Psychosis Treatment: Numbing the World of Spirit

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The words that follow in this essay come from my own personal reflections as someone who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and who has experienced psychosis many times throughout life. Therefore, I would like the reader to know that these thoughts are based on my own beliefs and experiences and are not necessarily based on verifiable objective facts.

Even from a scientific perspective, though, there is still much about schizophrenia and psychosis that we do not understand. The scientific study of these kind of phenomena is not as well established and understood as the study of most other areas of science. But why? This to me tends to suggest a subjective personal element is present that often defies the kind of analysis that falls within the domain of science. If this be true, perhaps then it is well worthwhile even for the scientific community to consider the thoughts and reflections of those who have the insight of experience.

Schizophrenia, from my experience, is brought on when the pains and anxieties associated with living become too much to bear that the individual retreats inwardly so much so that they then seek permanent refuge there. Like being sucked into a hole that is difficult to escape from, they become dysfunctional because they are no longer capable of dealing with the business of life, its duties and responsibilities.

Diffused silhouette of female hands through frosted glass

The difference between a functional shaman and a dysfunctional schizophrenic is, to my mind, nothing more than the ability of both the shaman and the schizophrenic to retreat inwardly to the world of spirit but for the shaman to be able to pull his or her attention out of that world and back into the everyday world of living. When an individual suffers, it is natural for them to seek out a solution to their suffering, and that solution is to be found inwardly; it is the only place where it exists. It is in this inward space that the individual encounters their unconscious, where visions and communication with spirits and gods occur, where voices are heard emanating from the deepest recesses of the unconscious, sometimes disturbing, sometimes encouraging, but nonetheless, ones that must be dealt with and appeased if the individual is to find peace. It is this encounter with these spirits of the unconscious that bring about the psychotic break that is common among schizophrenics.

Among the medical profession, psychosis has become something to fear, to be avoided at all costs due to the dangers associated with it. A psychosis, however, in my opinion, is a necessary step along the process of recovery for a schizophrenic, for it is in the psychosis that the jewel of self-realisation exists; it is here that the learning experience is found, a learning experience which albeit is difficult to pass but which contains much valuable insight into what it takes to appease those spirits that bring him there.

The fall into a psychosis is not an evil in itself, there is nothing bad about it unless the individual chooses to allow himself to remain paralysed by it, to cease trying to learn from it, to understand it and overcome it. The psychosis reveals to us where our own personal weaknesses are, and as frightening as it is both for ourselves and those around us, it consequently contains the seed to our own growth. It is unrealistic to believe that every time we try something that we will succeed and overcome it and such is the case also with the lessons and tests emanating from the unconscious that manifest as psychosis.

A further misconception of repeated psychoses in an individual is to think that whenever it is experienced, the individual has relapsed back into his prior state. Given the fact that the nature of all psychoses are different, both among individuals and within the single individual who has experienced it often, each one has a different lesson for us to learn and is an opportunity for progress along our journey. In fact, the more intense the psychosis that is felt, the greater the insight to be gained from it.

Undoubtedly such experiences are scary both for the individual and those around them, but there is nothing to suggest that such experiences, if approached carefully and with the right attitude are not beneficial to the person experiencing them. And even though an individual may have many psychotic episodes throughout his or her life, sometimes there are many lessons to learn and sometimes the same test must be had many times before we can fully learn from it. For those individuals who have been placed on antipsychotic drugs as a form of treatment for their psychotic symptoms, a point of contention often arises when a patient falls back into a psychosis as to the causes of the new psychotic episode. This contention has to do with what is attributed to the underlying cause of the current psychotic episode, that is, whether it is due to the original schizophrenic condition or whether it is due to the antipsychotic drugs themselves and the changes that have occurred to the brain as a result of the long-term use of these drugs.

Whatever the reason happens to be, there is still a lesson to be learnt in the experience of the psychosis itself. Sometimes the psychosis may be due to both factors; however, in the case of the long-term use of the drugs themselves and the resulting changes that have occurred to the brain as the cause of psychosis, in my opinion the lesson to be learnt here is that the individual needs greater patience and to proceed along a more cautious and slower withdrawal process so as to give the brain enough time to respond to the changes and adapt. This will be different for different people and will depend on their drug profile, length of time they have been on them, biology, diet, environmental stressors, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to drug withdrawal; however, the need for patience can be a key factor when determining success.

Let’s now talk about the drugs themselves and how they work to suppress the onset of psychosis. My stance is that antipsychotic drugs suppress an individual’s access to their unconscious mind. Contents from the unconscious mind often make themselves known to the individual through dreams, and often during waking life itself when dreams are remembered through association with things encountered while awake. Antipsychotic drugs act to suppress the manifestation of unconscious dreams from the memory of the individual. Dreams, according to the pioneering psychiatrist Carl Jung, are an important part of the personal growth of the individual, and so to suppress dreams from the conscious mind is detrimental to the individuation process. The drugs act in a sedative manner, they suppress consciousness making it difficult for the individual to focus their concentration and they inhibit the cognitive faculty from functioning at its optimal level. You can notice particularly in those who are heavily medicated with antipsychotic drugs, the slurring of speech, how thoughts/ideas are expressed much more slowly and with difficulty. This insinuates a slowing down of cognitive ability, of the capacity to reason.

I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Whether this diagnosis is true or not, the condition I have, whatever one wishes to call it, is spiritual in nature, not biochemical. I will however attempt to relate here why this condition seems to respond to biochemical treatment even though the condition is spiritual in nature, as this may appear contradictory. Whenever I attempt to phase off the psychiatric drugs, I can feel my inner spiritual strength growing. Naturally, this produces temptations, feelings of pride/hubris in other words, which in my own case, has in the past lead to feelings of grandeur and delusional thinking. This is a spiritual sickness.

There are two ways that such a spiritual sickness can be cured. The first way, which is the more difficult way, is to learn to deal with these feelings of grandeur by suppressing one’s ego, which involves recognising these feelings for what they are, delusional temptations. This first way of treating this spiritual sickness is the natural way and it leads to spiritual growth as it is treating the condition as it ought to be treated. Now, the second way of treating this sickness is to take away these feelings of delusional grandeur by weakening the individual’s spirit by taking away the inner spiritual strength they have cultivated. This can be achieved through humiliation. One way this can be achieved is by giving an antipsychotic drug.

The antipsychotic drug functions by altering the chemical processes in the brain but there is no body of research which tells scientists what healthy doses of brain chemicals are; it is merely based on experimentation on a case-by-case basis. However, whatever these drugs seem to be doing to the brain, they have the effect of taking energy away from the individual, of making them tired and of decreasing their control over bodily appetites, whether eating and drinking or sexual. In other words, the individual’s instinctual drives are activated.

Evidence of this is also reported in the side effects that people who take these drugs tend to report. Therefore, by taking energy away from the individual, by making them tired and by taking away the ability to control bodily appetites, they are weakened and their spiritual strength is thereby taken away slowly over time as the drug is administered. This is the second way of treating the spiritual sickness known as schizophrenia. This second way, however, robs the individual of spiritual growth. As humans we are compelled to learn and to grow and therefore, this second way of dealing with this sickness for many of us does not feel right and we fight back against the system that attempts to restrain us in this way. This at least is what I have noticed in myself.

Do psychiatrists have a right to enforce antipsychotic drugs on an individual without knowing what it feels like to take them? I have been on an off these drugs many times during my life for prolonged periods in both cases and insightfully know what it feels like to both take and not to take these drugs. Contrast this to the individual who has been on these drugs for a singular long period for most of their life and with the individual who has never been on these drugs at all. In the former case, the individuals experience of being on these drugs for a prolonged period of time has become the accepted normality of their existence and they have very little to compare it to other than the distant memory of an early period of life absent these drugs. For the individual who has never been on antipsychotic drugs, the insight is completely lacking; there is no way they could make a comparison.

Obviously, from the point of view of the psychiatric establishment, we must weigh up the pros and cons, and determine whether it is better to sacrifice some of the side effects associated with taking these pills in exchange for a relatively “normal” life. Let us pause for a moment and consider what is actually being said here. Consider the case of someone being numbed with alcohol to help them escape from their psychological problems. Alcohol does have the effect of making people forget their psychological problems, and from my own experience, antipsychotic drugs aimed at “managing” schizophrenia have a similar numbing effect, although they work by numbing the individual’s sensibility to the world of spirit.

The schizophrenic is he who is, in a manner of speaking, oversensitive to the world of spirit and, at some time in his earlier life, has called on the help of the spirits to aid him in his quest to overcome whatever problems he may have been facing. For most schizophrenics, this usually happens at the point of becoming an adult and assuming responsibility for one’s life. In many cases, it was brought about by a need and a desire to grow inwardly as a person. Therefore, for many, the approach by the psychiatric establishment to administer and enforce the use of drugs to “treat” or “manage” their condition is to rob these individuals of their desire and need to grow as a spiritual beings.

In other words, it is antithetical to the very reasons that caused the onset of schizophrenia to begin with, and is therefore a strategy that is doomed to fail for many as they refuse to comply with such treatment.

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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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36 COMMENTS

  1. This is excellent information – the kind which the mental health and psychiatric fields are sorely lacking. I’ve never experienced psychosis but often wondered about the spiritual dynamics at play, and as a mental health therapist I am all too familiar with watching someone struggle with choices about, side effects of, and heavy social pressure towards antipsychotic medication. My experience of knowing “schizophrenics” is that they tend to be incredibly perceptive, kind, deep…if somewhat anxious (understandably so!) people. I wonder what value we are losing in our communities by suppressing their experience and forcing them to try to conform. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    • Thank you also for your kind words. I know what I experienced the very first time I was diagnosed with this condition and no psychiatrist has been able to convince me otherwise, that it was all just an illusion. They are wrong. What they (the soulless psychiatric establishment) try to do is destroy people’s faith in a higher purpose and get them to conform as you say. It’s completely materialistic and without soul and that makes it cold and heartless, the very opposite of what is needed.

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    • I hear that so well. As someone who has been repeatedly on and off meds, and forced into compliance- though I personally am doing far better now, I have known 5 suicides at least from fellow travelers who lost all hope. So, I feel a terrible loss has occurred and is still occurring. Gratefully I have found some solace in music and art, and sometimes these gifts channel through me and move people. Best, in Spirit, Ed J. Kaitz

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  2. I think this is a great article, Dr. Lombardo. My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia 13 years ago, and I believe this issue, which science does not understand, is of spiritual nature. He had been, for many years, in different types of antipsychotics, which have not help him at all. He was withdrawing the medication, which he had tried before many times without success, but this time got tired and stopped abruptly a month ago. It has been already a month, which it has not been easy for him or for us as parents. However, we want him to heal and we know that the answer in not the hospital or taking antipsychotics. In God we trust.

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    • Please tell your son to be careful. I can understand his motivations in wanting to stop abruptly, I have been down that road myself and it did not work out well for me, which is not to say that it won’t for him but I must advise to be cautious. And yes, this issue, condition, whatever we call it, at its core, is of a spiritual nature which psychiatry has done a good job of undermining by spreading the propaganda that it is a disease of the brain. So I like your ending, “In God we trust.”

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    • Helen, I sincerely feel for your son! Yes, I hope you can help him find all the resources he needs to avoid the hospital! The creative arts and process have been my most consistent resource! Best, Ed J. Kaitz

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      • Thank you Ed. He is delusional, but so far, I have been able to reduce the akathisia with vitamins. He is not sleeping that bad, better than with medication. I wish I could help him, but he avoids me and doesn’t talk to me. He lives with me, and I have learnt to use the word “silence.” In God I trust. Science has not answer for these issues. God bless you all.

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  3. Great article. I was in prison, and then in a mental hospital, for a year, having been suspected by many of having bipolar/ schizophrenia. My story is told in the novel “Pollycock: A True Story”, by Christina Crimari, on Amazon.
    During my time inside, it became clear that I was suffering from “nothing very major” to any great degree, and I refused all medication, with the exception of vitamins. I opted instead for psychological treatment, and treatment for alcoholism, which appear to be the best treatment for myself (as well as very supportive friends) as I continue my life in the community.

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  4. Brave and wonderful article, and a truly marvellous attempt to understand your own condition. I hope the darkness eventually subsides, and your wonderful spirit shines through in all its luminescence. Namaste.

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  5. In reading the title and having failed Calculus while being quite interested in physics, the liberal arts majoring in biology only to attempt to work in a small state bank in Arkansas, at least I was able to think about large number flow and encoding by computers to process data. Years later, when time was spent trying to apply to realize a doctorate at the Union Institute in Cinn, a wonderful visit with Kevin J. Sharpe, who also was a Chaplain in the University of Auckland with a Ph.D. in Mathematics. His efforts to integrate science with religion had him editing the newspaper for the Templeton’s Science and Religion though if you think about the man from India who explored infinity, then one appreciates your insights into the more creative space of being challenged by shifting contexts with contents….. You might enjoy a reading of Sharpe’s small booklet, “From Science to an Adequate Mythology.. Thanks Much!

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  6. As an atheist who has experienced psychosis and takes antipsychotic medication, I whole heartedly disagree with the main premise of the article. Antipsychotic medications are dopamine antagonists, which means they disrupt the body’s over production of dopamine. Feelings of sluggishness on medication tend to be the result of over medication. Feelings of energy returning from not taking medication is the return of that dopamine. Proper meds and dosage is necessary to ensure the right balance. I get that it can be a struggle to find the right fit medically. However, being medicated for four years, my growth as a person has increased, not decreased. I graduated university summa cum laude and got a job within two months and have become a productive member of society. I live on my own now too. There’s no reason to believe anything spiritual is going on. I used to think spirits and gods were real until I got medication. Then the spiritual experiences stopped and I was left with two conclusions: 1) the spirit world isn’t real OR 2) The spirit world can be silenced with human medicine and is therefore no longer worthy of my worship and attention.

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    • I appreciate your comments and perspective. That’s the beauty of life, no one is master of our thoughts and we will have to agree to disagree this time. I was an atheist until I feel into a psychosis, so I guess it effects everyone differently. All the best on your journey.

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      • Hi Isaac, you have a Biblical name. I myself didn’t believe until I encounter this evil who wants to destroy man kind. I am glad that the medication is working for you now. Sadly, you will see the side effects later. All the best for you.

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    • Thanks, Isaac, for sharing your “dissenting opinion”. I guess everyone has to make their way as best they can. Some people find the kind of success you refer to–education, career, etc,–only when they get themselves off psychiatric medication. But, either way, your conclusion is not the only one that can be drawn from the cessation of your spiritual experiences when taking medication. Another option is that taking medication is like putting in spiritual “earplugs”. The spirit world is still there, you just can no longer hear, see or feel it.

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  7. I agree, when I went into a psychosis 6 years ago I felt I could not talk to the Psychiatrist about what I was genuinely experiencing as I knew he would not understand. There’s a big gap between Psychiatry and Spirituality.
    Anyway, I have never been diagnosed with Schizophrenia and have managed my ‘voices’ myself for the past 5 years by using medications that are not anti psychotics. I could not tolerate any of them for very long, but I understand that they do help lots of people.

    There is some good research coming out now on the Ketogenic diet helping people with mental health issues.

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  8. A lot of things or beings can be silenced (including whole species, ethnicities or genders, etc) by modern Western technology/”development”/social controls… does that really mean they’re not worth listening to?

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  9. Peter Wilberg said that those who are vulnerable or sensitive to depression must enter and complete the depressive process – sometimes several times in one’s lifetime, as some people are more prone to it, given who they are and their circumstances. Going thru a depressive process doesn’t necessarily lead to a clinical depression. Please see his work. Perhaps there is a similarity with psychosis.

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  10. Thank you, Dr Lombardo, for this wonderful article. Also many thanks to MIA, who always makes it possible to post such perspectives and experiences.

    In my opinion, we are of course more than what we perceive through our senses, with which we perceive the outer world in order to be able to organise ourselves in it.

    But what happens while we dream? Science cannot explain it, because it cannot yet explain the energetic realm in action. Nobody would claim that dreams are pathological. But if a person experiences ‘dreams’ in waking consciousness, they are automatically ill.

    The analogy with the Shaman is a very good one. These people can either constantly switch between states of consciousness or even hold both at the same time. It is pure inner work that leads to such possibilities. Sometimes it takes years to reach a good result, sometimes people are ‘attacked’ by these states and fall into a ‘psychosis’. Today, the term ‘Trauma Based Awakening’ is being used more and more. This could be the right term.

    It may be a long way to go to teach people this and to develop appropriate support.
    This would be more difficult and smarter than a pill, but healthier and more humane!!

    I wish you much strength on your further journey.

    liberationfromdrugs

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  11. Thankyou. This really explains so much to me and the confusion of it all has dissipated by huge measure. Someone that I cherish deeply has gone into psychosis and it has put a deep ravine between us. I have researched and this is the one that was super helpful over many different references and pages. Thankyou. I am now thinking our friendship can mend and we can find peace in the company of eachother again.

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  12. Hello Dr Nick, I think there are elements of the struggle to survive and understand in your narrative writing. I am glad to read how like me realizing you were lost lead you to Christianity. I also put my experience with psych drugs in the category of that thing called darkness. The mind fog, the other nerve damage, the tendency to lose timing and energy rhythms and parameters, it is a dead loss to me, to call that treatment is a lie. I find myself strengthened with proper elimination of toxins out of my bowels, where they accumulate. Vitamin B complex and magnesium help reduce the potential for cancer to develop. I have been in the system longer than yourself. Please keep encouraging yourself in Jesus, as it is inspiring to truthful views in the face of a broken world.

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  13. As a person who has recently struggled with madness, I couldn’t agree more.

    My prescription for anyone suffering from madness would be:
    * Love
    * Mindfulness
    * Trauma informed therapy involving tools like EMDR and IFS
    * The minimal amount of medication needed provide a bit of relief and sleep.

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  14. Very interesting article and great to flag up the spiritual growth we humans need to give our lives meaningfulness
    Yes chemicals, which may be needed for a short time in an acute phase to avoid harm,become normalised for years or for life with numbing effect thanks for sharing

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  15. Thank you for this article…I do believe .this buta targeted by society myself I have always been capable of functioning. It is a victim and perps setting me up and the justice system society thst discriminates against the spiritual.. there is the possessed and the targeted by malevolent spirits in others particularly intrafamiliar. Like 7 deadly sins allows for possession if harboring them as in a mental health act based on 7 deadly sins like greed in flooding their markets and big pharm and lust in cover up by well positioned rapists to trash you as mental didn’t stop them from raping ya though did it. And a system that rips the individual off for their insights and creativity not thinking linearly that linear thought brought the world nothing maybe the nuclear bomb ….yes that’s why memory is impacted because dreams Freud said were a way to compartmentalize our experience in reality. Some of us thst are further advances can tell right from wrong dreams from reality and manifestations as that manifestations of spirit as opposed to the physical realm. The last dynasty of Egypt of slavery where Egypt fell was setain of the God set the patron Saint of psychiatry. The targeting of the mind the soul for state control will destroy the country and the world of humanity of conscience. Psychiatry in my opinion is satanic….and everything it produces is destructive harm to human beings as opposed to leading them in their discovery of their gifts and inclusion in our society…some in my experience are far gone needing this neuroleptics in low doses but many most do not it is hatred of what is ” normal” in jealousy and envy of those gifted in not just spiritual and closeness to God but in favor of God in sanctity and in justification of God that would cause you to force treatment on them and premeditate having them raped denied necessities of life like housing food clothing education to give them employment and civil constitutional rights that here in canada we have none and cause them to look like you overweight from medication crippled in birthing malpractice unable to walk looking like sloth and gluttony and 7 deadly sins that sitting at your desk casting judgement on others far beyond your understanding as a bigot and hypocrite for obstruction of justice and cover up of criminality and the pharmaceutical industry in which you are nothing but a pharmacologic.flooding the market against those denied security of person 80 percent of those slandered as schizophrenics are victims. Einstein stated the last frontier is the human mind… this is the last straw of breaches of 53 nuremberg resolution of r h jackson.

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  16. I wholeheartedly like with your thoughts and writing. I experienced what the western world refer to as psychosis, but I connect with the Shamanic awakening aspect of the experience. Through holding boundaries (recurrently), I managed to remain away from significant drugs and ultimately self discharged from mental health services (just as attempts were made to attempt to pathologise the healthy boundaries I was setting).
    It was seen as quite controversial at time, I was expected to fail, labelled as a patient lacking in insight but I got the next job I applied for and just returned to my prior profession. This was quite a few years ago now and my health is probably the best it’s bee . I have a low key lifestyle, working alongside medical professionals that mostly only connect with biomedical understandings. I share my experiences with a very limited number of people.
    The Shamanic brain does entail moving in and out of different levels of consciousness. I commonly connect with voices, visions and dream-like states as a description of happenings in my own mind. I learn to almost sit back and watch it rather than engage in it. Sometimes it gives me ideas to contemplate, other times it takes me into emotions that can help with healing. In some ways it’s a bit like learning to be mindful.
    I commonly question why I have made it through this process but I think everyone’s path is different. It took time to complete the process. An ongoing learning approach helps, and just a continued curiosity on how your own brain and mind works rather considering things as ‘normal’ vs ‘abnormal’
    I wish you continued strength in your journey.

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  17. Schizophrenia

    Most of my life has been lived in the context of dissociation. Given some of your description of schizophrenia as moving inside to get away, I began wondering if schizophrenia and dissociation may be on the same continuum of life being too much?

    I spend time with the homeless in a community that feels overwhelmed by them and mostly just wants them “to go away”.
    There are numerous reports of psychotic behavior among them.
    Schizophrenia makes sense if you are living an isolating life, often perceived as less than human and denied access to basic “safety” (Maslow). Understandably you would want to get “away” especially living in a community that wants you to go “away”. Sadly a perfect partnership. That quite possibly the Supreme Court will decide is criminal.

    Some homeless friends have shared that they could not survive without meth.
    A bit crazy but it is their “survival away” within a life “seeking away” within a society that wants you “to go away”

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