Hi, I was diagnoses with schizoaffective disorder / depressive type half a year ago, I'm 26 now and had my first major psychosis around the age 13. I had at least 3 psychoses after that.
I think I might have an explanation about WHAT CAUSES this disorder (sometimes, not always, of course).
The key is somewehere around hypnagogia and hypnopompia.
Hypnagogia is the short state between wakefullness and sleep, it's a unique state of consciousness, where all sorts of hallucinations can be present, for example "random speckles of phosphenes". Now I see phosphenes all the time, even now, while most people don't see them during the day.
Other visual hallucinations: "Imagery representing movement through tunnels of light is also reported. Individual images are typically fleeting and given to very rapid changes. They are said to differ from dreams proper in that hypnagogic imagery is usually static and lacking in narrative content, although others understand the state rather as a gradual transition from hypnagogia to fragmentary dreams, i.e. from simple "eigenlicht" to whole imagined scenes."
Also, there are sounds in this state:
"Hypnagogic imagery is often auditory or has an auditory component. Like the visuals, hypnagogic sounds vary in intensity from faint impressions to loud noises, such as crashes and bangs (exploding head syndrome). People may imagine their own name called or a doorbell ringing. Snatches of imagined speech are common."
Hypnopompia is the opposite, the short state between sleep and awareness.
Now my theory is that when you are genetically susceptible to schizophrenia, and your life is for example filled with way too much stress and/or depression, these hypnagogic and hypnopompic states do not only last a few minutes, but become overloaded, and you can become trapped for longer periodes of time in them, before actually falling asleep or actually waking up. They malfunction.
The "hallucinations" I've experienced during these phases seem to be the most real memories that I have. More real than any dream or any daytime memory. I can easily remember many of them even after 10 years. Some of these hallucinations are quite paranoid, like people wanting to hurt me. Others feature people close to me, saying things and doing things. These all seem very very real, but in the end they are just hallucinations, which we should have forgotten after like 10 minutes completely! Only, in this case, we didn't.
These "hallucinations" can get stuck for the whole day in my mind, even though I know, that they aren't real. Then my whole day is a mess. On other days, when I don't have these kind of hallucination-memories, I feel pretty much better.
Now here is the biggest problem: these experiences were born in the hypnagogic/hypnopompic states. These states somehow become wired into your brain durin the whole day. The connection is possibly the false memory you live through again and again. Now if you are re-living thes hallucination-memories all the time, your brain ACTUALLY FALLS BACK INTO HYPNAGOGIC/HYPNOPOMPIC STATE! Because that's the root state of these memories.
So the definition of schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia could be: someone, who can become trapped in hypnagogia/hypnopompia through remembering hallucinations from these states. For example if you remember some very vivid "nightmares" from your pschotic states, you do actually become more psychotic, because your brain is starting to switch back into halfdream mode. I think you all know this feeling all too well.
You are in fact half-dreaming, while living in the real world! This would very simply explain, why we hallucinate during the day, have weird feelings, see images, hear voices, have weird neurotransmitter levels in our brains, have weird electrical brain activity. We feel like never waking up completely, and there is a very simple explanation for that: because in fact we don't..
The definition of psychosis could be: after too much stress, the hypnagogic/hypnopompic states become so overloaded, that they become constant during the whol day and your reality becomes twisted inside out.
Right now I'm trying to bring up all my "false memories" from these states and label them as "hallucinations, which should have been forgotten" through cognitive therapy. I'm trying to re-wire my brain back to normal. I really want to wake up completely, I think, I'm in a halfdream state since 13-14 years constantly, but thanks, I had enough of that.