Psychosis is a misunderstood term. Journalists are always confusing it with psychopathy, just as they often still insist that a ‘schizophrenic’ is someone with a Jekyll-and-Hyde-style split personality. (I could blame T. S. Eliot for this, but that would require another post.) In newspaper-speak, calling someone psychotic seems to mean that they are especially nasty and especially cold-hearted, in the mould of Saddam Hussein or Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi (I once saw both described thus, within a page of each other, in a British Sunday newspaper). If I were one of the large number of people who suffer in silence from a psychotic disorder, I would feel angry and more than a little betrayed. The irony is that psychosis found favour as a term among those many clinicians and researchers who were tired of the deep-rooted misconceptions about schizophrenia, and who now find that their preferred term has become as semantically garbled as its predecessor.
(With apologies to Douglas Coupland for the title.)