I. Last Fall, I was able to begin facilitating a class on the topic of Spirituality and Recovery. It is remarkable to me to have the opportunity to discuss spirituality in the context of recovery education and the feedback from students has been very positive. Because the class did not have an established curriculum, I have had to do a fair amount of consideration and research on the role of spirituality in recovery and how the topic might be best approached within a state-funded, recovery education center.
As it turns out, it’s not so complicated as the traditional clinical taboos on the topic of spirituality in mental health care might make it out to be.
I had done elective classes on subjects like positive psychology and The Four Agreements and so I had some experience doing inquiry-based education around concepts like gratitude, forgiveness, strengths, acceptance, perspective and values. We had, in WRAP class, talked specifically about spiritual practice as a wellness tool and we hold meditations several times a week at the recovery education center.
Still, a class explicitly on the subject of spirituality in recovery was new territory for me. I knew that I didn’t want any form of proselytization to take place, and that many people had experienced trauma through involvement with religious organizations. I understood that the worldview and self-view established by some bodies of belief can be harmful to people, supporting deep guilt, fear, and shame. Yet, for others, involvement in church communities had been life-saving. To accommodate all the different ways people experience and practice spirituality, the class is facilitated as a conscientious safe space in which people can share ideas and perspectives on what spirituality means to them and respectfully explore different aspects of spiritual awareness, such as discernment, faith, and love. Some students have told me that, for them, it is the most important class that is offered at the REC.
Across the country, there are initiatives that support spiritually-informed practice in mental health care. However, in spite of developing policies of best practice that affirm that a person’s spiritual health may significantly impact his or her recovery, it seems that many organizations do not have a clearly established ethos or practice that consistently supports spiritually conscientious mental health care. In traditional mental health settings, spirituality has long been a topic that is off limits to providers, due to the fear that supporting people in exploring spirituality may somehow breach the separation of church and state, compromise professional boundaries, or “foster delusions.” (Ashcroft, Anthony, & Mancuso, 2010)
Although the etymology of the word spirituality is rooted in conceptions of an actual spirit that “dwells” in people, modern usage has been expanded to refer in a more subjective and general sense to quality of life as defined by interconnectedness, sense of purpose, and meaningful self-worth. (Koenig, 2009; Ashcroft, 2010) Though spirituality and religion are not mutually exclusive, spirituality does not necessarily have anything to do with religion. In fact, for some, religion is actually counterintuitive to their understanding of spirituality, which can encompass everything from one’s connection to nature, to self-love, positive engagement in life activities, and simple joyfulness.
The current multidimensional view of spirituality is considered by some to be too closely related to measures of what is considered to be “good mental health,” and methodologically, if spirituality cannot be separated from good mental health, healthy spirituality indicates good mental health and vice versa. (Koenig, 2009) While this somewhat circuitous line of reasoning is criticized in formal literature, it aligns well with the conclusions drawn from many spiritual leaders and social theorists who have considered elements of spirituality to be part and parcel of human wellness. (Fromm, 1955; Dalai Lama XIV, 1999) However, what determines whether or not a person’s spirituality is “healthy” is very personal and highly variable.
What is “healthy” spirituality and what supports it? Is it our human right to question our spiritual orientations, to experience transcendence and dark nights of the soul? Is it not normal to go through strange and transforming processes in our becoming who we are? Is it not our right to have significant questions about God or to get bold ideas and big feelings about the world and our place in it?
These questions lead us to the spiritual rights of people who are considered to be psychotic, those who have most routinely been denied their spiritual rights in formal mental health settings. There is such a pervasive fear of mad spirituality that it is, in fact, included in the DSM criteria for schizophrenia, in the specific mention of delusions and hallucinations of a “religious” nature.
Beyond the range of normative Western expressions of spirituality is a rich array of tradition, myth, and self-world dynamo in the form of metaphysical inquiry, shamanism, and gnostic and mystic traditions. Due to the heightened availability of information and perspective that the internet affords us, many people are able to find ideas that resonate with them and their experiences. Without looking very hard, it is easy to see the similarities between what is considered to be madness and what are considered to be processes of spiritual exploration, transformation and intuitive resolution seeking.
Yet, it has been observed that, in formal settings, orientation to spiritually subcultural beliefs or engagement in practices that are thought to be atypical is often confused with “psychosis” or “delusions” and these manifestations of developing spirituality are dismissed as being “symptoms,” rather than being honored as deeply significant and meaningful spiritual realities.
In addition to the solid body of humanistic and transpersonal theory and analysis which suggests that the phenomenon of madness is deeply rooted in struggles with one’s self and consciousness, recent research affirms that themes in a person’s personal history and relational orientation to others and to the world in general tend to arise, in ways that suggest thematic coherence, in an individual’s experience of madness, and that conflicts within self and role may be integral to the madness process. (Sinnott 2010, O’Connor 2009, Lukoff 1988) It would seem then that an appropriate response to madness would accommodate the subjective reality of these struggles and recognize that the content of madness often has a great deal to do with unresolved questions of consciousness, self, and the world.
It is well-known that the typical responses to manifestations of spiritual crisis that meet diagnostic criteria for psychosis are chemical restraint and forceful and coercive discouragement of any further mention of those elements of experience which may suggest whisperings from God or any sense of divine calling that could be deemed grandiose. It is acceptable, of course, to engage in “healthy spirituality” such as church services and prayer groups. It is okay to be Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist… but, normative conceptions of what constitutes “healthy” spirituality seem to preclude one from being an unbound spiritualist who reads meaning in the happenstance of subway signs or a person who finds God in the wind outside of the confines of a metaphor in a poem written in a day treatment center.
Due to my interest in spirituality and recovery, when I saw that Dr. Nancy Kehoe, a popular NAMI speaker, would be conducting a local training on “Faith, Mental Illness, and the Journey to Wholeness,” I thought it might be interesting to see what a medical model perspective on the subject might be. I figured that I was prepared for the language of biopsychiatry and hopeless prognosis. However, I found that the training reignited a deep dissonance within me. I walked into the training with these questions in mind: “How can people of religious faith and/or a strong sense of spirituality invest in the beliefs of the medical model? How can the beliefs that “In God, all things are possible” and, more colloquially, that “God don’t make no junk” exist alongside the belief that difficulty in one’s human experience is due to a brain disease that one cannot fully recover from?
By the end of the day, I felt troubled, confused, and alienated, as I often do when I am forced to reckon with the strength of the disease model in shaping people’s view of the human condition. How is it that these pathological ideas can be so strong as to challenge the tenets of one’s most core beliefs in the purpose and potential of humanity?
“Why is it that people with severe mental illness often seem to be so spiritual?”
Dr. Kehoe nodded, and wrote down the question asked by a young clinician. After hours of hearing about the ways that “healthy spirituality” can be of great benefit to “the severely mentally ill,” the question was asked to the crowd of psychologists and social workers.
“What do you think?”
I had attended the training with the full intent of making my voice heard, as a peer and as a person whose emergent spirituality had led to experiences that were, erroneously, considered to be the products of a mental illness. However, by the afternoon, my voice was shaking as I spoke in answer to this question of why it is that “those considered to be mentally ill are often deeply spiritual.”
I disclosed my professional role and identified that I am a person with lived experiences of a severe and persistent nature. To my knowledge, I was one of the only peers in the room, though I know I wasn’t alone. Some of the clinicians, surely, had had their own dark nights of the soul. Dr. Kehoe herself had struggled after she heard a voice telling her to join the convent (Kehoe 2009).
The whole room, in fact, seemed to understand what I was saying when I said that if people have struggled to survive, when they have experienced great light and darkness with profound sensitivity… when people perhaps see and feel the world differently… that where there is raw humanity in life and death, there is great spirit, insight, and significance.
I felt my face rush to red as I spoke, and I heard my voice tremble, uncharacteristically stumbling over my words. I had to take a deep breath. I felt lightheaded, just like I used to feel when I would speak out from the back row of a lecture hall, or read something that meant something to me in front of a class. “There have always been people who have grappled with spirit… ”
People had the audacity to actually applaud, as if the “severely mentally ill” woman had been brave in speaking her piece. That night, after the training, I went home and I cried. For the past three weeks, I have been troubled by that day, by what I heard and by who I was in the context of the language used.
Throughout the day, I had been thinking about all the people who were sitting on locked wards, because they had, perhaps, gotten overwhelmed and confused about God or the devil or some combination thereof…about ghosts and the television…spirits in the pictures…telepathy with some big machine…a lifeforce relaying messages. How might their stories have been different if they’d had someone to talk with, someone to listen to them, to support them in figuring out what their thoughts and feelings meant to them in relation to what was in their hearts?
Part of my current spiritual practice is hoping that the people who are confined by chemical and court order because they stumbled into feelings and ideas that they did not have a context for will find some light in their day, that the fire in their hearts will not go out, and that they will feel somehow that they are loved… and that they will believe it.
I also thank God that I managed to narrowly escape such a fate as the one so often imposed by the medical model.
Ashcroft, L., Anthony, W. & Mancuso, L. (2010, June 30) Is spirituality essential for recovery? If spirituality supports resiliency, then it’s definitely part of our business. Behavioral Healthcare: The business of treatment and recovery. Retrieved from http://www.behavioral.net/article/spirituality-essential-recovery
Bstan-‘dzin-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama XIV (1999). Ethics for the new millennium. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
Fromm, Erich. (1955) The Sane Society. New York: NY. Fawcett World Library.
Lukoff, D. (1988) Transpersonal perspectives on manic psychosis, creative, visionary, and mystical states. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. 20(2), 111-139.
O’Connor, K. (2009). Cognitive and Meta-cognitive Dimensions of Psychoses. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54(3), 152-159.
Kehoe, N. (2009) Wrestling with our inner angels. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Koenig, H. G. (2009). Research on religion, spirituality, and mental health: a review. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54(5), 283-291.
Sinnott, J. (2010). Coherent Themes: Individuals’ Relationships with God, Their Early Childhood Experiences, Their Bonds with Significant Others, and Their Relational Delusions During Psychotic Episodes All Have Similar Holistic, Existential, and Relational Themes. Journal of Adult Development, 17(4), 230-244. doi:10.1007/s10804-009-9090-y
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Great post Faith, thanks. Much to think about, Chrys
Thanks, Chrys! Hopefully, within the next couple of years, we’ll see a lot more awareness that so much of human distress is rooted in what might best be considered to be crises of spirit, self, hope and meaning.
The conflict between a belief in hope, healing, and the ability to be transformed and the ideas put forth by the medical model is very problematic…and there is a lot of potential there for dialogue and new perspectives.
And, Chrys, I do not believe there will ever be a dialogue between the medical model folks and spiritual folks. Spirituality, the kind of raw stuff that comes upon ‘disturbed’ people. is labeled madness according to the medical people.
I have seen only two hallucinations in my life, one was a black, leather-face, read-eyed monster, and the other was a serene, longhaired breaded face in the sky. Both happened boom then boom.
Some firemen pulled me out of the creek and I was transported to the emergency room. There I was met by a man in a white coat, a doctor. I asked him, ‘Just tell me who that bearded -faced man in the sky was?”
After two weeks of straight jackets, and padded cells, and Haldol, I saw the doctor again. I was led into a room with many people. It was grand rounds. “Here is my chance to explain myself, my chance to get free.” The doctor was seated. He said to me, “How are you today?” “I’m very well, thank you.”
“You are NOT doing very well. I’m going to have you put away for the rest of your life!”
Well, needless to say, my parents transferred me to a private hospital, but the issue was all washed away. It would come up again, and of course that was thirty years ago, but let me give you an example that happened this year.
I got in a frenzy about some major leadership decisions made in the hierarchy of not one but two jurisdictions during the seven years I was asleep on neurolyptics had literally gone to Hell. I won’t go into the details. I got busy sending emails, questioning bishops, confirming my suspicions from reliable sources. I ended up screaming at the ER techs and was committed.
My doctor had been my doctor for most of the time I had been heavily medicated. He’s a good, practicing Catholic. The techs were noting what I was talking about. I heard the nurse read the notes to him.
I was calmed down just taking the Tegretal. I was sleeping. I was cheeking the anti-psychotic. The head on psychiatry had filled in for my doctor and I told him I was cheeking. He told me to tell my doctor. When He returned I did. He yelled at me. “You’re hyperreligious! and some other schizophrenic symptom.” He yelled he was sending me back to the state hospital. I asked for a second opinion. “Denied!” he yelled.
Psychiatry is at war with God. \
In the state hospital there are no athiests. My roommate had a devil tattooed on her tongue. There was a Moslem that made his prostrations for prayer during his evaluation. He was committed for 180 days. I thought it was supposed to take five symptoms to be diagnosed schizophrenic. If you hear voices, or see visions. or say more than three things about God that’s an automatic diagnosis.
Psychiatry is a theology. An anti-god theology. Anti-spirituality theology.
Thank God for my alternative psychiatrist. He explained to me I could do things that I was upset about if I stayed calm and thought about it. He’s a Catholic that prays. He said he hoped he wasn’t hyperreligious, laughing.
Faith, it is difficult to have confusing spiritual experiences with nobody around who can just even listen. Medical model psychiatrists nail you to the cross! Maybe they hate the thought of God because that would mean they would be accountable to someone with higher authority than themselves. They don’t lie the competition.
Maxima it’s encouraging to hear of your alternative psychiatrist and his willingness to engage with you on the spiritual plane.
I’ve had 3 episodes of psychosis and with each had spiritual experiences, some might say hallucinations but I think it was more about hyper-sensitivity to the spiritual realms or the fourth dimension. That place where God is and where prayer goes. Where everything makes sense. Also over-sensitivity to physical things, sight, hearing, smell, touch, too much for everyday living. For me it was to do with pain and life being too much for a while. An escape.
I wasn’t a Christian when I had my first psychosis in 1978 and my hallucinations were about God and the devil. Then I came to faith, became a Christian in 1981, and my psychoses in 1984 and 2002 were different, more about God and healing, although ironically psychiatry still saw it as mental illness. But no psychiatrist asked about my thoughts, rather it was about my hormone imbalance after childbirth, and then the third time it was a diagnosis/label of bipolar/schizoaffective disorder.
I do think that psychiatry is a religion, a set of beliefs, rather than scientific fact, although it’s based in medicine and science. I suppose it used to be based within the church before psychiatry came along. Now it has its own church.
“no psychiatrist asked about my thoughts”
Psychiatrists have missed out on a lot of really amazing stories, wisdom, and insight, haven’t they?
Thanks so much for your support of/interest in this post, Chrys.
It seems like there is a lot of work being done on the crossroads of madness and spirit, with CEU workshops being held in California, books about madness and spiritual gifts…etc. etc.
Happy Easter and enjoy the day!
Wow, you’ve offered a powerful comment in response to Faith’s blog.
You’ve had some horrible experiences with psychiatry, and I can relate to them.
And, I fully concur with your conclusion, “Psychiatry is a theology. An anti-god theology. Anti-spirituality theology.”
Of course, in some places, at some times, psychiatry has appeared otherwise; it has seemed to be ‘tolerant’ – and can even, at times, seem to be *encouraging* spirituality; however, wherever we look closely at those settings, we’ll find: the psychiatrists are doing their utmost to ‘medically’ restrain their “patients” against experiencing any direct, conscious contact with the realm of spirit.
I.e., though it will be said, by plenty of psychiatrists, that it’s OK to believe in ‘God’, it’s certainly not OK (in their opinion) to converse with ‘God’ – ever.
Simply put, they feel: Their “patients” require *supervision* – in the form of a psychiatrist, who’ll do whatever is ‘necessary’ to reign in and quash any conversations with the realm of spirit and any mystical experiences, generally speaking.
Frankly, I do not want *anyone* standing between me and my sense of mysticism – me and my Higher Power.
In fact, I believe it’s essentially *necessary* to see psychiatry for what it is: a system designed to thwart mystical experiences – as though they reflect the cells of a spreading cancer.
For many who’ve been forcibly subjected to psychiatry, it’s entirely necessary to realize, that: the imposition of ‘meds’ may be nothing but a means of creating the illusion, that an ‘illness’ exists, for psychiatry views their mysticism as pathological.
And, from that point of view, I believe it’s best to do all one can, to ‘grow out of’ ones *seeming* ‘need’ for psychiatry. (Though, certainly, I don’t begrudge you your relationship with a psychiatrist of your choosing; any relationship between consenting adults should be respected.)
Great blog post! You are *such* a gifted writer. (To be honest, I am a bit envious of your writing skills; you demonstrate such *limitless* ability to be both scholarly/objective *and* poetic/subjective, simultaneously!)
But, one thing troubles me about your post; that is, this pair of words, “mental illness” (as they appear, in your title).
Were I you, I’d keep “mental illness” in quotation marks, and/or I’d say “so-called” before referring to “mental illness” – because, in my view, that term will tend to promote the medical model. (This point really goes back to what Maxima is saying.)
Especially, because you are going into the ‘mental health’ field, I would be very intentionally clear with my colleagues, *always* – conveying, aloud, that, “I do *not* believe in the medical model.” (E.g., if I were to stand up and speak – as you did – I’d say that outright, to begin.)
And, I might explain this (about myself):
I was twenty years free of psychiatrists and their ‘meds’ – when, suddenly, I realized that a part of me was still terribly held back – still being affected – by those psychiatrists’ attempts to convince me, that I had a *supposed* “serious mental illness”.
In fact, I knew – on many levels – that I had never had anything but a personal/interpersonal breakdown/breakthrough, which was quickly medicalized and made into an iatrogenic illness (by way of forced drugging).
Unfortunately, twenty years free of psychiatry, its *labels* still haunted me; I hired a hypnotherapist to help me with that problem.
He worked with me for a number of months – until, finally, getting fed up, with my miserable sense of having been, seemingly, permanently stigmatized by psychiatry.
At one point, he yelled at me, “YOU ARE NOT SICK!!!”
It was an unconventional approach – and a ‘break-through’ moment…
It did not fully cure me of my sense of being stigmatized by psychiatry; nor, then, did it relieve my oft-simmering fears of *seeming* somehow ‘abnormal’ in the eyes of supposedly ‘normal’ strangers.
But, it comes back to me now, in a moving recollection, which leads me to deeply appreciate that guy – even though we ultimately had our issues.
There came a later point, when I realized he really had really lost patience with me; he couldn’t respect the ways in which I felt I needed to care for myself; he disagreed with my sense of priorities, in my schooling; so, I left him, and we did not part on the best of terms.
However, his having yelled at me, that one time, in the way that he did, was truly a *boon* – a positively therapeutic moment (for which I will always be grateful).
Now, while I realize that many people in the ‘mental health’ field believe that “mental illness” is a term that can imply non-medical phenomena as well as medical phenomena, I know, too, that it’s really *not* possible to apply the term, in the affirmative, without suggesting a possible belief, that *real* illness exists.
Therefore, I say: “To hell with *so-called* ‘mental illness’!!!”
(That is to say, screw it! I am *not* ill; and, I will not use the language of the oppressor, to describe my experiences.)
Now, I’m off, to enjoy my Easter weekend (and, can’t help but realize that today, Saturday, represents a mystical time, between death and rebirth); before leaving my abode, I shall very briefly visit my image, in my bathroom mirror, so that I can whisper to myself (firmly), “YOU ARE NOT SICK!!!”
I love that last bit Jonah. No, you’re not sick. Not at all. Enjoy your Easter!
What helps me with self image repair after diagnosis, etc is EFT. Emotional Freedom Technique. It’s evidence based. What you are going through is PTSD. I have an ACEP trained psychologist. I did do a lot of the work my myself. But she has helped a lot. Still got more to go through, but my confidence that I am mentally healthy is good. I have issues to work on though. I could be better. I do believe in therapy, omly if you feel you can benefit from it.
Thanks, Jonah – for your insight. I really appreciate the directness and even-handedness of your communications…and have, at certain points, been envious of your way with words, too. You seem to have a lot of consistency in your integrity and that is very admirable.
I hear what you’re saying regarding the need for quotations around “mental illness” – and I often use those wry little slashes to signify that the idea put forth by the words is just a saying that says nothing of value.
Sometimes though, I wonder if framing the phrase in such a way dissuades the attention of people who, unlike you and I and most of the people
, still believe that mental illness is a real thing or an apt description of what goes on with people who are having a time that is hard to understand. Not that I am pandering to their misguided and ill-informed (pun intended) ideas, but I am interested in somehow bridging dialogue, especially in regard to individuals who may think – because of what they’ve been told and what they’ve read and what they’ve heard – that they have a “mental illness.” So, maybe if – theoretically – they saw the title on twitter and it had quotations around the words that they use to describe themselves, they might see it as not taking their current reality seriously or something like that. I try, in most anything I write, to communicate that very important message you brought to this comment thread: YOU ARE NOT SICK.
I have the same conviction that you have, that nothing has a right to stand between me and my version of spirituality, the way I feel the world and make sense of it. In my mind, our right to spirit is a very basic human right…and you’re absolutely correct the ideas spawned by institutions of profit and power (be they churches or the APA) have long undermined, manipulated, and distorted that right. I think, sometimes, that people who experience intense spirituality outside of the boundaries established by churches are seen as a threat…and so, in reality, all that ranting and raving about persecution is quite apt…as out-of-bounds experience of spirit are persecuted.
http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/04/un-asks-the-united-states-to-defend-its-practice-of-forced-psychiatric-drugging/ THANK YOU, MAXIMA (and CHRUSP)!
(sorry for all caps. that thank you deserved to be big.)
Thanks, Maxima, for sharing so much of your story. I am looking forward to hearing more about how the trip to Geneva went re: human rights, torture, and forced psychiatric treatment.
I think you’re correct that there are some, er, issues between the primacy of psychiatric determination and the power of whatever people may think of as being God. Historically, the roots of psychiatry are thoroughly tangled up with suspicions about spirit possessions and dark humors, etc. The origins of our modern mental health system are also based in a tradition of religious intervention and a lot of the early institutions were run by people of faith, with the thought that rest, prayer, etc. could cure folks of “madness,” or at least quell what was seen as a condition.
So, the relationship between God and mental health goes way back.
In a lot of ways, this topic – spirituality and recovery, faith and mental illness – is one that has the potential to call into question the role of assumptions about what is and is not “healthy” spirituality, as well as what is and is not “God” – possibly leading to a better understanding of the way that the rubrics of religion and psychiatry have impacted our view of how people experience spirit and what that means in our modern social and cultural contexts.
One thing that madness certainly does is break the rules and test the boundaries. Our Western traditions of catechism and compliance are punishing of those who break the rules (see Bruce Levine’s essays on anti-authoritarianism and schizophrenia https://www.madinamerica.com/author/blevine/) and the reactions to expressions of questioning and/or defiance are not responded to with kindness, tolerance, or sensitivity to the fact that, as humans, tend to question what we have difficulty believing and that, psychologically, we experience distress when we encounter value conflicts and things we don’t understand.
Dr. Kehoe did bring up a very interesting point, which is reflected in the Sinnott research/theory cited above, that the way we conceive of God – our thinking about what God is and the power dynamics that we define those relationships by (e.g. God is kind, loving and forgiving, God is something to fear, God is punishing, you have to prove yourself to God, etc.) – are based in our early exposure to ideas about God and to our (this gets a little Freudian) relationships with people in our lives that share the attributes we assign to God. The punishing father, the punishing God, etc. etc.
I think one of the most important things that I have realized over the past couple of years is that people do not end up flagrantly psychotic and hopping into strangers cars to prove something to God, or jumping off of buildings, or standing on the street corner hollering at people to listen…if they are listened to when their questions arise and if they are responded to kindly, with understanding and acceptance.
For me, it took months of criticism, dismissal and cruelty in response to my questioning for me to end up alone on my porch, believing I was both forsaken and chosen.
It is not as if I didn’t reach out. I did. I called churches, I sent messages (which as time went on became increasingly strange) and nobody would listen, nobody would help. The Catholics said I could sign up for a class to learn how to be a Catholic, the synagogue said, “Well, that’s all very interesting.” The Baptists told me I was wasting the ministry’s time. My family would not even look at me. It was as if I weren’t allowed to wonder why I felt God in the world in ways I hadn’t before, like I couldn’t do that, like it wasn’t for me to have anything like a spiritual experience. It made them “uncomfortable.”
I think it is pretty common for people to end up psychotic when they need help and they need support and, in their seeking to meet their needs, they are treated cruelly. That, in and of itself, presents a huge challenge to spirituality and, for me, was pretty wounding to my faith in humanity, which certainly contributed to an escalated madness, putting me at odds with my own humanity.
There are some big links between trauma, psychosocial stressors, fear and the manifestation of messy, confused and unbridled madness. If there were safe places for people to ask questions, to sort through their thinking, to suss out their feelings and what they might mean, I doubt that the ER would see quite so many folks ranting and raving in split infinitives about persecution.
I need to do some research and find out more about peer support practices that are specific to psychosis and spirituality…because it is important.
Hope you enjoy the day…and thanks again.
Addendum, re: this statement:
“I think one of the most important things that I have realized over the past couple of years is that people do not end up flagrantly psychotic and hopping into strangers cars to prove something to God, or jumping off of buildings, or standing on the street corner hollering at people to listen…if they are listened to when their questions arise and if they are responded to kindly, with understanding and acceptance.”
Actually, people experience madness in all sorts of ways, with all sorts of trajectories and manifestations…and, depending on a lot of different variables, people could be faced with some pretty heavy madness “out of nowhere” – so, I retract the above statement, as it is too generalist. I do think that, regardless of how it manifests, madness needs to be responded to with kindness and, as Mike Cornwall phrases it, “loving receptivity.”
Also, I think that madness is a necessary process for some folks, something they must go through as part of their development, their healing, their resolution, etc.
…and sometimes “madness” isn’t mad at all.
Seth Farber really hit the nail on the head when he wrote UNHOLY MADNESS. The church has let humanity down. It has let God down. I had a bishop respond to an email I sent, telling me I needed a psychiatrist! It only confirmed to me that, yes, the Russian church was on a grim path. Grace was leaving. A lack of humility grieves the HS.
It is a terrible silence when you reach out to a clergyman and there is no response. I am so sorry that happened to . I remember when I did jump off a building to follow Christ, before I did I went to a church. The doors were locked. That deeply offended me, wounded me. As I said, I ended up jumping off a building, five stories.
I rejected the Haldol. A psychiatrist came to me when there was an empty bed on the unit. I begged him not to transfer me. I wanted to find out about God. I was talking to the nuns, a pastor.
I friend was in the room. He interrupted in very loud, strong tones, speaking fluent Italian. The psychiatrist was Italian. My friend had studied in Rome. The doctor left and never came back. I have no idea what he said. I was just so grateful the doomsday machine went away.
I wish I lived in a convent where I could go talk about my thoughts everyday with the abbess. To me that’s the only sane place to be.
May God help us.
Thanks for your acknowledgment, Maxima, of how hurtful it can be to seek help and to find locked doors or cruel dismissal. It stung the first couple of times, but then I started thinking about why people wouldn’t speak with me and about what the implications were…and the irony was fascinating to me.
By the time I called the Billy Graham hotline, I was actively experimenting: “What would they say if someone from nowhere claimed to have a message from God?”
I am actually glad that nobody listened, that nobody explained…because being a voice in the wilderness was a very important thing for me to have gone through.
Thanks, Faith, for your wise words. My reading is that you have come to see that people with experiences like yours, and with encounters with psychiatry such as you have had, can and maybe need to commit to the path their experiences open for them. And that others who have done likewise may be able to help them do so, in a context radically different than what the medical model offers. I know David Lukoff’s work a bit, and can see parallels.
I will pass on to friends here who in different ways will I am sure value your article.
Thanks, Steve – I appreciate your appreciation! Lukoff’s work, among others, speaks volumes about how vitally transformative experiences that are deemed “psychotic” can be if they are seen from a more compassionate perspective.
Biopsychiatric explanations of spiritual psychosis really strip down the whole experienc. That’s a shame, because humanistic views of madness are soooooo much more interesting and hopeful than anything psychiatry may have to say on the subject.
Enjoy the weekend and Spring renewal!
Thank you for Lukoff!! Wonderful!
I started reading and realized by the time I read the comments I don’t have time now to coherently respond to Faith and others. But it will be too late by the time I do. So I’ll just make a few hasty distinctions and quote from another master on the topic.
The distinction I want to make is between spirituality as subversive and spirituality as conservative.
I’ll omit discussing
reactionary religious expression like Pat Robertson. Or milder variants like Billy Graham–I did not know Faith had called him also. So by conservative I mean the Marxist “opium of the people,” I mean consolation. The mental death system can integrate the latter of course. It seeks its assistance––it does not call anything essential into question. Often this conservative spirituality is Constantinian–it supports tacitly or explicitly the State, its killing machine, its priesthood which blesses the military and the status quo. Jesus of course was revolutionary which was why the Roman State and Jewish religious establishment was threatened by him. He was creatively maladjusted and he promised to realize the messianic aspirations of those who cherished their divine dreams–their messianic,often mad and shamelessly grandiose visions.
(I don’t have time to preempt misinterpretations of my use of the term messianic, which I have repeatedly done elsewhere.)
I have been arguing in my writings that mad spirituality is subversive, although mad people or “post- psychotics” (to borrow Faith’s term) often (I discovered) seek to distance themselves later from their mad visions, just as older people often seeks to distance themselves from the dreams that smoldered during their days of youthful revolt. I agree whole-heartedly with Maxima-–I just want to make a minor qualification which she might accept. Psychiatrists do not label subversive spirituality as “madness.” That term has not been coopted which is one reason why I promote it. They label it “mental illness.”
Faith and Maxima gave examples of subversive spirituality wich Faith called the voice in the wilderness––but of course unless these individual acts become collective mass action the Constantinian establishments will destroy the earth–I mean literally as eg Obama will soon give permission to build the Keystone pipeline. The alternative entails the collective affirmation and realization of the messianic Imaginary.
Here are a few stanzas of a modern mad pride classic–I leave it to the next person to name the author etc– which is rarely recognized as such. The punctuation disappeared when I copied it, and I did not have time to fix it, or to remove the hyphens:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated, who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkan- sas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war, who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull, who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall, who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York, who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls, incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo- tionless world of Time between, Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunk- enness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind, who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo, – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15308#sthash.V3Rb1jMo.dpuf
That is subversive spirituality–the kind one can find among the mad. Most of you will know the author. And Part 3
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Chil- dren screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks! Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Mo- loch! Moloch the heavy judger of men! Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jail- house and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judg- ment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned govern- ments! Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb! – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15308#sthash.V3Rb1jMo.dpuf
Seth Farber, Ph.D.
Good ol’ Ginsberg…
Thanks, Seth. Yeah…I get it. However, I have found getting myself into an apoplectic frenzy over the state of the world tends to undermine my energy toward working on solutions and, further, causes me to communicate my ideas in ways that are inaccessible to people who are not yet attuned to the reality of the world and to their innate human responsibility to try to participate in the world in ways that support creation and human potential.
The “create your own reality” folks say that what we envision in the world becomes real…so, I try to picture everything working out alright and to put my energy, where I am able, toward ends that support what I want to happen, rather than focusing my energy on what I dread.
As an aside, a bunch of “post-psychotics” (a term I am rethinking, for many reasons) are having a multimedia art show on “Mental Health, Sanity, and Liberation” on the 5th…which is the anniversary of Ginsberg’s death. Should be a good night.
Enjoy the day…
I’m in no position to advice you considering the complexity of your life as you’ve described it here—I’m not commenting on you personally. I was commenting on references you made, or points that seemed to be raised by your statement.I was speaking in general terms/
More generally of course I agree with “creating your own reality,” WHEN INTERPRETED WISELY. I believe in envisioning a positive resolution to the current debacle.
Remember I advocate spiritually informed political activism– messianic activism– not cynicism, not fatalism. But a spiritual worldview is spurious if it avoids facing the catastrophic nature of the human plight at present. I contend messianism is the only alternative to a world in which the ruling elite is accelerating our rush toward doomsday.
Again that may be unwise for YOU to contemplate. You have 2 kids, you live in an impoverished rural area– But imagine a church or spiritual organization that avoided global warming because it was so grim. Or that insisted that Psychiatry was helping humanity–that’s pretty much the norm. You could not possibly sanction such an organization.
You described your personal life recently in one of your comments in terms that shocked me. Where was it? Oh yes on the Icarus Project FB page recently. A lot of that was completely new to me. It clarified
why you found that some conventional mental health people were helpful to you in the past. I have never lived in a poor rural environment like you described.
So I understand– to accomplish as much as you do locally you have to tune out the fact that US sends drones everyday to Afghanistan that kill innocent children–collateral damage in the “war against terrorism”–, and that Obama’s policies, including the NDAA, eliminates due process (our right as citizens to a trial), and that Obama is going to approve the pipeline that will be an environmental catastrophe. And that 18 US vets commit suicide every day–many due to SSRIs no doubt. You have no need to focus on that. (Although you may need to be aware of the DSM5
and that screening programs in schools in the future will place more children on drugs etc.)
What I describe is one side of the picture. The other is God’s will for salvation, for the kingdom
of heaven on earth.
Any viable religious or spiritual worldview or organization has to take into account what I refer to above. How could you take it seriously otherwise?
This was my point. That doesn’t contradict “create your own reality” but it complicates it.
In your own life I imagine there are analogues of the above.
For example, the facts above are symptoms politically of the rule by the one %, and metaphysically of the reign of Ignorance. They are mere symptoms of political and onto-theological realities.(Some people would call it evil, not “Ignorance”—but I deliberately capitalized ignorance.)
Those forces want to use spirituality in such a way that it does not threaten the status quo. For example NAMI might want to combine spirituality with a screening program for pediatric bipolar. In that case the distinction between subversive spirituality and conformist spirituality might apply to your situation.
I was not advising you to add to your burden by dwelling upon global warming etc.
On the other hand I do think if you are going to write about “spirituality” you are addressing general questions and even if it does not apply to your day to day situations the distinction is relevant. Both you and Maxima have given examples of this in your own lives.
PS I meant to write post-“psychotics”–I don’t know why you object.
Hi Seth – I just want to take a minute to clarify a couple of things.
I don’t live in an impoverished rural area. I live a 1/2 mile from the downtown of a small liberal southern city. I work two counties away, in a semi-rural area, in a setting that serves many people who live outside of town, in impoverished rural areas.
I am not going to bother going into detail with a critique of your vision for a messianic movement of mad people…as I have voiced my concerns re: the viability and efficacy of that suggestion elsewhere. The core of it is a beautiful vision, but operationally is fraught with complications.
I don’t disagree with your use of the term “post-psychotic” – I only suggested that I am rethinking my own use of that term, as I wonder about the use of the term “psychosis” in general.
Thanks and hope your day is good.
I’m sorry my memory about your situation was fuzzy–my formulation was careless. I knew your own situation was fortunate compared to your clients.
You write,”I wonder about the use of the term ‘psychosis’ in general.” You evidently overlooked the fact that I said I meant to write post- “psychotic.” Thomas Szasz wrote the Foreword to my first book in 1993. I have not changed my position since 1987.
I did not say anything specifically above about a messianic movement of mad people. I spoke more generally.
OK there are spiritual organizations that are not messianic that have value, although I would argue they are inadequate to the needs of the time.
However I don’t think a spiritual organization or worldview is of any value
if it not based on the awareness that currently the world politically is under the rule by a dangerous elite—the proverbial 1% —and metaphysically it is under of the reign of Ignorance. Or ignorance or evil etc. This situation is a fact–one salient manifestation of this is the growing psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex.
But even if you don’t focus on the grim realities that result from this reign of ignorance (I repeat that I am not saying you should) does not mean that one can have a mature spirituality that is NOT based on an awareness of this. I contend that one cannot.
I am pleased that you left room for atheists in your discussion of spirituality when you said:
“…spirituality…has been expanded to refer in a more subjective way and general sense to quality of life as defined by interconnectedness, sense of purpose, and meaningful self-worth…”
I am sure there are many people who read MIA who believe that religion can be harmful to people by promoting superstition, the shame of “orginal sin” , historically defending an oppressive status quo, upholding patriachy, homophobia, and oppressive concepts of madness (Demonic possession)etc.
I am among those that believe that religion falls infinitely short of being able to define and set a true moral compass for humaity, and falls infinitely short of appreciating and exploring the true wonders and mysteries of the universe.
Faith I found great interest in reading about your spiritual journey.
Thanks, Richard – The journey continues! I have really enjoyed thinking about what atheism means to people. It seems that, like any of the other words we use to describe our understanding of spirit and self/world/universe relations, it can vary greatly in subjective meaning…from not believing in religion, to not believing that we are anything beyond our bones and blood, that there is nothing mysterious in the world.
I appreciate that you seem to identify that it is thoroughly possible, within an atheistic perspective, to still have a meaningful and personal relationship with “the true wonders and mysteries of the universe.”
When I use the word “God,” I am not referring to the God of any particular set of beliefs…but, as I understand it, the workings between our hearts, the instinct and myths that we carry as part of our species, and the stardust that links us to what might be the most simple truths about what is good in the world and within us.
For me, it is important that people find their own ways to make sense of what helps them to feel hopeful and to believe in the good of possibility, what brings love into their hearts…whether that is metaphysic mysticism, traditional practices of faith, or – in my own practice – the patterns of creation and destruction in nature, an appreciation for our capacity to heal and find beauty, to feel deeply our small place in the world and to find value and purpose in our lives, and to recognize value and potential in others.
“to recognize the value and potential in others.” <- this is another point of conflict that I see in psychiatry's approach to the human condition. In my view, people who – through their sets of beliefs – cannot see or appreciate the beauty of story, process, and experience may be compromising their own spiritual integrity.
Enjoy the day!
Oh, this. “How might their stories have been different if they’d had someone to talk with, someone to listen to them, to support them in figuring out what their thoughts and feelings meant to them in relation to what was in their hearts?”
My 14-year-old son has been having hallucinations since he was 11. The doctors say schiz, but that was difficult to believe when he was quoting things out of the book of Revelation at a time when we did not attend church.
So I’ve looked for guidance. I’ve looked to counselors, pastors and friends. There really isn’t much out there. People don’t believe there is a reality to the hallucinations, or, if they do believe, they are frightened or feel at a loss as to what to do. We’ve been very fortunate that one of my friends has an open mind so that he has someone besides myself to talk to about his experiences without having a label tacked on him.
Thank you for your thoughts on this issue.
Thank you SO MUCH for sharing a little about your son’s story. He is blessed (in every since of the term) that he has you for a mother and that you are willing to see something other than sickness in his experience.
It is good that he has someone to talk with…and there are many more people out there. It can be hard, at that age, to have experiences that seem to set one apart. He is not alone. The percentage of people who have experiences such as his may seem small…but, it adds up to thousands and thousands and thousands.
I often wonder about the distinct possibility that some people are sensitive to whatever forces give us a sense of “God” – by any name. It seems some folks are prone to pick up on language, stories and themes, they resonate with us and we see some sense in them, feel it in ways that are deeply personal and very real. To me, it makes sense that our species would include individuals who are sensitive to the numinous workings of the world. In other cultures, and even in this one – to some extent, it is recognized that some people are prone to deep spirit. Here, however, there is very little context for such things outside of traditions re: child preachers in southern revivalist churches, young ‘uns who “have the spirit” per, etc. – and they are expected to experience and express spirituality in certain ways that align with the religious cultures of their families and community.
I consider it to be one of the great tragedies of modern societies that out-of-bounds experiences of spirit often have no home, they are not honored nor legitimated…instead, they are pathologized, dismissed, and (often through “treatment”) disabled.
It is one of my hopes that young people who feel the world deeply will have the chance to understand what it is that they go through, and why, and that they will have the opportunity to learn what they need to learn of themselves in order to make good use of the power within their hearts.
I suppose that is point for any of us…to have the chance to learn who we are, to explore what we think and feel, and to make sense of our lives and experiences in a way that works for us and supports us being in the world as our strongest and most true selves.
Stay brave and keep trusting your heart!
Seth, madness is a great term. I agree. Just the whole notion of a group of professionals that put themselves in place to make judgements about who is mentally ill is the pinocle of the mind trips we do to each other every day. Every day people don’t listen to each other, people judge the content of another’s speech. People exclude. People stereotype. People exclude. And if you happen to have been diagnosed by the experts, these Nazi forces that would kill the weak for the survival of the fittest are unleashed to the point that the victimized to the point of going off the edge. I get angry now, instead of psychotic and walk away. It seems like everyone is a psychiatrist now a days except for those who really work at, those who are truly humane, those who are not afraid, those who celebrate diversity. I think I’ll go to Breggin’s empathy Conference. I’d like to be around people that are intensely struggling with how to live em pathetically. I’m turning into a monster sometimes in my present milieu. The Nazi is in me! I don’t like this kind of madness.
How did you manage to remove that?
I did not disagree with you–just that they call it “mental illness” not madness.
Breggin’s group used to be Freudian analysts who did not believe in drugs–except for his star speakers who were more diverse. I don’t think they were–I doubt that many of them now will be people who are “intensely struggling with how to live em pathetically.”
Breggin is boring when he talks about human psychology–and his tendency to extol psychotherapy as panacea for all human ills is silly. It’s like a commercial. If you feel a need to be around people who will be nice to you, it might be good place to go. (But you might want to be cautious about Peter!)Or for more critiques of the drugs. Anyway you are not going to find people who “intensely struggling” with anything there. There may be a good reason for you to go, but that’s not one of them. SF
Seth I hear what you’re saying about the Freudian viewpoint but think it isn’t helpful to be patronising in comments, as in “be nice to you”. As for finding people who are “intensely struggling” well who knows what’s really going in on the lives of folk who attend these type of conferences?
I was not be patronizing–not to Maxima anyway. I’ve talked with her many times before. I was trying to warn her not to expect too much. My impression from her wording is that she was looking for something intense as she said.
I don’t what really going on IN the lives of those people. But I’ve been to conferences like that and I know that it’s highly improbable she’ll find that kind of intensity. I think I said-_I can’t find it on this pge–that two or three of the presenters may be more intensely challenging–but they are usually least accessible. Maybe you don’t realize but I was a psychologist, I went to a few conferences of innovative therapists in the 1980s, and in the 1990s I knew the people in Breggin’s organization–they were not innovators like Breggin. It might have changed but I doubt it.The typical conference of psychiatric survivor activists was far more interesting. most therapists are dull people.
Sorry to inform you.
Thanks Faith, great post! As you know, Michael Cornwall and I are doing a free, 6 hour seminar with CEUs on the intersection of spirituality and “psychosis” in Santa Cruz CA on 4/9/13. A few details are at http://eepurl.com/xujpv Too bad you live too far away, it would be great to have you there!
Yeah, I wish I could go! Thanks for sharing some info. on the offering. I hope the seminar goes fabulously and is well-attended by the folks who may most need to hear the perspectives you’ll be presenting.
Thanks for being out there, fighting the good fight with kindness and compassion. It’s heartening to know that so many folks are, in different ways, working towards a potential tipping point in practice and ideas: blog posts here, seminars there, a class, a letter and a few conversations, some scattered *a-ha* moments…it all adds up.
If you or Michael get a chance, I’d love to hear how the seminar goes. Please keep us posted and thanks again!
There are lots of great thoughts here. As I read them, I think it is important to keep in mind that we use various words or names when the map is not the territory and words are often symbols for things that are difficult to put into words. As the Buddha pointed out, the finger pointing to the moon is not the moon while certain spiritual/religious beliefs are only a raft meant to bring us to the other shore and not the destination.
I found the article below very helpful and enlightening about critiques of different religions and their adherents:
As C.S. Lewis pointed out, if you are going to criticize a religion like Christianity, you have to know enough about it so that you really are criticizing the actual religion rather than your own erroneous ideas about it due to lack of adequate research, experience, knowledge, etc. He also explains how words like “gentleman” and “Christian” can become useless when changed from their original meaning to some vague compliment of being a polite or good person rather than their very narrow meaning.
Also, as the article points out, members of any so called religion or belief system are so diverse in their beliefs and actions, one cannot lump the entire group into a narrow label or description as seems to happen all too often especially when focusing on the supposed negatives of it. Sounds all too close to biopsychiatry lumping a diverse group of people together with insulting, life destroying stigmas. Also, individuals or mobs engage in witch hunts and Inquisitions in the guise of spirituality, science or other fine sounding names like “humanism” when they are very inhuman(e). The Catholic Church moved beyond these long ago since it is a living institution and constantly changing like its diverse members and former members.
There is a great book, ARISTOTLE’S CHILDREN, that shows how the Catholic Church rescued the world from the Dark Ages of the Middle Ages by finding the buried works of Aristotle through their association with Islam and Jews in the 12th century and studied and published them, which helped bring on the Enlightenment ultimately often used against the Church and reason.
I think our world has come to worship the false idol of what we call science that just like religion can be a vehicle for good or evil in the right or wrong hands. I think the evil and perversion perpetrated by so called science have far exceeded those of the church since each has been perverted to perpetrate horrific crimes against humanity. But, the power of science like the atomic bomb makes the Church’s crimes appear pretty paltry in comparison. But, so called technical or scientific language can be great when promoting doublespeak to justify the most horrible deeds in the guise of help, medicine, science so it hides in plain sight, making the Church more accountable than science. I am all for scientific progress as is the Catholic Church and the Dalai Lama, but not the evil perpetrated in the name of science. Obviously, reason, spirituality and ethics must be combined with science for any progress, sanity, justice or decency to prevail.
Plus, in my opinion, various religious/spiritual myths/metaphors/realities depending on one’s unique interpretation are far more interesting and useful than various so called science articles of theories about neurotransmittors in lengthy detail or going back and forth about the various doses of poisons that should be forced on people are certainly no better than ideas about whether exorcisms should be done to cast out devils. Perhaps the placebo effect of faith involved in the latter might heal the so called patient (scapegoat) while death of body and soul is certain from the life destroying stigma/poison drug approach.
Critics found that the problem of Milton’s PARADISE LOST is that the devil became the star or main character because he was the most interesting!
I recall an important lesson I learned in art appreciation class. We saw a painting of a chicken done by Picasso that was really bizarre like much of his work (in my opinion), but you could certainly tell the painting was of a chicken. Then, we were shown another picture of a chicken done by Picasso that was done perfectly with ever detail of a real chicken exactly drawn.
This was an important lesson for me in that in order for Picasso to reinterpret a chicken into his own artistic vision, he had to know how to draw the real thing perfectly, so that he could deviate from it to produce his artistic vision of it.
So, in my opinion, this analogy carries over into other things and is especially applicable when it comes to criticizing various religious/spiritual or other world views. Just using the Catholic Church as an example as with the article above, first, you have all the official doctrine, dogma, tradition and practice of the church. Then, as this article also points out, there are many people who call themselves Catholics who have very diverse beliefs since the author points out that Vatican II stressed one’s conscience as an important, valid guide from a subjective standpoint while it may be objectively wrong given the Church’s teachings. I sure can see the challenge here when one considers the huge problems and evils that can occur when guided only by moral relativism with consequences many people don’t understand or wouldn’t accept if they fully understood the concept. One has to be pretty advanced intellectually, morally and spiritually to be discerning enough to distinguish the wheat from the chaff regarding anything including religion, spirituality and science.
Anyway, I like Aldous Huxley’s approach of trying to find kernels of truth in all major religions/spiritual paths for that perennial philosophy or wisdom in his book of that title. It’s like Joseph Campbell’s work on myth and the hero’s journey throughout literature and spiritual paths.
I still find it offensive to have such advanced, enlightened spiritual/wisdom guides as Jesus or the Buddha labeled as “mad” or other mental death pejorative terms. I know many would disagree with me, but given the increasing fascist police state with regard to the vile, bogus term, “mental illness,” otherwise known as crazy, mad, insane and other insult terms, I think that promoting any of these is very harmful to individuals and the Survivor movement trying to expose the horrible practice of labeling people with degrading stigmas or what amounts to childish adult name calling or degradation/humiliation rituals
I agree that Seth Farber has exposed some major problems in the Catholic Church and others as well as the “mental death system” he has done a great deal to expose too. But, authors like Elaine Pagels in her great books like BEYOND BELIEF and others on gnostic and other writings show that the original Jesus movements were so diverse that if the original Church had not gathered and preserved the ideas and history of the original movement, it probably would have been lost, which she thinks would have been tragic. The same is true for those who wisely preserved the “heretical” gnostic writings of the time when the mainstream Church sold out to Constantine as Seth exposes. Pagels acknowledges that having the Church available to her when her child died meant a great deal to her and though she couldn’t swallow all the dogma of her Church, the spiritual experience was very life enhancing. The truth is that we can always point the finger out to the other out there as the source of any evil, but the most important change needs to take place in ourselves on an individual basis since everyone contributes to our collective violence with thoughts, words and deeds. Eckhart Tolle helps to cut through the dogma to the original wisdom of Jesus and other advanced sages in his great book, THE POWER OF NOW and why all of us need to be on a path to enlightenment, wisdom over ignorance, consciousness over unconsciousness, etc. The Dalai Lama keeps calling for ethics standards of compassion beyond religion with increasing emphasis as individual religions keep confusing their role as the territory rather than one map or route to guide certain people to the same spiritual life force and wisdom. It appears from the response to such books as THE POWER OF NOW and A NEW EARTH, there is a huge spiritual thirst out there that might even be called a “spiritual emergency.” But, I think it is all too normal given the perennial myth making of humans to try to understand and convey spiritual truths that are beyond words in that a myth is something true on the inside, but not necessarily factually true on the outside. Thus, to stigmatize such a thirst for spiritual wisdom and enlightenment as crazy as just as bad as labeling any human tendency crazy.
Seth, Why do you keep picking on Dr. Peter Breggin? I think you both contributed a great deal to the Survivor movement in your own own unique ways, so I found both of you valuable to my own education through ScrewU, my most important, useful “degree!” If one has to be a perfect person to be a hero of the Psychiatric Survivor Movement, few would qualifty. I think Dr. Breggin has a very useful guideline for those claiming to be part of this movement when he says first and foremost, “NO LOBOTOMY”… whether chemical, electrical, surgical or other mind control/destroying dirty tricks he has constantly exposed throughout his distinguished career. And don’t knock the value of someone “being nice to you.” Given what T.S. Eliot calls “The Waste Land” and “The Hollow Men” not to mention “Richard Cory,” it’s a rare pleasant surprise these days in our isolating, alienating culture to find people “being nice” to each other. As with anything, what matters is if it is sincere or not since psychopaths are well known for being very charismatic and deceptively charming as they ferret out your weak points to exploit and destroy you.
These are just thoughts I have had while reading some of the other posts about this great article by Faith. I know it could benefit from more proofreading, but I’ll just be tempted to add something else needing to be proofread in a neverending vicious circle, so, “Take want you need/want and leave the rest.”
I agree with most of what you say here.
I want to say (3 weeks ago someone here accused e of being anti-Catholic) I do not focus my critique on the Catholic Church.I was critical of all Christian churches including Orthodox Church which I was in then. I had one book on Christianity and psychiatry but the larger publisher censored so much of Unholy Madness: The Church’s Surrender to Psychiatry that I had enough material for a second book. (He censored the criticisms of Luther and Calvin.)So I wrote a second book with a different focus. My argument was aimed at all Christians. Unholy Madness was based on my reading of Mennonite theologians. Thus I argued that the church’s practice of sending troubled person to secular (Usually atheistic) counselors of the Mental Health (usually Freudian, in those days) faith was a manifestation of the “Constantinian compromise” made by the Church in 4th century. They all do it.
Peter Bregin did not like that argument–although he fulfilled his promise and gave me a blurb for that book.
I was arguing the Church should stop sending patients to psychiatrists and therapists etc I got Peter on TV with me –on Crossfire on NET in 1999.We were on the same team.
He rebuked me for being too far outside the mainstream. He thought he was in the mainstream. I did not follow his advice—to be more mainstream–so he stopped communicating with me. For my part as I said I disagree with his view that therapy is the panacea for all the world’s problems. Although I don’t know if Peter thinks there ARE any problems OTHER than bio-psychiatry.
When I met Breggin in the early 1990s he was a leftist.
He was a hero of mine also–I loved his Psychiatric DRugs” Hazards to the Brain. I collaborated with him on exposing the Violence Initiative. He gave speeches in a Maoist bookstore here in NY. It was a diverse crowd bit it was sponsored by Maoists.
Since I wasn’t paying attention to anti-psychiatry at all between 2001-7, I’m not sure when Peter changed.WAs it 9/11? Was it before he became a buddy of Michael Savage?. Savage is a nasty right-wing talk show host, somewhat to the right of Rush Limbaugh. Peter became a regular weekly guest on his show. Peter’s organization was splintered and a major argument and reciprocal lawsuits ensued when Breggin in response to a question by Savage said the left was “mentally ill.” I’m told Peter used that term, but I only saw the transcript Peter posted on his website.
As soon as eter said that the acting director of Breggin’s organization put up a note online that said
“Center for Study of Psychiatry is not responsible for the comments made by Dr Breggin on Michael Savage show.”
Breggin blew up.
In that transcript of the show Breggin agrees leftists have a “mental disorder,” that makes them afraid of being an American–“Ameriphobia” Breggin called it. He wrote a book at that time calld Wow! I’m an American. I bought it to see what it was like.Ugh. Gary Null rescued Breggin and put Peter on Progressive Radio Network.THank God Peter does not talk about politics anymore.
I say that because although you say I “pick on him” I quote Breggin all the time–on psychiatric drugs. He’s the only well known psychiatrist who takes a strong stand against the drugs.(If he was still making right-wing statements it would undermine his credibility.) Although I may make sarcastic remarks HERE I don’t in more public venues–books or essays.
He probably is right–for him taking a more mainstream position on psychotherapy enables him to reach more people. But there no reason I should take those views. It’s ironic. Peter was THomas Szasz student and disciple in the 60s and 70s (although Peter was leftist politically unlike Szasz). Szasz stopped talking to Breggin because he felt Breggin deviated from Szasz’s teaching. I don’t know what they are. Breggin supported banning ECT (as I do). Szasz as a staunch Libertrian opposes State interference with consensual transactions between adults–including ECT. So whenever I tell people to get off psych drugs–which I always do–I mention Breggin, and I tell peole to read Toxic Psychiatry. In my opinion Szasz Laing and Breggin and Whitaker should be read by everyone who has ever had anything to do with “mental health” system.
I wrote above: “Szasz stopped talking to Breggin because he felt Breggin deviated from Szasz’s teaching. I don’t know what they are. ” I know Szasz’s teachings. I mean I don’t know exactly where Peter deviated. I can only guess.
I do know that Szasz strongly disagreed much later with Breggin involvement in lawsuits against drug companies. He thinks Breggin denies that the individual has free will.
I addressed your comments in a post below. I’m sad you bring up these criticisms of Dr. Breggin’s supposed past when you were in disagreement and routinely criticize him and various blogs. But, his so called mistakes or excesses that may be in the far past, pale in comparison to his huge contribution to humanity by providing life saving information beginning with works like TOXIC PSYCHIATRY as he continues today.
Dr. Breggin’s foibles pale in comparison when you consider he exposed a supposed member of the Survivor’s Movement as pushing ECT in a stealth like fashion. As I have said elsewhere, whenever some new life destroying torture treatments or lies are perpetrated by biopsychiatry, Dr. Breggin has been there to write articles and books, blow the whistle, appear before Congress or on TV and radio, and whatever else it takes to warn people of the latest dangers that I am sure has come at great cost to him, both personal and financial. Yet, I don’t think he has to be a literal SAINT when he so generously shares his knowledge and wisdom to warn potential victims of the fascist dangers out there.
I love Emerson’s quotation, “Your actions shout so loudly at me I can’t hear your words.”
This is especially true when you compare Dr. Breggin with his mainstream critics.
Anyway, I am glad you give Dr. Breggin credit for his great work on exposing toxic psych drugs and his books like TOXIC PSYCHIATRY. Since we have so few credible psychiatrists/doctors willing to fight this evil menace to the world, I think you are doing everyone a disservice by tearing Dr. Breggin down. Even if his therapy isn’t the be all and end all, I feel pretty confident it would “first, do no harm” and at least rescue some people from becoming victims of biopsychiatry.
As I told you, I learned a lot from you too. Last night, I was exploring your books on Amazon and articles on your web site. One article I read really nailed it about the horrors of biospychiatry and I was very impressed. I used to own most of your books, but I donated a lot of my books due to lack of space some time ago. I may get some of them again since I am interested in your religious path and views. I, too, am furious that the Church sold out to psychiatry, but they themselves were almost destroyed with the pedophile scandals and psychiatry’s so called bogus treatments and lies that guided the Church’s policies for many years.
I’d like to hear more of your spiritual journey as someone who grew up in the Catholic Church. I’m not currently involved in attending mass and other rituals and remain uncertain about my future spiritual path. I consider myself on a spiritual quest/struggle, so I am interested in a wide variety of sources including spiritual giants past and present. Many of these people like William Law came out of the Catholic Church. But, I also admire the Buddha and the Dalai Lama and other spiritual views and paths.
What do you think of Ma
Matthew Fox and his COMING OF THE COSMIC CHRIST?
Do you still consider yourself a Christian? Are you involved in any religion now? I realize you may not wish to share this, but if you do, I would be very interested.
Thanks for your response. I agree with a lot of what you say too.
[[misrepresentations of others removed]]
If you want to know about any of those books Donna you can write: [email protected]
Although I’ll be brief because I’m running low on time. sf
Donna Oh now I see. You’re saying YOU grew up in the Catholic Church. Of course.
One of the best books on the corruption of the Church in 4th century is Elaine Pagels whom you cited. Adam Eve and the Serpent.
She lost a son, you say. What a life. The poor woman lost a husband too. He must have been in his 40s-_Heinz Pagels, the physicist.In an accident SF
Thanks for sharing your own experience and spiritual path in the churches of psychiatry and Christianity.
I haven’t been sleeping much due to various reasons, so I wanted to think about what you wrote before responding. I find as I get older that books/articles I read when I was younger take on a whole new meaning for me when I read them now.
Seth, please lighten up. I’m glad you caught on that it was me growing up Catholic, so I wouldn’t have to explain it when you seemed so riled up about it. You seemed somewhat offended and implied I must be stupid to think you had grown up Catholic when you thought I meant you in that sentence.
And your riling up Maxima about Dr. Breggin while accusing me of a “rant” that you “corrected” brings up very nasty recollections of an abusive, narcissistic man in my past, who accused me of “ranting” when this rageaholic screamed day in and day out and abused/used everyone in his nasty path while anything I or anyone else said at all was called a “rant.”
Here are some definitions of the word, “rant,”
I can see why certain people think that accusing fellow debaters of ranting when they present their opinions or feelings is a good thing to do to bully, silence, demean, gas light, humiliate and insult them. But, as a self educated verbal/emotional abuse expert, this no longer works on me! Because of things like this in my life, I also had a spiritual crisis a long time ago when I picked up on all the misogynist “church fathers” like Tertullian, Aquinas and many others saying things like, “Women are the gateway to hell.” “Women are only useful for procreation; otherwise, men make the best companions for men……URGH! Plus, was the issue ever resolved over whether women even have souls resolved? And those tailored in submission quotes and all those years of covering our heads thanks to the fake Pauline gospels! That’s why I also acquired an interest in modern biblical theology to try to cut through all the garbage. Do you wake up and thank God you aren’t a woman because you were born into a Jewish family? SIGH!
So, I started reading lots of feminist theology and literature by those like Rosemary Ruether in SEXISM AND GOD TALK and even Mary Daly in her books like BEYOND GOD THE FATHER, THE CHURCH AND THE SECOND SEX and many others. So, due to our unique issues with the church based on our sex and other differences, I imagine our paths would be very different. Can you relate? The problem is many feminists believe that the Church is so hopelessly sexist, it can’t be reformed, so I struggle with that and other oppressive issues regarding the Catholic and other Christian churches or religion in general since they are mostly created by men for men with men in power! This is probably why people like Eckhart Tolle are so popular now.
Anyway, getting back to your accusing me of ranting, is this a matter of the pot calling the silver kettle black? Please review all of our comments about Dr. Breggin and who said the most, got the most emotional, defensive, angry and insulting. I don’t think it was me.
I guess we aren’t on the same page in that I think if someone is/was a great asset to the Survivor movement, which includes Breggin, Szasz, Lieffer, Laing, Montcrieff, Jackson, Scott, you and a fairly limited number of others, I don’t think it helps our far more limited numbers, power and resources by attacking each other and airing our dirty laundry for the world to see as with families or other people sharing a purpose, cause, etc.
And as an insider and a leader in the movement, it seems to me that you have more of a responsibility in that area because airing others flaws brings you and the rest of us down too in my opinion.
I say that as a compliment too because you are very intelligent and have a great background in the mental health/death system past and present while your focus on Christianity/religion and spirituality makes you unique and quite valuable for those reasons. Dr. Breggin’s strengths have been exposing biopsychiatry in general, toxic drugs, DSM stigmas the dangers of the great BIG PHARMA sell out of psychiatry in the 1980’s, etc. Dr. Szasz was a genius in exposing psychiatry by tearing apart their abuse of language, thought and metaphors to rob people of their civil rights in the guise of mental health.
So, can’t you see that you are all important and necessary to the movement, past and present? Anyway, that’s my opinion.
I give you a great deal of credit for giving Dr. Breggin credit where you know he’s due even if you aren’t close now, but hopefully, you can see why I think it’s a bad idea to focus on personal disputes in a public arena when we have enough problems already. So, this isn’t about who is right or wrong.
I don’t think somebody practicing ECT is a member of the Survivor movement even if he attacks a very small portion of all the crimes psychiatry commits against people while advocating most of the worst crimes.
I will have to check out and think about things you have said in your latest posts to me before responding to them if you are still speaking to me because I’m exhausted.
Again, you seem to be a nice, decent, caring, very intelligent guy wanting to do the right thing and I agree with a lot of what you say as have others, so please relax and lighten up since you are so much more pleasant good company when you do.
Thanks again for your comments. Because I appreciate the time you spent on them, I want to give them my full attention when better rested, so I check out things you cite online, etc.
I’m responding to your more recent post below–I don’t know why there is no space under your more recent response–I haven’t figured this out yet.
I read Reuther. I never read Mary Daly. I was not raised in a Jewish ORTHODOX family. I think the Orthodox men still thank God they’re not women etc. My parents did not believe in God so I was never forced to go to services so I
didn’t. I wasn;t even bar-mitzvahed.
(The fact that my mother had not been in a synagogue for 50 yrs did not keep her–to my surprise–from bursting into tears when I mentioned I had joined the Eastern Christian Church.)
Other than Abraham Heschel–one of my favorite religious philosophers–I was not attracted Judaism. Although Jesus of course was among other things a Jewish prophet, and I was very attracted to certain strains of Christianity.Oh yes I also love the Jewish prayer book–the Siddhur. As I said the gratest influence on me was SRi Aurobindo. Hindus commonly worshipped God as Mother. Aurobindo in particular was attracted to Tantric tradition so his practice involved surrender to the Divine Mother, Shakti.
I was using “rant” tongue in cheek. If it was on my email I would have put a funny little face next to “rant” which is defined in your Dictionary as an “extravagant bombastic” speech. I don’t know that I meant that. I meant I thought you were over-reacting. This forum is in between public and private. I don’t think anything here even shows up in a google search. This is not “airing dirty laundry in public.” Anyone who has waded through all these comments is not going to stop reading Peter Breggin because I said he made bizarre right-wing comments in 2004-5. You said he has grown up since then. I think Breggin was about 70 at that time.
Obviously I’m conceding–as I did before–that there are people who are not in the anti-psychiatric movement and I would not want to discourage them from reading Breggin, and taking his work seriously.
But I also said above you are exaggerating. I told you that i often cite Breggin my writing. I also said I don’t think people in the movement should treat Peter like some kind of God.
So far I only got one serious review of my book,in The Journal of Mind and Behavior, and I was disappointed that the reviewer missed the main point of the book.However this is my point. He writes,”Farber repeatedly draws on the writings…of 3 trenchant critics of mainstream psychiatry.” They are Thomas Szasz, R D Laing and Peter Breggin>” The reviewer writes,
“These three heroes of Farber’s[sic] complement one another perfectly for his purpose.”
I quote the reviewer (a critic of psychiatry)because he sees Breggin as a hero of mine and you did not believe me when I told you in my books I use a different criterion than here. Although I have made clear in essays that unlike Breggin I do not think psychotherapy is the solution for all the world’s ills, and that in a humane world there would be NO therapists at all, a point obscured by Peter’s hyperbolic laudatory characterizations of good therapy. Therapy is no substitute for community, and it’s no substitute for redemption–for messianic transformation, for the divine life on earth. (Peter thinks it’s crazy or at least foolish for me to talk like that, but that’s his schtik.)
Oh it ended up below byour latest post. Anyway I forgot
PS TO REPEAT: I don’t defend Healy’s use and defense of ECT
But calling the use of psychiatric drugs
“a very small portion” of the crimes of Psychiatry is egregious. It is the main crime of psychiatry today. The use of drugs is what constitutes psychiatry. Reading a book that denounces SSRIs anbd that deconstructs the pseudo science that rationalizes these drugs and provides the government with the pretext for rubber stamping them (FDA approval) and forcing them on people is very important. Robert Whitaker aptly writes about Pharmageddon that it “serves as a powerful manifesto for rethinking modern medicine.” (The main focus is psychiatry–or rather the pseudo scientific procedures that legitimize it.)Andrew Scull wrote, “It is the most powerful critique of the.. medical-industrial complex that I know.” Jonah criticized my recommending Healy BUT then he also recommended an article
by Healy. Anyway I don’t think Jonah read Pharmageddon which outshines any of his other books. You can hang Healy for all i care but you’d be doing a disservice to humanity, to the antipsychiatric movement, if you don’t urge people to read his book. (It’s not a book for people who don’t like to read–and it’s tedious at times.)
\\…I don’t defend Healy’s use and defense of ECT But calling the use of psychiatric drugs “a very small portion” of the crimes of Psychiatry is egregious. It is the main crime of psychiatry today. The use of drugs is what constitutes psychiatry…//
You are way off there; and, you are misrepresenting me.
I’m sure that you are *not* being deliberately being misleading; however, I feel it’s important to clarify a few points, which you’ve made; so, I am doing so, as follows…
You write (on April 4, 2013 at 5:07 am):
“Jonah criticized my recommending Healy BUT then he also recommended an article
That’s simply untrue.
I have *never* recommended any article by Healy; on various occasions, in the midst of openly critiquing his work, I have provided links to his articles, which I was quoting. (That is to say, I gave links to his writing for the express purpose of being ‘scholarly’ – i.e., so that anyone could easily reference his writings, to double-check my writing, to be sure I was not misquoting him.)
Possibly, your confusion stems from having seen me highly recommend the following link:
If one follows that link, one will see it leads to an article by Chris Barton, of the New Zealand Herald.
It focuses upon the work of Richard Bentall.
At various points, I have explained, that: If could recommend only one online article, to all psychiatrists, it would be that one.
Yes, it does mention a study which was led by Healy.
His students were the subjects; Bentall was one of those students.
Of course, you can read the article for yourself, but, in a nutshell, I’ll point out, that: It begins by describing how Bentall learned, first hand, about the horrible the effects of so-called “antipsychotic medications” – how disturbing those effects can be.
Healy had his students take them, in an experiment designed to be double-blind (i.e., some of the students were given placebos, none of the observers were told which students).
The experiment flopped – because the effects of the drugs were far worse than anyone had expected them to be.
But, in any event, the article is about Bentall, not Healy. (Notably, Healy did not take the drugs; I don’t know if he ever has.)
Surely, that ‘failed’ experiment must have gone a long way toward convincing Healy, that neuroleptics are not all that Psychiatry and Big Pharma generally claim.
I have pointed out, that Healy does a fair job of warning about the *dysphoric* effects of neuroleptics (those so-called “antipsychotic medications”), but that’s as far as I have ever gone, in praising Healy.
You write, “Anyway I don’t think Jonah read Pharmageddon which outshines any of his other books. You can hang Healy for all i care but you’d be doing a disservice to humanity, to the antipsychiatric movement, if you don’t urge people to read his book. (It’s not a book for people who don’t like to read–and it’s tedious at times.)”
Frankly, Seth, I’ll not recommend anyone read anything that I have not read first, and you’re right, I haven’t read ‘Pharmageddon’ – only because I was literally nauseated by Healy’s earlier work, ‘Shock Therapy: The History of Electroconvulsive Treatment in Mental Illness.’
It’s purely a con job, promoting ECT.
I mean: it’s the *worst* kind of history – because it denies all the worst effect of ECT. It’s a history funded by the usurpers (classic psychiatric imperialists, clothed as ‘careful’ observers of their field).
Oh, and I should point out (for whoever may not realize this): Richard Bentall disagrees entirely with Healy, on the matter of ECT (‘electroconvulsive therapy’).
In an earlier comment (on April 3, 2013 at 6:38 am), you say:
\\…David Healy was not pushing ECT in “stealth fashion.” Breggin did not unearth a spy in our midst. Writing a book praising ECT is not clandestine.I knew about it before Jonah mentioned here. Bob Whitaker certainly knew about the ECT book when he gave Healy the blurb. And although I completely support a ban on ECT it IS true that Healy’s book Pharmageddeon is probably is one of the 3 most trenchant critiques of psych drugs and pseudo-science– after Toxic Psychiatry and Anatomy of an Illness. I don’t know the man personally so I cannot account for his inconsistencies…//
As far as revealing Healy’s true nature and intents goes, I believe you’re referring to Peter Breggin’s Huffington Post article (“The Stealth ECT Psychiatrist in Psychiatric Reform”)
People can read it for themselves and decide whether or not Breggin makes a good case for calling Healy “stealth”.
Whatever they decide, the bottom line is this: Healy runs a shock clinic.
He catalogs every conceivable negative effect of psychopharmacology – while denying the negative effects of ECT.
When I think of Healy, I think of a person making a name for himself, by decrying the harms of the Third Reich’s death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, while selling gas to the death camp at Treblinka.
Healy is essentially that kind of critic, of psychiatry. He is *not* a bonafide critic of the bio-psychiatric myths of so-called ‘mental illness’; he is largely a holocaust denier.
And, for you to insist that, “The use of drugs is what constitutes psychiatry,” is simply a mistake.
I’d suggest you are not really aware of the negative effects of ECT, but you say you are in favor of banning it; so, I must conclude, simply: by this point, you’re failing to notice the extent to which ECT is now making a come-back (thanks largely to Healy); and, you are undervaluing the work of Peter Breggin.
P.S. — By the way, I’m not sure if you realize, that: I don’t agree with Breggin in all ways.
E.g., I’ve commented here, on this MIA site, that: I found Breggin’s California “Zoloft Defense” case to be quite disillusioning. His position was deeply, deeply flawed, I believe; indeed, this ‘not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity’ plea seems, to me, a terribly travesty of justice, always; but, it’s most morally indefensible – most especially flawed – when the defendant has committed an act of brutality.
[[personal attacks removed]]
I have *attempted* to post a reply to your comment of April 5, 2013 at 1:57 am. For some reason, unknown to me, it wouldn’t post. I’m thinking *maybe* it was too long? Maybe it went to ‘moderation’ — and will appear later…
So, now, I’m intending to post this very brief comment (hoping it will, in fact, post) just to let you know: a lengthier comment is *probably* forthcoming.
I have *attempted* to post a reply to your comment of April 5, 2013 at 1:57 am
Yes posting process is puzzling. You post it one place and then it miraculously ends up below, where it’s suppossed to be…
You know I often have trouble getting smething to post, particularly if it’s long. But I figured out the trick. I keep clicking on my mouse maybe 10 or 15 times.
Then up comes a message that tells me I am trying to post something that has already been posted. At first I thought that was a sign I failed but I clicked my reverse arrow and presto my post was already up there. So you could try that–click vigorously and quickly– every time it has worked for me.
You know I also wrote a few comments yesterday on your Kundalini story–below–your “You thought you wre Bob Dylan!” story. As I mentioned
your story is similar to Paul Levy. Of course to many other people but you’d like Paul’s analysis. It’s archetypal now. There is such a yearning to want to express oneself freely in these situations after one had had these breakthrough experiences and of course speaking freely is the one thing you can’t do. From a distance it’s amusing-it’s the people running the asylum who are completely out of their minds. Laing said that years ago. I’ll probably only have to click 3 or 4 times because his is brief.
Thanks for the posting pointers (on April 6, 2013 at 2:11 am).
And, RE your comment of April 5, 2013 at 11:58 am: I appreciate that comment very much, as it shows me you gathered my words carefully, becoming more attuned to me, ultimately, keying in, to the ‘story’ of my lived experiences. Moreover, you praise my comment. (“This is a great piece. It’s quite funny too–although I’m sure it was not amusing at the time…”) I really appreciate that, because I felt satisfied by writing that comment; I had not intended to create any humor; yet, it felt good to write and to post; that you like it leads me to feel I’m being heard.
Hence, I’m feeling quite *disinclined* to want to argue with you, in any way – including, in respect to matters which may really be best left between you and Peter Breggin. I am striving let those matters go, as I ask myself: Does Breggin’s reputation need defending, really? I don’t know if it does. And, even if it does, I don’t know if I can effectively do it. But, maybe it does need some defending after some of your comments, about him, on this page.
Maxima (on April 1, 2013 at 5:28 am) expressed an interest in participating in Breggin’s Empathic Therapy conference, and you wrote: “Breggin is boring when he talks about human psychology–and his tendency to extol psychotherapy as panacea for all human ills is silly. It’s like a commercial. If you feel a need to be around people who will be nice to you, it might be good place to go. (But you might want to be cautious about Peter!)”
Seth, I know there was some falling out, between Breggin and those who took offense at something he said on Michael Savage’s show; but, I don’t know what he said; I’ve never heard any recording of it nor seen that show’s transcript; what I know is that Savage is a right-wing ‘shock jock’ who wrote a book titled, “Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder: Savage Solutions” …but he’s also educated in natural healing solutions – and is inclined to want to defend the personal freedoms of Americans (at least, health freedoms); so, Breggin agreed to be a guest on his show; maybe that was a mistake, but sometimes I wonder if Breggin received an *undeserved* bad rap — for his decision to associate, in any way, with Michael Savage… just because Savage’s politics are not left politics.
Savage *is* a horrible bigot (I gather that, from reading the Wikpedia page on him); in more ways than one, he is. (He’s homophobic and xenophobic.) But, I seriously doubt that Breggin shares such values. (In fact, I would be *totally* surprised were I to find that Breggin does share such values.) I suspect Breggin was doing his best to air the realities of psychiatry – and saw an opportunity for doing so, by way of becoming a guest on a highly popular, nationally syndicated radio broadcast. I doubt he knew what he was getting himself into.
But, you write of, “his friendship with the right-wing extremist Michael Savage, radio show host.”
Breggin was a *friend* of Savage’s? I just don’t know. You write (on April 2, 2013 at 2:56 am), “I’m not sure when Peter changed.WAs it 9/11? Was it before he became a buddy of Michael Savage?” I doubt they were buddies. I never heard him in conversation with the man; maybe they were simply discussing issues of ‘mental health’ freedom and nothing else?
You say Breggin came to slight Liberals, on the show. I don’t know what Breggin said. But, how bad could it have been? (And, please, please, do *not* give me conjecture, in response to that question. I’d like to know *exactly* what was said and the context in which it was said. Indeed, I’d like to read a full transcript, of that show – or else hear an unedited audio recording of it.)
You write, “Breggin advocated reactionary things like supporting Bush tax breaks to the rich, but to his credit Breggin never DID anything (excluding his private life which is his business) nefarious.” Seth, to me, it seems you are just spreading *innuendo* with that parenthetical phrase, about his private life.
And, as far Breggin supposedly advocating “reactionary things” goes, you give only one example – saying he supported Bush’s tax breaks; but, I wonder were Bush’s tax breaks literally reactionary, when Breggin supported them??? Truly? I look up the definition of the word, “reactionary,” and I come up with this: “extremely conservative”; then I study the Bush tax breaks: http: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_tax_cuts
In my view, it’s really a stretch to call those tax breaks “reactionary” …as they were voted into existence, through *bi-partisan* support — and extended by Obama (until recently).
Perhaps (just maybe), ‘reactionary’ does well describe the vigorous promotions of a hoped-for extension, of those tax breaks *after* the financial collapse; but, are you saying that’s what Breggin supported? (I doubt it.) And, what other “things” of a supposedly “reactionary” nature did Breggin advocate, after all? (Seth, I seriously wonder if he supported *anything* that I’d consider ‘reactionary’.)
Finally, on April 3, 2013 at 6:38 am, you write, “Peter still sells his book Wow I’m an American.” You add, “I don’t mention it in my books because when I’m talking to people who don’t know about anti-psychiatry I don’t want to do anything to undermine Peter’s credibility.”
Question: What’s wrong with that book??? (I’ve never seen it. I see a few Amazon-dot-com reviews of it – all favorable. Hence, I mull over this question, of does Breggin need defending – and thinking maybe he does… but only because *you* are spreading *innuendo* by your not being at all clear, in your critiques of him. Seth, where’s the beef, really?
[[personal attacks removed]]
[[Personal Attacks Removed]]
Folks, The lines in the post above are NOT written by me.
I carelessly left out quotations marks from an excerpt from article by Peter Breggin in 2009. I am myself part of the left.
Have you changed your mind at all?. Do you consider anything
Breggin said (in what I reproduced) to be “reactionary” or offensive to leftists? Do you still think I have misrepresented Breggin?
<Seth, I seriously wonder if he[Breggin] supported *anything* that I’d consider ‘reactionary’..
Hence, I mull over this question, .. does Breggin need defending – and thinking maybe he does… but only because *you* are spreading *innuendo* by your not being at all clear, in your critiques of him. Seth, where’s the beef, really?
Do you consider anything
Breggin said (in what I reproduced) to be "reactionary" or offensive to leftists? Offensive to you? Do you still think I have misrepresented Breggin political views or attitudes?
In essence, I’d left you with a very specific task (on April 6, 2013 at 3:25 am); it was presented, at last, in the form of my final question, to you, “Where’s the beef?”
Essentially, I was wanting to know why you’d used “reactionary” to describe Breggin’s views.
Roughly two years ago, I Googled around, trying to find out: what had happened, that led to the schism between Breggin and his former associates, at the organization he’d founded (International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology)?
I could not find any clear details.
Even now, the Wikipedia page, on Breggin, explains only this:
“In 2002, Breggin encouraged younger professionals to take over the leadership of ICSPP and Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. Peter Breggin is not currently on the Board of Directors of ICSPP, does not participate in board meetings, and has no role within the organization.”
That’s all it says.
Your 4 replying comments (beginning on April 7, 2013 at 3:53 am) are *very* clarifying.
Prior to these comments, of yours, I had suspected that the whole thing was way overblown.
Your earlier comment, on Breggin’s politics, were vague; now, you’re being clear (by offering those links and extended experpts).
Clearly, Breggin was spouting reactionary views, in 2009.
That’s now plain to see.
So, thanks for taking the time to offer a well-researched response.
About your saying, “I may or may not have mentioned it before but I always appreciated your posts. They were intelligent, well-written–and I usualy agreed with you,” I had to laugh out loud when I first read those words, as you’re writing in the past-tense!
(Hopefully, you will keep an open mind to the possibility that I can continue to be intelligent — and write well — in my posts.)
You’ve mentioned “redemption” a number of times, in your comments on this page; I’m a very strong believer in the power of redemption (i.e., acts of redemption).
I don’t know what Peter Breggin’s current views are; but, I’m hoping that he is being led to see, that progressives (and others) have had very good reason to express disappointment in the U.S. government, in recent years.
The years of Bush-2 led to horrible abuses; now, sadly, Obama is carrying on those abuses, in ways. (NDAA and extra-judicial executions via Drone Wars – and Guantanamo… The list goes on.)
Breggin’s forays into critiquing “progressives” and “liberals” were terribly misguided and ill-informed.
Maybe he has come to understand this, since going on the radio, with Gary Null?
But, I will not expect too much, along those lines — as I see (from one of the links you offered) how Breggin criticized John Kerry’s youthful condemnations of the Vietnam War.
“…young John Kerry who returned from the Vietnam War, called our soldiers cowards, and under oath before Congress described atrocities so gruesome that no one at the time guessed that he had made them up out of his own feverish imagination.”
One can’t be sure, from reading those lines, but it seems possible Breggin may be unaware that, (A) the U.S. should *never* have gotten involved, militarily, in Vietnam, and (B) those involvements led to unprecedented atrocities (including, but not limited to, The My Lai Massacre).
You mention the possibility that Breggin may have become particularly confused, politically, post-9/11.
From that point of view, I wonder what Breggin makes of the Bush/Cheney debacle, in Iraq? (Can he admit that it was a debacle?)
I wonder what Breggin makes of President Eisenhower’s warning, of the military industrial complex…
I have had a bit of back and forth ‘conversation’ online, with Peter’s wife, Ginger.
In fact, I think of her as an ally.
She has always been very kind to me, and I deeply appreciate that…
So, I have no intention of viewing Peter as an enemy (far from it); in fact, I will always be deeply grateful to Peter, as some of his early books (especially, Toxic Psychiatry) were life-savers for me, literally.
Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to speak with him.
I imagine, were I to speak privately with Peter, I’d simply avoid couching these issues in terms of ‘left vs. right’ problems; indeed, I’d offer at least a few words, to discourage him from doing so…
E.g., I might say to him (in all sincerity):
“There are many liberal imperialists; they are just as bad as right-wing warmongers, in my view.”
People who are awake to the harms done by the U.S. military industrial complex need to unite, in their opposition to so-called “preventive wars”. Period.
(I would offer such thoughts, as that.)
Peter has seen through the machinations of the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex; he should be able to realize that many progressives have sided with him, in his opposition to such evil.
So, he should have the capacity to realize the folly of pitting himself against the left.
Demonizing “liberals” and “progressives” just doesn’t make sense, nor does it make sense to demonize “conservatives”.
I hope he can make a peace-offering of some kind, offer an olive branch, to the left… recognizing good that has come from ‘progressive’ politics and politicians.
(I wonder what Breggin thinks of Dennis Kucinich? …a really *great* Progressive, in my humble opinion.)
Thanks very much for clarifying yourself.
[[Personal Attacks Removed]]
There were a lot of small typos above.
But only one was confusing.
“THe Free World Colossuscica 1968 by Horowitz is a brilliant revisionist (BTW Bush misused that word and people today think it means “dishonest”) account of US Cold WAr military policy in the tradition of William Appleman Williams…”
It should read “…The Free World Colossus
I don’t recall the exact date of publication…
[[Personal Attacks Removed]]
Hi Donna, what is “ScrewU”?
Thanks for taking the time and the risks to educate us about the truly contradictory nature of Peter Breggin’s thinking.
I read some of the sources you provided on Breggin’s website and I am very aware of the thoroughly reactionary fascist views of Michael Savage; and I do not use the word fascist very lightly.
Breggin was a major influence in my development as an activist against Biological Psychiatry, but it is quite clear that his political compass is totally broken at this time.
9/11 and the intensifying of international political contradictions caused many people on the left(or near the left)to lose their political bearings. I had heard that that both Breggin and Szasz were Libertarians.
Libertarians often take the concepts of individual liberty to such extremes that they are unable to be critical of capitalism/imperialism. We cannot fully understand and defeat Biological Psychiatry without understanding and opposing the true nature of a profit based system of economic and political organization.
Thanks again Seth
[[personal attacks removed]]
Thank you for your kind words regarding my writing; perhaps, they’re too kind; they’ve incited this loooong comment – an indulgence on my part, I hope you’ll excuse. And, note: this comment is inspired by the general discussion that’s raised by your blog; every commenter has offered some considerable food for thought; so, I am addressing others, too – especially, Seth, as he speaks of the messianic spirit.
Yesterday was Easter – the day of resurrection – widely considered the holiest day in the Christian calendar. Erich Fromm elaborated upon the concept of *resurrection* (in his book, The Revolution of Hope), writing poignantly, “Man and society are resurrected ever moment in the act of hope and of faith in the here and now; every act of love, of awareness, of compassion is resurrection; every act of sloth, of greed, of selfishness is death. Every moment of existence confronts us with the alternatives of resurrection or death; every moment we give an answer. This answer lies not in what we say or think, but in what we are, how we act, where we are moving.”
Donna was instructive when posting, earlier today (April 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm): “As C.S. Lewis pointed out, if you are going to criticize a religion like Christianity, you have to know enough about it so that you really are criticizing the actual religion rather than your own erroneous ideas about it due to lack of adequate research, experience, knowledge, etc.” I won’t critique Christianity; I’ll just point out, that many true believers – as well as many naysayers – may not think of resurrection that way.
I was raised without religion; however, what little I knew of the stories, of Jesus’s life and death (and this, above-mentioned, *non-literal* view of ‘resurrection,’ that’s described by Fromm), became quite helpful, to me, at that point, at which I was first made a captive of Psychiatry – at age 21.5.
By that point, I’d begun thinking of ‘God’ in Taoist terms. Indeed, a couple of days prior to the first time I was “hospitalized,” I’d been openly comparing ‘God’ to the ‘Tao’ – in conversation with one close family member, who was a self-described “atheist”.
For those who are unfamiliar with Taoism, it’s said that the ultimately *unfathomable* ‘Tao’ is the source of all phenomena, ‘everything comes from the Tao’; of course, *theistic* religions explain that, ‘everything comes from God.’ (Actually, even as I say that, I realize how important it is to acknowledge a persistent question arising in the Abrahamic religions, regarding questions of where evil comes from. Is it ‘God’ and/or humans who are ultimately responsible for man’s inhumanity to man?)
This relative, to whom I was speaking, had never previously heard me talk of ‘God’ in any affirmative way, and he seemed listening intently; yet, many years later, I’d learn that he had, in fact, been *confused* by what I was saying. (Later that evening, he’d relayed his sense of being baffled by the conversation, privately, to my mom; she’d remark on that conveyance, in her journal. Then, many years later, she passed away, and I was responsible for organizing her personal belongings, so…)
I now realize: My speaking in the affirmative, of ‘God,’ was confusing to those who knew me, back then; all such talk was quite unheard of, in my family; so, I guess my mom was *already* somewhat worried about me, when, the next day (seemingly out-of-the-blue) I’d break a stack of dishes, one by one, against a garage door, in my parents’ backyard. (That behavior of mine was not only unusual – it was shocking to my family… as, *never* previously had I rebelled, against my parents, in any way.)
Why was I rebelling?
I was aware of my being at an impasse – and was, thus, seemingly in *need* of a ‘rite of passage,’ which could – hopefully – move me into a new phase of life. I had begun to feel as though time was standing still; for more than a year, I’d been wishing I had a guru (a spiritual teacher) to guide me; but, my family was very ‘anti-guru’; and, I had no connections to anyone who had a guru; I needed – at the very least – a Way to move myself, into the future (seemingly). These were all *conscious* thoughts of mine, at that time.
Was I just a lost spiritual seeker?
Were I, now, to supply *all* the details, of the internal experiences, which I was experiencing, back then, to most any clinician, s/he would almost certainly argue that, at age 20, I was coming to experience a kind of ‘psychosis’ – especially, because, just hours after I’d had that above mentioned conversation, on ‘God’ and the ‘Tao’, I’d experienced a most powerful, instant shot of *surging* energy, running from the base of my spine, upward – and ‘out’ through my extremities. It nearly threw me off my feet.
Perhaps, that could seem to indicate a kind of seizure?
In retrospect, I know it to have been a *Kundalini* experience. (I knew nothing about Kundalini, per se, at the time; but, a couple of years later, I found a book in a used book store, which described what I’d experienced, as Kundalini.) The energy passed through me like a small bolt of lightning – leaving me, afterward, with an amazing sense of peace and well-being – which lasted throughout that evening; but, my ‘little’ (internal) world of ‘all’s-well-and-good’ was soon being impinged upon by my returning sense, that all was *not* well and good, in the world at large. To a large extent, that explains my actions of the *next* night (i.e., smashing those plates), I was objecting to the tens of thousands of nuclear warheads threatening the survival of our planet; but, only *I* knew that, at the time.
I had switched from an inner focus, on peace within, to a sense of restlessness – to a ‘projection,’ which apparently included a dramatic ‘need’ and demand for my family’s attentions. (Looking back, on those moments, just days later, I could tell it was a projection, of inner ‘family-system’ turmoil I was experiencing.)
Unfortunately, I’d be perceived by my mom, as going ‘insane’; she’d make plans to get me to an E.R. psychiatrist; medical-coercive psychiatry soon had its way with me, and everyone I knew would come to view me as, ‘mentally ill’.
I’ve written elsewhere about this: before that “hospitalization,” immediately following my destruction of those plates, one relative asked me, “Do you feel like someone not yourself?” I wished to be frank, in Though, I felt it was a *ludicrous* question, I wished to be frank, in answering; for, in recent days and weeks, I’d gradually become ever more (exceedingly) open/truthful with everyone whom I knew. This is so important – key really. I was not rebelling against everyone. I was resonating with many. And, I was resonating with the lyrics of certain songs I’d been listening to; therefore, to that relative’s question, I answered, “I feel like Bob Dylan.” I’d been ‘meditating’ upon ‘old’ Dylan classics before going to bed – for a number of weeks, and the song “Masters of War” was directly *ballsy* in a way that I was, then, suddenly – after smashing those dishes – feeling ballsy.
Ten years on, I’d learn that relative had quite *misinterpreted* my words, at the time; we came to be momentarily re-engaged in conversation; and, looking back, on the past, he said to me, emphatically, “You thought you were Bob Dylan!” (That assertion was his response to my saying, “I never needed any medications.”)
Because everyone had agreed, in advance, that I was *supposedly* ‘insane’ and/or ‘mentally ill’ and supposedly in need of compulsory psychiatric ‘observation and treatment,’ I’d wind up tied down and shot up with drugs, two times, in less than 24 hours’ time.
To me, it seemed I was being chemically *crucified* – for being *sane*; and, what was really ‘insane’ was the fact of so many people simply going on with life ‘as usual’ – day after day – amidst ever-increasing signs, that instant, global, nuclear annihilation (via ‘nuclear winter’) could possibly be imminent. (Back then, mid-1980’s, more than a few notable scientists, physicians and anti-nuke activists were similarly concerned.) I felt none in my family were doing enough, to either recognize or to protest that Cold War threat; but, there was *much* more to my sudden rebellion, than just that; of course, there was more; there were issues within my family, which required addressing; I was becoming aware of this, at that time; and, it is way too much – and too personal – to recount, in a comment. But, I should emphasize this: As soon as I regained consciousness, in the “hospital” (i.e., after those initial forced druggings), I would literally *beg* for private consult with a therapist (any therapist); I would make that request, again and again; but, no therapist would be provided, until months later. My mother later explained to me, what had apparently been explained to her: “They can’t do therapy with a person who’s still insane.”
Probably, my mom was not recalling the precise wording they’d used, to inform her, of why they would not allow for any therapy; after all, I think it’s unlikely that anyone in a position of authority used the word, “insane” to describe me; probably, they had used the word, “psychotic”; but, in any case, my mom explained to me, at last: “They said that first they had to get you stabilized; they called it, ‘sealing the patient.’”
“Sealing the patient,” was, in essence, a matter of flooding my system with heavy ‘meds’ – for months, in order to convince me that I was, “seriously mentally ill”; the process was torturous.
After nearly a week of “hospitalization,” I asked one family member, by phone, to, please, bring me a Bible – and, thus, unwittingly dug myself an even deeper grave. (That I had called for a Bible had apparently been taken as a signal, to my family, that I was not well enough to be released; thus, no sooner would I be released, than they’d get me into a second “hospital,” where I’d be brain-washed, with more drugs, into believing I was, “seriously mentally ill.”)
Note: All I’d had wanted from the Bible was just a way to remind myself, of the exact wording, of one most famous line, from Matthew, “Cast not your pearls before swine…” as I was, then, noticing how various people were repeatedly taking my words and twisting their meanings, using them against me.
That first time I was “hospitalized” was the result of my being *tricked* by the E.R. psychiatrist’s assistant, into seemingly ‘confessing’ I had, “wishes to die and be reborn in new life.” (I have mentioned this elsewhere, recently.)
I had said ‘yes’ to his ‘psych-assessment’ question, of whether I had such a wish – but only *after* insisting that I had no intention to harm myself.
He took my “yes” answer and left the room, to share it with the psychiatrist – who was ultimately aiming to please my family, by finding a ‘legitimate’ way to “hospitalize” me, against my will.
I should not have answered “yes”; but, I’d thought I could safely say “yes” to that question (“Do you wish to die and be reborn in a new life?”) – as doing so was merely affirming a rather conventional belief, in ‘reincarnation’ (most people who believe in it hope when they die, they’ll be reborn in a better life); and, I was simultaneously thinking in *non-literal* terms, about beginning life anew (as in Erich Fromm’s above-mentioned version of ‘resurrection’). It seemed to me, at least remotely possible, that the Emergency Room inquisition, which I was experiencing, *might* lead me, somehow, to a *positively* renewed way of living. I was striving to stay positive, with thoughts such as that, as the experience, of being viewed ‘crazy,’ was quite exhausting; and, I was slowly losing patience.
I was *not* wanting to die, literally speaking; i.e., surely, I had no wish to die, any time soon.
My inquisitors could easily have concluded that I was no danger, had they wished to do so; yet, that was not their wish. Simply, *everyone* involved in my case had one goal in mind: find a way to ‘justify’ medicalizing me.
I was not threatening anyone; so, medicalizing me against my will would require “hospitalizing” me, on the grounds of my *supposedly* being a ‘danger’ to myself. (Claiming someone “wishes to die and be reborn in a new life” is one way to claim s/he is such ‘danger’.) From that point, forward, in two years’ time, psychiatrists would repeatedly misrepresent my words, to get me re-medicalized, on those same grounds, of *supposedly* being a ‘danger’ to myself.
Was I *ill* in any way?
That I am offering this long comment is already an indulgence; now, here’s a further indulgence (just a small one) that can hopefully be excused: I am going to repeat just one line, from my comment, above; here it is: I had never had anything but a personal/interpersonal breakdown/breakthrough, which was quickly medicalized and made into an iatrogenic illness (by way of forced drugging).
Otherwise, looking back, I sincerely believe I was *not* sick in any way; though, I could have used help, in realizing that the Kundalini experience suggested I was advancing, spiritually – but required the guidance of a seasoned guru, a yoga teacher (one specializing in Kundalini).
To say I was advancing spiritually is not to suggest I had become some kind of ‘pillar of light’; but, I had become highly sensitive to my surrounding – and to my inner world; so, the last thing I needed was medical-coercive psychiatry.
I knew that; and, it was finally, all too clear, to me, that I had never needed any so-called “medications”; in truth, the ‘meds’ were nothing but suppressive and oppressive; therefore, exactly two years after first being forcibly medicalized, I’d come to eschewing the ‘meds’ – flushing them down the toilet; foolishly, I confessed this, to that same above-mentioned relative (the one who’d come to believe that I thought I was Bob Dylan)! So very naively, I trusted him and wanted him to understand, that: I could not take ‘meds’ any longer; I felt they were draining me of life. I told him that, and I elaborated, that: had I gone on taking them, I might have taken all of them, at once. Such was why I flushed them down the toilet, I explained.
By pointing out, that I’d flushed all the ‘meds’ down the toiled, I thought I was making myself very *clear* – that I did *not* want to die and that I did *not* intend to kill myself; nonetheless, he reported this confession to my psychiatrist; and, thus, came another unwanted “hospitalization” …i.e., more weeks and months of so-called “in-patient” treatments – more forced drugging – much of it amounting to torture, no exaggeration… based on the notion that *supposedly* I’d wanted to take all the ‘meds’ to kill myself. (It was a *totally* false accusation, based on this fact, that I’d flushed all the ‘meds’ down the toilet; but, no matter…)
(So many memories I often care to forget! – but which I can’t forget, despite being now well over two decades free of psychiatry and it’s noxious chemicals!)
Must. Stop. Thinking. Of. Those. Experiences.
(Yes, Maxima, Perhaps, I should turn to EFT – at least, at times like these…)
Now, before I stop thinking of those times, I feel I must say this: That relative of mine truly meant well. He was doing what he sincerely believed was in my best interest; simply, he was/is a very conventionally minded person – listening to the ‘best’ advice, on my *supposed* condition, which mainstream psychiatry could offer.
Oh, and, I should add this: I was going through changes, physically, which reflected a need to drastically alter my diet. Sugar, caffeine, processed (wheat) flour, red meat, dairy (from cows) – all had to go; my body could no longer tolerate them. I was just barely *beginning* to realized all this, at the time of that first E.R. experience. It would take me two more years, to realize the full extent of my need to overhaul my entire way of eating; I would figure all that out – but no thanks to the psychiatrists who were just plain bent on drugging me; they had no interest in promoting anything but psychiatric labels and psychiatric drugs.
So, yes, there were physical conditions – specifically, food-sensitivities – which required addressing; in fact, I believe that, I’d sensed my need to change my eating habits; and, by reducing food intake, generally, I had increased my energy level; this was leading me to sleep less; and, loss of sleep, over a period of weeks, was a factor, which led to a somewhat ‘altered’ state of consciousness; but, that was *not* an illness; and, I should *never* have consented to meeting with that first E.R. psychiatrist (nor, then, should I have answered any questions from his assistant); it was my mistake, having done so; I made that same mistake (with different psychiatrists), a couple of times, thereafter – until, at last, nearly 24 years ago, I became entirely firm, in my flat out, full *rejection* of ‘meds’ and Psychiatry.
Spirituality = Knowing How and When to Let Go (…and, of course, it’s more than just that…)
I am letting go now… won’t say more about my past – won’t sully more virtual space, by spreading my feelings of disgust toward Psychiatry, my enduring sense of indignance, which arises as I recall the many ways in which psychiatrists disrespected my life, by forcing their IGNORANT views upon me and forcing their NOXIOUS chemicals into my veins.
But… I say this about those psychiatrists: I see them as our society’s ‘high priests and priestesses’ – the Pharisees of our day (“blind guides”).
Again, I emphasize: I am drawn to Buddhism and Taoism; but, I have some sense, of the character of Jesus – in particular, as he’s described, in the book of Matthew.
Jesus was reportedly a master of forgiveness and knew how to ‘turn the other cheek’; but, he was also one who unflinchingly challenged the “blind guides” of his day; in fact, by all accounts, he turned over tables and shouted, “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLgcEcmtgxI (Actually, in that Youtube excerpt, of Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Jesus Of Nazareth, Jesus doesn’t turn over any tables, but he does according to the Bible. “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” ~Mathew 21:12)
Seth explained yesterday (March 31, 2013 at 6:50 am): “Jesus of course was revolutionary which was why the Roman State and Jewish religious establishment was threatened by him. He was creatively maladjusted and he promised to realize the messianic aspirations of those who cherished their divine dreams–their messianic, often mad and shamelessly grandiose visions.”
No doubt, Jesus was extraordinarily revolutionary, living up to the messianic prophecies, of the Abrahamic traditions; thus, arguably, his visions were not grandiose.
The historical Buddha was a great revolutionary, too. Remembered alternatively, by the names Siddhartha, Guatama and Shakyamuni, the he lived approximately 500 years earlier, in India. He was, at times, persecuted for his views – but never crucified. He lived a long life. (Perhaps, as he never directly disrupted life in the marketplace – and forever insisted he was a mere mortal, the authorities showed him some mercy?) A couple hundred years after his passing, he was honored by followers who compiled the Threefold Lotus Sutra (said to represent his final teachings). It predicts a future, benighted time, when countless *bodhisattvas* (men and women of varied dispositions, dedicated to saving all beings) shall answer their individual callings, by “emerging from the earth,” to bring forth a renewal of humanity.
Each bodhisattva is *uniquely* gifted, so there are infinite ways of being a ‘savior’ in Buddhism.
🙂 “I Love You and Buddha Too” – Song by Mason Jennings
I read this over more carefully– now that I’m less rushed. I’ll have to save it.
This is a great piece. It’s quite funny too–although I’m sure it was not amusing at the time. Certain elements are so typical. The continuous hope you’ll be understood if you speak honestly–and each time the same terrible consequences. This must have happened to me–in a less dreadful context– because it seems so familiar.Yes I remember-the family. Then their continuous obstinate misunderstanding. “You thought you were Bob Dylan!” As if there was the self evident proof. Very funny.
And you say, “After nearly a week of “hospitalization,” I asked one family member, by phone, to, please, bring me a Bible – and, thus, unwittingly dug myself an even deeper grave.” Yes what a faux pas–to ask for a Bible.Yes any manifestation of spirituality must be nipped in the bud! BY the mind police as Laing called them.
You should read the interview with Paul Levy in my book–at no cost. Paul has it up on his brilliant website. If you scroll down on the right you’ll see the icon of my book. In it is the interview I did with Paul.www.awakeninthedream.com Paul’s first hospitalization was also the result of a kundalini awakening. I love the way he describes his efforts to communicate with the shrinks–exactly like yours. He says
“In essence, the more I authentically expressed my experience, the
more I was convincing the doctors that I was crazy. It was like I had
stepped through the looking glass and found myself in a dimension
of existence that was truly bewitched, as if I had entered a domain
which felt, qualitatively speaking, under a curse of black magicians.
It felt like I had shamanically journeyed into the underworld and
wound up in some sort of weird, perverse hell realm where reality
was inverted in a way, which was get-me-out-of-here crazy. Little did
I realize at the time, however, that this was all part of the deeper
awakening process that I was going through.” “The more I expressed myself
authentically and gave voice and articulated my experience, the more
they saw me as crazy. There was like this diabolical feedback loop:It was completely like—fuck, really—it was so abusive.”
I wasn’t aware that Sutra was so overtly messianic.
You write: It predicts a future, benighted time, when countless *bodhisattvas* (men and women of varied dispositions, dedicated to saving all beings) shall answer their individual callings, by “emerging from the earth,” to bring forth a renewal of humanity.
Yes I believe that is an authentic expression of religion
at its best or of spirituality at its best. I won’t starting preaching now.
I should have put quotation marks around the word grandiose when describing Jesus’ vision. I said it tongue in cheek. I also meant his vision was grand and could of course be realized,but its realization awaited the awakening –in a benighted age– of bodhisattvas– predicted in the Threefold Lotus Sutra–determined to bring forth a renewal of humanity
It dawned on me that it would be great if you could start a blog of your own here on spirituality because there seems to be such a huge interest and thirst here and elsewhere. You seem to be connecting with a lot of people here. Your spiritual/antipsychiatry approach is very valuable too.
I don’t want to seem pushy, but it was just a thought I had as I read this post. It would be great to have more regular blogs that dealt with spirituality, myth, the “hero’s journey,” different religious/spiritual paths and the connection between them, etc. With links to your web sites and other writings, people would become more aware of your other work too like that great antipsychiatry essay I read there recently.
Just food for thought! It would be especially great for those of us who don’t get all that turned on by long conversations about neurotransmitters though I know that’s important too!
Take care and have a nice day,
Thank you by the way for your interest in my books. And for your encouragement.
I do have that FB page on my book. There are not a lot of comments there but some. Spiritual Gift Madness. ARe you on my FB. What’s your last name again?
There are more on TIP FB page.
And more activity on my FB page, although more often on the wars, global warming etc.
The problem is I don’t have time to put more time into it. Look at it here. I make one comment (which I’m inclined to do because I feel it’s imperative I read some of the articles here)
and then I ending up getting involved in conversations that take hours. Ironically enough
I even ended up getting involved in trying to help that women with her boys. It’s interesting but so far I’m spending hours off line emailing.
Hey have you read Sri Aurobindo yet? Or the Mother.
And you know I have to put more energy in publicizing my book and getting our perspective OUT there to people who have never heard of Bob Whitaker or Peter Breggin let alone Szasz. I really have not had a breAkthrough since I got on Coast to Coast last July.It’s discouraging. My publisher’s publicist doesn’t do that much. It takes hours and hours of writing letters and making calls before I get a break. I had given that up for the last 2 months–mostly some of the people I try to help turned into full time job. I’ve been trying to save this elderly woman–a friend of a friend- who is a victim of Adult Protective Service as well as psychiatry. It’s amazing what they do to old people, and the Courts here in NYC rubber stamp what guardians do. The guardians get paid off by real estate owners who could raise the rent if they can get the rent controlled residents–those who have been there longer– OUT. Did you know that? This woman who is not psychotic got taken away–from her apartment–by the police 4 times in last 3 yrs and put in loony-bin for 3-4 weeks. It’s turned her into nervous wreck. THanks to her guardian. It’s not uncommon/ Putting her in bin provides pretext for evicting her from apt and saying she’s too crazy to live on her own. And we have proof he gets paid by the landlord. But the judge approves what he does.
Anyway I’ve digressed.
So I don’t feel I’d have time until I’m satisfied I’ve reached more people. Until I don’t have to spend 20 hours a weeks JUST TRYING to get on radio. I use the book as a tool. You know no one besides people here would read the book if I don’t get on radio.
Then I’m trying to figure out how I could advance my idea of creating a messianic wing of the movement.
I will probably start work on another book in several months.
So anyway there is Spiritual Gift Madness FB page.
I ppreciate the kind review and am glad you liked that comment. I read your interview with Paul Levy. Wow. Very good stuff. (RE our earlier conversation on Breggin and Healy and ECT, you’ll notice that, above – on April 5, 2013 at 10:09 pm – I mention having tried to post a comment in answer to your earlier post; it wouldn’t post; I’m not sure what happened to it? Maybe lost in cyberspace. If so, I’d guess that’s for the best.)
Thanks for your generous comment. I mean generous not in the sense of being lengthy or in the sense of being kind…but in the sense that they offered some of your truths.
I have wanted to respond to earlier (to other generous comments) for most of the day – but, have made an effort to stay engaged in the 3D/non-digital world. It’s sunny here and warm and I’ve been helping children with school projects, throwing the ball for the ageing dog.
I have been thinking though, about what it is that does not sit well with me about notion of messianic movements, which I really know very little about…and I think it is this:
When I was in the midst of my reckoning (my “psychosis,” my transformation, my shift of consciousness, etc. etc.) it struck me – all of the sudden – that we all have the capacity to feel the world deeply in ways that have been come to be called God. It made so much sense to me to think that, while the Jesus story was unfolding, that all over the world there were others who embodied God (which I consider to be forces of the sort that Sri Aurobindo described, because that appeals to my somewhat mechanistic how-does-it-work way of thinking.)
It made such sense to me that it was all the same thing, working through people in different ways, being told differently. It struck me that such a connective consciousness was a possibly a vital component of our species, which is – after all – a part of the world and which is connected to everything that lives. I have talked with quite a few post-“psychotics” who report coming to very similar conclusions, as if some forms of “psychosis” are just processes by which we come to a gestalt awareness, a new and benevolent metanarrative (to borrow a term Seth had used).
I think that the sort of spiritual hierarchy that is implied by words like messianic distorts the fact that all humans may well have the capacity to connect with the universe in immanent ways…and that with such connection, people inevitably experience an awareness of self and world that has the potential to redefine what is of value to them in this life.
I have – since I was a child – been aware of the harm done by corporations and systems of power and exploitation. I found old “No Nukes!” leaflets in my parents old piles of books and worried about the pictures at night. I grew up on the coast, 3 miles from a nuclear submarine base and I read Edward Abbey and Ginsberg at age 13.
A belief that I carried around for a long time (since I was a teenager, which is when the belief occurred to me) was that if you see a way that you could help and you do nothing, that is…well, not so good. I had never been a church-goer, except for when I was forced to go due to a school placement or something, but that idea of seeing a way to help and turning from it…that, in my mind, was like “sin.” So, I have most always kept up a volunteer position or two, and have tried to work in positions that support self-determined liberation, the potential for new perspective and inspiration…mostly service and education.
Suffice it to say, I have not had the luxury of not worrying about the world since I was a very young child.
As I was sitting on my porch and feeling the most eternal sense bloom in my bones, my thoughts booming with a strange new conviction and seeing the work of God in the form of forces everywhere, in trees, in songs, in clouds, in strangers…what really did it for me was the thought that I was nothing special, that anyone could – in their own way – experience what I was experiencing and that many people had.
The amount of outrage I felt when I thought of everything that had been done by humans, everything that had been created for the purpose of destruction and distortion was like nothing I’d ever experienced…the outrage that I felt when I felt God was the outrage of the oceans and the outrage of the animals and all the people who had hurt by lies, denied their rights and their humanity…then I realized that people only get angry about things they care about…and the outrage shifted into love for the world, and grief.
I did slip into a reality that was distinctly at odds with what was real. I became convinced that somehow, in the grief of late-Spring and the isolation of Summer, I had accidentally stumbled into communication with God (by any name) or that, maybe, God (as the same forces that run with the tides of the river I grew up on) had known me when I was very young, had been with me all along as thin thread tied round my finger, some current in my marrow…but, that I had lost sight, or I had been adrift…maybe it wasn’t God? Maybe it was ghosts? Maybe it had something to do with my dna? I just knew that, whatever it was, it seemed to be very real.
It occurred to me, as I every little bit and piece of information and memory I had collided and coalesced into a sudden simple understanding, reinforced in the lyrics of songs and off-hand comments and whatever images I drew most freely, that maybe I had been meant for something…and that God had found me again and that it was up to me, a recently divorced, heavily tattooed and deeply confused mother of two with a lousy mental health history who made bad decisions and couldn’t hold a full-time job for more than a year and who had hardly ever finished anything…ha!…that I somehow was intended to “prove God” for the purpose of making the world stop just long enough for people to realize what we will lose if we continue. It made me laugh out loud, the thought of it.
(…and you likely read in these words, in the cathexis of syntax, that those months and months of believing this are still very close to me. It really wasn’t that long ago. I have, for a long time, been able to hold it at arm’s length…study it objectively, a participant observer in the follied phenomenology of my own story.)
Part of what I realized, by thinking through things logically -(I am actually a very logical person)- was that we are still evolving…and that it is entirely possible that our birthright – our ability to be deeply connected to the world was at stake of being significantly compromised in such a way that we may lose what is most human in us…and I thought about how we, as a species, destroy one another and how we destroy this planet…and I felt it all at once.
Is it any wonder people lose their minds?
So, that time is still very close to me…because still nobody has proved me wrong re: my thinking about forces and patterns and nature and consciousness and language…and it still makes sense to me in a way that is very strong.
I realize that when I used to hear the word “messianic” I tended to think of individuals, but I am beginning to understand that it is more as a particular quality in of collective consciousness and species identity and orientation, just an element of humanity.
…maybe, instead of us all being at the brink of an extinction of spirit, we are at the edge of a great leap in understanding…all in our own ways…of what it is to be human.
So, Seth, when I think I about what President Obama is doing, I picture him awake at night, thinking about where he grew up and what the world was like when he was young and talking to people on the street. I picture him realizing with no small horror what he is allowing to happen. I picture him changing his mind, having a talk with someone.
Of course, the human mind can be tricky in its attachment to assumed realities, and we can be molded and influenced all sorts of ways. Look at stories like Jonah’s and my own, the people who loved us were easily swayed to see us as sick, we even saw ourselves as sick.
It really is no wonder that such terrible decisions are made, we are so easily manipulated…by fear and the illusion of necessity.
I’m just sort of rambling on now. I do that at times. Most people who know me and love me understand that it is part of how I learn and how I seek resolution, by sorting my thoughts out through words, through narrative. It is also, however, a spiritual practice – this rambling on – as it affords me the opportunity to re-orient myself to what I know of the world, which may or may not be accurate…but, is what I believe at this particular moment in time.
Beliefs change. They evolve just like we do, and we – in some ways – probably evolve with them. How do harmful beliefs affect our consciousness? What barriers are built by fear?
A phrase that got me through the darkest days of my recovery (in the true sense of having to recover from something and to recover something) from my last unfortunate encounter with forced psychiatry was this: “You have to make a conscious choice between hope and fear.”
That kept me moving forward. However, the thought that maybe there was the off-chance that I did have some purpose beyond my evident responsibilities also motivated me to heal and to learn and to grow. I don’t know what my purpose is, so I just do my best and try to be brave.
I think that a lot of people tend to think about revolutions in fairly narrow ways. That there are some leaders and some crowds and its the peasants against the lords, the exploited against the exploiter. To think that one cannot be revolutionary in much smaller and more quiet ways and that even the seemingly most withdrawn lives have the potential to have broad and lasting impact…sometimes all it takes is a conversation…is to be rather narrow-band in one’s thinking about how the world might change. Sometimes, just staying hopeful is a revolutionary act.
I have been in the streets with 10s of 1000s of people, and you know what? It didn’t stop the war. It didn’t even slow it down. I have signed plenty of petitions and have held plenty of signs. I don’t know how much good that did.
There are many ways to approach engagement in efforts to promote positive and sustainable change in the world. I try to remember that, regardless of what I do, the world is changing and people are changing.
I am always a little unpopular in certain circles when I say that I think that most psychiatrists have the capacity to be good and conscientious people. People think that I am naïve. I’m okay with that. To me, it makes very little sense to think that any entire group of people is evil or damaged to the core. It seems to me that, in ways, that sort of view is the very same that has been applied to us: irrevocably flawed and hopeless. That’s a lousy way to see people.
I really have to believe that everyone has the potential to suddenly see, and to feel deeply the error of their ways and what their actions do to their hearts. When a policeman killed a protestor’s dog in NYC a couple of years ago and people were calling for his head on platter…all I could think about was how he had probably really liked dogs when he was a kid, because most kids do…just like most kids want to save the world at some point or another…or want to stand up for someone…or to be, quite simply, “the good guy.”
Something very bad happens to people as they grow up…but, I really don’t think that any badness in the world is written in stone. It can be transformed.
Well, this got way too long, and I didn’t even have a chance to specifically thank Donna for pointing out the error we are prone to make in broadbrushing and making rash claims about entire groups of people, many of which probably – like us – really just want the world to be okay and to do the right thing…it’s just that sometimes people get confused as to what exactly that means, usually out of fear.
There is more to respond to…but, it’s late and I have to wake up and make oatmeal, go to work with my feet on the ground.
Thanks for writing and reading and being out there, all learning and journeying.
I don’t have anything to add to the conversation right now other than to say, damn, I really like what you said there. You have a clarity that I’ve found to be rare.
“…damn, I really like what you said there.”
That’s how I feel, too.
I like what faith said in her comment – even her saying, “I think that most psychiatrists have the capacity to be good and conscientious people.”
About your comment above (March 31, 2013 at 2:57), regarding your son, I’m wondering, have you ever heard of the painter, Akiane? Here’s a very brief interview with her, uploaded to Youtube back in 2006: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YdIVeBo8SE
After that, I very highly recommend this somewhat longer Akiane interview (uploaded to Youtube in 2010): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYDzUTZys8g
RE that 2nd interview: she’s closer to your son’s age, in it (she’s 15).
Maybe you have already heard of her???
In any case, I cannot possibly overstate the extent to which I believe she is a *great* example of what great good can possibly come to a child who ‘hears voices’ and ‘sees visions’ of a ‘religious’ nature, when those experiences are *nurtured* (not pathologized).
To anyone who may be interested in this conversation, on spirituality, I highly recommend watching *both* those Youtube interviews.
Wonderful, that you are supporting your son’s spirituality!
P.S., Of course, not every kid can be an artistic prodigy, but I think it’s great, how, toward the end of that 2nd interview, Akiane articulates that she’s envisioning opening a school, to nurture and inspire young people, toward freely developing their artistic talents…
Thank you for your comment and the links. 🙂 I have heard of her as well as the boy who inspired the book “Heaven Is for Real.” I heard of both of these people after I shared some of my son’s visions.
I am astounded, just amazed, at the similarities between experiences.
I wish it were all light, though. Sadly, if my son were to paint, there would be more of demons than heaven. He is embroiled in a spiritual warfare more vivid and concrete than most of us ever consciously experience.
As a mother, I wish I could protect him from this.
Strangely, ever since all this has started happening, I myself have had other-dimensional experiences.
Very few people have any level of understanding about these things. And the more I learn, the less I know.
There are all kinds of people who think they have the answer. Then there are the people who tell me they are happy that it is my family and not their own, that experiences this stuff.
My older son also communicates with spirits. It is all very dark for him as well. For him, it is a choice. Both of my sons, however, are very sensitive souls who love deeply and hate injustice, exploitation, evil.
One thing I have learned. The name of Jesus is very powerful. I have seen a demon leave its harassing of my younger son from hearing his name. His name is so threatening to this darkness that one of the entities put a spell on my younger son so he would not be able to say his name out loud.
I am fully aware aware just how nuts this all sounds, even to people who are more open-minded than most.
It can be a very lonely experience.
I have more to say on this, but want to respond quickly with just, wow…that is some heavy stuff you and your boys are dealing with. Dark forces are very real…and they do wreak havoc on the heart and mind. There are some folks scattered around the Icarus boards that deal with trying to cope with dark forces…but they are scattered around. http://www.theicarusproject.net
For me, and thank goodness I don’t have visual or auditory sensory disturbances related to darkness – because that would be a lot to try to cope with, whenever I feel like dark forces are nipping around or mounting full siege, there are certain practices of visualization and re-orientation through response – meditating on protective energies, calling up light, disengaging in belief in the power of said dark forces, calling them out as “fuckery” and not feeding them with fear or investment. I haven’t had to deal with them recently, so I am probably making it sound easy…which it is not.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the wide open hearts were open only to light…not so simple though…
I wonder if, in the currents of consciousness and the universe, the word “Jesus” has become calibrated with a force of love. It does carry a lot of power, that word and what it means to us.
Anyway, I hope that today is light for you and yours…and that the dark forces leave your boys alone. (I find myself hoping that with my whole heart, to the extent that I feel a little tearful. So know that I mean it. When I hope things, I picture them happening. Whenever I am scared or worried for my kids (for the usual reasons of mothers) I picture them surrounded by light, protected wherever they are. I don’t know if it does anything, but it makes me feel better.
Sending love. Seriously.
I’m feeling frustrated, reading this response that you left for mizchulita.
It leaves me thinking, ‘Most people are carrying a burden of some kind, yes? Of course, most people are…’
And, so, I ask myself: how much more ‘heavy’ are mizchulita’s burdens than the burdens of others?!?!?!?
I read her words – and take them at face value – and, can only wonder how it is that you come to feel that way about her situation?
(Maybe I am wrong; you can please tell me if I am; but, it seems, to me, you may be projecting a sense of ‘heavy’ into what she’s saying?)
Just look what great boys mizchulita has!
She has two wonderful sons (“…very sensitive souls who love deeply and hate injustice, exploitation, evil”); her boys are developing character, in ways that far outpace the character development of most boy their age.
In fact, arguably, most grown men cannot love deeply and will never be so well *ethically* developed.
She is raising two very compassionate souls…
So, in a sense, she’s carrying a much lighter burden than many other women.
(Mothers with heartless sons have a really heavy burden.)
P.S. — Please know there are no hard feelings, from this end, Faith.
P.P.S — mizchulita, you say, “There are all kinds of people who think they have the answer”; from that point of view, I won’t offer ‘advice’; simply, I say this: I am inspired by this Youtube (“Forget What You Know: Jacob Barnett at TEDxTeen”):
And, this CD audiobook did me great good, some years back (“Selections from ‘A Course in Miracles’ [ABRIDGED] [Abridged, Audiobook, CD]”)
You’re probably aware of “A Course in Miracles”; years ago, upon freeing myself from psychiatry, I was greatly helped by a number of people; some were ACIM practitioners; i found that one ACIM audiobook to be, for me, extremely reassuring (listened to it countless times, on countless hikes).
Of course, in my not knowing you, except by your comments, here, on this page, I don’t presume to know if it would appeal to you (or, maybe to your son), as it did to me; however, I offer the link; based on all you’ve said, I think about ACIM, and I feel compelled to mention that one tangible ACIM resource that I felt was, for a time, most amazingly useful…
Yeah, you’re totally right, Jonah and I appreciate you drawing my attention to that slip in mindfulness re: communication. It is a very human tendency to apply our own reactions and assume understandings of other people’s lives.
I responded more hastily than I’d like to have, due to being in between errands, and from a somewhat emotional place…both factors that affect the integrity of communication. However, I can say that I was speaking from a place of good intention – though this thread has certainly illuminated the shortcomings of good intention. I could have said “that sounds, to me, like it is heavy” or “that would be heavy for me” rather than declaring someone else’s experiences to be “heavy.”
It is not fair to think that, because I am a mom and because I have contended with my own sense of being under seige by dark forces, that I can possibly estimate anything of what is or is not heavy within someone else’s life. I do know that feeling that one’s circumstances constitute “a very lonely experience” can itself, for a lot of folks, be “heavy.” However, that is their determination to make.
Don’t ever worry about offending me by pointing out inconsistencies or gaps in the quality of my participation in discussion, etc. I actually prefer people to let me know when they think I have crossed some nuanced line, because I am learning and un-learning. Feedback is helpful, because it is important to me to communicate with integrity and to not violate anyone’s right to make and express their own meaning of their life and experiences. It’s not for me to say anything is anything…which is a challenge at times, because of my background in analytical social sciences and opinionated culture. “That’s good, that’s bad…that’s heavy, that’s light.” It’s not for anyone to say what anything is other than ourselves and valuation of experience is at the root of pathologizing or diminishing particular modes of being human.
So, thank you.
This comment reminds me of what bothers me so much about Seth’s (hi, Seth – we don’t need to discuss this here, but I do think this is relevant to the topic and to this comment) vision for a messianic mad pride movement. The proposal makes a lot of determinations about what people ought to think about their experiences and what they ought to do with their lives, which is kind of the same mechanism used by prescriptive and prognostic psychiatry…”Your experiences mean this and you must be this as a result and you must do this as a result.”
Of course, it is much different in content and there are other factors (the salvation of the planet and humanity, etc. and the tendency for shaman initiates who refuse their calling to reputedly become soul sick, and all sorts of other considerations) – but, messianic mad pride as framed by Seth (hi Seth, I am not being hyper-critical or dismissive of the value of your perspective or scholarship, just expressing some issues I have with the underlying assumption of the right to determine what someone else’s experiences must necessarily mean to them and what they ought to do in the course of their lives) is a little problematic.
Anyway, I hope I didn’t cross lines too heavily with you, mizchulita…I think, if nothing else, I was just trying to say, “That sounds difficult. That sort of thing would be hard for me. Damn those dark forces. I wish they’d leave people alone.”
Something I am, because of my job, in the habit of doing is saying, “in my experience, here are things I have found helpful” and I do tend to be a little pedantic, because I have been an educator and a mentor for a long time in a lot of different realms. It’s obnoxious and I try to keep it to a minimal outside of designated roles and contexts.
So, again, thank you, Jonah…for helping me to be more aware of a couple of growth edges in my manner of relating to people and their experiences.
Faith, thank you so much for showing me the Icarus Project. I visited the forums and was amazed to read how people struggle in similar ways to my sons.
Jonah, thank you for the links you’ve provided. I’m looking forward to watching the video when I get an opportunity. I love your perspective on my sons — they are treasures, I believe. <3
Regarding assumptions, well, I would be hard-pressed not to make them myself. Fact is, some things just suck. My sons seeing demons is one of those things. My younger son has auditory, visual, tactile and olfactory hallucinations. He has described being eviscerated by demons and feeling every bit of it. It is indeed a horror.
Yet I am thankful for the beauty in my life and theirs. One thing this whole business has taught me is that everyone carries around a goodly amount of pain. We relate to some people's more than others due to our own experiences, I'm sure. So I don't feel my pain is special in any way, but it is indeed pain. It is heavy. So is what a lot of other people deal with. It is what it is.
I appreciate the empathy, information, referrals and visualization of light and protection so very much.
I think when we simply love one another, the badness has to retreat — at least a little.
mizchulita, thank you.
If I could make a digital heart here, like on facebook, I would…because that’s all I really have to say.
I’m so glad our paths crossed here…please reach out any time.
Mizchulita, Faith, Jonah
Wow Faith –inadvertently I presume– just drew me into this conversation. She wrote, “This comment reminds me of what bothers me so much about Seth’s … vision for a messianic mad pride movement. The proposal makes a lot of determinations about what people ought to think about their experiences and what they ought to do with their lives, which is kind of the same mechanism used by prescriptive and prognostic psychiatry…”
That is malarkey, and I told that to Faith before (months ago and more recently also) but I’m trying to filter out what about Faith’s statement above and your’s– has to do with you and your sons. Rather than with debates I had with Faith.
BTW you know I’m an anti-establishment psychologist–and none of what you say seems nuts to me.
My first response was the same as Faith’s first response–although not quite as extreme. It sounds as if you feel very burdened by what your sons are going through. And your responsibility to protect them–that’s a heavy task. I don’t envy you.But I admire your responsibility as a mother. That’s impressive.
I also agree with Jonah that psychiatry, and the whole mental health system, is a “system designed to thwart mystical[ or spiritual] experiences.” I know you agree.
Unlike many people I believe in demons. There are good demons or spirits and bad demons. And while we all prefer good demons or angels some of the most important experiences occur from interacting with–wrestling with– hostile demons. Of course I think of the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with the angel.
Faith was referring to my theory about Mad Pride. I wanted to see the Mad Pride movement follow through on its original idea–that what the shrinks call “mental illness” is a gift. A gift that needs to be taken care of and cultivated.I got the term Mad gifts from the Icarus Project. They said madness (like the ability to talk to spirits) was a dangerous gift because if you don’t treat it CARE-fully, it could backfire. You might end up in a psych ward which is not good/ But I believe in this idea. I was
saying it for years. It sounds to me that YOU agree with me, that you already think that way. The name of my latest book is The Spiritual Gift of Madness.
founders of the Icarus Project.
I’ve been critical–in my book– of some of the leaders of the mad pride movement, for abandoning–repudiating that idea.
I have specifically said that I believe that many mad people, people labeled bipolar or schizophrenic by the establishment believe it is their calling to save the earth. And I believe they are often correct. And some of them have had visions of what Jesus called the kingdom of heaven or the Kingdom of God on earth. Those visions should be cherished–they are gifts from God, they are glimpses of the new order God wants to bring into existence. And I strongly believe many of these people–I call them mad people using mad in a positive way– could make a contribution to saving the planet. But they also have to get grounded. They have to have good friendships and good relationships. If they’re teenagers they have to have good relationships with their peers and their parents.
I wonder about your sons: Why at this stage of their lives are they embroiled with DARK spirits? Your older son has chosen to communicate with these dark beings. That’s courageous. And you mention that he (and his brother)hate injustice. You are implying there is a relationship between his communication with spirits and his hatred of injustice and exploitation. That’s a very interesting and very original idea. It confirms some of my theories. Would you mind telling me what is the relationship as you see it? I could possibly get some insight from that.
I also have to wonder what is happening on a more mundane level. In order to successfully take on great spiritual endeavors one ought to have one’s more mundane relationships in order. If Faith thought I was advocating ignoring that she was wrong. I believe in both. But not having spoken to your sons I cannot say that this spiritual battle is or is not the wisest course of action for them to take at this point of their life. What about their Dad? You don’t mention him. Probably that is because he is not at home. Do they see him? Do they miss him? This is an important relationship when you are 14. If possible it would be good if the boys could see their father regularly–if he appreciates them. Are YOU friends with their father? Do you have a partner? You are probably mostly alone. That can be lonely, especially when you are so socially isolated because you have advanced ideas like you all do. It sounds like you’ve had most of the responsibility for raising them.. That must be very hard, especially with this intense spiritual stuff happening.
I can’t help asking these questions–they occur to me naturally because I was a family therapist
in a clinic and studied it for two years AFTER I got my Ph.D. and I was good at it. But I got fired for encouraging clients to get off psychiatric drugs. Particularly kids. They are the worst drugs––much worse than pot is for kids. Because of my position against psychiatric drugs, I’m not employable in the private sector. I still counsel people when they contact me.
It sounds like you’re not on the drugs. You’re smart. If you are on them you have to get off very slowly. Did you read Peter Breggin’s book Toxic Psychiatry? It’s a great book, although I don’t agree 100%. I don’t know where you live but you know the shrinks and teachers today are all pressuring kids to go on psych drugs. If they found out about your religious beliefs, or your kids communication with spirits you could get in trouble.
You have to be careful, you know that. BE very careful.
So it’s a good thing your son and you have that friend–the friend of yours
And it’s good thing your sons have YOU. Most parents sad to say are listening to the shrinks and trying to get their kids on drugs– the poison they call medication. But it seems your kids need more of a support network. It’s really unfortunate that even the Churches are pushing people to go to shrinks. I wrote a book on that Unholy Madness: The Church Surrender to Psychiatry. I have 2 books that argue Christians should oppose Psychiatric system. As I said I wish thre were more of a support system for you and others.And I don’t know to whom to refer you. You’re not in the NY area.
If you’re in Faith’s area– Asheville N Carolina– she could help you.. Maybe someone here would know some persons or groups in your area–wherever it is. Or Jonah. I don’t know where Donna lives.
The Icarus Project might have a chapter. Do you know Mind Freedom?
Your kids could call me if they wanted.
Unfortunately this anti-psychiatric, Mad Pride project, is at its beginning. We need to build up networks. Some of it can be done on the Internet and by phone. But probably not all of it.
So get in touch with any of us here. My email is [email protected]
PS You or your sons might be interested in this radio show I did
http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/2012/10/RIR-121023.php THe first hour is free.
I also did Coast to Coast lat July–July 30 I think.
Seth Farber, Ph.D.
Wonderful “rambling” comment (in every way). In fact, I agree with your sentiment, “most psychiatrists have the capacity to be good and conscientious people.” Furthermore, I believe that most psychiatrists are well-meaning. I.e., most are *trying* to do good, in their work; but, of course, we all know that ‘well-meaningness’ does *not* at all necessarily equate with good results, nor does it turn one into a, “good and conscientious person,” in all reality. (And, what proportion of people, in *any* line of work, can be accurately described, unreservedly, as, ‘good and conscientious people,’ truly?)
Different kinds of work – and whatever particular trainings they entail – attract and/or produce different qualities of personal character; to evaluate the general character of those who are drawn to any occupation, much depends upon the nature of the so-called “good and services” offered, in that line of work. (Note: I agree with Maxima, in her comment, of April 2, 2013 at 10:08 am, wherein she states, “…we shouldn’t trash psychiatrists, but I think frankly monsterous people are drawn to finding the monster in others and controlling it with all force and toxic means. And then their training develops it the psychiatric student such intricate dissecting and tagging illnesses. I think just taking a class about how to use the DSM warps even social workers.” …But, in this comment, of mine, I am not going to dwell on the potential ‘bad apples’ created by psychiatry.)
Many kinds of so-called “goods and services” are delivered at the expense of *much* resultant human suffering, and many people (maybe *most* adults, in very large societies), regardless of what kind of work they do, are at least *partially* responsible for the perpetration of horrible crimes, against humanity. (No matter how *good* and *conscientious* we try to be, we are somewhat ‘bad’ and ‘careless’ in ways; we may effectively forgive ourselves for this; such acts of self-forgiveness may be necessary, at times, just to keep us moving along, doing the basics of what needs doing, caring for ourselves and our loved ones; but, being self-forgiving won’t make us good and conscientious…)
I should do my best to avoid speaking for others, who can speak for themselves, so here I speak for myself…
In being a born and bred a ‘middle class’ citizen of the U.S., it seems to me, I’ve been programmed to view the extent of my abilities to be good and conscientious, as ultimately somewhat *limited*; i.e., I find it virtually impossible to become just plain good and conscientious, while being part of my society, which is so *largely* inclined to encourage *self-centered* attitudes and *quick-to-attack* (‘defensive’) responses, when feeling threatened by a presumed ‘enemy’ (or, ‘Other’).
It seems to me, that we (U.S. citizens) are *all* — to some extent – defending cowardice (and, to some extent, we are all ‘bad’ people), appeasing perpetrators of horrible violence; it happens as soon as we pay taxes, to our government; and, it is only under threat of imprisonment for not paying taxes, that most people do pay them!
Any measurable, personal monetary earnings *must* be reported to our government, which takes its ‘fair’ share – one third of which goes to military expenditures. Some of us make sincere gestures, to protest certain military expenditures that seem immoral; yet, at the end of the day, we accept, that – funded in part, by our own, personal earnings – our government is, round-the-clock, perpetuating *countless* violent crimes, globally (including crimes against its own citizens).
Of course, our military is populated by various personalities; many soldiers are basically good and conscientious; nonetheless, horrible violence is perpetuated by large operations, of the military – and by individuals who are not good and conscientious but are trained and authorized to kill presumed ‘enemies’; when the so-called “War on Terror” began, we were told by our leaders that we’d be winning hearts and minds; yet, arguably, the U.S. has done far more harm than good, in many of its recent battles. It has been creating many enemies and winning few hearts and minds; and, clearly we’ve wreaked havoc in some places. Yet, our journalists are mainly ‘embedded’ with the military, and whoever steps out of line, by reporting its most unseemly violence, shall be, almost certainly, prosecuted (if not ‘just’ persecuted by his/her fellow military colleagues). U.S. Army private Bradley Manning (after heroically exposing horrendous war crimes) is put on trial, as a supposed ‘traitor’ to his country.
Meanwhile, in Guantanamo prison, men languish for years, never having been accused of a crime; perhaps, some (and, probably, *not* more than a few) were once a *significant* threat to the security of our country, but most were just defending their people against U.S. invaders.
Some are forcibly drugged, with so-called “antipsychotic medications”; i.e., Guantanamo prisoners said to have lost their minds are tortured with chemicals, by psychiatrists, to ostensibly make them ‘better’; that ‘treatment’ (I well know) can make life unbearable; so, it is no surprise to me, many Guantanamo prisoners are now on hunger strikes – refusing to eat. (They are reportedly forcibly injected with sugar water, so they’ll remain alive.)
Because I know how deluded *psychiatrists* can be, I suspect most of those psychiatrists are well-meaning; and, yes, I do believe most psychiatrists are well-meaning – and capable of being good and conscientious; most people are…
That does not negate this fact, that: *forcing* neurological ‘treatments’ on so-called “patients,” one is inevitably *violating* those “patient’s” human rights. (Most psychiatrists will claim otherwise; they say that their physician’s oath, to “Do no harm,” requires them force such ‘treatment’ on people; but, that is the parroting of their faith; it is an ideological belief – not a fact; it is a claim running contrary to many facts, regarding the nature of those drugs; and, their refusal to accept this (i.e., the psychiatrists’ persistent claims that they are not human rights violators) does *not* make them good and conscientious. They are mercenaries, committing human rights violations.
From this point of view, I’ll not be convinced that *any* psychiatrist is doing good and conscientious work unless or until s/he fully and unequivocally, openly renounces the ‘power’ and ‘duty’ of *forcing* psychiatric ‘treatments’ on people.
No one should be empowered to *force* these drugs on anyone.
Please, understand, no one need agree with me, to earn or keep my respect; and, no one should feel I say any of this to dispute any other points of view, in this conversation.
This is simply to relay my way of thinking and how I feel – especially as I do say that I agree with Faith, when she explains, “most psychiatrists have the capacity to be good and conscientious people.”
Thank you som much for so thoughtfully articulating all of that.
“That does not negate this fact, that: *forcing* neurological ‘treatments’ on so-called “patients,” one is inevitably *violating* those “patient’s” human rights. (Most psychiatrists will claim otherwise; they say that their physician’s oath, to “Do no harm,” requires them force such ‘treatment’ on people; but, that is the parroting of their faith; it is an ideological belief – not a fact; it is a claim running contrary to many facts, regarding the nature of those drugs; and, their refusal to accept this (i.e., the psychiatrists’ persistent claims that they are not human rights violators) does *not* make them good and conscientious. They are mercenaries, committing human rights violations.
From this point of view, I’ll not be convinced that *any* psychiatrist is doing good and conscientious work unless or until s/he fully and unequivocally, openly renounces the ‘power’ and ‘duty’ of *forcing* psychiatric ‘treatments’ on people.”
I actually think that, at this point, knowing what is known and with the UN declaration that forced treatment and restraint are torture, that psychiatrists who violates human rights (which is any psychiatrist that engages in forceful or coercive treatment)should be held accountable.
The apologist in my says that, of course, many psychiatrists don’t know that what they are doing is considered to be torture. Did the UN send a letter to every psychiatrist in the country? Probably not. Did every psychiatrist read the Harrow report? Probably not.
Still, there is very little excuse for them not plainly seeing the obvious pain and trauma they cause to people, who cry and beg them to not do what they are doing. Children even. Thus, I think you are correct in your explanation that the training and culture of the field – which is largely shaped by pharma and institutions of normative social control – actually do damage people’s capacity to see humans clearly and to discern the effects of their actions. Deluded is an apt term and I’m glad you used it.
You know that policeman that I mentioned up yonder? Well, that was when I realized that these systems of power, profit, and control hurt even those who participated in them and perpetuate them.
I can’t say that most psychiatrists don’t know that forced treatment and pharmaceutical toxicity is harmful…it is so obviously harmful. I think a lot of psychiatrists confuse iatrogenic illness and distress as being the “effects of the illness.” Oh, that makes me so angry…but, I won’t write in all caps and I won’t go on and on about it. It’s all been said…and we say it again and again…
So, yes, I agree that monstrous acts should not be excused on the basis of one’s potential to act in non-monstrous ways, nor on the basis of delusions of “thinking it was the right thing to do.”
There is no excuse – ever – to treat people as inhumanely as psychiatry does and the APA and it’s associates should be held collectively accountable and collectively responsible.
It is getting to the point where any psychiatrist who claims naivete in perpetuating harm is only lying to themselves…and their “patients”…and their patients families.
I really have a lot of confidence that the people are – in a big, sweeping, tipping point sort of wave – going to figure it out…
Of course, if the doctors are delusional with power and reward and the people are all drugged and frightened…well, those factors somewhat impedes realization of a paradigm shift.
I am no expert in anything, but even a highschool dropout such as myself can see, both anecdotally and in the formal literature, that it’s pretty obvious that neuroleptics cause bodily harm, cognitive decline, and potential epigenetic effects. In most of the studies, due to samples comprised largely of individuals on neuroleptics, you could just take out the word “schizophrenia” and put in the words “the effects of neuroleptics” – as I suspect that, in a lot of these qualitative inventories, that is what they are actually seeing…drug effects.
How can such educated people be soooooooo foolish?
You’re right, they are totally deluded.
Ah, excuse me…thank you SO MUCH, as opposed to som much. Comments on computer screens are hard to proofread sometimes.
w/respect and appreciation,
Thank you, too, Faith. Well said.
I’m glad to hear you qualified your statement on shrinks.
I’m glad that Jonah discussed some of the realities of US military.
Because I think you under-estimate the significance of the fact that evil is systemic.
Donna can tell you about the Milligram experiments and several others similar studies.
The fact that people do not like doing evil does not mean they will desist
They have all kinds of defense mechanisms
To permit them to carry on business as usual/
Two days ago I signed a petition urging the Nobel PeacePrize Commmittee to give the Nobel Peace Prize to Bradley Manning.
Today I signed the petition demanding Obama be asked to give it back.
I’d prefer it go to Manning if I had a choice.
Next to my signature I wrote‘I supported Obama in 2008 because he said–and I believed him: “I don’t only want to end the war. I want to end the mindset that makes wars possible.” Now I know he only said that to get the nomination. In the back room he probably laughed at us. And he’s probably laughing at those who gave him the Nobel. He selects targets and then sends drones. And he lies about the number of civilians killed.’
I’m sorry to tell you but it is true that he selects targets, and that he has deliberately misled the public about the number and % of civilians killed. Most are civilians–not “terrorists.” A study by the Brookings Institute leads us to believe for every “insurgent” killed, there are, on average, 10 civilians killed as well. A study done jointly by Stanford Law School and the NYU School of Law claims that the US government, as a matter of policy underreports the number of civilians killed and wounded in drone attacks.Further compounding all of this is the controversial US policy called the “double tap.” This involves striking an initial target and then, as people arrive to give aid to the original victims, following up with repeated attacks on the same site. This war against terrorists of course creates terrorists. The reason Obama does it is because it’s good for business–the military-industrial complex. The same reasons psychiatrists prescribe drugs.
Yes I marched against Bush war–there was no stopping it.
But that does not mean marching is always futile.
There has to be a conflict within the ruling elites. The Leaders have to be weakened position.
Protests brought an end to the war in Vietnam. Nixon was afraid of civil unrest, mutiny in the Army.
Nothing less than thousands of people in the street will stop Obama from approving of the Keystone pipeline, even though it will increase the risk of the annihilation of humanity.
Jonah spoke of Gitmo
Jonah, the majority of prisoners left at Gitmo were declared innocent and cleared to leave
But now they can’t. They may die there.
The law, the NDAA, was passed and Obama signed it:It proscribes the release of any prisoners
until the war against terrorism is over.
I did not see any point in restating my position on MIA again on the messianic.
Or on Reality Sandwich which IS messianic, although they don’t use Christian terms
So I repeat.( I hope there is not going to be a lot of contention over “redemption”
Well tht’s a term at least Donna and Mxima would accept):
OK there are spiritual organizations that are not messianic that have value, although I would argue they are inadequate to the needs of the time.
However I don’t think a spiritual organization or worldview is of any value
if it not based on the awareness that currently the world politically is under the rule by a dangerous elite—the proverbial 1% —and metaphysically it is under of the reign of Ignorance. Or ignorance or evil etc….
And solution is redemption.
In Eastern tradition redemption is not “by grace alone.” It is by cooperation of the Divine and human
“However I don’t think a spiritual organization or worldview is of any value
if it not based on the awareness that currently the world politically is under the rule by a dangerous elite—the proverbial 1% —and metaphysically it is under of the reign of Ignorance. Or ignorance or evil etc….
And solution is redemption.”
YES! …and I do agree that human ignorance (systemically imposed and maintained by complacency, fear, and disconnection) is a huge barrier to redemption.
Seth, I have meant to respond more to your posts here, but have been short on time. I deeply appreciate your scholarship and intelligence.
Nice re: the Manning petition. I signed that, too. I haven’t seen the one for taking back the one they gave to Obama. Disgusting that he even got one.
Anyway, thanks and – yes – I agree.
Wow. Sorry those first few sentences are a little disorienting. I was trying to figure out if I should address the response to Jonah, Maxima, Seth, Donna…all?…and so my words got jumbled. It’s late and I am, apparently, tired.
I hope you all have a good night and week.
True wellness will include spirituality.
“Recovery” is a word I am tired of. Recover what? Recover the state of mind you were in that led to illness?
Recovery sounds like going backward.
Is there a better word we can use that represents positive change towards something new?
Seth, et al, I address you because of your criticism of psychoanalysis. Breggin really believes psychotherapy is the answer? I don’t agree with him at all. I think this class of mind experts is part of the problem. We should become people who don’t need experts. Everyone should become his brother’s keeper. Everyone should prize the skill of listening. Everyone should struggle to attain peace, and to love. That’s what the world needs, not a growing class of paid psychotherapists. The trauma happens in an instant. The rebuff, rejection of something said which is so loud it damages the person. We should wait a week until we can see our therapist?
I don’t like that Breggin diagnoses. Calls people schizophrenic, bipolar. He called leftists mentals? The us/them is what has to stop. The putting people outside what is considered good or normal. That has to stop. It pushes people further outside, out into the alone, out into the strange, the deviant, the maybe dangerous. And it;s been done to them first. It’s like a mother dog killing the rut of the litter. If we talk to the health, if we talk to the whole, that will get stronger. It’s in our minds what we do to each other creates ‘mental illness’. I think we do this because we are afraid of the monsters inside ourselves. Yes, Faith, we shouldn’t trash psychiatrists, but I think frankly monsterous people are drawn to finding the monster in others and controlling it with all force and toxic means. And then their training develops it the psychiatric student such intricate dissecting and tagging illnesses. I think just taking a class about how to use the DSM warps even social workers. I’m not going to do it. I’m changing my focus. I know you’ve see success with talking with your old psychiatrist, but I think that is very rare. The best way to fix psychiatry is give psychiatrists nothing to do. Come on, without bio psychiatry, what are they going to do? All become psychotherapists? Talkers are not drawn to the practice any longer. People persons are no longer drawn. Simplistic technocrats who want to make A great living without getting blood on surgical gowns are drawn to becoming psychiatrists. Focusing on reforming the practice is not going to be fruitful. They have to be fired by the public at large.
Doesn’t Breggin promote empathetic living? I was thinking of going. I don’t want to become a counselor any more, but I do want to get licensed as an energy practitioner and learn how to talk to people in extreme states.
Just for the record, I’ve posted several times to respond to attacks on Dr. Peter Breggin. HE DOES NOT USE DSM OR ANY OTHER BOGUS DIAGNOSES!!
I am not saying this to attack you in any way, but as I said in my post above, people end up attacking religions, people and lots of other things when they really don’t know enough about them to be fair to what they are criticizing.
I don’t know about some of Seth Farber’s claims. Seth has some unusual views in some areas and he talks about their various disagreements. First, it’s hard to say who’s right or if some claims may be misunderstandings, relationship fallouts, etc. Also, Seth is talking about events or things supposedly said and done in isolation that happened a long time ago. People change as they mature and acquire more experience and wisdom.
You speak of Dr. Breggin thinking psychotherapy is the be all and end all and I don’t recall him saying that. But, he does say empathic therapy whereby one deals with the real problems is far superior to covering them up and lying and denying them to push bogus DSM stigmas and toxic drugs known to destroy lives as is done by mainstream biopsychiatry.
An example is a child or anyone being regularly subjected to verbal, emotional, psychological abuse and terror the abuser does to deliberately destroy the victims’ self esteem, freedom, efficacy, independence, health and even survival. Going to someone like Dr. Breggin versus a biopsychiatrist means the difference between life saving validation of one’s reality versus life destroying invalidation of one’s reality. Since abuse victims are known to blame themselves for the abuse in most cases and suffer a variety of stress and trauma symptoms, finding an honest, empathic therapist and avoiding a stigma/drug pusher biopsychiatrist can mean the difference between symbolic and real life and death. Of course, each situation like individuals is unique, so one must judge what is needed for their own unique case.
Anyway, as I’ve said many times, though I’m sure Dr. Breggin shares normal human flaws like the rest of us, he has made a huge, immeasurable contribution to humanity by exposing the dangers and fraud of biopsychiatry from the time it began when he wrote the book, TOXIC PSYCHIATRY, warning one and all that the most dangerous thing one could do is visit a psychiatrist.
How about getting the facts from the horse’s mouth so to speak and reading Dr. Breggin’s web sites, books available in libraries and on the web/Amazon before you make up your mind.
Just a suggestion!! I don’t believe in forced treatment!
Finally, as I’ve said elsewhere many times, I owe Dr. Breggin a huge debt because of his brave whistleblowing with warnings like TOXIC PSYCHIATRY that helped me save loved ones from certain destruction. That’s why I feel the need to speak up as Seth knows, so he continues to write such things knowing I’ll probably take the bait. But, I am also writing this for your benefit.
I will also warn you that many therapists just collude with biopsychiatry, stigmatize, blame and invalidate the victims and aid and abett those in power as Dr. Bruce Levine exposes on his blog. I’d rather trust Dr. Breggin or someone like him any day of the week. CAVEAT EMPTOR.
I am deeply indebted to Dr Breggin as anyone is whose spent any time in a state hospital. I would have been lobotomized surgically bu my third visit I’m sure. I have read Toxic Psychiatry and I have read Your Drug May be Your Problem. I have studied his web site. I have links and quotes from him on my web site, if you would care to check. He does use ‘schizophrenia’ and ‘bipolar’ In TOxic. I was offended I have emailed him and Ginger many times and I have called. I have poured myself out in these communications. I want to know what pre drug asylums are like for a writing project. No answer. It says on his add for his conference he is available to talk with there. I do not have money right now. I don’t have a car because I was rear ended by an eighteen wheeler five days before I was committed this last time. I’ve written and asked for a student discount.
I don’t like that society has a need to pay people to talk to. I really think it’s a sign of really serious problems. I have a vision of one day people supporting each other enough to do away with therapy.
Your response has offended me, I’m letting you know that. You don’t know me. Breggin does use labels. And as much as I truly appreciate him, he is ticking me off right now. I have that freedom don’t I to feel differently that you do? Toxic was the most important book I’ve read when I read it. I’m just not a Breggin fan right now for personal reasons. It’s pissing me off that I can not contact him personally, ok?
Sorry if I offended you. I communicated with Dr. Breggin’s wife fairly recently and she said that Dr. Breggin DOES NOT USE DSM OR ANY OTHER DIAGNOSES in his therapy. So, if he did in the past when dealing with patients directly, which I find hard to believe, he does not do so now.
I admit I read TOXIC PSYCHIATRY a long time ago and don’t have a copy handy now. If I recall, he addressed the fraud of the bogus bipolar stigma by comparing two sports teams with people cheering for their respective sides with one going up and one going down according to how one’s team was doing that could be stigmatized as bipolar to show the absurdity of the label when using it for life’s normal ups and downs.
Also, he was very empathetic about sexism and abuse of women in that book while pointing out women were more frequently victimized by psychiatry.
I know that I got the point that biopsychiatry was a total dangerous fraud from TOXIC PSYCHIATRY and Breggin’s later writings though he may have used psychiatry’s labels at the time to explain and expose them. We are much more sensitive now about using certain words or labels like “mental illness” as we have become better informed in the Survivor Movement.
Anyway, I may have misunderstood your posts in that I thought you were saying you were going to go to Dr. Breggin’s empathy conference and so forth, but changed your mind due to others’ comments. I’m sorry if I misunderstood and caused you more anguish.
I’m glad you were able to benefit from Dr. Breggin’s work and I am sorry you are having difficulties and feel betrayed now. Just because I provided what information I have since we try to help each other here if we can, I certainly wasn’t pretending to know you or your situation, tell you how you should feel/think/act or offend you in any way.
I wish you the best.
I accept your apology, but please capital letters are not ok if you want to be in good braces with me. They yell. I never said he used the DSM. I said he used labels. He called patient schizophrenics and some bipolar. I read Toxic last Summer. I do not remember anything about any two sides. I remember him expressing a lot of frustration working with those have he called bipolar.. In fact, I remember he said he in fect felt tempted to use drugs on them, but he did not.
Yeah, I’m about to start a writing project and I wanted to feature him and his work in it. Too bad.
I don’t know if I’ll go to Syracuse or not. I’m sort of spent and reading the ad for it that he and Ginger would be available to talk to just kind of hit me wrong.
So, please don’t use capitals, heh?
And do take a look at my web site. He’s extensively quoted and refererenced to of two of my five pages.
I did maybe say He diagnoses. Most psychiatrists don’t use the DSM to diagnose schizophrenia. Hear voices, see things, talk about religion–any one of these symptoms means schizophrenia. One symptom…aren’t you supposed to have five? I don’t know. I really don’t want to know either. It was the only thing that bugged me about the book.
I want to concur with Maxima. Please do not use all caps when posting here.
Yeah, ‘recovery’, let the medical model people have it. They are the ones that think it’s impossible to even get back to who you were. They’re the one’s who make it impossible to get back to the way you were.
I guess I’ll have to go back and read Toxic Psychiatry again. It helped my situation a great deal when I read it. Yet, this book is pretty old now, so are you still finding such offensive language and claims in his recent works and web sites? I don’t recall being offended by anything I’ve read by him lately and I’ve read a lot of his articles, web sites, books, etc. Another point is Toxic Psychiatry was written when the new bogus DSM medical model of biopsychiatry first came out, so it served more as an SOS emergency warning and plan to avoid or escape the most dangerous thing you could do of seeing a biopsychiatrist. It also served to warn people to avoid toxic psych drugs and other psych treatments. I do recall Breggin saying how hard it was to deal with certain people and that he was tempted to drug, but didn’t because he was against it. He was probably trying to show it took a lot more patience to avoid exposing his patients to toxic drugs and limiting their healing process to therapeutic methods.
However, after reading comments about the so called expert on schizophrenia in a featured video on this web site now, I decided that I shouldn’t make any assumptions/comments about what he said since I haven’t experienced that. The reason is that those who have experienced it themselves or with loved ones were very offended and upset by the talk despite the fact that he had tailored his comments to seem consistent with Survivors I may not have picked up. Thus, those in the know about this man and the reality of so called schizophrenia or psychosis were able to blow him out of the water and add a great deal of other information with which I was unfamiliar. At the same time, some thought he wasn’t the worst around in fairness.
I have made comments about things I have experienced with loved ones that involve trauma/abuse issues, but I think most of what is stigmatized as “mental illness” starts with trauma at some point anyway based on lots of research.
I appreciate the link to your web site and I will check it out more.
As I said above, in my opinion Dr. Breggin has made a huge contribution to the Survivor movement, and I owe him big time. I just don’t think we can expect such people who have sacrificed a lot to serve as whistleblowers and saviors of others to be perfect, faultless or in total agreement with each and every Survivor though I empathize with your frustration. Needless to say, it’s difficult to accept my heroes have clay feet, but that’s to be expected from all fallible humans like the rest of us.
I hope it works out for you about attending the conference. Thanks for responding and sharing your feelings, experience and web site link.
finding a new plateau
singing a new song
At the summit
getting my wind
after the storm
This is such an amazing list, Maxima! I am going to copy/paste it and post it to my wall. I totally agree with you and georgep re: the use of the word “recovery.” It has been largely co-opted and could imply some return to some supposed “functional” state or an absence of “symptoms” or something. I always encourage people to define the word for themselves, and consider whatever I might call my “recovery” to be a recovery of myself. I have, at times, used the word reclamation. I have never defined “recovery” as being “without symptoms” or “normal” – because elements of experience that are seen as “symptoms” are vital parts of who I am and “normal” is a very unhealthy state for me to try to attain. There is some value in “recovery”, because in “recovery” – people have the chance to identify what they are “recovering from” and what they are “recovering.”
I use it here for the same reason that “mental illness” isn’t in quotations in the title…because, at this point, there are still a lot of people who identify with the term. Moreover, there are a lot of people who still don’t even think “recovery” is possible and so the term, in some ways, does have dialogic utility.
I am less interested in writing for the benefit of people who already understand why recovery might be a troublesome word and more inclined to try to communicate something to people who haven’t had the opportunity to explore new ways of thinking about the words they use when they describe themselves and their lives.
Thanks again for this amazing list of synonyms. I really am going to make a list of it. It’d be kind of a cool and artful blogpost, “other words for recovery.” We need some new words for psychosis, too. I use the term reckoning a lot, as it has several different meanings…to face something, to find direction, to navigate as in sailing on some open waters.
I hope you have a good night. I have really appreciated your thoughts here.
(…but, I still don’t like to think of anyone as “monstrous.” People can behave monstrously, they can think monstrously, they can even feel monstrously and do horrifc and abhorrent things that are, objectively, monstrous. Does that make them monstrous? I really just can’t believe that it does…at least not all the way, forever, maybe people turn into monsters…but, people are transformative beings. We can change. We do change.)
Note: one of my favorite synonyms from the list is uncovering. the way georgep wrote “re-cover” made me picture a figure piled with blankets, a mirror draped, something “unpleasant” hidden. I like the word uncovery. 🙂
I assure I thought a lot about Dr. Breggin when I was in the state hospital the last time, pretty much unmedicated. I am very great for his whole body of work, He opened the door with his statement about schizophrenics bring a lot like mystics, onlt traumatized and isolated. ANd of course I assure you would have been a candidate for a surgical lobotomy the time I tried to escape twice and they cranked up my neurolyptics 166% and kept me for three months. I only had one issue, he used the word schizophrenic and bipolar.
I’ve been hitting on the therapeutic culture, all mental health care workers. The paid mentor class just seems so contrived. The natural thing in a whole community/family would have therapeutic moments as needed, for free. It’s a dream. AN ideal. SO I aimed at him. I’d just like to know if I went, he’d sit down with me with a tape recorder and reminisce about his days as an undergrad befriended an inmate in the asylum and working through Congress alone to protect our brains. He’s not a young man. All of that will be lost unless he’s kept a journal. It’s a real thing I want to do and all I’ve met with is red tape.
I did call to philadelphia and made arrangements to stay with a nun there. There’s a priest up there I want to counsel with. He doesn’t speak English. He knows the old ways of our church and I want to know if he sees happening what I fear is happening in the churches. Everybody calls me a conspiracy nut. My husband would understand, but he’s passed on. This one man is about the only man I can reach easily that, if he sees what I do, And I’m pretty sure he does, His group has broken away from the pan orthodox church movement which is a melting pot of all the errors known in the churches. They’ve broken away–the Georgian Orthodox Church, and I have but I am all alone. So it will be worth the trip just to see him.
There’s a sister church in DC closer, but he’s a monk. I expect he will be wise.
So i’m out of sorts, being out of a church community. Haven’t been out of some church since 2980. This helped disconnect me–how’s that as a word for psychosis Faith? Last December.
Yee, nobody is ever ultimately a monster. I’m disconnected from church and I’ve seen people abused and poisened to the point of fading away and being close to death at the whim of psychiatrists who do show signs of true sadism. It has flared at me with a threat to put me back on a very high dose of Navane that took me 19 months to wean off of. And I’ve seen a pregnant patient thrown into seclusion by three men. I’ve seen a hindu psychiatrist up the dose of haldol 500% on a very quiet mannered Moslem man. I’ve seen a 28 year old man carried to the hospital twice because he was having ‘heart events’. I asked him how many drugs he took, he told me ten pills.
The new director has put video cameras up in all the bathroom stalls with signs on the inside of the doors in big red letters that the occupant will be video taped for 24/7. Wouldn’t smoke detectors be kinder? That’s what they want. But they also don’t want to have to view the tapes or answer an alarm. Less man hours.
No, Faith, I’ve seen a lot of monstrous stuff. In Nazi Germany the inmates of the concentration camps were easier to throw in the ovens because they were emaciated from starvation. They look less human. Psychiatric long term inmates are disfigured too. Some people enjoy being cruel. Maybe they’ll turn, but I do think it’s possible to get too far into the dark side.. Maybe not as many as I suspect though. But that’s just my suck spiritual state.
Maxima I answered Donna rant about Peter Breggin. My position on Breggin is more “nuanced” than she claims.
You’ll find it above.
He puts the word “schizophrenic in quotation marks. I was not accusing him of using a medical model.
Just because he’s made a great contribution doesn’t mean he’s above criticism.
I personally don’t see therapy as a substitute for redemption–that’s my philosophical difference. Naturally I’m a little bitter because when BReggin realized I was not mainstream enough he made a point of avoiding me.
The strangest episode in Breggin’s life was his involvement with Michael Savage–the Rush Limbaughite radio talk show host. See above / That does seem to be over now. No one is w/o sin–but that was ugly–it why there was a lawssuit.
Anyway in my books I almost always refer to Breggin favorably. SF
Hi, I just wanted to take a minute and share this simple quote (below) with folks on the thread. I have thought a lot about my reluctance to face the darker side (montrous) side of humanity. This is not, I have realized, out of an ignorance (I know, for example, that some people do hideous things like killing children and holding slaves)- but more out of an effort to side-step the mind-spinning angst that I feel when I think about the existence of such things and what such monstrosity says about the species that I am a part of. I have a significant history of misanthropy – of really being deeply disgusted with human beings in general. I have found that such framings of humanity tend to not function well in my mind and heart, they make me feel alienated and despairing and it is easy for monstrousness of a few to globalize into a skewed perception populated by far more monsters than actually exist. I know that there are horrible and deeply wretched people out there…and that monstrousness exists (like most things) on a spectrum, with very few people being what might best be termed evil. I just don’t like to think about this quality of humanity as being a particularly common quality and would much prefer to imagine (and that is really what any worldview is, because we do not and cannot know what is in the hearts of people who are distant strangers to us, but we can make guesses and hold hunches…though the ethics of such, thinking that one knows something of another person are a little tricky and their are dangers in any assumption, because what we see may not be real and, yet, what we perceive becomes real in our minds.)
Anyway, for me, this little quote that opened today’s Beyond Meds post was perfect for this morning’s topic of contemplation:
“There is no way to embrace the totality of life without accepting the ugliness that also exists…it’s a sort of paradoxical conundrum…and…Acceptance doesn’t mean acquiescence…”
(The post was a great round up of responses to crisis fear and I am going to forward it to the person who fb’ed me and asked what to do about his roommate’s “mental health crisis.” By the way, there have been a couple of mentions of community support as an alternative to professional services like psychotherapy. The local collective here experienced a sort of renaissance about 6 months ago and is proving to be an anchor asset in people’s efforts to meet their needs for support, encouragement, and community. Sitting in a room with 10 other people who have – in their way – been there and talking about where “there” is in the landscape of their lives and all the places one might go from that place seems to be immensely helpful to people, healing what years of paid therapy with a stranger (even a kind one)simply cannot…the wounds inflicted in our sense of self and value, natural connection with other people. Plus, a few collective members are “trained peers” and a couple are even mental health professionals, so the skills and information that come with those practices (facilitation of safe spafe, specific mindfulness techiniques, WRAP facilitation, knowledge of resources and perspectives) are a part of it. Nobody participates as a professional, in a hierarchical way though and professional skills are nothing when compared with the act of just being human and honest. We all learn from eachother. It’s pretty awesome and I think every town should have mutual aid networks and community gatherings.
By the way, I admire your spirituality, Maxima…and you’ve seen a lot of awfulness over the past couple of months, so your perspective is bound to hold those images…I hope you find a re-connect with the church that is helpful to you.
hope you all enjoy the day.
“…and would much prefer to imagine…”
(got lost in the parentheses)
I would much prefer to imagine that most people are essentially good.
I think it alienates people from the movement and from the personal relevance of the cause when we compare run-of-the-mill psychiatrists and “mental health practitioners” with, for example, Nazis. I think that is, in ways, as unjust as thinking that anyone with a schizophrenia diagnosis is dangerous.
Faith, thanks, and I pray so too.
The doctors in the State hospital are at another level. it really is a business, an industry which means keeping the beds full. And there is sadism there and racism. The patients needs lawyers.
I’m trying to connect with the human rights specialists I met at the NAACP and the ACLU in Geneva. I’ve spoken to them, I have their contact numbers, but I haven’t told them about the circumstances of particular individuals. I’m going to do that today. After I get sn update on three patients. One is Abdul. He’s served his 180 days, up March 12. He’s accepting the situation. He says, :If Allah want me to die here I will.” He hasn’t spoken to the advocate yet. She’s been out.
That’s a big problem. These folks are so medicated that they just accept what’s happening.
I talked to Abdul at length everyday. He was ok, but the increase of meds started to take its toll before I left. He sounds not good now on the phone. I never knew a Moslem before. He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war. He has grandkids. He works hard when he gets out. His doctor in DC takes him off the meds. But this is the first time he’s been kept for longer than two weeks. You see, when he comes down to the country to check on his diseased mother’s empty house his neighbor, a niece calls the sheriff. She uses the house, the electricity, septic. The police take him down to the State hospital. He has the rep now. His niece sets herself up as his payee, dummied up documents that say she’s his guardian. This niece and the Hindu doctor talk. She shows up at his commitment hearing at treatment team meetings. She mimic’s what the doctor says, “He’s Psychotic.” He’s knocked her off being a payee four times now. He finally called the Social Security and stopped the payments completely.
He’s going to be 65 soon. She can’t do this to him after that, but I think she’s trying to set up some sort of commitment to a nursing home for him or some infirmary.
In the many times I have been coming to the State hospital, there have only been psychiatrists from the old Communist block or India. There are 5000 Indian psychiatrists in the US they have two Indian American Associations for them. They get special mailing from drug companies who sponsor these associations. They pass around articles about how to coerce patients and their families with out using force. No other ethnic group or foreign country has this kind of associations. I just think the cast system mentality is being very useful to the mental health industry at this very severe level. I’ve met some wonderful people from India in my lifetime, but they were Christians. My psychiatrist was from India, not Abdul’s. It was like being an untouchable, cursed to being reincarnated in that class for ever. I would sit in my chair before dawn to pray, read scripture,cry for my friends and fantasize about how exactly I would tell her off. I hated her.
The other is 28 year old black, started by a strict disciplinary father on Ritalin, now on ten drugs. He has the same doctor as Abdul. Abdul saw him when he was healthy ten years ago. Now he slumps in his chair.. They have to bring him a wheelchair. He will slump from a standing position sometimes (the nurses threaten him that if he doesn’t go to his bed he will be thrown in seclusion.) He was taken to the hospital two time in the six weeks I was there. I can hardly understand him, but he says once was a blood clot, once a heart attack.
The other is a black woman, 40sh. a PhD in experimental psychology. A woman with a good job in the school system. One night she thought she was being followed in her car. She stopped and ran in a dark building. She couldn’t get out. She was locked in. She called 911. The police, who are diagnosticians, The hospital is an important industry in a town of 34,000, took her for a psych eval. Thought she was paranoid. She was diagnosed bipolar. Every year she gets pulled in now. She’s now ‘schizophrenic’. This her fourth time she got in a tussle with a relative. The woman attacked her. Her has bite marks. One police officer even said it was self defense. Well, she’s in now for 180 days, Her Russian doctor claims she was violent and non-compliant–she must have been cheeking because her valproic acid levels are too low. Like she going to cheek something that she gets a blood test for,
They’ve put her on the Not Guilty For Reason of Insanity ward–long term really depressing.
She’s appealed her commitment but has the worst court appointed lawyer ever. She has funds to hire the good one,. but she’s not able to follow through with anything. She just sleeps.
I have read that the NAACP is dealing with an issue locally, I cannot find them anywhere.
So, wish me well. The ACLU is publishing about racial discrimination still being a big problem here. Most of these long term folks are black.
I may be spending my social revenue here, but I’ve waited too long in trying this.
Thanks for reading this. My kids think I’m getting too wound up again, one son. I’m OK, They just don’t understand why I need to do anything for those people.
I’m going to be talking to my therapist this afternoon. I really have no one else that is with me on this.
Because I just wrote a comment about not evaluating anyone else’s experience or personhood, I feel a little weird about saying how much I admire your commitment to caring about what happens to the people you have met.
I’ve “known” you for a little while now, Maxima, and I perceive in you a vigilance of heart that consistently astounds me and inspires me.
I’m glad you’re out there.