Thursday, August 24, 2017

Comments by dralcorn

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  • Thank you, Kelly, for this article which raises the issue of spirituality in mental health, without the dogma!
    I am a practicing psychiatrist with one foot in the mainstream, pharma based world, and one in the spiritual healing world. I am often moved by the idea of treating people without meds, and have done so many times. But there are times when everything I have tried to do isn’t enough, and meds have been helpful, undeniably. The problem is i can’t tell when it is right to use meds and when it is not. I don’t think anyone has seriously tried to study this question.
    One of the problems in talking about this is that is hard to define what we mean by spiritual in operational terms. What it means to me is, yes, we have a soul, and the basic understanding of hte universe is that consciousness is primary, and the material world secondary in importance, but how do we translate that into action?
    Similarly, when we use the word shamanic, it needs more definition. I say that in my practice I use shamanic techniques. I do not call myself a shaman. If somebody else wants to say that about me, OK, I won’t argue. But I do not live in a traditional, indigenous culture. I was raised in a Protestant way.
    What I mean is that I recognize that disembodies spirits have an effect on people and that effect can be described by a long list of what we call symptoms of mental illness, from lack of energy to hearing voices and everything in between. I have successfully treated people who are experiencing distressing auditory hallucinations (hearing voices), by using a trance based depossession technique. I have also failed to treat some people who have such experiences by using that technique. I know that in some cases the so-called illness simply stops after a few sessions of depossession, and it does not return. And I know that sometimes repeated efforts to remove “spirits” from the patient doesn’t work at all.
    This, to me, is a spiritual approach to healing. When it works, it is like a miracle. When it doesn’t I just feel like I am not as good at it as I would like to be.
    My approach involves some of the things Dr. Brogan is talking about, such as empowering the patient, listening and accepting their understanding of hte distressing phenomenon, not imposing my beliefs on them, not labeling the person by some diagnosis.
    Some of my colleagues think I have gone “around the bend.” Others with whom I have talked about his have honestly told me they are afraid to “go there,” that the idea of doing something about spirit attachment is just too scary. But it is very clear to me that there is no real scientific basis for believing that brain function is the primary issue in psychosis. I think it is more likely that spirit intrusion disrupts brain function.
    I plan to post a case example or two about this here, but I need to get permission from the patients before I do that.

    Robert W. Alcorn, MD
    http://www.dralcorn.us