The idea of psychosis as potentially healing is not new, although it has been considered controversial — and reactively responded to with guffaws and dismissal. Since at least the time of Carl Jung, and perhaps more famously with R.D. Laing, clinicians and individuals with lived experience alike have been discussing the transformative power of psychosis.
What is new is that there appears to be an ever-increasing pool of evidence to support these assertions. So where is all this research? It’s actually coming from the very people who would cringe at the very idea of psychosis being described as adaptive or healing. It is being splashed across headlines and excitedly being promoted by pharmacologists, psychiatrists, and biological researchers as the latest great discovery: psychedelics as medicine.
Now, these researchers would argue vehemently that ‘mental illness’ and ‘schizophrenia’ are decidedly NOT the same things as taking a controlled substance under supervision, for a limited period of time, and for otherwise ‘healthy’ individuals. While the surface particulars are obviously true, the underlying presumption — that naturally-occurring psychosis in response to life-events is ‘sick’, while synthetically-produced psychosis is ‘medicine’ — may not be. In fact, these experiences may not be so different at all.
History of Psychedelics and Marijuana as Spiritual Substances
“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a religion.”
– Robert M. Pirsig in Lila (1991)
From the beginning of time, it appears as though humans have utilized imagination and the existence of supernatural beings to explain phenomena they otherwise could not. The need to explain chaos in the world led to many fanciful ideologies that are now looked upon as ‘myths.’ Such systems of belief serve to quell the unbearable anxiety associated with ambiguity, awareness of death, fear, and lack of meaning.
Several reports describe Siberian tribes, witch doctors and shamans using amanita muscaria, a hallucinogenic mushroom, in order to talk to gods. In Hinduism, considered to be one of the earliest religions, one way to be closer to the gods and find empowerment was through the use of a powerful hallucinogen, Soma.
In fact, many of the beliefs and teachings within the Hindu religion are thought to have grown directly from experiences had while under the influence of drink from this plant considered to be of the gods. In addition to Soma, Cannabis is said to have been given to humans by the god Shiva, who rested in its shadow.
Rastafarianism, while explicitly rejecting alcohol due to its inebriating effects, uses marijuana as a holy herb allowing individuals to expand their consciousness and experience freedom from oppression. It is used to increase feelings of connection to others and allow for religious vision. Similarly, Native Americans frequently used this ‘sacred herb’ in rituals of peace and prayer.
The chemically-induced experience of expanded consciousness, euphoria, hallucinations, contact with other-worldly beings, strange belief systems, ritualistic behaviors, and religious exceptionalism are all part of these spiritual traditions. Those who were able to have these experiences naturally, as in the case with Shamanism for instance, have long been considered to be potential leaders with the potential for great insight and healing power.
Modern research appears to support what humans have instinctually known since the beginning of time.
Psychedelics are substances that lead to profound alterations in perception, mood, and thought processes. Yet, it has now become accepted among many mainstream mental health professionals that psychedelic use can, for some people, result in permanent mental health benefits. For instance, research has demonstrated that psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin can result in decreased anxiety in individuals with a life-threatening disease such as cancer. Further, psychedelics have also been shown to decrease suicidal thinking and attempts.
In fact, journals are highlighting the potential these substances have in treating myriad types of human suffering, including addiction and trauma. Individuals with lived experience have described how this alteration in consciousness resulted in healing long-term battles with the horrors of the world. The altered states may enhance the recall and ability to process traumatic memories while increasing insight by decreasing inhibition and psychological defenses.
Additionally, researchers have suggested that the psychedelic experience results in lasting improvements in a sense of inner peace, increased humor and playfulness, enhanced compassion and regard for others, decreased anger, and enduring personality change. Further, and in line with the history of psychedelic usage throughout time, these substances appear to boost spirituality.
In fact, participants in these studies have described the experience as the “most spiritually significant experience of their lives.” Interestingly, the experience itself is described as “mystical” and opening “a door to the mind.” The greater the dose, the more profound the transformation.
In one study conducted at John Hopkins, the mystical aspect of the experience was determined to be vital to lasting change. Griffiths, the lead author of this study, described “mysticism” as “a sense of interconnectedness with all people and things accompanied by a sense of sacredness and reverence.”
In addition to the mystical aspects of the experience, it is also important to note that these psychedelic trips were not necessarily pleasant! Many participants in these studies reported going through periods of extensive fear and anxiety. Some studies have found confusion and ‘thought disorder’ to be the most common effects. “Delusional paranoid thinking” has also been frequently noted.
Despite the fact that anxiety, fear, and thought distortions were the most extreme at the highest doses, the greatest healing effects and transformative results were gained at those very same dosages.
And, researchers don’t think that these are inherently just passing side-effects; researchers acknowledge that without a supportive environment conducive to healing, this anxiety and fear could potentially become harmful and ongoing. In fact, the environment, relationships, and expectations and beliefs regarding the mystical happenings are critical elements determining positive healing experiences. In other words, it is not one’s genes or the experience itself that determines outcomes but the subjective interpretation based on a supportive environment with helpful others.
The Transformative Power of Psychosis
So what about a naturally-occurring psychedelic trip? Is it really so different?
Much in the same way of the spiritual traditions, individuals, too, seek explanatory belief systems in response to terror and fear. Religious themes and one’s relationship with God is quite common in the belief systems of those labelled ‘schizophrenic’.
However, one could consider narratives of supernatural beings and other-worldly experiences as symbolic of an unbearable reality. The experience of an altered state may be the body’s natural attempt to process and heal from that reality while undergoing drastic change.
Qualitative research and analyses of first-person accounts have demonstrated how, for some, psychosis is described as a conduit for spiritual growth and transformation. The process itself is often one wherein the battle between good versus evil plays out. This mystical and spiritual theme is one that underlies a profound existential dilemma that, if worked through and supported, can result in spiritual enhancement.
Indeed, many have written about how recovery from psychosis can result in a greater connection with others, increased hopefulness, insight, improved psychological functioning and inner peace, and a sense of empowerment. It may also result in greater innovation and joy, as described by John Nash in a biographical essay. More specifically, the mystical aspects of their experience have been particularly important in helping individuals to change their lives for the better.
In fact, the only differences between what is more widely considered to be a ‘mystical experience’ versus ‘schizophrenia’ appears to be visual versus auditory extra-sensory perceptions and the precipitants (drug-taking versus life experience).
Similar to the psychedelic trip, environment, supportive relationships, and interpretation of experience appear key to whether the experience is transformative or destructive. For instance, one study’s findings suggest that mindfulness and encouragement of spiritual exploration may decrease overall distress and promote growth. First-person stories of interpreting ‘psychosis‘ or ‘mania‘ as a spiritual emergency have demonstrated the healing power of this subjective perspective and the promotion of recovery it may be associated with.
Alternatively, first-person accounts have also described the destructive nature of suppression and coercion versus that of a supportive and empowering relationship. Almost half a century ago, a Jungian psychiatrist name John Weir Perry wrote about how the traditional approach to working with these experiences is one that is based on silencing, disapproval, pathologizing, rejection, and oppression. He described this standard reaction as leading to the frustration of practitioners and the increased sense of isolation and madness for the very people they claim to help.
If, like with synthetic psychosis, the subjective interpretation of experience and the supportive nature of relationship are keys to determining outcome, does it not seem likely that this is also the case with natural psychosis?
A New Paradigm for Psychosis
Considering the now irrefutable link between developmental trauma and psychosis, the idea that psychotic phenomena develop as an adaptation and/or as a process of attempting to deal with unbearable experiences must be considered more widely.
While researchers continue to develop new models of experimentally understanding psychosis, often involving animals and manipulation of neurons and/or neurochemicals, it may behoove us all to consider that we already have experimental evidence at hand. Clinicians may benefit from adapting methods used in these studies to real-world interventions with individuals experiencing naturally-occurring psychosis.
While, again, many may repeat the oft-touted rhetoric that chemically-induced and naturally-occurring psychoses are completely different, what if the hypothesis that they are not is considered?
Imagine what might happen to the ‘healthy’ participants undergoing these chemically-induced altered states if their doctors were to tell them “you are insane,” “your experience is not real,” “your experience is not spiritual, it is a disease,” or if they were to suddenly be physically removed from their supportive and peaceful environment, stuck with a needle in their bum, and locked in a strange room. What if halfway through their trip they were given drugs that numb the mind and make it difficult to think or move clearly? What might their outcomes look like then?
On the flip-side, what if we took individuals who are experiencing emotional crises called ‘psychosis’ and offered them safe spaces of respite? Loren Mosher once asked this same question and had phenomenal outcomes as a result. What if, as in the psychedelic experiments, the therapist was more of a guide and support, allowing the person to go through their experience and helping them to make meaning of it in the process? What if interventions were based on respect for the psychotic experience and all it represents, and focused on ensuring that the person feels safe, supported, heard, and understood? What if people who had gone through the experience themselves were to teach others how to use this gift instead of being ridiculed as not educated enough?
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.
“what if we took individuals who are experiencing emotional crises…..and offered them safe spaces of respite? What if, the therapist was more of a guide and support, allowing the person to go through their experience and helping them to make meaning of it in the process? What if interventions….. focused on ensuring that the person feels safe, supported, heard, and understood? What if people who had gone through the experience themselves were to teach others……….What if???”
My answer: If only!!! This is what we have tried to do to support our loved one….and we always think ‘If only, if only, if only’ our society and systems were set up to support this type of approach.
“locked in a strange room. What if halfway through their trip they were given drugs that numb the mind and make it difficult to think or move clearly?”
This would make any sane person angry. Then they call the anger in the person “psychosis” and re-drug the “patient” for life for not liking the medical help, as the drugs stop ANGER in the patient.
Also the family of the patient/victim will not know or understand the experience of imprisonment and drugging, so will believe the allegations of insanity in the patient/victim, for the amount of anger in their loved one. And ANGER in the mentally ill must be drugged silent, don’t you know mentally ill people are dangerous?
A sweet system and set up of money for life for the Pharma Co. and fraudulent doctors.
That is a huge other piece, markps2. The extreme lengths the mental health goes to in order to get rid of anger and condemn those who are actually angry (and so often for very good reason). Very frustrating. It, well, it makes me angry.
As one who was ‘healthy,” but had, disingenuously and unbeknownst to me at the time been given mind altering drugs by a PCP, resulting a dream that I was moved by the Holy Spirit. Which resulted in more doctors telling me “you are insane,” “your experience is not real,” “your experience is not spiritual, it is a disease,” …. I agree today’s mental health field is doing everything absolutely the opposite of the proper way, Noel, excellent blog. Thank you.
“Safe spaces” are what is needed, the therapist should “function as a guide and support, allowing the person to go through their experience and helping them to make meaning of it in the process.” “Interventions should [be] based on respect for the psychotic experience and all it represents, and focused on ensuring that the person feels safe, supported, heard, and understood.” People who have “gone through the experience themselves” should be the ones teaching “others how to use this gift instead of being ridiculed as not educated enough.”
The problem with this is that an iatrogenic illness creation system, which is what today’s DSM actually is a classification system of, is so much more profitable for the “mental health” and the pharmaceutical industries. Not to mention, the “mental health” industry would have to give up their primary actual function within our society which is, according to the medical evidence, silencing child abuse victims by turning them into “bipolar,” “borderline,” and “schizophrenics,” with the psychiatric drugs. And when you’re living in a world apparently ruled by pedophiles, well, these “elite” pedophiles want to maintain their “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions” way of covering up their rape of innocent children and the easily recognized iatrogenesis of the incompetent doctors.
“Psychotic” is such a relative term, in its most commonly used context–being “out of touch with reality.” And this is most often applied to those who have evolved or are evolving outside the norm–“the box,” as it were. That’s not at all an easy process, given the extreme limitations which we have internalized from social programming.
It could be a really beautiful, enriching, and fascinating period of personal exploration and discovery–not to mention, of glorious manifestation–were we to honor personal growth and spiritual evolution for what it is. It will never look “normal,” that’s the idea.
“Fitting in” vs. “being outcast” is one of the biggest illusions by which we operate, and this alone causes suffering for people, from that dualistic “us and them” perspective. Spiritual growth is about not giving a flip about that, because one is focused on one’s own path and evolution, not on whether or not they are being “approved of” by society. That is a non-spiritual perspective, and compromises one’s personal power, we just give it away freely in this mindset. Plus, it merely serves as distraction as to our purpose in life, if we are always preoccupied with “fitting in.” Rather, I’d suggest no one fits in and everyone fits in. We are all unique aspects of one consciousness, which makes both statements true from different perspectives. Social harmony will occur when we honor our gifts and those of others–not by being opaque, controlling, and seeking power over others, using people for one’s personal gain. That’s called “vampirism.”
Instead, drugging and blatantly stigmatizing human expression, experience, and evolution is our appalling (and dangerous) norm–utter darkness. Of course it pisses people off, to no end, and makes them feel hopeless, despondent, and powerless. That seems justified, considering what I consider to be the reality of the situation. To me, these perceptions and practices that are “normal” seem “psychotic.”
The most expanded consciousness would argue that mainstream thinking is “psychotic” because it is rife with delusion, limitation, oppression, and corruption. It is based on brainwashing and social control. Enlightenment is way expanded consciousness, perceiving and experiencing beyond the ordinary. That could very possibly not only be more real than what is perceived by the majority (the norm), but it can also be extremely useful, relevant, and practical information, especially given the dark times into which we have fallen. We need new perspectives and creativity more than ever now. How else will we get through this time, to the other side of this collective dark night of the soul? I believe we have to create our way out of it, and our imaginations are being tested here.
But if society continues to shun that which is “beyond the ordinary,” and considers it weird, bizarre, odd, off-putting, and/or terrifying, and therefore, does everything in its power to suppress it and keep it at arm’s length via marginalization, then it will never grow beyond the illusions of mainstream thinking, and that cannot end well, it is a downward spiral. At some point, we are going to have to respect and value those that go out on a limb and have the courage, integrity, and inner peace to live their truth, despite social stigma and marginalization, if we are to be saved from complete social annihilation because at this point, we’re basically killing each other, one way or another. If I were to call anything “psychotic” at this point, it is at least the USA society, on the whole.
Regarding emotional suffering, I think we just need to be kinder and more supportive of each other. I think people suffer a great deal from being shunned, turned away, ostracized, marginalized, demeaned for having issues, profiled and feared, tricked, deceived, betrayed, gaslighted, etc. Were people to play fair and with integrity, so much confusion, disorientation, anxiety, and emotional suffering would shift pretty quickly, I think. But that is a choice people make. No one can force integrity onto another. We do the best we can with what we know, and hopefully, we learn as we go, seeing more and more truth.
For some, truth can be searing. I think that’s where humane and compassionate support would be called for—support from those who welcome truth, not from those that shun it. The latter would be self-defeating, at best, and more than likely, dangerous.
Flashback to Princess Leia. Starwars opens with, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” Or as David Bowie so succinctly put it, “Ground control to Major Tom”.
I believe there is a great deal of desire to leave this mundane universe behind, however, I also think there is a great deal of virtue in this universe.
I think this “been there, done that” dimension can be stretched past the breaking point, and then you’re right back where you started from.
What goes up, must come down. People ‘crash’, the ‘highs’ have a downside, and being right back where you started from is not necessarily such a bad place to be at in the end, or in the beginning, as the case may be.
What am I saying? Princess Leia, Mork from Ork, Trump enterprises, etc. Anonymous will always be an under-rated player it would seem. The attic trunk is shock full of illusions, and so in this particular instance, let us clink glasses over disillusionment instead.
Interesting that you mention Princess Leah and Mork, since both actors in these roles had mood swings which got them branded “bipolar.” Sadly this led to both dying prematurely. 🙁
Psychedelics are misunderstood and demonized but can provide invaluable existential and spiritual insight. They should be further explored, but the legal consequences of doing so in & of themselves can make the trip “paranoid.” Some similar experiences which are mislabeled “psychoses” have parallels to the psychedelic experience and this should be explored as well, but not by psychiatrists, who (unless they have personal experience with psychedelics) will project their own issues onto the session.
What “invaluable existential and spiritual insight” did you gain from psychedelics?
I don’t know if it’s valuable or spiritual, but around 40 years ago I quit drinking after eating a dozen bell-shaped Panaeolus mushrooms I found in a cow pasture near my home. They informed me they would return when needed if I didn’t let myself get blotto with outrageous chemicals and drugs. They came back about 20 years ago when I was working a midnight in a residential treatment center. An unstable resident had cut his wrists during the day. He was poorer than a church mouse and consequently would never take an ambulance to the hospital if he cut himself again, which would mean waking all the other residents and driving them with him, guaranteeing they’d get no sleep and be disciplined the next day for something I did, once they failed some therapeutic activity. I was fretting about this, when
the mushrooms suddenly appeared and said, “you don’t have to put up with this.” I shortly wound up secretly putting him on niacinamide. He graduated from the center’s program, to the amazement of the staff.
Great blog and great questions posed. Most of the answers are all there if only there weren’t the impediments of profit (and a profit based capitalist system) and power standing in the way.
Another reason for the connection of religion to psychosis (besides ignorance in the face of unexplained chaos and unbearable trauma experiences that lead people to seek “out of this world” answers and solutions) is the acute perception of a struggle between “good and evil.” Here is where the theories of “original sin” (both the religious and the pseudo-scientific) take over and influence people in a very negative direction.
People end up believing they are very bad or even evil at their core especially if very horrible things like childhood sexual abuse occur etc. Then, of course, Biological Psychiatry swoops in and tells people they have defected genes and are permanently “diseased.”
Some people experiencing deep psychosis related to trauma experiences will at some point believe or claim they are “Jesus Christ.” Think about it for a moment, if you have been heavily influenced by religious myth, you might end drawing the following conclusion:
“I must be Jesus Christ (or his or her equivalent) because how else can one explain a human being somehow being allowed to endure SO MUCH pain and suffering as I have endured. I must be “God’s” sacrifice for all the sins of others, and I must have a religious purpose that flows out of these horrible experiences.”
That false conclusion flowing out of a psychosis ,BTW, is a million times less harmful and dangerous than the myths (and daily practice) promoted by the institutions of Psychiatry and Big Pharma running today’s “mental health” system.
Ditto on the last thought. (I’ve been saying “ditto” a lot lately, I guess I should cut back on listening to Limbaugh.) (“Know your enemy.”)
The Christ thing could for some originate in that sort of reasoning. Additionally, even an enlightened and “sane” spiritual understanding of the “Christ” phenomenon contains an ego-transcending element in which “we are all Christ.” When people try to speak to medical personnel in such states of consciousness it can be disregarded/labeled as “delusional.”
Hinduism and Buddhism, along with the mystical traditions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all state that we are all God. But we all know what happens when someone who has come to this experience and conclusion tries to explain this to a psychiatrist. This will get you at least another 45 days court ordered stay if you go around discussing this with anyone on any unit in any psychiatric facility in this country because you are obviously highly “delusional”, and probably a danger to yourself and others!
Unless you are Dr. Lieberman. Ha ha.
Thanks, Richard. Thanks for elaborating on these points re: religion. And oldhead as well. Totally agree.
The person doesn’t necessarily think they are Jesus Christ – they might think they are like Jesus Christ or they think they might be a Messiah. Lots of people might privately think like this.
I even find alcohol useful sometimes, if I get in sort of an OCD rut , how do I describe it, to much internet use loss of interest and all my stuff is a mess a find after a night of drinking I wake up ‘reset’ hung over but looking around and thinking of the previous week and asking what was I thinking ? Get to work achieve something.
20 years since the last LSD experience, Gerry Garcia died and it stopped coming around. I remember being at a dead concert and the music sounded great but I wanted more then anything to hear the rock and roll and the metal I really liked. Amazing how on that stuff music coming from a cheap clock radio is more fantastic the the sound of the $40,000 stereos at Best Buy with silver wiring and vacuum tubes without it.
Just for the heck of it I just listened to “slow ride, take it easy” I don’t even particularly like that tune but it came on the radio driving by the mill pond when a trip was just coming on and it was the most fantastic tune ever made.
Blue Unicorns were the best, Flying Mothers, Fritz the cat, Bart Simpsons, those ones with the diagonal stripes OMG.
Image > https://tinyurl.com/Blue-Unicorns
I was like the tour director with this stuff when doing it with my friends back then, we have to make a plan.
6 Flags Great Adventure, the safari Andy’s truck, the ostrich comes to his window, open the window Andy ! He is scared we are laughing, then I am on the passenger side and it comes to my window and they suggest I open it. No way that thing is 1000 times faster then me and could peck my face off before my arm even moves to block it, suddenly I understood.
We tripped at that place a few times, to this day I remember the entrance fee was $27.82 standing in this long line thousands of people fumbling with change doing math the line taking forever and I am trying to incite others to be outraged that were stuck in line 27.82 WTF just make it $28 this line is a mile long !
Then another time in my car Andy telling me “chill out its not a hovercraft !” I don’t know if it was that trip or not but the car became the fixed place in space and when I stepped on the accelerator it ‘vacuumed’ the world in towards me.
And OMG did my cheeks hurt from laughing after we learned to push shopping carts across this parking lot with the front bumper then hit the brakes and watch them crash after getting them going 60mph. 4th of July fire works shows, the carnival and the ‘Gravatron’ , how many times did we do that stuff ??? Oops.
Then was time watching the TV upside down cause with the tube TVs of the 90s it changed the colors but that had an effect that took us too far, watching this show about what if lizards evolve, then the spider swarm on the steps to the second floor, all these spiders hatched and we are like does this need to be happening now ??
I never had a scary time, one was crappy and lame, I think I smoked cannabis and ruined it.
Would I ever do it again ? No, life has changed that fun could never be recreated and being all wide eyed like that now at this point I will pass.
This article mentions marijuana, lame drug can’t stand it and could do a long rant against it. The ruling class has just figured out if they let people smoke they get too stoned and stupid to cause any trouble. It has no value what so ever.
Bring up the subject of psychedelics and people that have done it will usually tell you a long animated story of a wild adventure.
Bring up the subject of excessive alcohol or taking cocaine, or pills opiate benzo and its always a lame tragedy. Or weed, we smoked weed and went to the movies and it happened, our eyes got red and we saw some people we knew and then acted passive aggressive cause we felt paranoid and tried to make up for it.
Good to see more deep thinking from you… it had been a while.
I’m always impressed by how you cite a range of interesting sources, and keep finding new ones. It reminds me of someone I know 🙂
Now, being a bit more humble, I do really like this essay.
I’m becoming a bit more open to the idea that the suffering aspect of psychosis itself could be transformative, which is difficult for me to see because it was not my experience. However, the fact that things are rarely all-bad suggest that it’s quite possible that some adaptive or possibly useful results may come from a psychotic crisis. It’s like the Chinese word for crisis, meaning opportunity.
I still remain of the opinion that the most important thing for healing is genuinely supportive, close relationships which support the psychological self and gradually allow it to be freed from the negative thinking/feeling/behaving it is caught up in. But such a statement can only be made very generally, because psychosis or schizophrenia are very vague words and the nature of people’s problems varies a lot from person to person. Still, I like to think about the developmental continuum in which all-bad internalized experience (partially based on neglect – almost always some neglect or lack of needs met – and then sometimes also based on added trauma or abuse) is key to understanding the disturbing thoughts/feelings and behaviors that get labeled psychosis.
Of course as you rightly point out, psychiatry mostly does not understand, or will not acknowledge the factors pointed out in the sentence above. Thus it is important to keep pointing it out – and to point out a range of ways of looking at the problem, as you do in this case by exploring other cultures and how they understand unusual experiences differently, as well as psychedelic drug use.
Thanks for this great article.
The Soteria project (https://www.power2u.org/downloads/SoteriaMosher1999.pdf) is quite similar in how it was run to the 388 Project which still runs in Quebec, Canada:
I did not realize this link before for some reason prior to read your article. 388 has had, and still has, results similar to Soteria for French-speaking Canadian people experiencing psychosis.
Thanks for the link, Matt
(This is to everyone who still uses the term “psychotic,” not just Matt.)
I’m becoming a bit more open to the idea that the suffering aspect of psychosis itself could be transformative, which is difficult for me to see because it was not my experience. However, the fact that things are rarely all-bad suggest that it’s quite possible that some adaptive or possibly useful results may come from a psychotic crisis.
Once again: The error here is in accepting that “psychotic” has a definable meaning. What some experience as a transformational psychic event can be mislabeled “psychotic” just as readily as any other atypical state of mind or consciousness can be so mislabeled. People’s experiences are infinitely variable, so the only predictable compatibility between the great variety of states which are labeled “psychotic” is the invalidity of the term used to describe them.
Thanks for your comment. While it may not correlate with my being right, I have felt from my reading about people experiencing delusions / hallucinations / withdrawal etc (experiences that get these severe labels) that there are commonalities (at the group level) in terms of the people having experiencing a lot of neglect and/or abuse, when I read their stories either in the first-person or from the third-person view of someone relating to them. And then there are some commonalities in how seriously distressed people react – they have trouble with making trusting relationships, trouble with functioning independently in a confident manner, trouble dealing with high levels of terror/rage, etc. It would be strange to me if there weren’t some commonalities, since people do have common tasks to deal with in growing up and navigating the world and relationships, and since as human beings we tend to react to threatening things by, perhaps obviously, becoming afraid and upset.
Do you think that’s incorrect?
I see your view too. People are very variable and applying any of these labels to an individual doesn’t mean much at all.
Commonalities in the ways we to deal with a shared universe are of course to be expected. But as you are oriented towards dealing with thoughts, feelings and emotions in terms of categories you tend to ignore the uniqueness of people’s individual experiences. You do this as soon as you create a category such as “distressed people” and ascribe properties to it.
Still thinking about this, feeling good remembering good past memories, the last time with the LSD was New Years 96-97 I spent quite a wile tasting every spice in this pretty well stocked spice rack. What fantastic flavors these are ! That salad bowl was good too.
If it did anything therapeutic it made you appreciate the world and it would stick for a wile.
The mystical experience I remember most was from doing mushrooms with my girlfriend from the 90s offshore here https://tinyurl.com/boat-1998-adventure In the open water behind that dune. The spinning flywheel on the outboard was attracting the gods attention with Gravity waves, then thinking I was remembering a past life from 700 years ago when I was on boats in the Mediterranean. I have always been of the sea. No idea where the number 700 came from. Then the bottle rockets hearing the pop and understanding the power to fend off evil spirits and ghosts that are frightened by the loud bangs fireworks.
I certainly think these drugs could be used therapeutically to hit the reset button , appreciate the world again rethink it… I guess that’s enough of my trip stories except for the very first, let me remember on that. That thunderstorm pink lightning and brake lights with that same neon glow, raindrops on the windshield why are some things transparent ??
People need to be their own guides.
If you go along with the idea that people need psychosis, or need street drugs, then you are also supporting the idea that some people need psychotherapy, psychiatry, and psychiatric medication. So we must reject this, and reject it absolutely.
Breaking news, plan to build an internment camp / mental hospital for the homeless has been derailed. Local home owners were livid over perceived home price drops and quality of life issues.
While I don’t really go along with this, I do know that people treated like they are a social menace are going to act so.
The real parties behind it were not the private philanthropist, they were the non-profit which runs such places, onsite mental health services, and local government which supplied the land. So tis fight is not over.
We must organize and find ways to fight! And no, telling people that they need psychosis or street drugs is not okay.
Funny how people will shell out money to take drugs to become psychotic and the same time there is a massive industry dedicated to preventing psychosis.
The_cat, this is precisely the thought I was having and have been repeatedly having for several months. Which is why I had to write something. It’s mind boggling isn’t it???
A very good point!
What is a “safe space”? Who makes it safe? Who gets to decide what safe means?
I’ve watched with interest the far right beg these questions but they remain unanswered.
How does a space become safe? What violence is required to ensure safety?
Psychosis is symptom of so called Schizophrenia.Rather then we talk here about meta-physic emotional reasons for it,we should talk about real biological reasons for Schizophrenia or any so called *Mental* Disorder.Biology of madness starts and ends with HUMAN HORMONES.So,my comment isn’t written in support of so called biomedical model and biological psychiatry,which doesn’t *deal* with hormones.Your comments here and Author post are written in support of rebellion against biology and evolution,which is all what Psychology and Psychiatry are all about.Both preventing indvidual human being development into what biology and evolution create him for.It means manipulation of biological mind with psychotheraphy or psychotropic meds.Psychologists and Psychiatrists are doing this for New World Order.To alter human mind
and give person different version of reality.One which benefict both siddes!
I don’t exactly support the term “psychosis”, because I think a lot of time – it’s misleading. To the person in the street the person in crisis, mightn’t be “psychotic” but might just have problems (and, might need help).
But what might happen if people in crisis were given decent support and allowed to come through the crisis? It would great!
I had to go through crisis myself to recover – and everyone can recover.
The only thing is theres a huge industry that feeds off “mental illness”. Not just Psychiatrists and drug companies and Universities, but nurses, social workers, GPs, carers, statutory workers, community support workers, insurance company employees, family, etc.
There would also be the problem of the Medical Professions illness position, that would have to be dealt with.
Sharing LSD stories? I only have one, but it’s a good one. Was 1990-ish and I was at my favorite dance club with friends. I knew it was coming on when the neon flamingo hanging on the wall started dancing too! We went back to my house, laughter sitting on the porch roof, hilarity when somebody came with pizza dough they had dumpster-dived and we played with it like pulling taffy. Very good times. At some point though I decide that it’s time to get some sleep. I lay down and close my eyes but sleep will not come, so I gaze out the window and the street light captures my attention- so beautiful, the rainbow halo effect that surrounds the glowing source. And the motion of the bugs around it is mesmerizing, and they get bigger, become butterflies, and one especially gets bigger and more majestic in its winged beauty as it flies away from the light. I am transfixed, even as I watch it changing, growing darker and larger the closer it gets. It is the grim reaper by the time it approaches the window, and it taps on the glass with the tip of its scythe. And I laugh, wag my finger and say something to the effect of “go back to the light, you silly butterfly!” It made me laugh, and I shifted into this dual-perspective place where I was able to have the experience and be in it, but also aware of it being a chemically-induced thing, and thinking observational thoughts. And I think I might have been coming down a bit by then because sleep came maybe an hour after. I really enjoyed it, all of it. Next time I would have better snacks around (we had potato chips and cream soda), and art supplies on hand, tactile stuff and colors and glue. When the cream soda spilled up on the roof, I remember tracing patterns in it with my fingers, watching the light play off the wetness.
For me, there is important transformative work in those places, that is best done when I have something I can destroy and then create from. I didn’t know that at the time. I was 20-something; I thought I was just taking drugs. Now I know there’s no such thing.
For what it’s worth, I, too, think the term ‘psychosis’ is highly problematic and prefer to use terms such as “emotional crisis” or “spiritual crisis” or “altered state” or whatever the heck else seems appropriate for any individual situation. I struggled with how to write this article, however, without using the term and without going off on tangents regarding terminology. For purposes of reaching a larger audience, I stuck with psychosis. But, all points taken in this regard and all points I agree with. Thanks for bringing them to light.
Thanks for speaking to the challenge of terminology/words we use, particularly ones relating to the quality of ones emotions, emotional maturity, or flavor. Much “diagnostic terminology”, although possibly well intended, (simply as reference to the quality of distressfulness,) its been my experience, tends instead to ‘label and limit individuals’, rather than help, to facilitate self acceptance, respect, self valuing, and/or encouraging individuals towards simply exploring and embracing the relationship of freedom and responsibility they have, and, that ultimately its up to them, what they believe about themselves, others, and whats happening, and the full extent of their options….. do continue…
People who cope with major like stressors, like getting through what has been termed psychosis or recovering or coping with a physical illness which at one point was or is still considered life-threatening or significantly life altering experiences (e.g. resulting in major physical challenges) sometimes wind up developing adaptive skills that they might never have previously known the potential for. Their experience of gratitude might have changed as well.
I don’t understain,why Psychologists have so much *love*,for Mental Health System?MHS is against everything,what most of psychologists,*officially* stoods for.I know that many Psychologists are employed in this System,so they won’t*eliminate* Psychosis,which overtook MHS.Further more problematic are,countless *posts* about animal *torture*,written by many Psychologists,but torture in MHS and it’s *Institutions* around the world,don’t *bother* them!Did I miss something,or only I see problems,which so called *normals* can’t anymore *detect*?And even *tortured* terrorist suspects *rights* are more important,then torture of
us,who commited ultimative crime against normals,because we are different!I see this world in such way.All
united against crazies!Then we should be united against all of you.
On a note of warning, I wanted to leave a link to the following site which details the experiences of many people with mood disorders who have taken the psychedelic Ayahuasca.
I am myself diagnose Bipolar 1, and in my early years did a great deal of recreational drug experimentation including LSD and other psychedelics in an effort to either self-medicate or change my mental state. What I took away from the experience was that these and other drugs affected me in different ways than the norm. Ultimately this led to my commitment to remaining clean and sober (34 years now).
That said, conventional drug therapy did change my life and allowed me the opportunity to learn the skills to cope with my illness. Consequently I am able to live today 80% without prescribed drugs. There are times that they are necessary, but they are one of many tools in my box.
In my peer support groups I’ve noticed a great deal of interest in Ayahuasca and other psychedelics and I want to say the following: proceed with caution.
The first time I agree with everything that is written, almost. I think still there is a difference between induced psychosis and schizophrenia. The only problem is that you will get schizophrenia even after a single case of psychosis, in the medical card the doctors will write a lie that you had two or more, if you haven’t shaved your beard for example or if you ignore meetings at the hospital, or don’t want to take your medication etc. I know what psychosis is, but there is enough people who unconditionally believe in medical records and the words of doctors and think that they had dozens of psychoses. They think that psychosis is when you get drunk on vodka and loudly sing songs, and many doctors think so.