you watch that movie on the hotel TV with gay men, what do you think of gays?", May-May felt tested and assumed that he was working for the secret service to determine if she was suitable to fulfill a position in Dutch national politics. She did not discuss this with her husband.

Directly after her holiday in Cuba, May-May went to an international conference on communication practice in Slovenia, Portorož, to present her doctoral research. During informal moments May-May talked about her holiday in Cuba. The chairman of the conference asked May-May a lot of questions, such if she had been on her own in Cuba. May-May assumed that he asked this in other to try to find out if May-May knew that she had been tested by secret agents in Cuba. There was a guy who pointed to another guy and mentioned that he had worked for the KGB, the intelligence service of the former Soviet Union.

At home, she called Femke who wanted to know everything about her holiday and the conference. May-May slightly touched upon the issue that she had felt being spied upon in Cuba and that a guy in Slovenia wanted to know a lot about her as well. Femke listened carefully to her story. Then she replied: "What if that guy from Slovenia was in love with you?" May-May answered: "Was in love with me? But he was wearing a ring, he was married!" Femke said: "Sometimes married people fall in love with someone else." May-May paused for a while. Then she mumbled: "Your explanation seems to be more logical than mine when I think about it. I guess you are right. The chairman also mentioned that he wanted to get on an airplane with me. When I said I did not want it, he said that he hoped that we could be together in future."

Later on, we discussed this example with a professor of the University of Amsterdam. He mentioned that Femke applied cognitive behavioral therapy "avant la lettre." ("Avant la lettre," is French and means that something is a "predecesssor." Meaning in this case that Femke used cognitive behavioral therapy before it was developed as a concept.)