Hallucinations: Perhaps all we see is like that

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I have really appreciated the MIT trained cognitive psychologist and University of California professor Donald Hoffman since hearing him speak a couple of times at conferences. I recently read a book review and interview with him in Psychology Today available here.

The article discusses how Hoffman helped develop a mathematical argument that our perceptions most likely do not reflect reality.

He expresses how in a sense all we see is a hallucination, generated by our mind, that does not resemble reality. It may be useful like icons to click on the computer screen, but reality is something much different in the hardware and processes behind it.

He came to the perspective exploring mathematical models for perception about 8 years before I started seeing reality in this way as well. I was in a sensation and perception class at the time digesting these concepts along with integrating the information with what I had recently learned in organic chemistry about the building blocks of physical matter. Mind blowing!

Science, nonduality, and protection from spiritual teacher abuse

I returned to the Science and Nonduality Conference last weekend to continue to learn different language and concepts being applied to the nondual experience. It was a good mix of scientists, spiritual teachers, and students exploring the new paradigm understanding of what it means to be human. A welcome relief from the conservative mental health system I am studying in graduate school that still operates on 19th century science and neglects to include quantum physics, cognitive psychology insights regarding perception, and much other data that indicate the idea consciousness is a product of neurons is not a sustainable concept. The integrated understanding is that consciousness comes first before neurons.

Nondual teacher Francis Lucille at the conference indicated it was just semantics and that God, Consciousness, and Reality are equivalent terms. It is very clear from my personal experience and many at the conference concur that there is no physical objective reality independent of conscious observers and their beliefs.

On another note, I attended a meeting of the Association for Spiritual Integrity at the conference. There is growing consensus that spiritual awakening and psychological health are two independent areas of human development. Spiritual awakening does not heal psychological concerns, though it often offers a temporary escape sometimes called spiritual bypassing. It is a mistake to believe that an awakened nondual or yoga teacher will not be abusive and use the teacher position for sex, power, or inappropriate sums of money.

Later in the conference Mariana Caplan who worked as a psychotherapist and consultant with individuals, teachers, and communities after scandals had some good suggestions for students. First was that doing at least a year of psychological and trauma work with a body centered approach can offer some protection from getting taken advantage of by a teacher. Another suggestion because most sexual abuses are by male teachers is that female students on the spiritual path with a male teacher should be prepared for how they will respond to a come on.

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If the meds can kill you maybe they really are poison.

Along my grad school mental health counseling studies the textbooks mention that patients with psychosis will often call the antipsychotic medications poison. The professional response is to give them the shaming label – lack of insight. The documentary Cause of Death: Unknown explores and explains how pharmaceutical companies (Pharma) have put billions of dollars of profit over people and misled the doctors and the public knowingly leading to the death of thousands of our children, our veterans, our elderly, and disabled. The antipsychotic medications can gum up people’s metabolism and can suddenly stop the heart dead.

This is a timely film during the opioid crisis where so many of the pharmaceutical companies knowingly deceived doctors and patients to hook the public on opioids and make more profit knowing more people would die from the drugs. The next opioid crisis is already here with psychiatric medications for which Pharma used the same tactics.

That is not to say the medications do not have value for a small percentage of the people or for the much shorter evidence based duration than they end up being used for. But with Pharma or Pharma paid researchers almost exclusively doing the research, critical research on how to get people off of medications is still lacking.

Recently a New Yorker article highlighted this and how psychiatrists themselves who find themselves unable to get off of medications have had to turn to the ex-patient community to learn how to get off. Pharma misled doctors telling them patients trying to come off medications had a return of symptoms of illness when getting to low doses of the medications, but often it is withdrawal symptoms (they call discontinuation syndrome) from the medications due to tolerance (they call neuroadaptation) that lasts much longer than doctors were told. To come off people often have to detox from the medications painfully slow sometimes taking years and miniscule doses, but people with all diagnoses have come off of medications successfully. Without proper information and preparation, withdrawing too quickly from some medications can have serious consequences up to and including death. The Withdrawal Project is a modern recent online platform for citizen research on psychiatric medication withdrawal mentioned in The New Yorker article to assist with more accurate information on how to prepare to come off.

If you are curious about these issues, Cause of Death: Unknown is a timely film that begins to explore some truth that you will not hear in mainstream media until public awareness reaches a tipping point. Another news site to explore these topics is the online magazine Mad In America that presents research, alternatives, and success stories of people who have found a way out of Pharma created American Hell.

Separateness is an Illusion and time requires an observer

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.

Psychosis: Signposts of an emergent identity development stage

After two undergraduate and now one graduate human development course this summer, I have come to believe there is a missing stage of identity development in the field as taught in standard university courses. This is an individual’s conscious sense of self-identity expanding to include everything in the universe. It is often called Self Realization as opposed to the term Self-actualization that was popularized by Maslow with his hierarchy of needs.

On the heels of Darwin there was a popularization of the idea that consciousness was something that developed after a certain point of evolution of individual biological beings with developed brains and neurons, as a neural process or product. Based on this, the mental health field takes experiences labeled psychosis to be meaningless brain or neural processing errors.

A more simple way to look at consciousness that allows the information from different disciplines including physics and phenomena such as out of body experiences and psychic phenomenon to be integrated rather than ignored is that consciousness comes first rather than the brain makes consciousness; a one consciousness that exists out of space and time. The basic idea is that there is really only one consciousness shared by everyone and everything.

A human sense of self or identity could be seen as a bubble forming in the oceanic consciousness and rising to and hanging out for a while on the surface temporarily in a physical way, constructed through a limiting socialization process. We are socialized to see ourselves as separate from others and objects and less than we really are. Separate bubbles floating on the surface of the timeless oceanic consciousness rubbing up against each other, sometimes joining each other to become a larger bubble and other times popping each other, always maintaining direct contact with the source consciousness.

The more true nature is a feeling or recognition of unity with everything and everyone as if there really was only one being. People with increasing frequency have grown into the identity developmental stage of experiencing themselves as both the entire timeless universe and simultaneously as a localized individual habituated through socialization into thinking of themselves as a limited human.

From a human development focused counseling perspective this angle of view of the primacy of consciousness may help to make some rational sense of religious themed experiences that often get labeled psychosis. If the brains and neurons evolved out of consciousness rather than the common mental health view that consciousness is a product of neurons and psychosis results from broken brains or neuron processes, this could allow some experiences usually labeled psychosis to become signposts of this identity development stage.

It may be quite common for a psychological trauma to trigger the start of the extreme state where the socialized separate sense of self begins to break down, ultimately if not interrupted, allowing the underlying true nature to be experienced.   In the process, it can get messy not just with anything from one’s personal history, but anything from any time and place in the one consciousness being potential for experience, or some kind of mixture of them. Once there is a crack in the consensus social programming and some insights to compelling deeper or alternate truths are glimpsed, they often become near impossible to ignore.

Establishing the concept of this expanded sense of self-identity in western cultural, science, and especially mental health friendly terms may help counselors to assist, or clients themselves to navigate through the mess and complete the development process.   Now they often get stuck in the current standard of care of attempting to shut down the developing awareness with psychotropic tranquilizers, and systematic attempts through psychoeducation to try to convince them they have a brain disorder that produces false perceptions so they should not trust their thinking. Without modern language clients often present as seeing themselves as God, Buddha, or Jesus Christ. Rather than the psychosis category of delusion as the patient is told their experience consists of, they may actually have begun to discover the more true nature of one consciousness and have only religious language to relate it to.

It may be more likely that these individuals find their way to a mental health practitioner and receive a medical model brain disease diagnosis than a spiritual guide with an established language to guide them in to completion of the developmental process. It is time for that to change by establishing the concept and language in standard mental health professional training, and in our culture to make sense of and bring consensus to identifying oneself as the entire universe.