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 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.
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.
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.