An insider exploration of Yoga and Nonduality, and the intersection of spirituality and experiences labeled psychosis or prodromal. Mental health integrates evidence from all disciplines and does not ignore inconvenient truth. Look within and find the direct path to your own truth.
I will be facilitating a screening and discussion of the film Crazywise at Amistad in Portland, ME on March 21, 2019 at 5-7:15pm.
This is an amazing film. Director Phil Borges had interviewed around 40 shamans from all over the world and found they got their start in similar ways. In their teens or early 20’s they started hearing things others did not hear and seeing things others did not see. They were identified as having a special gift or sensitivity and had mentors to train them how to use their abilities as shamans to help their communities. He draws a comparison with the much different treatment for the same experiences that young people in the West receive from the mental health system.
I was graced with the opportunity to attend a three-day Hearing Voices Network Facilitators’ Training this month conducted by Western Mass Recovery Learning Community trainers. Within the Hearing Voices Network all possible explanations for experiences that would typically be labeled psychosis in a clinical setting are welcomed and allowed along with the additional perspective that the experiences are just a normal variation of human experience. It was stated that one in 10 people hear voices at some point in life and two thirds of them never seek psychiatric services. The Hearing Voices Network is composed of self-help groups throughout the world where people come together to talk about their voices, visions, and unusual experiences in a non-clinical environment with no assumption of an underlying illness to their experiences and no requirement to have any exposure to the mental health system to attend groups. Each individual is allowed the freedom to interpret their experiences in any way and the group accepts that voices and visions are real experiences. The Hearing Voices Network can be considered a civil rights movement that started when a patient confronted the psychiatrist Marius Romme in the 1980’s about limitations of the psychiatric care being provided. Regarding psychiatry’s attempts to stop voices with treatment, Romme eventually compared “eradicating people’s voices to forcing homosexuals to become heterosexual” (Sapey & Bullimore, 2013, p. 4). The groups started in the United Kingdom and are in at least 32 countries around the world now. In the United States there are at least 94 registered groups. The State of Maine Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services has been funding trainings to facilitate the growth of Hearing Voices Network groups. Though not all Maine groups are listed yet, http://www.hearingvoicesusa.org/ does have a listing of some Maine groups including one in Portland. There are additional meetings in Maine forming at peer drop in centers.
Sapey, B., & Bullimore, P. (2013). Listening to voice hearers. Journal of Social Work,
I am now back at the Science and Nonduality Conference. Last year at the conference, I was blown away in tears to listen to a scientist come as close as I have found to how I experience the nature of human existence.
I believe that many who get labeled psychotic have at least begun to experience some of the implications of time not existing separate from an observer and the complete referential nature of everything that can be experienced when the illusion of separateness is pierced.
In time I hope those once in the position of giving the psychotic label for experience will become able to integrate the information from the different sciences enough to instead give some scientific validation for the same experience.
Robert Lanza made a valiant effort last year at the conference in this talk to light the path.
In a 2013 United Nations report on “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” it was stated that:
“…medical treatments of an intrusive and irreversible nature, when lacking a therapeutic purpose or when aimed at correcting or alleviating a disability, may constitute torture or ill treatment when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.”
Saddened by the increase in forced treatment in America, I submitted a related abbreviated personal story to Mad In America:
In defining psychotic there is the concept of referential delusions where per the DSM-5 “belief that certain gestures, comments, environmental cues, and so forth are directed at oneself” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 87). This is simply a consequence of there being no external physical world. It is only a construction of our perception, and of course it is completely referential if we created the world in our perception. Most of us are so established or may I suggest barricaded in the perceptual belief of a solid and separate physical world outside of us that we are spared the torture of the constant referential experience and only experience it occasionally as a spiritual or coincidence experience.