The Unforeseen Relationship: Psychiatric Medication and Spirituality


Perhaps it seems strange to consider how psychiatric medication relates to a person’s spiritual life. We expect that the drugs will make them feel better or maybe worse, but we are surprised to hear that it makes someone feel more or less spiritual. For many centuries, people have viewed experiences of suffering and healing through a spiritual lens; it’s a practice considered central to most of the world’s major religions. And yet, in the form of a psychiatric pill, this practice is quite unanticipated. I know this because nearly every time I tell someone about my work, their expression becomes confused, even uncomfortable.

In 2015 I completed a qualitative research study exploring the interrelationship between psychiatric medication and spirituality. The results of the study were recently published in a peer-reviewed journal. The results indicated that something unforeseen was happening which contradicted the oversimplified views promoted by psychiatry and the pharmaceutical companies. More importantly, they challenged established notions of how psychiatric medications actually work.

The key finding was that people were engaging spiritually with their prescriptions in ways that significantly impacted the course and outcome of recovery. Broadly speaking, people fell into one of two groups: one group found medication to be spiritually helpful and enhancing, the second group found it hindering or harmful to their spiritual life. The experiential wisdom of the participants offers hope for improving current treatment practices, and supports a paradigm shift away from the biological model.

For many, spirituality serves as a way of coping with life, particularly as a way to make meaning out of one’s experiences. Whether someone considers themselves spiritual or not, the need to make sense out of life’s difficulties is thought to be fundamental, a basic human drive. In contemporary Western cultures like the US and the UK, conceptions of spirituality have come to represent diverse and perhaps even eclectic points of view. It includes religion for some, but not all. In healthcare, there is growing recognition of the inevitable folly of searching for a universal definition of such a complex term. For the purposes of my study, spirituality was exactly what people said it was. Modern formulations of the spiritual oftentimes pivot on finding and being true to one’s authentic self. This can involve a process of confronting painful emotions, and learning ways in which to improve one’s life. A person’s desire for spiritual transformation can lead to seeking mental health treatment, which may include a prescription for psychiatric medication. Hence, once possible route to the unforeseen relationship.

To be clear, I’m not trying to debate whether medications work or not, or if they are an appropriate first-line treatment for emotional distress. The aim is to look at the particular ways that psychiatric medications work which create the conditions for perceived interactions with spirituality. Psychiatric drugs stimulate two kinds of side effects: the pharmacological and the non-pharmacological. Pharmacological or primary effects are enacted by the chemical properties of the drug. Non-pharmacological or secondary effects are generated by the unique ways an individual interacts with their prescription, but are not caused directly by chemical agents. A primary side effect such as weight gain or sexual dysfunction can easily lead to secondary effects, by impacting the person’s intimate relationships, self-esteem, or identity. My study identified spirituality as a non-pharmacological factor which can impact the course and outcome of treatment.

The complex nature of secondary effects is easily recognized by medication users, though rarely acknowledged by doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Because prescribers tend to view medication in the context of symptom relief, side effects are categorized in more general ways, which means that doctors often fail to detect the crucial subjective meanings that side effects can have for the individual. Psychiatry continues to promote the idea that the pharmacological agents alone are accountable for medication’s efficacy. Rarely acknowledged is the fundamental role of the person themselves, and how his or her unique interactions with treatment shape treatment. We need to rethink the significance of subjective response, not simply on humanistic grounds, but because it is having a critical influence on outcomes.

Some non-pharmacological effects are well known, like the placebo response. The placebo response is driven by the forces of hope and expectancy—oftentimes simply believing in the power of a pill initiates the process of healing. How spirituality impacts psychiatric medication use remains greatly underexplored. Both primary and secondary effects are known to generate emotional, cognitive and interpersonal side effects, and there are some compelling similarities between these and what participants in my study described as the spiritual consequences of their prescriptions. Ultimately, those categories did not capture what people saw as the spiritual side effects of medication, so the need for a new category dedicated specifically to spirituality was both necessary and appropriate.

Spiritual side effects (SSE) refer to any perceived effects concerning interactions between psychiatric medication and the spirituality of the user. SSE may be positive or negative, and they may be welcomed or unwelcomed by the individual. To the degree that people perceived medication to enhance their spirituality, it led to greater wellness and recovery. There were five primary ways that medication was described as spiritually enhancing: 1) increased feelings of connectedness to self, others, and the transcendent, 2) enhanced meaning and purpose, 3) inspired hope, 4) increased feelings of perseverance, and 5) increased participation in spiritual practices and activities.

When medication was perceived to be spiritually hindering or harmful, wellness and recovery were delayed. There were five main ways medication was reported as spiritually harmful: 1) disconnection to self, others, and the transcendent, 2) decreased sense of hope and a negative impact on spiritual beliefs, 3) discontinuation inspires spiritual growth (some people only recognized the presence of harmful SSE when they stopped taking medication), 4) interfered with healing, growth, and transformation processes, and 5) decreased access to spiritual resources and gifts. For many people, taking medication became part of their suffering, which eventually led to spiritual growth.

Now if all of this seems a little too neat and tidy, that’s because it is. It is beyond the scope of this article to really get into the complexity of the phenomenon. For people with a deeper interest in this subject, I have a book coming out this fall, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. The book relies on the participants own words and life experiences to explore the matter in great depth (actual names and identifying information have been changed).

The results of this study offer hope for improving current practice by encouraging a more complex understanding of psychopharmacology than we have been offered so far. What we’ve been taught about how these medications work—that they are biological interventions for biological conditions—limits our understanding. How individuals uniquely engage with their prescriptions—including spiritually—significantly influences the course and outcome of treatment. The next step forward is to recognize the value of individual variation, and to view it as an essential contribution to recovery. The one-size-fits-all approach of the biological model is out of sync with what the philosopher Charles Taylor has called the massive subjective turn of modern culture. It offers a generic view of our emotional lives is eerily emotionless.

We are living in rich times for rethinking the world. The larger narratives of science and medicine can easily overshadow the smaller narratives of individuals. What the participants in my study appear to be telling us is that the latest advances in neuroscience do not eradicate the human drive toward the spiritual to cope with experiences of suffering and healing. Whether scientists, researchers and doctors like it or not, some people are attaching deep spiritual meanings to the effects of medication, and it is impacting their perceived efficacy of that medication.

The question of suffering, and whether it can be adequately addressed at the level of receptor and transmitter, is at the heart of the psychopharmacology debate. Biological basis or not, the meaning of suffering remains a matter of genuine consequence, and, as part of a paradigm shift, that meaning should be determined by the individual. The fact is that for some people, these drugs are engaging and impacting upon some of the deepest and most sacred aspects of being human.


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.


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  1. Hi Lynne,
    This was an interesting article.

    I would view personal feelings about medications more in terms of expectancy and placebo effects, and less in terms of spirituality – but that is partly because I am agnostic and spirituality is not very important for me personally.

    I certainly think that how the person conceives of medication itself, and what they expect that it will do, is extremely powerful psychologically, often more powerful than the drug itself (this certainly seems to be the case for antidepressants, the effects of which are up to 80% a placebo and not a “real” drug effect, in terms of reducing distress, according to Kirsch).

    Another powerful dynamic is whether person believes the drug is “treating an illness” (i.e. whether they fit the pill into the framework of the disease model) or whether the person sees the drug as exerting a generalized damping effect on their mind/ability to feel, but not as treating any biogenetic disease. I suspect that the latter is less common than the former, given the way that psychiatrists and drug companies routinely mislead people to believe that their problems in living are brain diseases. Thus, and strangely, one could posit that many people think in a somewhat delusional way about medication – i.e. believing it to be treating a biogenetic disease they have (e.g. correcting a chemical imbalance)… rather than perceiving accurately that it is simply a nonspecific chemical compound inhibiting their general ability to feel and think as lucidly.

    I believe one could also say some similar things about spirituality and religiosity (i.e. that they are delusions), since I believe that these beliefs are basically denials of the fact that we are as far as we know alone in the universe (without a known God), that there is not necessarily meaning or order or intent in the universe, and that there may not be anything at all after death. Although, they are often adaptive delusions, since one feels safer and less afraid of death and meaninglessness by believing in God or being spiritual.

    After writing this, I realize that it is depressing not to be spiritual; however, I do not view deluding oneself with unevidenced beliefs as something to be proud of and thus it is difficult for me to be spiritual, even though I love nature and other people. This reminds me that depressed people often perceive the world more realistically than those who are more well emotionally.

    Anyway, I have digressed but thank you for stimulating my thinking with your article.

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    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks very much for your thoughtful reply, as well as thank you to all of the comments. This is what my goal was, to include spirituality in the conversation around psychopharmacology.

      MIA is central to it for me, because the idea to research this phenomenon was inspired by hearing Robert Whitaker speak in 2012, and reading Anatomy of an Epidemic.

      You did not digress- all of your thoughts seem to relate to what I’ve been learning/researching. Some researchers see spirituality as a possible form or correlate of the placebo response…that they involve the same neural systems, and facilitate the same ‘top-down’ effects. Changes in our bodily and emotional states, invoked by what you call personal feelings/conceptions of medication. Kirsch’s work has really influenced my understandings.

      What you write about beliefs, delusions, this resonates deeply with the findings of my study. ‘Explanatory frameworks’ was the term i employed to describe as a key mediating factor in the medication/spirituality relationship. As a qualitative researcher, I am narrowly interested in just this–lived experience, and how what people perceive and believe, shapes experience. Personally I am fascinated by the powers we have to self-heal…whether it’s provably true or not, believing certain things (there is a God up there intervening in our lives, we are not alone, a pill will cure me, etc.) can be deeply soothing to our bodies and minds.

      I remember an old boyfriend, with serious depression, reminding me of the same thing, that his perceptions were more realistic than my own optimistic ones…at the time, how I longed to for him to be wrong, but nowadays…I’m more open to this.

      Again, thank you.

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    • Matt

      You have NOTHING to be defensive about regarding your issues/questions regarding religion and and spirituality.

      I should start out by saying that I am NOT an agnostic, but rather a militant atheist. I believe that not only is there no such thing as a “God,” but that religion and the spread of various similar forms of superstition is a harmful thing for the human race as a whole. I don’t deny that religion may have a short term consoling affect for some people in grief etc., but overall belief in these unscientific myths holds back the progress of humanity.

      While I am a hardcore atheist, I still believe in a certain concept of “spirituality,” IF that is extended to mean a form of human connectiveness that elicits a strong emotional sense of bonding and/or an uplifting sense of being part of, and connected, to certain social movements (where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) attempting to change the world for the better. I certainly felt these feelings in the movements of the 1960’s and beyond, and in today’s movement against psychiatric oppression and other environmental and anti-capiatalist struggles. These types of feelings (loosely called “spiritual” in the broadest sense) are based on tangible human interactions in the REAL world, not superstition.

      Matt, I’d like to challenge your comment that said: “… since I believe that these beliefs are basically denials of the fact that we are as far as we know alone in the universe (without a known God),…”

      We are NOT alone! There are several billion human beings on this planet we can unite with to transform this world into a more peaceful and humane place to live. People, who can and do provide us with tangible evidence (on a daily basis) of love, affection, and support. Since there is no God, and nobody can prove its existence, it is beyond me how people can claim that somehow we (atheists or agnostics) are in anyway missing out on some mystical connection that has no basis in proven reality.

      Matt, you also said: “… they are often adaptive delusions, since one feels safer and less afraid of death and meaninglessness by believing in God or being spiritual.”

      I don’t believe for a minute that this is necessarily true or more “adaptive” in a positive way. Many very religious people are very hypocritical in their social relationships and have serious problems in making genuine human connections. Many also have great fear of death. Is it possible in some situations that their religiosity stands as an obstacle for them being able to make those human connections or overcome their fears.

      Matt, you said: “…After writing this, I realize that it is depressing not to be spiritual; however, I do not view deluding oneself with unevidenced beliefs as something to be proud of and thus it is difficult for me to be spiritual, even though I love nature and other people.”

      Again, nothing to be defensive about here. For me it is NOT depressing, but rather LIBERATING to not be burdened with the all the religious superstition and the false concepts of “sin” and “evil” etc. that come with most religions. It is precisely your love of “nature” and “other people” that makes you a “spiritual” person in a sort of philosophically “materialist” way (if I might frame it that way).

      Matt, I believe your instincts about these questions are far more on target than those who will immediately accept religious dogma with no verifiable proof in the real world. And I must point out here, that I mean no disrespect to people who still hold on to religious beliefs. I think that religious belief will be around a long time on this planet and I plan to work as hard as I can alongside of many religious people as we attempt to change the world. I just want atheism to command the same level of respect among the broad masses, so that atheistic people DO NOT have to be defensive or somehow feel “deprived” or lacking in some mystical human quality.

      As to the content of this particular blog, I have very mixed feelings. The following quote rubs me the wrong way:

      “To be clear, I’m not trying to debate whether medications work or not, or if they are an appropriate first-line treatment for emotional distress. The aim is to look at the particular ways that psychiatric medications work which create the conditions for perceived interactions with spirituality.”

      While I am very much in favor of most scientific endeavors (even some of the more obscure investigations), I don’t know how someone can remain so impartial to the huge elephant in the living room of any discussions regarding psychiatric DRUGS in today’s world. First off, to use the term “medications” is to concede to several decades (where billions have been spent on marketing) of propaganda by Big Pharma to convince people that their mind altering substances are somehow “medications,” instead of the mind altering drugs that they are in reality. This is NO SMALL point in semantics, but a direct struggle against very oppressive language.

      And most importantly, given that overall their psychiatric drugs are causing FAR MORE HARM THAN GOOD in the world, that is, literally destroying millions of human lives, who the hell cares their psychological effect on spirituality WITHOUT AT THE SAME TIME LINKING THIS TO THEIR OPPRESSIVE ROLE IN OUR SOCIETY? Or how can we EVER separate their social and political role in society from their effect on spirituality?

      These drugs are, in their essence, mind altering substances, that impair overall brain functioning. So using common logic, I would expect them to interfere with rational cognitive functioning which would, in most cases, enhance one’s tendency to accept all forms of superstitious thinking, which includes religious spirituality. What more do we need to know on this artificially separated out subject of investigation.


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  2. For me, psych drugs have always interacted very badly with my spiritual life. I also have had a lot of moral questions no one else seems to be troubled by. Including people I go to church with.

    In the end, I chose to taper off my drugs because I disliked the idea that I needed drugs to do the right thing–that my soul’s salvation lay in bottles of pills.

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  3. What? No mention of tardive dyskinesia? My problem with this piece is that there are plenty of people who might ingest a harmful substance thinking it beneficial, especially when you’ve got an entire profession encouraging them to do so. I think psych-drugs are worse than people generally credit them with being, and I couldn’t see peddling them even to a more select clientele. I see in your spiritual side effects mere mystification. The physical effects are the problem, and one of those, given long term use, is going to be, invariably, brain damage. I figure people could use a little more “wising up”, and a little less “dumbing down” than they are getting here. There are, as any recreational drug user well knows, more choice poisons.

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  4. Overdosed methylphenidate adminstered transdermally as Daytrana® induced many spiritual experiences. The wall sent signals, my computer transmitted messages from eastern Europe when no applications were running, and one afternoon, invisible soundless angels told me it was okay to die. I told them I had things to do.

    Aware that I was close to dying from dehydration, I managed to save myself with a solution of sugar and salt in water, the poor person’s electrolyte solution.

    It was glorious to be that kind of crazy until the bad things that keep happening when you’re crazy and can’t prevent or fix them had accumulated to a degree they were bumming my unhinged high. When I was helped by a friend to realize I was psychotic and stopped using the drug, I entered dopamine agonist withdrawal syndrome (DAWS) and stayed in it for almost two years. If I’d known what it was I might have been able to exit it sooner.
    I was abandoned by two psychiatrists I’d been seeing and a neurologist who’d just diagnosed an off-label type of epilepsy after an EEG and a physical exam. (I couldn’t stand with my feet parallel and pressed together so the inner sides were in contact.) I had to fend for myself, armed only with bad luck and the belief that I deserved my life back no matter what I had to endure. New doctors said it was depression but it was not. One said he thought I enjoyed it.

    It was so bad it made depression a desirable alternative: depression is a human experience; it’s different from contentment but it’s made up of familiar feelings; DAWS is outside what our brains could ever know without the poisons that cause it. It’s not worse than depression on some continuum. It’s a hell that only a supernatural force of evil could conceive and inflict.

    The way to tolerate consciousness in DAWS, for me, also involved spirits, preferably 80 proof Cazadores Reposado.

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    • Actually I’ve found that between 4 and 5 pints of Guinness can be a place of great happiness and contentment.

      I’ve experienced the horrors of neuroleptic drug withdrawal myself. I am coming out of it now after many many years of misery anxiety and emotional dysregulation. As I head for my late 50s I’m quite happy and my anxiety levels are very low (most of the time).

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  5. I was a victim of horrible *spiritual* conspiracy,with aim to kill me.I call it telepathic or telekinetic assault on me.And *they* leave *fingertrips* in my brains,after this happened,everything is going *down* now for me.Anyway I know now why this happened and who was behind it.In my my dreams I get the name of the person,who was behind this *plott*.At least they failed to kill me,but they *leave* a brain cyst in wake of their’s sneaky and crafty *attack* on me.This is how *psychologists*,*defend* them-self,before people who *offend* them.

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  6. Pretty absurd stuff.

    For many people, taking medication became part of their suffering, which eventually led to spiritual growth.

    This may be fine for Calvinists and others who equate spirituality with suffering but I think the statement speaks for itself.

    Spirituality to me involves an understanding that consciousness exists at deeper levels than physical experience, and is not dependent on such; it doesn’t require belief in an anthropomorphic “god.”

    People tend to become more focused on such matters as they approach physical death, maybe this is what psych drugs are giving some a taste of.

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    • Oldhead, I was one of the people interviewed by Lynne who thought taking the psychiatric drugs was the cause of my suffering, and I experienced a “spiritual awakening” to my subconscious self once weaned off the meds.

      Context is important, however, I was initially drugged because child molestation covering up psychologist and psychiatrists believed that a dream query about being ‘moved by the Holy Spirit’ the morning after 9/11/2001 was a ‘delusion of grandeur,’ according to their medical records. So I was indeed drugged for belief in God, which is illegal in the US.

      The entire time I was on the drugs, anticholinergic toxidrome induced psychosis resulted in three evil “voices” in my head, and a mental battle of good vs. evil essentially. Good, of course, won. I was weaned off the drugs that were illegally forced upon me.

      My “spiritual awakening,” what honest doctors would call a drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis, was similar to an introduction to Jungian psychological beliefs, in essence the concept that we are all connected within the collective unconscious. I hope this is true, and I know there are millions of people on the internet who now share my disgust at the Federal Reserve system and share my disgust at the pedophilia and the child sex trafficking problems run amok in this world. I see the concerns within my collective unconscious now being the concerns of many on the internet, as if the concerns of the collective unconscious are coming to light in the material world.

      Is that “absurd”? I’m not here to force anyone to believe in God, but I am here to say it is immoral and illegal to torture people for belief in the Triune God in the US still, and the psychiatric drugs do not “cure” people of belief in the Triune God, including the Holy Spirit. This is not to say I am not disgusted by some of the mainstream paternalistic religions and their historic “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions” way of profiteering off of covering up child abuse en mass, which is the number one function of today’s psychiatric and psychological industries, according to their own medical evidence.

      Even the President of the United States is now aware of the worldwide child abuse and child trafficking problems. Where is the proof the Jungian psychologists are wrong? We already know the DSM believing psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ theology is scientifically “invalid.” But I will say my good God would definitely stand against the child abuse run amok our society is experiencing today, as well as those who profiteer off of covering up child abuse en mass.

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  7. Matt, Richard, I think that you are just plain factually wrong in your insistence (with the different degree of certitude) that spirituality is nothing but a delusion. If you, like me, knew about a mass of highly controversial and not yet officially accepted – yet entirely methodologically valid and highly rigourous – scientific research, you might change your minds about the topic.

    I’m speaking about academic parapsychology, transpersonal psychology and near-death studies – disciplines with a paradoxial status, since they are both practiced by many eminent scientists, and even have registered research groups and laboratories in some universities, and yet simultaneously shunned by academic community. The reason for shunning is, however, is more philosophical than scientific – parapsychological research are sometimes better done than most “conventional” psychology studies.

    And it demonstrates, quite clearly, that there is a “non-local” – disembodied – component in human psyche; more, this component have a tendency to empowerment during altered states of consciousness, like the ones achieved via spiritual practice (like meditation) or taking psychedelics. This distant part of the mind is objectively real; effects of its activity can be reliably experimentally measured.

    If you want to learn more, you may look at Dean Radin’s selection of scientific publication supporting the existence of psychic phenomena (and there are MUCH more papers with psi-demonstrating results, of course):

    And if you want some quick general info about the psi research, Psi Encyclopedia established by the Society of Psychical Research is probably the best way to start:

    Another important place to visit is the Prapsychological Association, an international organisation that is an affiliated organization of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and has been so for decades:

    And, if you want an example of a psychic research group functioning on a basis of a respectable academic organisation, here is the Division of Perceptual Studies based on a University of Virginia School of Medicine:

    Please do look in the information I provided. It have a possibility of changing one’s understanding of the world quite radically!

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    • I’m going to have to agree with Matt and Richard on this one, Vortex. Any evidence of ESP, necromancy, and so forth is not the the kind of thing you see on television and at the movies, that is, there is really very little concrete evidence to support a belief in its existence, the only kind of evidence that matters, beyond wishful thinking. Reality itself I guess you could say is lacking in the special effects department. Harry Houdini, it seems, hasn’t managed to make his way back from the grave yet, Jesus Christ notwithstanding. (Of course, Harry was a Jew for all the difference that makes.) I believe Uri Geller’s spoon bending was shown to be a hoax years ago. The science behind spirituality, it just doesn’t cut mustard as of yet. Of course, they can conduct these experiments for as long as people exist to conduct them, but as for performing “miracles”, the lot of humanity is still left out of the loop by these things. What experiments you’ve got still fall far short in that regard.

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      • That is not true, Frank. There is copious evidence–reviewed by Chris Carter in his books–eg Science and Psychic Phenomena: THe Fall of the House of Skeptics.
        It is the commitment to a materialist ontology that leads biased critics to dismiss the evidence. Carter has another book discussing evidence for life after death, and reincarnation. The existence of telepathy, telekenesis ought to surprise anyone familiar with the findings of quantum physics, eg non-locality, quantum entanglement. As one reviewer put it,”Exploring the scandalous history of parapsychology and citing decades of research, Chris Carter shows that, contrary to mainstream belief, replicable evidence of psi phenomena exists. The controversy over parapsychology continues not because ESP and other abilities cannot be verified but because their existence challenges deeply held worldviews more strongly rooted in religious and philosophical beliefs than in hard science..”
        I also recommend the book on the topic theologian and 9/11 Truther er David Ray Griffin which not only makes the case for psi phenomena but shows that the existence of psi buttresses the panpsychic Whiteheadian view of the world of which Griffin is an exponent.
        If even matter possesses at least rudimentary consciousness(a view found in Eastern religions, also) than one would expect that consciousness can directly “perceive” or prehend “matter” or other minds. Directly means without mediation of sensory processes. One could also prehend God. Again this is consistent with quantum phenomenom. Certainly this is a more “spiritual” conception of the universe, but it is also more in accord with finding of modern science.
        The idea that meaning, intentionality and purpose exist only in the human mind, but not in the vast realm of nature–whether as real or as illusory–is reductionist and quaint. Evidence of purpose is found throughout the world– as if Mind is organizing the world seeking to manifest the higher values (love, beauty, goodness) within the world–just as forces of ignorance or evil seek to thwart this power. To deny a priori the existence of “God” shows either one is unfamiliar with modern non-fundamentalist theology and non-dogmatic mysticism or one has embraced a 19th century Newtonian materialist view of “science.”
        In my writing I argue there is interface between madness and spirituality–as R D Laing and other argued in 1960s and 70s. My 2012 book is THe Spiritual Gift of Madness

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        • CORRECTION (I had omitted “not”)
          . The existence of telepathy, telekenesis ought NOT not to surprise anyone familiar with the findings of quantum physics, eg non-locality, quantum entanglement. As one reviewer put it,”

          CORRECTION 2
          The idea that meaning, intentionality and purpose exist only in the human mind,–whether as real or as illusory– but not in the vast realm of nature–is reductionist and quaint.

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          • I was in the hospital while the X-Files were playing, and it was fun to vanish into invisibility the way the characters on the show seemed to do, but the X-Files was definitely television. The doctors had it over on me when it came to mind control. One of the most, not laudable, but rather laughable aspects of R. D. Laing was his interest in parapsychology. I suppose it supports emotion, but the science, as far as I’ve seen, is not behind it. I’ve even participated in parapsychology research, and though there may be some statistical advantage gained by some people, as clear evidence of paranormal activity, it has never been very convincing as far as I’m concerned. While stage magicians may be masters of deceiving the crowd, when it comes to ESP, alchemy, clairvoyance, and other shell games, I would be wary of deceiving oneself.

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          • Frank
            There is nothing laughable about Laing. He did not have an interest in “parapsychology” as a discipline__I don’t where you get your facts from.
            He has interest in vast realm of paranormal experience, and a realization that
            “madness” was a gateway potentialities to the recovery to d capacities of the human mind repressed in the modern secular world.
            Don’t look at the evidence–if it makes you uncomfortable. Pretend it doesn’t exist–pretend it’s “scientifically” . But it has now been proven by standards of modern science– in the kind of blind controlled repeatable experiments. Remote viewing for example has been proven beyond a doubt.
            Furthermore anyone with an interest in Eastern religion knows that there are all kinds of “supernatural” powers possessed by masters. there is a vast literature on this. For example, the writings of Alexanda David Neel in the 1930s, e.g. Magic and Mystery in Tibet. Anyone with a “spiritual “orientation can experience this in his/her own life.

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          • Perhaps “laughable” was the wrong word. People, many people, definitely took Laing very seriously. Many people, psychiatrists among them, didn’t take him so seriously, too. He certainly though, and probably owing to his status as 60s icon as well as the broad range of his thinking, has proven to have staying power.

            Paranormal and parapsychology are like interchangeable terms, at least for me, and I wouldn’t say Laing took an interest in parapsychology (the study of paranormal experience) as a discipline to be pursued, it was more like a passing fancy. It was something he talked about, and something he wasn’t out to expose as a stage show stunt or a hoax and bad science.

            I’m an atheist, Seth. I’m not looking for any “Eastern religion” “master”, with or without “supernatural powers”. It’s not something I feel I’m lacking in my life. I’ve seen plenty of people who were smitten with what for one from the west may have seemed a new faith for a time. I would think some of them have turned their gaze elsewhere by now.

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        • Seth

          You say: ” To deny a priori the existence of “God” shows either one is unfamiliar with modern non-fundamentalist theology and non-dogmatic mysticism or one has embraced a 19th century Newtonian materialist view of “science.””

          You are promoting a philosophically “idealist” presentation of reality similar to the old “I think therefore I am” approach to understanding the world. As opposed to a more philosophical “materialist” approach which says “I am therefore I think.” The latter presupposes the existence of an objective reality independent of and outside the self.

          Seth, the view you are promoting actually places MAJOR LIMITATIONS on the true nature of the “universe” by implying that it is “finite” and predetermined by an a priori existence of a supernatural “God,” which you would probably say has existed “infinitely.” This unscientific outlook actually stands (in the long run) as a major obstacle to human progress.

          What makes far greater sense and can be backed up by true science, is that “the universe” itself is infinite – it has always been there and will infinitely exist, that is, the law of matter in motion is infinite. Nothing was “created” by a “God” for it has always existed.

          “God” is actually finite in the sense that it is a conceptual creation of human beings to somehow explain the unexplainable in a confusing and often traumatic reality. The more human beings grow to understand how the world works and create a reality with less oppression and trauma, such concepts as “God” and/or religion (and other superstitions) will no longer be necessary for the human race.


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          • An infinite universe? As far as I’m concerned, Richard, without proof even the universe is not infinite. Just because we haven’t come to the end of it, that doesn’t mean that end is not out there. Time and space may have an end. Thankfully, we are not at the end of space and time. I tend to see in immeasureables religious explanations.

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          • Hey Frank

            Every time they build a new telescope it shatters all previous conceptions, and they end up conceding the fact “well, I guess we were wrong, the universe goes out much farther than we used to think.” This itself will be an infinite process as human knowledge and our capacity to explore the universe continues to expand.

            And here is another aspect of infinity to explore. There is both “inner” and “outer” (for the sake of better terminology) forms of infinity. For as human beings explore smaller and smaller objects by searching for the so-called smallest particles inside known objects, suppose we conceive of this as also another endless search where smaller and smaller particles will be discovered in an “infinite” space going in the so-called other direction, if you will. And there is a dialectical relationship between both forms or types of infinity.

            Infinity is almost an impossible concept for humans to understand because of the finite nature of our thinking minds. But nevertheless, we can explore these questions and they have important significance in understanding both philosophy and physics and ultimately, political solutions to human problems. Food for thought.


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          • Matter is finite. Infinite and immortal go together. There is the argument about whether the universe will expand indefinitely, or whether it will eventually reach a limit of expansion and collapse in upon itself. You can’t measure infinity, but if you could, somewhere within it, surely, there must be a God lurking, if not a Goddess, or three.

            We have reasons for calculating the shortest distance between two points, such as destinations to reach, but just try calculating the longest distance between two points, eventually the grim reaper will end that kind of nonsense.

            I don’t count infinity. I see it 1. as a belief, and 2. I don’t have the time. Cut things down to their smallest components, and you wind up with something like string theory. Infinite is not infinite if you come to the end of it. Given mirrors, infinity makes an interesting illusion, but an illusion is all it is.

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          • Richard, You claim that I assume that the universe “is “finite” and predetermined by an a priori existence of a supernatural “God,” which you would probably say has existed “infinitely'”
            But I said the “new atheists”(whom you seem to be channeling) seem to be unfamiliar with a non-fundamentalist theology, or metaphysics . The idea that God creates the world out of nothing is a literalist (fundamentalist) interpretation of the Jewish bible or old testament. It is not the belief of David Ray Griffin a Christian (process) theologian. And this is not the position of Eastern mystics–the Upanishads– or other Western panentheism.
            Biblical literalism posits a radical dualism–God vs nothing.But an infinite God cannot be limited by nothingness.Nor could there pre-exist a realm oF meaninglessness..|
            Panentheism affirms that God manifests or “creates” the world within Godself–within the realm of no–thing, the divine abyss of infinite possibility, as Philip Sherrard calls it. Yes the universe must have always existed in some form. For panentheists God is both immanent and transcendent–there is nothing beyond or outside of consciousness which has always existed and always will exist. “Matter” itself is a form of consciousness.
            AS neo-Hindu philosopher Sri Aurobindo expressed it,”: “We are bound then to suppose that all that evolves already existed involved, passive or otherwise active, but in either case concealed from us in the shell of material Nature. The Spirit which manifests itself here in a body, must be involved from the beginning in the whole of matter and in every knot, formation and particle of matter; life, mind and whatever is above mind must be latent inactive or concealed active powers in all the operations of material energy.”

            “We have to come back to the idea of a spirit present in the universe and, if the process of its works of power and its appearance is in the steps of an evolution, there imposes itself the necessity of a previous involution.”

            It is not only human beings’ minds that that are characterized by awareness and purposive striving, but all of nature manifests qualities of sentience and purpose.Thus cosmic intelligence manifests itself from within nature, and also from outside, from the Transcendent pole of spirit.

            I don’t see what you see liberating about a universe stripped of all value, consciousness and purpose. But in any case such a universe is but a construction of the modern secular mind, which denigrates and decries it own yearning for meaning, for soul, for holiness. Long ago Carl Jung recognized this internal self-division as the “spiritual schizophrenia” of modern rational man. Madness itself, as Laing and John Weir Perry(Jung’s student) recognized, is an attempt to heal this inner rift.

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          • It’s hard for me to even conceive of a finite universe. Like, when you come to the end do you hit a wall? What’s the wall made of it and how thick is it — infinitely? Or is there something on the other side? The only thing that would make sense if the universe were finite would be that eventually you would come back to where you started.

            But the above is based on measures of space and time which Einstein showed are illusory and relative (and likely subjective). If viewed from the perspective of additional dimensions, notions of distance, and of “beginnings” and “endings” might be seen as superfluous. Some would say “the only time is now, the only place is here” (or nowhere).

            I have also heard it posited that matter=energy=consciousness.

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          • I’d say it’s no harder to conceive of a finite universe than it is to conceive of a finite stone. You only arrive at infinity by ceasing to count, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a great number of objects out there. It only means there are way too many to count. Death would intervene long before anybody/bodies could finish.

            I don’t see Albert Einstein as another Bishop Berkeley, that is, seeing everything as manifestation of God, God speaking through an individual’s subjectivity. I don’t see, say Einstein, reducing all to subjectivity as you just endeavored to do. Logic may be the method by which we determine what is out there, but whatever it is it is not mind, and not only is it not mind, but it is not infinite.

            Some would not look beyond the tips of their own noses, however that doesn’t mean that nothing exists beyond the tip of one’s nose. Sure, however sinister and pervasive is self-indulgence.

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    • “Science” cannot prove or disprove spirituality, they are two different realms. One is subjective and experiential, the other objective and abstract. Although if one explores the phenomenon of synchronicity or studies quantum mechanics some hints about the relationship between the two may be gleaned.

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      • Oldhead and Vortex

        I agree with Frank’s above comment.

        Oldhead you said: ““Science” cannot prove or disprove spirituality, they are two different realms. One is subjective and experiential, the other objective and abstract.”

        This statement makes no logically sense. All experience is based on human interaction with the material world; which is the originating source of all ideas and thoughts. There can be no thinking or thought processes without there first being human interaction with the objective world that exists outside of oneself.

        As to science (or those believing in science) proving spirituality in terms of the existence of supernatural beings, this cannot be done, nor is it our responsibility to try.

        If someone says there is a pink elephant in the room but no one can see it with the naked eye or find any material evidence of its existence, it is NOT my responsibility to somehow prove it’s not really there. It is their “goddamn” responsibility to prove it is there, otherwise please stop insisting it is there, AND that others should accept on faith its existence.

        How many similar sorts of superstitions and beliefs based on shear faith or trust in those proclaiming to know the truth, have ended in such great harm and destruction to the human race?

        And Oldhead, science can’t be both objective and “abstract” at the same time as you implied in your above statement. This does not make any sense in this context.


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        • All experience is based on human interaction with the material world; which is the originating source of all ideas and thoughts.

          This is an unproven, unprovable a priori assumption as well. It may apply to all human experience in this time/space bound planetary existence, but to say this is the nature of all reality, or all experience, is a belief, not a “proven” fact.

          This is an area where Marxist materialism falls short. Dialectical materialism works fine within the sphere of political struggle, which is part of the highly material focus we currently share. But there is ample scientific consensus that the very existence of material substance, along with the perceived limitations of time and space, are essentially illusions, or limitations of our senses.

          If you interpret spirituality as a belief in “supernatural beings” you are missing the point, that’s not what I and I presume most others here are talking about. On the other hand what is often worshipped as “science” is predicated on unrecognized or unacknowledged assumptions regarding the nature of reality.

          An interesting film which will irritate die-hard materialists as well as partisans of western religion is called “What the Bleep Do We Know?” — it stars Marlee Matlin as well as a slew of mysticists and scientists probing the nature of reality, material and otherwise, and is reviewed here at Rotten Tomatoes:

          (It seems that the full film has been posted on You Tube but due to my uncertainty about copyright issues I am not posting that link.) The film raises many questions and posits no conclusive answers, but even that has made it a target of some people’s outrage; it appears that a lot of the scientists may have been hounded into saying they had been “speaking out of context” when filmed. Judge for yourself.

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          • Oldhead

            You said:”Dialectical materialism works fine within the sphere of political struggle, which is part of the highly material focus we currently share. But there is ample scientific consensus that the very existence of material substance, along with the perceived limitations of time and space, are essentially illusions, or limitations of our senses.”

            I am surprised that you would promote this form of “relativism”, that is, a kind of approach that says, “well we can’t really know all these things for SURE when it comes to spiritualism and materialist philosophy etc. and the political reality that flows from all these real life problems we all face.”

            Don’t you you see how this conveniently fits into this giant hodge podge of beliefs in the so-called “market place of ideas,” where nothing is really knowable, so we can’t really be sure of anything etc. or take direct political action in the real world because “who the f#%k really knows what is true” etc.

            This fits very well into people just living their life as individuals and “doing their own thing” because “reality is only in your own mind” etc.

            This kind of “relativism” is VERY USEFUL to the ruling classes (and those that want to preserve the status quo) because people are often paralyzed by uncertainty and the related forms of mystical thinking.

            There is a reality out there and there are knowable truths AND WE MUST ACT DECISIVELY ON THAT KNOWLEDGE TO CHANGE THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER. Yes, there will always be things we don’t understand, and the universe is always in a state of constant change but this SHOULD NOT prevent us from taking decisive action in the real world.

            Dialectical materialism, as a scientific methodology for understanding our world (and the universe), is NOT limiting in this sense but actually embraces the concepts of unknowable truths and a constantly changing reality.


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          • You are right, Richard, that true science does not eliminate the concept of the mysterious and the unknowable, but I hope you can acknowledge that many folks use the cloak of “science” (I call this “scientism”) to promote ideas of strict materialism (that which can’t be measured doesn’t exist), and that psychiatry itself is dependent on this very phenomenon. The big argument I hear many times in favor of bio-psychiatry states “the mind is the brain” or “the mind is a product of the brain” because “what else can it be?” It is a very short step from there to “treating the mind = messing with your brain.” The unwillingness of psychiatrists and other “mental health professionals” to acknowledge the unknown and their lack of understanding is pivotal to psychiatry’s continued existence. They “know” that genetic causes for “mental illnesses” exist and they just haven’t spent enough time looking. Soon they think they will have “designer psychiatry” specially created for your own personal brain. Meanwhile, receiving medical treatment is the third leading cause of death in the USA annually.

            I think it is very important to deconstruct this kind of hyper-materialism as part of deconstructing psychiatry. Most people I have encountered who espouse a materialist philosophy around psychiatry don’t even understand that it IS a philosophy, they just think that it is TRUE, and even those who recognize it as such don’t have the subtle understanding of the implications of a true scientific materialist viewpoint. The recognition of the unknown and even the unknowable is a fundamental lack in psychiatry and all of its allies, and is central to its continued existence. Once their pseudoscientific “certainty” is undermined, it becomes much easier to show lay people that they are full of crap.

            Not to mention that there are other possible philosophies that can’t be eliminated by science, leaving us open to a lot of possible views on the nature of reality, even while maintaining a scientific viewpoint, as uncomfortable as that may make us feel. Consider the uncertainty principle, or the quantum mechanical fact that a particle can move from one place to another without having occupied the space in between, or the nature of a quantum of light that when perceived in one location, it becomes unavailable to be perceived in all other locations. It appears that perception can and does create and/or modify physical reality, and that the goal of science to create hard and fast rules regarding material reality can’t actually ever be met. Even material reality appears to be affected by viewpoint, so relativism is a scientific reality even in physics. How psychiatry can deny the essential reality of relativism in the realm of the mind and get away with it remains baffling to me.

            — Steve

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          • Yes, there will always be things we don’t understand, and the universe is always in a state of constant change but this SHOULD NOT prevent us from taking decisive action in the real world.

            Who said it should prevent anything? Within the parameters relevant to the immediate “here and now,” truths which may be relative in relation to the universe as a whole can still be effectively used to effect specific concrete change or solve concrete problems.

            My previous statements about the nature of time and space ARE products of scientific discourse, ask a physicist; I didn’t make them up.

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      • I agree, “What the Bleep Do We Know” is an interesting film, I also recommend it. And I’d like to point out that no one here has brought up the fact that the entire universe, from the shape of the constellations down to the shape of our DNA and smaller is based on the exact same mathematical concept, which is mathematical evidence for a designer who understood this concept, or a God.

        All of nature is based upon what is known as sacred geometry, which relates to the Fibonacci sequence, and the swirl which is created by connecting the Fibonacci numbers can be seen in the design of the universe from the largest to the smallest things within the material world.

        I’d recommend you gentlemen look into the concept of sacred geometry. Can you then prove there is not an Intelligent Designer who enjoys mathematics?

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  8. This really resonates with me. Before I was medicated, I was a fundamentalist Christian. I held the belief for many years that my traumas were God’s way of preparing me to be someone’s guardian angel. Within three years of being heavily medicated, including neuroleptics, I had become a hardcore atheist. and I spent over a decade as one. I’m still an atheist, but part of my recovery from the medications has included embracing what I call Light Buddhism. I dont think I could ever return to Christianity – partly because as a female atheist, I was roundly rejected by my Christian friends when I came out. That rejection still hurts deeply. I just don’t find many christians who actually resemble the teachings they claim others should live by. But I do feel far more spiritual since stopping the medications. It feels like a part of me I’d forgotten existed has reemerged.

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  9. I was raised traumatically fundamentalist evangelical Christian. Long before my drugging, I rejected that first for atheism, then adapted to match my experience for a broader view, and an exploration of hidden belief, with a sense to connect the religious practices to find the core essence of each version of relationship to G-d. During my “manic break,” I was talking to wasps. Was it a 2-way communication? I will never know, because the ability to talk to wasps hampered my ability to function in a job, pay my bills, maintain a residence, a car, a practical life. And my relationships were in tatters.

    So I submitted to the drugs, as an act of Response-ability. I anticipated that they would help me gain control of my emotional life, and because my spirituality was so integral to my Be-ing, did not anticipate any damage to my relationship with G-d.

    It’s true, I was able to hold a job, and work, albeit under severely limited hours and conditions, as my sleep went weird, my dreams went away. I was able to develop and maintain working relationships with others, and became more aware of damage I had caused and sought to make amends.

    What I did not see, was the creeping numbness and anhedonia as it gradually engulfed me in cobwebs and cotton wool. I could not pray, I could not connect, I actually became afraid of the nature that I previously loved and trusted. I stayed on my chair on the porch, reading fiction. I lost my hobbies of watercolor, music. I was wrapped in silence. (the offending drugs were: Tricyclics, SNRI, lithium, statins, a neuroleptic, and PPI’s) The silence became so deafening that suicide loomed. I had nothing left to live for. Why was I reading books? Why do anything at all?

    All of my former curiosity and engagement with the world around me was robbed by this deadly cocktail. Luckily, I was still reading books, and when Anatomy of an Epidemic crossed my lap, the scales fell from my eyes. I was still numb, anhedonic, but I saw a ray of light which would allow me to follow a path – back to my Self – or at least OUT of the deafening numbness.

    Robert Whitaker showed me the fallacy of “drug maintenance” for mental health, Will Hall showed me the possibility of escaping the drugs, while Surviving Antidepressants showed me the how to get out from under the drugs – safely.

    As I came out from the lithium blanket, it was like walking from a deep filthy polluted pond, with my legs hip deep in mud, and my vision obscured by muddy toxic water. Gradually, as the doses decreased, the mud was less sticky, and the sunlight started to come into my world. Now, a year out from the last dose of lithium, I am out of the toxic pond, standing on the shore – still knee deep in mud because of the damage I’ve suffered – but I see the sky, I see the trees, I hear the birds again.

    I’m not about defining what spirituality is for others. I only know that – I was once again curious. Why orange? What is a triangle? How do fractals relate to traditional geometry? how does my body feel in yoga asana? What is chaos? What is the animus? What is the difference between a symbol and an archetype? Why does the drum work to produce reliable shamanic response? How does it work? How can I help it work better? How can I be the best possible human I can be, and how can I use what I’ve been given to help others?

    And so, in a short year from leaving the lithium behind, I find myself in a teaching position, helping others to become aware of their inner life and how it connects to their outer life. Of finding symbols to help them learn the lessons needed to learn. I try very hard to keep it secular, but there is a numinous force at play, guiding me, guiding those I work with to a greater awareness, openness, and above all – curiosity.

    (oh, and yes, I also joined the team at Surviving Antidepressants to help teach people how to come off their drugs safely)

    So – from my perspective, the fallacy of this article is that “expectations about the drugs lead to the spiritual experience with the drug.” I expected that my relationship to “That” would never change. I underestimated the force of the numbing blanket of neurotransmitter tweaking. While we may not agree on what “That” is, Richard’s comment that these drugs cause MORE HARM THAN GOOD is a vital expression of my own healing.

    And to address why the suffering of the drugs brings people to a greater spiritual experience upon discontinuation? Oldhead said that it was the relationship with death. I will take it a step further – it is a death, a shamanic death, an ego-death, to completely lose your personality and who you thought you were – just by taking a pill. It is such an occlusion of the “soul” that you are, by all rights, dead to yourself. You stop searching for meaning, you barely make it through the day.

    Then, after the drugs, when you begin to feel again, begin to engage again – the small things – the blade of grass, the flight of a butterfly, that vivid color, that warm chord – become so much more meaningful.

    I SURVIVED! I am a Human Be-ing!

    This survival is akin to being “born again,” as we would have said in my early church.

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    • JanCarol

      Thank you for sharing such a powerful story with so much emotional depth and meaning. Even though your descriptions of the “darkness” were hard to fathom, your sense of hope and rediscovery of self were truly very inspiring.

      I will definitely pass this comment on to a very close friend who is currently in the throws of a very difficult stage (serious insomnia and unrelenting anxiety in the early part of the day) of withdrawal from several decades of being on a psych drug cocktail, which includes lithium.

      I can definitely see how your post psych drug experiences could have a “spiritual”component to them perhaps in a similar way I described “spiritual” in my above comment, which I will repeat here:

      “While I am a hardcore atheist, I still believe in a certain concept of “spirituality,” IF that is extended to mean a form of human CONNECTIVENESS (emphasis added) that elicits a strong emotional sense of bonding and/or an uplifting sense of being part of, and connected, to certain social movements (where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) attempting to change the world for the better. I certainly felt these feelings in the movements of the 1960’s and beyond, and in today’s movement against psychiatric oppression and other environmental and anti-capiatalist struggles. These types of feelings (loosely called “spiritual” in the broadest sense) are based on tangible human interactions in the REAL world, not superstition.”

      In your case just reconnecting to the experience of real feelings again, both to nature and other human beings (we are by nature social beings), must be a complete revelation and profoundly emotional in a deep going way.

      But I do try to make a distinction between those particular feelings and the religious belief in a supernatural “god,” which I believe is in another metaphysical category. Sometimes these two categories of feelings are confused by people and lumped together. I don’t think this blog at MIA was able to draw those necessary distinctions, which was one of its major shortcomings, in addition to trying to separate out these questions from the overall harm perpetuated by the massive amount of psych drugging going on in society.

      Again, thanks for telling your story.


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      • Thank you Richard.

        Please do not call another’s beliefs, “confusion.”

        For me, the connectedness and the Oneness are G-d, and include All Life. G-d is in me, in thee, all life, and everywhere. This is not confusion, but experience. Is it supernatural? Certainly. Is it common to all humanity? I hope so.

        I cannot prove it in a science lab, but I am proving it in my own life. I don’t need to distinguish between a “spirit in the sky” and the spark in our eyes as we converse. For me, the macrocosm, the microcosm are the same.

        This is not a challenge, just a clarification of your expression of duality, which I do not invest in.

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        • JanCarol

          I respect your beliefs and I did not mean to offend you with my use of the word “confusion.”

          Part of my strong anti-religious beliefs come from my years of political activism and study of history as to how religion has been used as the ‘opiate of the masses” to suppress and undermine people’s ability and willingness to fight the “powers that be.” I still believe it overall serves this function in today’s world. And yes, there are major differences between organized religion and any one particular person’s spiritual belief system.

          That being said, I am also aware that some very religious people have also been great fighters historically against against an oppressive status quo. And I am sure this will also be true in the coming battles.

          It is still very important to have these kinds of back and forth discussions, in a respectful way, because the better we all understand how the world works the better we will be prepared to change it.

          Respectfully, Richard

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          • Hey Richard,
            All good.

            I can’t speak to “religion,” which frequently offends me, as well. It does serve as social glue in a corporate society where the individual is frequently estranged from community. These are skills we are not taught in school.

            It is my firm belief that if I follow where I am passionately driven, it will be a belief system which roars, rather than one which lies down and submits.

            I can speak to “opiates of the masses”, however: Psych drugs. Media. Devices. Processed foods and dietary disruptions. Bread and circuses. We have enough numbing influences that religion is hardly needed in the Marxian sense anymore.

            Ever listen to Chris Hedges?

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          • “Healthy skepticism” may be a figure of speech, all the same, there is something to be said for it. What isn’t “healthy”, and you have psych-drugs and religion (including the religion of psychiatry) to prove it, is letting the wool be pulled over your eyes. There are cons, after all, that are legal in one fashion or another, and which do more damage, all in all, than the outlawed ones.

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    • I don’t think I would equate a shamanic “ego death,” as might be facilitated by psychedelics, with the blotting out and distortion of the senses caused by psych drugs; if anything the latter is closer to actual physical death. Although transcendental experiences can be triggered by almost anything, from head injuries to pinball.

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      • Hey Oldhead – hi!

        This is one that I and quite a few others are discussing.

        Is the crippling of ones senses useful in a shamanic awakening? (yoga spends a lot of time withdrawing from the senses in a structured fashion) It was for me, I voluntarily gave those senses up for at least 10-15 years. Others, not so lucky.

        I say voluntarily because I submitted to the drugs – I was not SEEKING numbness, I was seeking survival. After my experience, I will never voluntarily give up awareness – of any sort – again.

        Shamanic death is not a symbol or even an archetype. It is a real event – and often happens in the wake of Near Death Experience. Many healers have been awakened after their own brush with death.

        We’re trying to make the best of it, because, unfortunately, and frequently involuntarily, the “post drug experience” is the hand we’ve been dealt.

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        • Not suggesting answers, just more questions. Though I instinctively recoil at the idea of deliberately inflicting potentially irreversible damage on one’s brain for “spiritual” reasons; it seems like a contradiction if our bodies are manifestations of our spirits.

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          • Oldhead –

            I’m in the salvage business, trying to see how much of Us can be rescued from the wreckage.

            I do not not NOT recommend this path for anyone, for anyone to choose the wreck, or even submit to it! – but – so many are already on this destructive path! And most of Us had NO CHOICE, and many were drugged from CHILDHOOD. It’s criminal, evil – but –

            When this happens to a child – how can we heal what is left on the other side of the ordeal?

            I agree – more questions than answers!

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    • JanCarol
      Yes very eloquent and moving description. Thank you. AS you know–and as I think Lynne should have made clear in her article(I hope she does in her book)– most people who take “anti-psychotics” never experience this rebirth you describe. The mental death system does everything in its power to make sure they do not–typically the mental health professionals define spirituality (anything beyond the realm of rigid conventionality) as pathology, and any attempt to stop taking the drugs as “treatment-resistance.” The “mental patient” is urged to accept ahedonia and emotional blunting as normative, any enthusiasm as pathological “mania,” any sense of transcendent purpose as ‘grandiosity” etc

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      • I agree Seth. I think one of my driving motivations is to help people that I love. It breaks my heart to see how thick and total the wet steamy blanket of neuroleptics is. Harder to bear, to watch – now that I am out from under it. (my neuroleptic use was light: 25 – 75 mg Seroquel for 3-5 years – but see? even there I can’t tell you how many years or how much it was….)

        Like Plato’s cave, I see the shadows as shadows, I’ve been outside and smelled the grass and heard the birds, but have difficulty getting my loved ones to see the chains that bind them away from the light, thinking that the shadows are real. I dance and drum, crying out for them to turn around, the light is behind you!

        It’s like tilting at windmills. As the years of neuroleptic use shrink the capacity for executive decisions, and induce massive cognitive loss, the ability to see another way is narrowed significantly. I have known a few to escape neuroleptics after 20-30 years – but they are the rare ones. And to do so – functionally, engaged with the Spirit – that’s a whole other level.

        “I need my drugs,” “How will I function / cope without them?” “but I’m anxious” “I can’t sleep without them” “The bogeyman will get me if I stop taking my drugs….”

        Without a thought for what the messages are, that the symptoms are so graphically bringing to them.

        Maybe my methods will just bring me to Light, maybe that’s enough. Maybe one other will follow, maybe two. Maybe we will have a practicing group of healthy people that those who have suffered the drugs will be able to join.

        I only know that my drum is my Revolution, and I must follow it.

        Lynne, you’re welcome. It is my hope that a story like mine will add to your collection of stories.

        PS: Richard, darkness? I don’t think I used the word “darkness” anywhere in my original post? Have you never been mad?

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  10. People may think,that I am *crazy*,when I wrote here ,that I was a *subject* of telepathic or telekinetic assault in August of 2016.Last year this happened and since then my life is destroyed.Later I was on MRI scan and they find a pinneal gland cyst,which is *way* to small,that can be a *reason* for what happened to me. *Only* brain stroke can *fitt* into my *experience* *then*,altough my brains MRI scan didn’t show any brain damage at all,only brain cyst was *find*.There is zero explain for my horrible headaches,problems with talking,*shut-downs*,I see golden sparks and flashes and this *phenomenon* is going on now, for 9 months and no-neurologist can explained what this is and no-psychiatrist won’t be *capable* to *say*,this is a paranoid schizophrenia,by DSM *bible*.

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  11. Lynne,

    Thank you for writing addressing this very important topic.

    I have worked with drug addicts on a holistic basis (12 Steps, yoga, contemplative practice) for over 2 decades. Over that time I have seen very few positive outcomes with addicts who take psychiatric medications. This is especially true of those who are prescribed neuroleptics.

    I should note that “dual diagnosis” is a creature of welfare reform and not the cutting edge intervention it is usually made out to be. From 1974 – 1996 addicts and alcoholics could get SSI/SSDI benefits with a diagnosis of alcoholism or drug addiction. That ended with Bill Clinton and welfare reform. However, this policy change did not lower the rolls or the disabled so much as it incentivized getting a secondary diagnosis. Addicts needed the diagnosis to keep their food stamps and Section 8 housing. Big pharma needed dual diagnosis to maximize profits. Now we are in a situation where addicts are increasingly medicated to no effect while effective abstinence-based modalities are marginalized. (If you would like to read more about this please google Helena Hanson).

    I am really interested in your research and hope to read about it on MIA on the near future!

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    • Hi Piers,

      Thanks very much for your comments and your interest. Please forgive the delayed response. I had no idea about the history of dual diagnosis…good golly, to put it gently. The policies, politics and profits that shape our mental health system are at times, as backwards as the imagination can conceive…and then some. I support and value the work you are doing.


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  12. My husband was director of counseling-(he has an LPC MA) at a faith-based residential recovery working farm in NH for nearly 7 years. Spirituality was a big part of the program but not required. For some they found hope, others were mad at God. Some were on meds and some were not. True brokenness was always evident in those who’s recovery “took” and in those who saw meds as a temporary rest for their mind so their emotions could heal. Others who needed meds for life tried to not take them and eventually had to accept them as an aid in managing and not a fix. The program was a year and many stayed on as staff afterwards. The best success we saw was in the over 25 year olds who’s frontal lop was developed and under 35 who were not so set in their ways and bought in to their “story”. We have been out of it now for 6 years and see so many residents on facebook now married, careers and in ministry as well. We did allow meds and we took the residents to a local dr. for their meds and check-ups. My husband works now in private practice in CT. Certainly those who buy in to their way of thinking do not seek a paradigm shift and live a life of dependence. There is also generational poverty mindsets, and victim mentality that is hard to overcome and scriptures speaks of this. The saddest part was those on state aid who feared getting well and losing it stayed in a cycle of self sabotage. We ran into others “realms”. We had missionary kids, pastors kids, and all types of traumas. But love of self, learning to serve others and forgiveness were key components. Maybe you’d like to visit and see first hand. Also, I see you are in MA, have you heard of Straight Ahead Ministries? Faith based working with kids in lock up…tremendous stories!!

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    • They told me I would “need meds for life.” I believed them, plus I knew I would never be allowed to feel good again (drug free.) Finally I have gone off my downers (neuroleptics) and most of my upper (SSRI) without my shrink’s knowledge or consent. Now I’m no longer manic or suicidal. Just feel like I have the flu a lot from DT’s and iatrogenic damage from 25 years of doctor approved drug abuse!

      Sadly I still have that character assassinating “diagnosis” of Bipolar 2. Starting to figure out who I am after decades of learned helplessness.

      No identity apart from mental patient. No work history.

      Gonna give freelancing a try. The internet is wonderful! Helped me figure out I’m not crazy and how to go off psych drugs without freaking out myself and all around me. 😉 it should help me become gainfully employed too.

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    • Hi Gretchen,

      I like hearing about your experience, the work you and your husband do, and the positive outcomes for people you know. Stories interest me, I need to look up Straight Ahead Ministries. Good things are on the move in small pockets. The community health center I work at is an amazing place where people get the unique care and support they desire. Thanks for sharing.

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    • It’s positive that you recognize the spiritual components to distress and suffering.

      Your most astute observations were around who got well and who didn’t – how much they bought into the fatalistic psychiatry story.

      However if I were in distress and I were approached with a branded ministry geared towards a certain doctrine, I would find that just as intrusive as psychiatry.

      To me, spirituality is divorced from religion, it is something that must be discovered within, not imposed from without via proselytization. You say that the spiritual component of your working farms was optional, but there is always an element of peer pressure, and those who have been incarcerated in hospitals are acutely aware of “fitting in.” This pressure would be subtle, and not always available to the observation of those who are running the programs.

      It’s a tough line between helping the vulnerable and preying upon them. From your voice here it seems that you walk that boundary cautiously and carefully. But I have to express that I felt trepidation when I heard the phrase “faith-based residential recovery working farm.”

      On the other hand, I know people with the long term “need the meds” mindset, and what you say is very true. And the Quakers did it in the 1800’s and 1900’s with compassion, so perhaps “faith based” could help where psychiatry has failed.

      There are many of us who have been traumatized in the name of “faith” and “religion” however.

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  13. Hi Lynne,

    My wife and I both grew up as conservative, ‘born again’, evangelical believers. She still strongly believes, but I’ve kind of moved toward…I’m not sure what…spiritual, though I call myself ‘Narnian’ (lol) and believe mostly we’re on our own but have some kind of a divine imprint on our humanity despite the ugliness we all see (Gen 1:28).

    Anyway, my wife was never on any psych meds, but I still ‘use’ her spirituality to help her heal. In fact, without her belief in a compassionate, loving God I would be hard pressed as I help her reshape her ‘inner working model’ from it’s trauma-base to one that reflects each girl’s (alter) secure attachment to me and their interconnectedness to each other as the dissociative walls are torn down. I regularly ‘pray’ things into ‘being’ in her internal model which will NOT happen if we only talk about it. To me it’s definitely the power of belief even though she would argue that “God’ is doing it.

    She also uses a woman versed in theophostics which in my opinion is simply tapping into her spirituality beliefs. Again, I would argue it’s the ‘power of belief’ not God healing her when she prays with that lady. She’s the only ‘counselor’ my wife’s ever had during her healing, though at this point my wife is so far past what the other woman understands that mostly the lady is just the only outside friend that the various girls in my wife’s d.i.d. system feel safe to front with.


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