One clear-cut fact does, however, emerge: This finding is probably the most striking of all the findings reported herein for either Joseph or Leon. It demonstrates most dramatically the positive effects which can be achieved by suggestions originating with the paranoid schizophrenic's own delusional authority figures. This finding is all the more remarkable when one remembers that paranoid schizophrenics are typically negativistic, that, because they view other people with suspicion and mistrust, they resist suggestions that others make. But our data clearly suggest that paranoid schizophrenics are, like everyone else, quite capable of following positive suggestions when they originate with positive referents. In this respect, the major difference between normal people and paranoid schizophrenics lies not so much in the fact that the schizophrenics are less suggestible but in the fact that they have no positive authorities or referents in the real world; if they have any at all, these positive referents exist only in the world of their delusions.
We have already seen that when positive authority suggests a change in behavior, the recipient will accept it provided he is capable of doing so and provided it does not require drastic modification of belief or frustrate important needs. By carrying out the suggestion, one can simultaneously reduce dissonance and preserve intact one's relation to positive authority. But what can reasonably be expected when the suggestion to change is beyond the recipient's capability or frustrates his deep needs or predispositions? In such a situation, a conflict arises between his desire to comply with authority and the abilities or needs which make compliance impossible.One way to resolve such a conflict situation (or to reduce the dissonance) is to change one's conception of authority. If a suggestion emanating from positive authority is unacceptable, the conflict may be removed by becoming disaffected with the authority and transforming it either into a negative authority or into a nonexistent one. This is exactly what Leon and Joseph did.