Aiden is an artist and is also diagnosed as a schizophrenic. He calls himself a schizophrenic artist, one of his pieces of work made up of four crucifixes stamped in indelible ink with his hand and foot prints and on one crucifix, the nails have been replaced with syringes.
Aiden says of the work that it
… is about the time I was forcibly injected with neuroleptic drugs. I’d heard a voice within saying I had been chosen and I could feel a halo around my head. This image is representative of the crucifixion of the Christ within me by the clinicians. Instead of the halo there is now a wreath of white flowers.
Shingler was hospitalised twenty years ago the first time he experienced visions and voices until his family insisted on his release and since that time he has had eight sustained periods of altered consciousness, lasting from one to six months.
He does not regard them as frightening, rather he says of them
here’s a wonderful sense of freedom, a great expansion of mind, clarity of thought. Colour becomes so heightened. All the senses do…
He does not regard schizophrenia if it has to be called that as an illness, instead he sees it as a condition, a more colourful way of seeing things. When his doctors told him he was disconnected he told them they should be so lucky, that he was making new, wonderful, poetic connections.
Aiden now experiences his episodes of altered consciousness as gentler and less exhausting. Yet for him these epiphanies, the visions and voices are just as inspiring.