May 13, 2015
You should probably brace yourself, this will be a bumpy ride.
It is the Red River Ex, and you are on the edge of your seat on wheels, at the mouth of the Haunted Mansion.
You start to get nervous, and wonder why you got on.
But life’s story is imminent, and there are no brakes. You are not always in control; you can’t always stop yourself.
And tonight, you can’t avoid this destination.
Even though, you already know, it is going to be scary.
You start to feel yourself move, towards involuntary places.
Your eyes can’t stop themselves, from dragging you to the end, of this moving sentence.
The first flinch is quick, and the early shudders are mostly ignored.
But, you know there is something scarier, right after the first bend.
The body tenses, as the brain calculates the survival division; you hope there is some remainder of you.
And then imminent threat awakens gene, thought directs protein scaffolds in defensive formation, and you try to fight back.
But this time, there is nowhere to go, and no way to run.
The realization, that your shield is a bone prison, allows terror darkened passages; to whisper and stalk.
If it ever finds a way in, it might be in there forever.
The palms start to drip, while the beating in the cage hastens.
You reason with yourself that it’s only pretend, and try to relax your labored breath.
Clenching your eyes against the madness, you hope it will only go so far, and it isn’t real.
But then, time lurches forward, and you hear it actually call your name.
The thud of the closing door means only one thing, you are still alone, and it is somewhere beside you.
You resist looking for the midway, because you don’t know what will happen, if you take your eyes off of the blackness.
And then, you feel the empty CHILL; of sudden surrender.
You tried so desperately to hold on, just a little tighter.
But your grip on once steely resolve, has turned to red rum rust.
Prologue– On July 30, 2008, Vincent Li, living with poorly medicated Schizophrenia, boarded a bus headed for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
During the ride, severe psychotic symptoms drove his behaviour to violence, and he attacked, and beheaded the innocent victim, Tim McLean.
What McLean suffered was awful, and I cannot imagine what his memory does, emotionally, to those that knew him, and still love him.
I try to imagine what Tim was like; his easy smile in the newspaper seemingly revealing a good heart. And, I try to think of the adventures he had in his life, and the ones he may have enjoyed in the 7 years since his death.
The other very difficult part of McLean’s brutal death, was that the second victim, Li himself, was found to be Not Criminally Repsonsible (NCR).
This designation has defined both bookends; the legal balanced with the literal.
You may feel that the NCR designation was appropriate, indicating without mind, one is not responsible for what the body does.
Or you may argue that ‘you are you’, and whether your mind or body is behind the act, all of ‘you’ should suffer the consequences.
If you have strong feelings about these positions, you may be interested in Bloodbound Bus, Part 7, and beyond.
Either way, the bright spots in this sad, scary, and controversial event, are McLean’s many legacies. One of those will undoubtedly be the earlier detection and treatment of Schizophrenia, which is an incredible impact for any one person.
Some cannot forgive Li’s body, hijacked by a psychotic mind, and wish it wasn’t NCR but DNR.
But in this case, the acronym stands for Do Not Rehabilitate, or Diagnosis Nevertheless Remand.
Some believe that floridly psychotic people should be held to the same reasonable legal, moral and ethical standards as the rest of us.
While ignoring the fact that, by definition, at that moment; they did not share our reality, or appreciate right from wrong.
Having said that, there will be an attempt to lay blame in appropriate nests, and during parts of his illness, Li arguably could be held accountable.
And maybe the rest of us too, who espouse to live in ‘communities’; in a crowded cluster, on the prairies.
Li himself, under the NCR designation, is being rehabilitated, has obtained mandated treatment, and is now allowed accompanied passes, 7 years later, off of his locked hospital grounds.
There is some indication that his recovery is progressing, and perhaps he will be discharged soon. And perhaps Vincent will choose to live in Winnipeg.
Psychosis is an umbrella term, for an episode of consciousness, where you could not tell if the show was real or not.
We have all experienced some derivative forms of psychosis at some time or another. These are typically very brief, or drug induced.
The most common of these would be illusions, such as hearing a creaking sound in the hallway at night, and starting to mentally write your will.
Almost as common, are the moments you thought someone called your name, when Shirley, they were referring to something else.
And what about those sudden movements at your sight’s sides, that reveal nothing when you turn your head?
Those experiences, by themselves, are all essentially ‘normal’. They would not be deemed serious enough in duration, intensity, or quality, to warrant the true label of psychotic.
Plus, they would have to have a major impact on your daily functioning, to be called a Psychotic Disorder.
There are many symptoms of Psychosis, and the ones you are the most familiar with are likely Hallucinations and Delusions.
Hallucinations may arise like twilight zone commercials during your daily ego sitcom.
They are caused by too much, or too little activity, in brain areas concerned with your senses.
If you lie on your arm for a while, and compress the nerve, the entire limb can become painful and cease to function as well.
In a similar way, the nerves of the brain, called neurons, can suffer various insults, provoking mysterious behaviors.
When it comes to Hallucinations, 1 or more of your senses may be affected. And which Hallucination you are experiencing often gives clues as to the origin of the disordered part of your brain.
When there is too much activity in the temporal lobe, the same area where our brains process sounds from the environment, any person would hear a sound or a voice. If the temporal lobe was activated near a neuron connected to emotional memories as well, you may even recognize the voice as a familiar one.
Delusions are beliefs you have that differ from almost everybody else, are false and cause distress, however you refuse to change your mind.
There are typical delusional themes that may include paranoia and grandiosity.
Many people suffer from devastating illnesses.
Those hollowed out by the soulless cnacer (spelled correctly, please see essay on #cnacer), I am sure, will agree.
As will those smothered, by the weight of blood, stemming from heart disease.
Schizophrenia is a very different, but no less scary animal.
It starts as a seductive chameleon of reality, which you may wish to read about, in Part 2, Schizophrenia’s Start.
So keep tuning in, the next parts will cover Schizophrenia, the NCR designation, and what we can learn from this horrible tragedy, respectfully.
Simon Trepel, MD
Simon Trepel, MD FRCPC, is a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, in Winnipeg, Canada. He is an Assistant Professor, at the University Of Manitoba, in the Faculty of Medicine, and the Co-founder of the GDAAY Clinic. He is, more importantly, the proud Father of 2 beautiful Daughters. He writes in his spare time about things he knows something about, and occasionally about things he doesn’t; like Yoga, and Italian flavored coffees. He was not referring to coffee that tastes like an Italian person.
Check out his Blog, called Simon Says Psych Stuff, at