Helpful and Hopeful Thoughts


The basic idea behind successful psychotherapy is that our thoughts create our feelings. And, luckily, our thoughts are changeable. I have personally experienced how liberating only one thought can be to a complex problem. That’s why I would present some of the thoughts that I have found most useful personally, and in therapy with patients, over 25 years.

The first thought is that there are no discrete psychiatric mental illnesses. It is possible to view all psychological problems as extreme varieties of normal thinking. It is very easy to see that it’s not possible to put a discrete line separating normal thinking from so-called mental illness. For instance, it is normal to be anxious, for many things. A survey of many people about how anxious they felt in a normal day showed that on average people were anxious or worried for at least 50 minutes per day. People who come for treatment are usually anxious a bit longer, but it’s only a question of degree. That means that the strategies that normal people use for alleviating their anxiety may be used for people who worry more. It is just that they have to train more to achieve less anxiety in their lives. It is also quite normal to have days with depressed thoughts, low motivation, feelings of guilt, nights with sleeping problems, days without appetite, etc., all the factors involved in diagnosing major depressive disorder. Very simple strategies for lifting the mood, that work for so-called normal people, will also work for those who define themselves as depressed.

One of the absolutely simplest methods that I have used for the last 10 years, both for myself, my family and all my patients, is to write down three good things that happened during the day. Write a paragraph about each, noting why you think this is a good thing. Example: I played with my grandchild today. I am very grateful that I’ve got the grandchild, and that we can have such a close relationship. I really love her smile and her laughter.

The point in this technique is that writing down things make you more aware, and will make it more likely that your focus on the positive part of your life in the future, instead of the negative. And this may be the definition of so-called depression: being overly focused on the negative parts of life.

Even what is often termed serious mental illness are extreme varieties of normal behavior. All people have the possibility of hallucination. We all have it right before before sleep and right after we wake up, called hypnagogic hallucinations. We are all extremely hallucinated while we sleep. Most people have had the experience of hearing their name called, even if nobody’s there. People who are interested in spiritual matters, often think that voices are communications from other dimensions. They feel quite OK about their experiences.

An Australian lawyer who is very interested in the afterlife, exclaimed in a blog: “I have finally been able to develop clear-audience. Now I can communicate with people on the other side.” Research shows that people who think of their voices in this way have absolutely no problem with them.
Delusions may be viewed in the same way. We all have our personal beliefs that may be without direct physical evidence, and that may be difficult to change. Many people who have done great things in history, would have been deemed delusional by others. Marconi, the inventor of the radio, was looked upon as delusional when he said he could transmit voices through the air over long distances.

Even so-called manic behavior may be quite functional in many instances. Edison could easily have been termed manic because of his extreme motivation to create the lightbulb. There is a theory that the ability to hallucinate and to hold onto strong, delusional, original ideas developed as a genetic mutation hundred thousand years ago, and that this was the reason humans developed. When the supply of omega-3 was abundant, through eating fish, this was not a problem. When the supply of omega-3 became lower, these natural positive processes could become more extreme and less functional and would be termed so-called schizophrenia. Experiments with giving fish oil to young people at risk for so-called psychosis showed that those who took placebo were seven times as likely to develop so-called schizophrenia as those who took the fish oil. So psychotic-like processes and the ability to be extremely engaged in these ideas, as in so-called mania, might actually be essential for humanity.

A second thought that I would like to share is about the purpose of everything. We all have ideas about why we are here and why things happen to us. Some think that we are only atoms and what happen to us are just random events. We just have to try to enjoy these random events and relationships we experience. Others think that we have a purpose with our lives and that things happen for a reason. Closely tied to this are thoughts about life and death, what happens after death.

The reasonable thing to do, if you want to know anything about a foreign country, is to ask somebody who has been there. You would be skeptical of somebody saying that the country does not exist, or that it is not possible to know anything about that country. I am a curious person, so I wanted to listen to somebody who had been on “the other side.”

Luckily, there is a vast literature from “visitors” to the other side called Near Death Experience, NDE, and for the last 30 years, I have read as much as possible of these first person accounts of what lies beyond. It may seem like this is a strange topic for a psychologist, but since our thoughts create our feelings, thoughts about death, life after death, and ultimate purpose are very important.

Luckily, the lived experience of those who have died and come back are very, very positive. One famous NDE-er, Dannion Brinkley wrote that it was unimaginably fantastic, like orgasming 10 000 times at once.

Dr. Raymond Moody sums it all up by stating that the other side is filled with love and knowledge, and that we keep the relationships that are important to us.

The interesting thing about many of these NDE-ers is that they are not very religious, and often, if they have a religious affiliation, they tell about experiences that are at odds with their prior beliefs.

So here we already have a few, very profound, helpful thoughts:

  1. There is a life after death.
  2. This life is fantastic.
  3. We meet again with people who are important to us.


Research has shown that when depressed people get to read these profound experiences of the world beyond, they become less suicidal. It seems like the hope that is involved in these 3 thoughts gives strength to carry on.

There are many areas of research that point to a life beyond, including electronic communication with the dead, but many would say that this really sounds too fantastic and far fetched. However, the researchers are very skeptical themselves, and publish their results at great professional risk of ridicule. This is very different from the research that is accepted in academic circles, done by manufacturers on their own products.

One such researcher is Michael Newton. He was an atheist and a cognitive therapist who did not believe in any afterlife. However, he used hypnosis for pain control, and often when he asked the patient: Now, go back to the time when this pain problem started, he was surprised. Many patients started telling about the death scene in a previous life. One memorable story is a woman who had an inexplicable back pain. She told about how she had been put on a high cliff, and prodded in the back with a spear until the pain was so great that she jumped off the cliff and died.

Newton thought this was odd, but explained it away with reference to popular cultural beliefs in reincarnation and near death experience. However, he was curious about what his hypnotized patients would tell him about the time after death. He started asking them to describe what happened next. He got the standard near death experience, with entering a tunnel, then coming out in a fantastic loving light, meeting dead relatives and friends, and often having a life review.

But then they started talking about their other experiences in “the life between lives,” and the accounts were very similar, and often very different from the religious beliefs of his clients. The insights from this research were very comforting and profound, but Newton dared not publish anything about it until he had hypnotized 7,000 patients and written a full protocol about his method, making sure he kept his questions open ended and did not lead any clients to imagine things.

The insights he got from the research were very comforting:

  1. There is life after death
  2. We get to stay with the people we love, and we can still keep in touch with our loved ones on earth until it is their time to join us on the other side.
  3. People vary in their experience as souls. Some are beginners who have had just a few lives. More experienced souls have had hundreds. Beginner souls usually have very easy lives, good economy, few challenges, whereas the advanced souls may have really difficult recent lives with poverty, sickness and abuse of all kinds.
  4. We are given a choice to how difficult we want our lives to be. When you are a mature soul, you often choose very hard lives so that you can learn more. Sometimes mature souls come back in relatively easy lives in order to be helpers for the souls who take the hard ones.
  5. Everything happens for a purpose: challenges that we face are chosen by us because we need them in order to develop as souls.
  6. In between our (hard) lives, we live in harmony and without suffering with the people we love.


Some may say that these thoughts are wishful fantasies. The counterargument is that it is impossible to not have thoughts about our inevitable death. Some are convinced of a negative materialistic view that we just disappear and decompose physically, but this is just as much a belief as the above. Since nobody can prove that we disappear and that there is no soul, one might say that Newton and NDE researchers have the best data to support the above thoughts.

Five percent of the population has had near-death experiences, and they often say that they are no longer afraid of death. There is nothing to fear, rather something to look forward to.  One in eight has received some kind of communication from the dead relatives or friends. One so-called evidential case involves a woman who was visited by her deceased grandfather in a dream. He told her exactly where he had hidden all his savings before he died. Another was saved from a traffic accidents by her deceased father warning her and making her foot press hard on the brake.

Most people can experience previous lives under hypnosis, and there are many examples of access to information from these previous lives that the person could not have guessed or fabricated. One person could describe hidden details of an old house in Ireland from a previous life even if she had never left Australia.

A woman going through a brain operation that required surgeons to drain all blood from her brain had a clear recollection of the operation, seen it from the ceiling.

This information from ordinary people combined with Newton’s 7,000+ cases gives a very strong hope that there is more after this life, and that we get many chances to live full lives and to love more fully the important people in our lives.

On a very practical level, I have seen how these thoughts can have very positive effects in my life. I have always had respect for my patients, but once I became open to the possibility that they were actually very mature souls, probably more mature than me, with my relatively easy life, I felt privileged to be their helper.

I was very close to my grandmother and I thought that when she died, I would go through all the five stages of grief. This did not happen. I was, and I still am, very convinced that her soul lives on, and that I will meet her again when I die.

Thoughts can give us hope to sustain us through hard times. Thinking that any kind of psychological suffering is an extreme form of normal psychological functioning, and believing that we are eternal souls always connected to our loved ones, may be just what we need in a troubled existence. Please share this on facebook and other social media so others may have the same comforting thoughts. Please tell about your own experiences with this in the comments. Sometimes the comments on MIA become as long as entire books. Please divide your comments if they are long, so they are not cut off by the “read more” feature.

* * * * *


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


  1. This is an interesting article because it suggests strongly that we create our own reality, based on what stories we tell ourselves, and what beliefs we hold, regarding our life experiences. In other words, how we narrate our experiences IS our reality, inherently, and we have choices here.

    I believe this, because what we tell ourselves and how we interpret our life experience will determine the feelings we feel in our body. Hopeful, affirming stories make us feel open, expansive, and good, and, in turn, this creates a more favorable life experience aligned with how our imagination is focused; whereas negative interpretations which make us feel hopeless, resentful, or stuck will make us feel constricted in our bodies, creating chronic anxiety and grief, which eventually leads to imbalance (illness or other life trials) as energy is not flowing smoothly here. In addition, our beliefs and repetitive thoughts create neural pathways, which determine what we project into our experience, while the feeling of it is what fuels it and gives the thought, idea, or story energy. This is why I feel it’s important for people to own their stories and tell them their way, rather than to allow anyone else to tell them—or others–who they are.

    This statement stood out to me, “It is possible to view all psychological problems as extreme varieties of normal thinking.” In line with this article, it is possible to view “psychological problems” in a variety of ways—as spiritual questioning, grounding issues, physical imbalance, matter of perspective, as the product of social ills, as the response to trauma, oppression, marginalization, etc. Calling it “extreme varieties of normal thinking” I believe strongly suggests stigma and marginalization (othering), however.

    If we’re calling “normal thinking” that of the mainstream, I don’t think that’s very desirable, and myself, I’d call *that* extreme. Sometimes, what the “normal” mainstream would consider “psychological problems” are actually healthy perspectives and individual process, appropriate to an individual that the mainstream would not be able to understand, because of it’s own narrow perceptual reality.

    If it’s outside the box, the mainstream will deem it as problematic, which is a problem in and of, itself, I think. Not only is there nothing inherently problematic about being outside the mainstream box (it’s the social abuse projected by others which is problematic), but I think it’s actually healthy and courageous right now, pioneering, and it breaks new ground. So when “psychological issues” are perceived as “extreme varieties or normal thinking” to me that sounds more like a value judgment based on group think normalcy, rather than a universally held reality which honors each individual on his/her own merits, not as a measure of “acceptable” social norms.

    That’s my story, in any event. Thanks for the thought fodder. Good stuff!

    • Hi Alex,

      Albert Ellis the Psychologist was a neglected child who built in his own parenting very successfully.

      According to Albert Ellis human beings genuinely tell themselves stories and this is why they get upset. I used to think this wasn’t true but from my own experience I’m now inclined to think it is true.

      • Fiachra, Ellis was a rationalist who deemed anything spiritual to be a fabricated story–even though it may be beneficial to the mind, as is, from what I understood while reading this article, to what Kjetil refers in this article.

        So again, I think Ellis is measuring reality from his own personal subjective perspective, and anything outside of that is made up, and perhaps “extreme.” That would be his call, but not everyone’s, maybe even not the majority, if everyone in the world were polled, who knows? I certainly question this highly.

        There would be a few ways to look at this, including the idea that we’re literally making it up (and projecting it into our physical perception) as we go along. That is definitely a school of thought which is becoming more and more popular, and it makes sense to me; it rings true and it follows a certain logic when you connect the dots of how energy moves. It is also extremely self-empowering, to learn exactly how we influence our own reality, we have more power than we think, is what I’ve learned over the years. Been life changing, and it’s all over YouTube–search: “how we create our own reality.”

        If we can create stories that upset us–and, indeed, we do that all the time–then we also have the power to create stories which make us feel hopeful, encouraged, and optimistic. Why not? By all accounts, when we can hold to these beliefs, and can self discern when our demons come up to challenge our own good feelings and power of creatorship, and address them self-responsibly, then we heal as we go. In my experience and witnessing, this is personal evolution at it’s finest, with relative ease and with the feeling of enjoyment, at least dominantly. Growing pains are inevitable in life, but it doesn’t have to be a chronic state, not even.

        I think the basis of healing is to feel at least hope, and even better, unconditional optimism. We all know life has its ups and downs, but if we can minimize our focus on the downs and focus on the ups, and maintain that feeling as per what stories we tell ourselves, then healing, clarity, and self-empowerment are all inevitable, I have found that to be the natural order of things.

        Again, that’s my perspective based on my reality. Feels good to me, and gives me good clear direction for personal growth, which affects everything in our life, streamlined. That’s what I go by.

        • Hi Alex,

          I might have come across Ellis ‘s rationalism but wasn’t too focused on it.
          It was the notion of a person telling themselves stories that I couldn’t accept – but I can accept it now and can see it now from my own experience; and to realise this is very liberating.

  2. Thank you for your article. I think that you are speaking of a section of life that has been brutally excised in the name of science.

    I used to find, when I was a teenager and young adult, that I could relieve any minor depression by reading a book about someone with strong psychic powers – like the late Ena Twigg in England or even a book by Lobsang Rampa. My own perception of the psychic world was much more amorphous, but I found it reassuring to be reminded of what was real by someone who obviously had a clearer perception of the psychic than I did.

    Originally, I supported the ideas of psycholoanalysis because it seemed to me that Freud took the spiritual realm seriously and that psychiatry might even lead to a ‘scientific’ validating of that realm. Of course, psychiatry has gone the other way with a reductionist science that is now experienced by paitents as something akin to sadism. With psychiatrists’ present power and opportunistic use of denial and force, it would be very risky business for a psychic to talk honestly to a psychiatrist.

    Most of us come from a culture that once had respect for the psychic life. Great people of the sort who used to be viewed as prophets saw this situation coming. Blake is amazingly prescient when he says: “May God us keep / From single vision and Newton’s sleep.” Surely a prayer for today.

  3. Hi Kjetil,

    This article was well worth waiting for – its packed with good information.

    I like your approach to “mental illness”. The “illnesses” were invented in Victorian times when people were expected to conform.

    I think the Victorian attitude to mental health remains with us to the present and doctors will bend the rules to “misdiagnose” when it suits.

    On the BBC website today cannibas was described as leading to “schizophrenia” . In my opinion Cannibas doesn’t lead to “schizophrenia” but it can lead to cannibas “thinking”. But if a person stops smoking, the “thinking” usually returns to normal.

  4. After I’d dealt with pretty extreme anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning, I suffered from a drug withdrawal induced awakening to my dreams – what is medically known as a drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis. I learned that, indeed, you are possibly correct about people having previous lives, which is not something my former religion claims to believe in, except I had an ex-pastor who “thought she was the second coming of Jesus,” according to my medical records. And my next pastors, one of whom claimed “some people can’t pray in private,” dubbed me a “Christa Lutheran,” since I was “crucified,” 21st century psychiatric style, based upon my former Lutheran pastor’s claim.

    I did later learn that claiming someone is Jesus is medical code for crucify this person, from my ethical pastors. A social worker also claimed in my medical records, “A man, Jesus, spoke through her,” while I was whacked out of my mind on a hypnotic drug. When I called her and asked her about this she claimed, “I don’t know you, I didn’t know you, and I declare so many people are Jesus, I don’t even remember meeting you.” Lovely, huh? This is “appropriate medical care” in the US today.

    But during the awakening to my dreams, I learned that I supposedly share a soul with JFK, I was born shortly after he was killed. And I also supposedly share a soul with Mary Magdalene and Isis, too. Who knows? But I do share JFK’s distain for the unjust, fiscally irresponsible, and un-Constitutional Federal Reserve system. And within my dreams I had supposedly created a web of connectivity which allowed me to connect everyone within the so called collective unconscious. Which if you read up on Isis, she seems to have behaved in that manner, too. But we are currently living in a society that only believes in the material world, and absolutely today’s psychiatric community wants to murder anyone who believes in the “unseen,” “God,” or the “Holy Spirit.” I have proof in my medical records. Or as ‘another voice’ nicely put it, we are seeing the suppression of “a section of life that has been brutally excised in the name of science.”

    Hopefully, we’ll soon evolve past this left brain only thinking phase of humanity’s existance. At least I know there are now millions online discussing the problems I see in the the world, which is great. Wonderful blog, Kjetil, thank you.

  5. I’ve lost the thread here. Is “schizophrenia” good or bad? There’s something missing from the explanation.

    “There is a theory that the ability to hallucinate and to hold onto strong, delusional, original ideas developed as a genetic mutation hundred thousand years ago, and that this was the reason humans developed. When the supply of omega-3 was abundant, through eating fish, this was not a problem. When the supply of omega-3 became lower, these natural positive processes could become more extreme and less functional and would be termed so-called schizophrenia. Experiments with giving fish oil to young people at risk for so-called psychosis showed that those who took placebo were seven times as likely to develop so-called schizophrenia as those who took the fish oil. So psychotic-like processes and the ability to be extremely engaged in these ideas, as in so-called mania, might actually be essential for humanity.”

    • While I can’t speak for Kjetil, I interpreted the paragraph you cited as a belief that a natural creative process, without sufficient Omega 3 nutritional requirements, results in a more confused and painful process that manifests in forms referred to as ‘Schizophrenia’ by the medical community.

      Am I following this correctly?

    • Think of paranoia. We all need some; particularly when our ancestors weren’t at the top of the food chain it was vital- but not to excess. When it becomes excessive, paranoia becomes crippling and no longer vital- shortly before he died, Abram Hoffer, in an article titled “My Paranoid Patients are now My Friends”, mentioned the tendency of paranoids to bite on internet scams, despite their lives of suspicion of everything (something I’d independently noticed, though in a more general way).

  6. Kjetil I think very similarly to you about adverse experiences not being illnesses. I really appreciate your humanistic stance and obvious compassion for people that you work with; I think that is one of the most healing things in a therapist or friend. Diagnoses and drugs in my experience usually tend to get in the way of creating these relationships.

  7. Nobody ever died and came back to talk about it. Some people make daft claims. Hey man, I died and came back. Who said you died? Well, a team of experts decided that there was a point when a person is officially dead, and I came back from that point.

    Then maybe the experts need to revise the point they have decided a person is dead, because clearly, with all the NDE fanatics and the OBE evangelists, they have made some fundamental errors in their calculations.

    It’s about the most deluded statement a person can make. “I came back from death.” No you didn’t. No-one does. Death is a one-way ticket. In every instance a person claims to have died and come back, they didn’t die and went no-where, despite the excitedness and the self-delusion.

    Most rational people grasp this.

    • So they might be more aptly named “Near Life Experiences” rasselas?

      I was reminded of my NLE provided by police when they were attempting to retrieve evidence from me of some serious criminal offenses, which they didn’t want to be serious criminal offenses because doctors don’t commit crimes, they do medicine.

      Trigger warning (R)

      One method used to ensure people receive the ‘treatment’ they require (another being threats of pack rape in the cells).

      So I’m with you, these are not NDE but NLE experiences, and there are those in authority who believe it is therapeutic.

      • Unusual experiences? Evolved responses? Probably the latter.

        It seems animals all have mechanisms that reduce the suffering of becoming prey, or dying, and the human is no exception.

        Thanks for the Fight Club clip, an interesting meditation on narcissism and the life-affirming beauty of violence and death.

        You already are “someone”.Even if someone is point9ing a gun at your head and considers you to be no-one, because they are holding the gun and are thrilled by the seeming power of life and death. We are all gods now, say the unwise. Only the person with the gun can assert that.

        Narcissism rarely leaves the home without some help and support from nihilism.

        But I get what you are getting across, maybe. Extreme experiences bring us closer to Life, if we choose. Which is kind of an invitation for sadists to give you a kicking.

        Diogenes of Sinope lacked hope too.

          • I do find it strange though. The penalty for Conspiring to Stupefy to Commit an Indictable Offense (namely Kidnapping) is 30 years. Why would attempting to murder someone to conceal this be a problem? You get less in our legal system lol.

            And with police assistance to ensure that Doc doesn’t have any issues with the paperwork? We have a Doctor running around here at present openly declaring that she killed a patient (hastened her demise is how she put it). Psychiatrists etc are doing that also, sometimes by about 30 years lmao.

            And still nothing is done.

      • I’m with Dylan when he wrote

        “If my thought-dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine. It’s alright Ma, it’s life and life only.”

        Given there are those within the mental health arena who believe falsely that they can observe these thought dreams, there obvious response with a poisoned ‘confessional’ (confidentiality is a farce and a lie)? Make them a “patient” and off with their heads lol

        • I must say in my ignorance I did not expect a psychologist to be gathering information for police to find out “who else has the documents?”. Difficult to ‘snow’ someone for turning up in a police station with proof of crimes when mental health have seen the proof. So they use the ‘confessional’ to find out how to shut them down. Give us the dirt and we can deal with him 🙂 Sit on their hands for 5 years with full knowledge that I was drugged and kidnapped? Luckily there is a perception in the community that these people can be trusted and “they wouldn’t do that” huh? On the proviso that they maintain their dereliction of duty and just don’t look.

      • I’m not sure what your point is. That’s a line from Hamlet. Spoken by Hamlet to Horatio after both have encountered the ghost of Hamlet’s dead father.

        That both Hamlet and Horatio witnessed the “wondrous strange” adds another layer of ambiguity. It’s a big loose thread in the narrative. It’s interesting how people these days take those words as some kind of official Mr Shakespeare endoresement of ghosts and ghoulies. Probably in a few hundred years time some people will be quoting JK Rowling’s characters in similar ways.

    • If you define death as something you don’t come back from, then of course nobody can ever come back. This is s bit like the circular diagnosing in DSM. The definition serves no purpose. What about people who get information from those on the other side? There are over 20 research fields pointing to the reality of life after death. Those who argue against usually have not read this research.

  8. Just to furtively add here — as I just had this overwhelming realisation that I may be perceived as making negative and hopeless comments — that I don’t have any problem letting the OBE and NDE people have their hug-groups and their bookclubs and their after-you, no-no after you really really after you, no no no after you I insist after you.

    Hope is dead. As I romanticise Norwegian culture I have a terrible habit of assuming that, just as I assume all sensible Irish people are brimful of Beckett, all sensible Norwegians are full of Hamsun and his unmentionable literary love-child.

    It’s silly really to be hopeful. You will die and it’s a messy business from which you will not come back.

    An actual “mature soul” doesn’t invent fairy stories to cope with all the bad news. They confront it face on and laugh their chops off.

  9. “It is also quite normal to have days with depressed thoughts, low motivation, feelings of guilt, nights with sleeping problems, ……”

    Sounds like me most weeks love.

    Not going for a major depressive diagnosis though.

    Depression is a feeling of being totally alone, of being in a box, of the past and future being bad etc etc.

    I ain’t like that. Just a miserable git.

    • “Depression is a feeling of being totally alone,”

      Is it?

      I don’t know because I just deal on a basic level.

      Depression is a feeling of being totally alone.


      You must always add again to your suffering.

      “I am so sad and so desperate and this is so now to me.” Again.

      Add again.

      “I am so banal. I am so insecure. I am so unsure.” Again. Add again.

      • no idea what you mean love.

        What I meant, and explained so badly, was that this list of symptoms of not what I think depression is.

        To make depression a list of symptoms like this allows for expansion of diagnosis and therefore more prescription of drugs.

        That list of symptoms, depressed thoughts, low motivation, “feelings of guilt, nights with sleeping problems,” just sounds like someone having a bit of difficult time. For some this is transient, for some it goes on and one, or it might rather dominate a person’s life. But it still doesn’t make it depression.

        I don’t think this is what the author meant, but I wanted to bring this up as I think it demeans those who do suffer depression to make it a list of symptoms.

        I often have this list of symptoms and am not depressed.

        I have written three good things down and felt a bit better. I have done this before. This may not work for someone who severely depressed. Any good thing would be a reminder that everything else is not good, or the person would not be able to think of anything good. I had a friend who when we went out and had a great time would lock himself away and not speak to anyone for days and go into a profound crisis because it reminded him of how bleak the rest of his life was. His life was partly bleak because of psychiatry, though not entirely. He needed more than writing good things down to help him, though I did offer this to him. He needed someone to understand him, his state of mind and what might have caused it.

        People who are depressed when speaking use metaphors of complete isolation. A famous example would be the book, The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath.

        Dorothy Rowe wrote a book called Depression, a way out of your prison. She elsewhere wrote the there is a depression between unhappiness and depression. People who are unhappy can reach out to others and are not completely psychologically isolated. I am basing what I write on her ideas.

        • “No idea what you mean love”

          Extremist unhappiness (and I use that word considerately, because what we get to call severe depression is a form of fanaticism) is absolute in its filtering.

          To tackle one extremism with another form of extremism can be made to appear like a redemption, and in many ways it is, but you are left with a reconfigured extremism and I don’t think this has been enabling honesty and hope. It’s been the method adopted pretty much universally and where it seems to be taking us is to a point of redundancy. Where the problem of being human is solved by not being human. Or at the harsher end, there being no humans at all.

          Nietzsche tackled the problems of evangelism for obscure constructs like hope and heaven. Such fanaticism does seem to bring about collective mindsets that think the only way forward is to go blindly, at ever faster rates. Away from the body and the filth of nature. Again.

          Nietzsche pointed out that the many preachers of love actually hated humanity. They hated their flesh. Their bowels and wotnot. So they make fanciful constructs about the spirit, which is clean and pure and disembodied. The body being the source of impurity and filth. Again.

          I was suggesting that when the fanaticism kicks in, it’s helpful to remind oneself of the endless repetition. Which is futile. Again.

  10. Thank you, Kjetil, for an awesome article! The thoughts you enumerated rang true for me, as well. All except one, and it made me cry:

    Sometimes mature souls come back in relatively easy lives in order to be helpers for the souls who take the hard ones.

    I am one of those old souls, lived countless lives. I remember several past lives, some in great detail and some just vague snippets of memories and whiffs of who I was in that time. I have encountered people I knew before, and shared a mutual sense of recognition. Sometimes those shared experiences help clarify the knowledge of who I was but what is more helpful is when I gain an understanding of the why, the purpose of that lifetime. I can tell you that past life traumas carry over, and it is important to understand when something in the here/now is triggering past life issues. I know, for instance, that my complete intolerance for what I call “intentional mis-understanding” (someone twisting my words and using them against me for their own agenda) stems from my death as a lawyer in the French Revolution. I was beheaded by the very people I had been advocating for, and the betrayal I experienced still stings to this day when I am in a situation that evokes those feelings. I know I am still working on healing his wounds.

    But the reason your words made me cry was that although I have known and accepted that I’ve chosen hard lives, I don’t think I ever realized that I could choose this: Sometimes mature souls come back in relatively easy lives in order to be helpers for the souls who take the hard ones. I’ve never considered that, never felt permission to approach a lifetime in that way. That insight was such a profound gift, Kjetil. Thank you.

    • Getting vulnerable here: I think it also made me cry because I had never realized there were old souls here for that purpose– helpers to those of us who took the heat this time ’round. It hit me hard that I need those helpers in my life; this past year-ish has been particularly hard. I am open and ready to receive that kind of support in my life. I’ve certainly racked up the karma points to deserve it!

  11. Another past-life story, this one from my daughter.

    When she was about 2 or 3 years old, she was trying to get me to recollect an incident she remembered very vividly. It was a visit to the state fair and she described seeing livestock and riding rides, and insisted that we had gone to the fair with my brother when she was a baby. I wracked my brain trying to think of a time that this might even have been possible, because there had been very little contact with my brother, who lived far away. He had stayed with us when she was a baby, but only for a month or two, and it wasn’t during the summer when fairs take place. She was getting pretty frustrated with me for not recalling it, and I apologized to her “I’m sorry, C, but mommy just doesn’t remember that.” And then her exasperated reply: “Not when I was C! When I was a baby before.” And then it dawned on me, and I asked “Before you were C? Did you have a different name before? (she nods hard, like I’m finally understanding) I bet you had a different mommy then too, maybe that’s why I don’t remember?” And she says “Oh! Yeah! That’s why you don’t remember it. You weren’t there.” And now she had me so freakin’ curious! I wanted to know more! But once she realized that there was no way I was gonna remember she completely dismissed me and went back to playing with her toys.

  12. Kjetil, I’ve always found that your writing is hopeful, as you title says, and I want to express my appreciation as a parent. There were so many dark moments when it was easy to worry that my relative would not get out of the awful place where he seemed to be stuck. Sometimes all I could do was to look for positive things to read written by people who knew about the process. Thank you for being one of them. On another note, are you aware of Dr. Dirk Proeckl’s hypnogogic light experience? I tried it once – amazing work that he’s doing.

  13. Hi Kjetil,

    Thank you so much for this! The thought of a good afterlife and maybe also reincarnations definitely makes all the injustice and hardship of this life on earth much easier to bare. I tend to think that the universe is too perfect for us to have only this one unjust existence. The universe must be just somehow, so there has to be more. Since I was very little, I have very naturally believed in God, in an afterlife and in reincarnations. However, I haven`t really dared to explore these things much because we live in culture that so aggressively opposes such believes. At the universities for example, I feel it`s about being as pessimistic as possible on behalf of humanity. It`s stupid to believe in God, wrong to believe in truth, conceited to believe that human beings are more than animals and our highest knowledge comes from sense impressions. Much of what I learned there made life so painfully meaningless. Luckily, I have found that what is popular or conventional is seldom correct or true, so I`ve begun to look for ways of thinking that might not be so common, and that makes much more sense to me. That is how I found this movement against psychiatry for example, along with other `truths`. You now inspired me to do the same when it comes to look into life after (and before) death. Any suggestions on where I might start? Thanks again!

  14. @ boans

    “I do find it strange though. The penalty for Conspiring to Stupefy to Commit an Indictable Offense (namely Kidnapping) is 30 years. Why would attempting to murder someone to conceal this be a problem? You get less in our legal system lol.

    And with police assistance to ensure that Doc doesn’t have any issues with the paperwork? We have a Doctor running around here at present openly declaring that she killed a patient (hastened her demise is how she put it). Psychiatrists etc are doing that also, sometimes by about 30 years lmao.

    And still nothing is done.”

    There’s a great book by Ben Kiernan called Blood and Soil, in which he gives an eyeopening summary of the various conditions that give rise to genocide and there is much insight to be gained about mad history.

    Nothing is done about the killing because the killing is the thing to be done. Nothing is done about the violence because the violence is the thing to be done.

    To normaliise any genocide one must first achieve the dehumanisation of the enemy.

    And to dehumanise the enemy one must create a bold and pervasive narrative about them acting as some kind of threat or subversion to the glorious status quo.

    Creating the conditions in which so much rationality can be tipped on its head is a prerequisite, and for the most part, it is essential to dehumanise one’s enemy (for us, the so-called enemies of reason).

    Treatment of any kind (i.e. the designation of one’s being as subversive, other, non-human or not fully human) is a violence against the self. Idealised as a necessary violence.

    The supreme conclusion of these processes are when the objects of hate internalise the hate. “I must subject myself willingly to this violence because I am the hated object”.

    It has helped me to come to terms with what happened by thinking about these social processes (which by all evidential accounts have run along the entire history of humankind, in other words, the hatred is embedded in us, as social animals) to achieve one minor yet quite liberating change in my noggin, which is to break that endless repetition of going over and over what happened to me, appealing at ever opportunity to be acknowledged, for someone, anyone, to say “yes, you were hurt very badly, and it was wrong.”

    I think that’s the role we play as survivors. We are the only people that actually know or are able to know that a violence has occurred, and that it was unreasonable, irrational, and genocidal. Even amongst survivors themselves it’s a rare bird that has a deep understanding of it.

    Best wishes.

    • Mental illness jihadis who have much more in common with ISIS (not the mercenary types, but the fundamentalist types) than they would ever be capable of recognizing. The absolute paranoia about Jahiliya (corruption of the soul) which needs to be hunted down and beaten out of the individual by any means necessary.

  15. Just to add, with respect, that the promise of heaven and some kind of liberation from the body as a spirit, is undoubtedly helpful and hopeful to many people, but whether wittingly or not, these are dangerous ideas that play into the hands of psychopathic and genocidal social systems. They imbue a sense of fatality into peoples’ hearts. They fetishise victimisation and give up the power to fight and make the world a better place.

    Heaven is a deeply subversive and oppressive construct. It removes hope from the world and re-locates it outside of time.

    False hope is never positive. It’s always negativity wearing a disguise.

    Still… same as it ever was…