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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

The World of Bryan Charnley

The World of Bryan Charnley

Today I’d like to bring attention to an amazing artist and fellow sufferer of schizophrenia.  This man has honed his craft to unbelievable levels of talent and insight in order to help others understand the plight of the schizophrenic.  This wonderful painter is Bryan Charnley.  You can visit his website here if you want more information after reading this article.

Very much like the inspirational work of Louis Wain, Bryan Charnley has allowed his work to show, in an unmitigated manner, the effects of schizophrenia in an allegorical fashion through his paintings.  His work began in a tame manner, displaying his vision of normal, everyday objects, people, and landscapes, and later progressed into a more bizarre and magical style as his illness progressed.  The main purpose and mission of Brian Charnley’s work is to make the best of the negative situation of schizophrenia while raising the awareness for the non-sufferer to help them understand and empathize along with the rest of us.  Let’s take a look into the life of Mr. Charnley.

A Short Biography of Brian Charnley

bryan charnleyIn Stockton, on that ever fateful day of September the 20th in the year 1949, a young Bryan Charnley was born into this world along with his twin brother.  They spent their youth in London while their father earned his living as a Senior Lecturer.  Eventually they moved to Bedford where, in 1967, Bryan experienced would can be called a nervous breakdown or an acute psychotic break.  Despite this difficulty, Bryan still attended the Leicester School of Art the next year at the age of 18 years old.  His efforts in school earned him a spot as a student at the Central School of Art and Design back in London.

Unfortunately, Bryan was unable to continue his studies due to a second breakdown which came to be diagnosed as an episode of acute schizophrenia.  Fortunately, art is not an accredited career in which one must earn degrees to qualify for positions, and Bryan continued to develop his craft!  Between the years of 1971 through 1977 Bryan lived with his parents so he was able to undergo hospitalizations and other forms of treatment, which included electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).  Thankfully, Mr. Charnley was able to function well enough to move back to Bedford and continue his own studies and work in the field of painting.

The Various Projects and Successes of Mr. Charnley

blue still life

Blue Still Life

Upon Bryan’s return to Bedford in 1978, his paintings were representational, presenting his view of objects such as flowers and tea kettles.  This was a time of external focus, where his paintings largely showed his prowess in representing physical objects in his own style on canvas.  After years of this practice, Bryan began a series of paintings based on his internal world.  Beginning in 1982, his paintings addressed his own thoughts, dreams, and mental experiences related to schizophrenia.  It was only two years later when he began to receive recognition for his amazing talent when the Bethlem Royal Hospital purchased four of his pieces of work for their collection, which they intended to display permanently.  What an honor that must have been!

This success spread as Bryan Charnley was able to gain enough recognition that he was featured in exhibitions.  At the Dryden Street Gallery in Covent Garden in London in 1989, Bryan had a celebrated solo exhibition of his paintings.  He soon was able to display two of his paintings at the Visions exhibition at the Royal College of Art in 1990.  Bryan was earning the success he and his work deserved.  Sadly, he still struggled heavily with the symptoms of schizohprenia.

Due to the strength of his symptoms, Bryan was receiving heavy doses of medication with which he was able to experiment with.  This inspired his final series of paintings he called The Self Portrait Series.  While varying the dosages of his prescribed medications, Bryan painted a series of self portraits which were meant to display the effects of the medication on his self-perception and self-image.  This series is great and grew to 17 paintings before July 1991, when sadly, Bryan Charnley felt his suffering had grown to intolerable levels and took his own life.  Bryan’s final work was recognized for it’s creativity, power, and the statement it makes for all of us living with schizophrenia and was displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in 1992.  The paintings have been placed in the Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research in Oxford, a worthy location for a great series of artwork.

A Word from Bryan Charnley’s Artist Statement

The following is a beautiful and insightful excerpt from Bryan’s artist statement, which can be read in full here.

The only answer to madness I know:
See the stars through the scars.
From schizophrenia and the total humilaition
It brings I try to wring
Images of soul salvation.

Words need not be said beyond this.  Bryan understood the illness of schizophrenia and kept a positive outlook despite the struggles and difficulties, as we all should.

A Small Selection From Bryan’s Early Work

Bryan’s earliest work ranged from 1968 to 1981, all completed before Bryan had reached the age of 18 years old.  This period of work reflected the culture’s discouragement of using an easel and the encouragement of freely experimenting with creativity, even though he was the master of the photo-realist style in which he reproduced flowers and people on canvas very realistically.



Pam and I

Pam and I

Later on in this period of time after Bryan’s initial nervous breakdown, his artwork began to take on a bit of a more abstract and strange tone, such as displayed below:

broken madonna

Broken Madonna



Bryan’s Allegorical Paintings of Reality

From 1983 and beyond, Mr. Charnley began exploring his vision of the world. His goal was to bring that vision to the canvas so that others could understand his worldview in regards to schizophrenia and art. After all, the goal of art is to take the personal perceptions of the artist and share them in a universal mode.  You can see that, regardless of the disorganization of thought and the alterations of perception, Bryan Charnley was able to represent these complexities in a very organized fashion, which should be greatly appreciated by outsiders to the feelings and perceptions of the schizophrenic.



enigma and child

Enigma and Child

The two following paintings really represent the sense of floating paranoia and ego loss that can occur and the wonderful world of synesthesia we can gain access to at times.

the watchers

The Watchers

secret garden

Secret Garden

The Bondaged Heads Series

In the following series, of which I will show two paintings, Bryan attempted to show the prison of schizophrenia to the uninitiated.  The sufferer is bound and gagged, seeing nothing but his internal world and unable to speak clearly and coherently.  The inner world is full of delusions, hallucinations, visions, ideas, feelings, and more.

Umbrella Schizophrene

Umbrella Schizophrene

Fish Schizohphrene

Fish Schizohphrene

The Self Portrait Series

And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for!  Bryan painted 17 self portraits while varying the doses of the medications he was taking.  He also kept a journal describing his mind state and telling us the exact dosages of each prescribed medication.  You can get the full details here if you wish, otherwise I’m just going to share the images with you!

Self Portrait Series

Thanks for stopping by, reading, and viewing the awesomeness that is Bryan Charnley.  He represented us well and his art will live on forever.  Please celebrate art as a medium for coping and expressing yourself, whether that be through the graphic arts, poetry, music, or whatever you enjoy!

Click Your State to View the Surrounding Schizophrenia Treatment Centers

To view the the schizophrenia treatment centers in your local area, please click the state in which you live on the map above or find your state in the alphabetized links above. Each respective page will lists the name, address, and contact number for each individual treatment center. You may also visit the top level page of the directory by clicking here and navigate further from there.
Read the description and visit the personal webpage of each treatment center to find out more information. You can contact them from there, but we understand that this is a tedious and intimidating process, so we've provided a form you can fill out with the requested information and we'll set you up with the most appropriate treatment center for your needs.
If you require further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at Schiz Life. We are here to serve the needs of the schizophrenia community and are happy to do so!

Schiz Life - Living With Schizophrenia

living with schizophrenia
For many of us, living with schizophrenia is our reality. And instead of struggling with the wish of how things “could be,” we finally come to an acceptance of our predicament and ultimately we embrace the fact of our lives: We are people dealing with schizophrenia. So then the question becomes not “Why” we suffer from this illness, but “How” we will cope and continue to enjoy our lives. We certainly will not give up! We have every right to demand the niceties, freedoms, and enjoyments of life to which all living creatures are entitled. This is what Schiz Life is all about.

Mission Statement Concerning Schizophrenia Information and Culture

Schiz Life serves to…

  • • Provide a safe haven for persons who wish to converse, cope, and share their experiences with schizophrenia in a positive manner in an attempt to celebrate the beauty of life, especially concerning our unique perspective on existence.
  • • Provide the highest quality of information concerning our psychological difficulties, including a frame of reference on the symptoms, treatment, history, and the future of schizophrenia.
  • • Take corrective action to dispel the myths and stigma surrounding schizophrenia, such as false ideas surrounding the cause, associations with violence, and others, all being perpetuated by the media by providing truth through scientific research and statistics.

Schiz Life intends to achieve this goal in the following manner:

The Schiz Life Schizophrenia Action Plan

  1. 1. We will continue to take advantage of internet outreach, contacting news agencies and other medical bloggers in hopes that they will join us in raising awareness of schizophrenia.
  2. 2. We will continue to promote this website through video and media outlets, including the dissemination of informational videos and graphics such as the first official schizophrenia infographic.
  3. 3. We will all contribute where possible off-line, including at health expo’s, psychology conferences, and any other relevant opportunity to spread the good word.

Thank You for Your Part in the Schizophrenia Journey!

We all thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for playing your role in the developing journey surrounding schizophrenia awareness and research. With all of our combined efforts, we will change the way the world perceives this illness and we will advance the medical efforts of professionals in their search for a cure and effective medicines. Thank you again!

Do Your Part!

Do you know of a great schizophrenia resource out there? Let us know! Do you see a person in need inside the comments of this site? Lend them some advice or encouragement! Are you a graphic designer or artist? Show us your work and I'm sure we can find some way to include your skills here on the site. Are you a writer who would like to contribute to the site? Shoot us an email and we'll discuss it. This site is for all of us and excludes none of us. Contact us for any reason and get involved!

Who Else is Helping?

Our content has been linked to or distributed by...

Mental Health TalkHealthy DebateTechnorati
Wellness WordworksVisuallyexaminer

...and also the sites listed below and more!

Try This Quick Schizophrenia Mini-Quiz:

This is but a quick quiz to test your general knowledge of schizophrenia. If you would like to take the extended and in-depth quiz, venture over to our Schizophrenia Quiz page and see just how much you know! Try the Schizophrenia Test to gauge your symptom levels.

Schizophrenia Quiz Directions: Please select the correct answer for each question and then press the button below to grade your quiz.

1. What is the term for perceiving stimuli that doesn't exist?

2. Which is NOT a type of schizophrenia?

3. Which of the following is a symptom of schizophrenia?

4. How common is schizophrenia in the general population?

5. Who can diagnose a case of schizophrenia?

6. How can schizophrenia be treated?

7. Are the causes of schizophrenia genetic or environmental?

8. What is the most common age of onset?

9. Catatonia is categorized as what type of symptom?

10. Is Schiz Life the best website about schizophrenia?


Show me the answers!


Question 1: The correct answer is the Hallucination.
Question 2: The correct answer is Hyperlipid.
Question 3: The correct answer is All of the Above.
Question 4: The correct answer is 1%.
Question 5: The correct answer is A Doctor.
Question 6: The correct answer is All of the Above Should Be Used.
Question 7: The correct answer is Both.
Question 8: The correct answer is 25.
Question 9: The correct answer is Negative.
Question 10: The correct answer is DON'T BE A PARTY POOPER!.
You answered them all right! Good job! You know a little something about schizophrenia, don't you!


How To Use This Site

If you're brand new to this site, it might look overwhelming until you get a sense of where things are at.  Schiz Life is a content-based site, much like a newspaper or a magazine.  However, we focus strictly and solely on schizophrenia.  So where does all of this content reside?  We have decided to separate our articles into several categories, as described below:


This category will be of the most interest to those who wish to gain a very broad but shallower overview of the entirety of the academic view of schizophrenia.  We cover all of the topics you'd expect to find in an abnormal psychology text book here, and at a similar depth.  It is a great introduction to this illness and will guide you further along into deeper topics.


We cover various angles such as statistics, research, and more factually based views of schizophrenia and place them in this category.  One could say that it is almost a repository for article that don't fit into the other categories, but it is more than that.  Go check it to find out more!


The name says it all.  This category of content covers all topics related to the treatment and prevention of schizophrenia and its relapses.  We've started with the empirically sound and scientifically backed methods first, but we intend to venture into more holistic and alternative therapies as well.  Without investigating all options, progress wont' be made, and so we do.


There are countless symptoms involved in schizophrenia. We cover them in depth in this category, including the positive (outward) and negative (inward) symptoms of every type of this disorder.  There is much to read here, so if a particular symptom is giving you or a loved one trouble, this is the place to go and learn more about it.


What use is all of this information when we simply don't feel good enough to read it and learn?  The category for coping provides many ideas that you can apply to your own life to help you maintain the best health possible, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.  Schizophrenia is a mental illness that some of us simply cannot escape, but we can learn to live with it, minimize its problematic aspects, and take advantage of some of the aspects it unlocks within us that others don't have!


Let's face it.  People are afraid of what they don't understand.  This category addresses the cultural issue of schizophrenia and it's impacts on the way we are treated or perceived by the masses.  It is up to us to represent ourselves in the best light and to combat the myths and misunderstandings that exist in the world concerning our plight.  Learn about these issues here and apply them in your lives!


There are other classifications of illnesses that are very closely related to schizophrenia.  The only differences might just be a research label actually, but we have found it useful to place these articles in a category of their own.  We deal with schizophreniform and psychosis disorders and their respective symptoms here.


While the medical community deals with schizophrenia as a psychological or physical disorder of the brain, those of us who actually experience it know it is much more.  It is a philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical, and mythological issue.  Coming to terms with this, confronting it, integrating it, and reconciling it leads to much higher functioning not only as an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia but as a member of society in general.  We have a deeper access to this aspect of life and have a great opportunity for learning and healing.


Many of us past and present have chosen to express ourselves through the arts.  Whether this is painting and drawing, poetry, dancing, or any other artform, it is healthy and beautiful.  We are writing biographies, displaying artwork, and welcoming submissions from our own community to be included here in this category!  Please submit if you have something to share!


The internet has opened up the world.  There is a constant flow of news concerning our illness but you wouldn't know it by watching the television.  We cover new research topics, treatment modalities, and nationwide and worldwide coverage of schizophrenia or incidents related to it in this category!

Other Items

We have also included other items of interest throughout our website.  For instance, we are producing a series of infographics to help educate the public on this topic.  We also are collecting and reviewing books concerning the illness.  In addition, we have created a directory for the United States of all treatment facilities and hospitals that have staff that are trained to work with schizophrenia cases.  Please look around and find these sections and more.


There is something that was slightly mentioned in the footer of the site, but that could be overlooked easily so we felt it was the responsible thing to do to create a large disclaimer to be displayed here on the homepage.  This has to do completely with safety.  Let us explain.

Individual Uniqueness

unique individualEvery individual on this planet is a unique person.  Even more so, those of us dealing with this special psychological difficulty are even more unique, if that makes sense.  On this site, we are talking about one of the most complex brain mysteries ever and it expresses itself through every person differently.  Every case is going to have it's own peculiarities and all we are able to do in the articles on the site is speak in generalities.  We invite anyone to leave appropriate comments and engage in discussion, however we can't take responsibility for their words.  Nor can we take responsibility for the actions of any individual or group who have at one time or another visited our website.

Always Consult a Medical Professional

medical professionalIf you find yourself in a situation where you're trying to learn more about your condition or are trying to cope through a moment of crisis, please do not act upon any of the information listed on this site, whether in the main content or comments, without first corroborating the accuracy of the info with a medical professional first.  Reach out to a general practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.  Even then it's always helpful to have a second opinion from a separate professional as well.  Again, we must stress... always act with safety as the foremost concern, and this means consulting professionals before engaging in any practice intended to treat your condition.

Please Be Considerate About Delusions

delusion discussionWe understand that delusions can be very confusing and convincing.  We also understand that delusions can center around topics that simply are too philosophical to be proven wrong or correct and thus are tempting to explore in-depth.  We have no problem with this exploration as long as it is not harmful to those discussing it.  Please use your best discretion in this regard.  If the staff of Schiz Life step in and begin deleting comments or halting a conversation, please respect their decision and understand it is not personal.

Investigating delusions is encouraged.  Delusions are interesting due to their nature of being understood as strange and outside the norm of the culture of the experiencer, but there is a vast number of individuals visiting this site from many cultures.  There is a subtle difference between discussing these topics, and encouraging or trolling.  Please find that balance and abide by the above suggestions.

We also, under no circumstances, will tolerate anyone discussing or suggesting harming themselves or others.  Past-tense symptom discussion in this regard is fine, but nothing in the future tense will be allowed.

General Discussion Guidelines

We encourage discussion in the comments as much as possible and are looking into offering a forum and personal blogs as well.  In all of these mediums when carrying on conversation, there are some useful questions to ask yourself before posting that comment or response.

The main question to ask yourself is the following:

Is what I'm about to post going to help and support or will it further entrench illness and suffering?

Please consider this as you enjoy Schiz Life.  Try not to post angry or hurtful comments.  Try not to criticize or blame others.  Be as supportive, encouraging, and respecting as you can.  Accepting and negotiating differences is key to carrying on constructive conversation.

Remember, there is a real person on the other side of the screen.  It's easy to assume the other person is in a similar situation as yourself, but you don't know the extent of their emotions, symptoms, nor their age or even gender.

Let's Do This Together!

Let's have a supportive and comforting community where we all feel open and able to share as much as possible.  If you receive support from someone, please pay that forward and try to help out someone else.  If we all do this, we should all be okay!  Thank you for reading and enjoying this thing we are building together.

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