Saturday, December 9, 2023

Comments by Fr. John

Showing 23 of 23 comments.

  • Thank you, Diana. If you or anyone else is interested in exploring this topic further via reading material, below are a few suggestions
    . Of course, the Orthodox Faith is not a learned faith and is not acquired via academic and intellectual exercise. It is a lived experience that allows “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” to “guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

    As mentioned in a comment above, ‘God’s Path to Sanity’ by Dee Pennock is an excellent starting point as it summarizes and consolidates millennia of teachings from Orthodox physicians of souls. This book is not an academic work, though it could be used as such if one puts the effort into finding all of the cited the sources, which are not documented all that well.

    Another book giving a well rounded and accessible introduction to Orthodoxy that often touches specifically upon the topic of mental health, is ‘Wounded by Love: The Life and Wisdom of Saint Porphyrios.’ This is written for the average person and is not an academic work. It is not actually written by Saint Porphyrios, who didn’t even have a grade two education, but by a group of nuns who wrote down the things he said to them and then after he passed away, compiled it into a book as if it was written by him.

    The five volume set ‘Spiritual Counsels’ by Saint Paisios the Athonite also contains a great deal on this subject and is still quite accessible to the average person.

    The three volume ‘The Psychological Basis of Mental Prayer in the Heart’ by Fr. Theophanes (Constantine) is quite academic and may be confusing for those unfamiliar with Orthodoxy. Fr. Theophanes was a friend of both Saint Porphyrios and Saint Paisios during his over 30 years on Mount Athos. This book was only available in print via the author personally having a copy printed for those who requested it and he did not find a publisher before he passed away. Nonetheless, it remains freely available online until his literary estate is settled and a publisher is found:

    His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and St. Vlassios has written a great deal on this subject, most famously in his book ‘Orthodox Psychotherapy.’

    Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet has written on this subject. Among other works, his three volume ‘Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses’ is noteworthy.

    A number of other Orthodox authors have written on this subject within the last half of a century. They haven’t written about anything that wasn’t known many centuries earlier, but have taken what was known during Apostolic times and presented it in the modern context. The less academic works (such as the first ones listed above) are much more useful than the more academic works, though the more academic works are useful for those getting deeper into this subject.

    Report comment

  • Yes, Martin, some people do tolerate the chemical imbalance caused by such drugs quite well and it can be effective in muting the disturbances within one’s soul. Of course, often this is not the case, which is what drives “the narrative of this site.” Since your reading of Mad in America suggests you continue to question the narrative of the biomedical model of mental illness invented by somatic doctors and have already investigated some alternatives, if you are interested in investigating the Orthodox perceptive, you may want to read the book ‘God’s Path to Sanity’ by Dee Pennock:

    Report comment

  • The Orthodox do believe they have some knowledge of what “mental illness” really is, at least as much as finite creatures can come to know such mysteries. Of course, they also believe in Santa Claus, though they more often refer to him without using the corrupted form coming from the Dutch language: Our father among the saints Nicholas of Myra, Wonder-worker. His feastday is December 6th and he attended the First Ecumenical Council in 325 that, among other things, standardized the calculation for the date for Pascha (i.e., Easter), which is next Sunday with yesterday haven been Palm Sunday 😉

    Report comment

  • Yes, Rachel, physicians of the soma who are under the delusion of being physicians of the psyche (i.e., psychiatrists) are ultimately greater victims of this delusion than those whom they inflict physical and mental harm. The most harm somatic doctors under the delusion of being psychiatrists can inflict upon their patients is that they loose their patience to the point of being unable to forgive the harm done to them by delusional doctors. Yet it is the soul of the delusional doctor that suffers the greater injury by his mistreatment of patients. “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

    BTW, the etymology of the words “patient” and “patience” allows a great deal of meaningful word play in this regard:

    Report comment

  • What makes you believe that the Monarch eTNS delivers under 3 mA? TENS machines used by physiotherapists have a range of 0 – 80 mA, though some machines may provide outputs up to 100mA. The only technical data I can find online regarding the Monarch eTNS is a Google summary that says “Stimulator current settings from 2 to 4 mA (range 0–10 mA) were …” The linked article you provided confirms that these currents do reach the brain.

    While these machines do not deliver a charge large enough to cause sufficient brain damage to induce a seizure, what damage they do cause is unknown. It will likely remain “unknown” until a number of lawsuits force the manufactures to admit what damage is done.

    Report comment

  • The closest legal precedence in Alberta, Canada, which is where Alice lives and received ECT, is the law suit filed by Leilani Muir who was involuntary sterilization in 1959 under the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta. The Sexual Sterilization Act and the Alberta Eugenics Board were repealed and disbanded in 1972, but Leilani Muir’s case did not go to full trial until 1995. Since then, over 850 victims have filed lawsuits against the Alberta government, most of which have been settled out of court.

    The Canadian National Committee on Mental Hygiene (CNCMH) played a major role in establishing the Alberta Eugenics Board and continues to exist today, though they’ve changed their name to Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Despite the name change, their underlying philosophy has remained the same, which is the same materialistic philosophy underlying modern western “psychiatry.” A number of the parks and neighbourhoods in the capital of Alberta are named after political leaders who were instrumental in establishing the Alberta Eugenics Board, such as Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, and Nellie McClung. Eugenics and its degrading philosophy that forms the basis of modern western “psychiatry” are a major part of the history and culture of Alberta. Thus, Alberta would likely be the last place in Canada where ECT victims receive any compensation or recognition and that would only be after ECT is banned.

    Additionally, those who receive ECT have to sign a consent form, which avoids the appearances of being involuntary. Alice was very clearly coerced into ECT by a doctor who was “caring” for her while her doctor was on holidays. Alice’s husband was very against it, but there was nothing he could do, especially after Alice reluctantly signed the consent form. It is quite unlikely that Alice will receive any real care in this regard except for the care of her husband.

    As well, it appears it was a Mecta ECT machine that was used on Alice, not a Somatics machine, so that would likely be distorted into being somehow relevant.

    Report comment

  • Depersonalization and derealization are common symptoms of traumatic brain injuries and very common with ECT. I am sorry for what happened to you. Your personal decision to do as much good as you can will allow more healing, possibly leading to the anger going away. Being able to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” results in the healing of one’s self, if not also the other. As St. Seraphim of Sarov said: “Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved.”

    Report comment

  • This isn’t rocket science. It’s just basic electrical theory and safety.

    With conductive gel (“A little dab’ll do ya”), the impedance of the head must be brought to below 1500 ohms. A current of 800 milliamps (though, for “greater efficacy,” 900 milliamps should be used) would need a potential difference of 1200 volts, which is why ECT machines have a cutoff at 450 volts to avoid the smell of burning flesh. Once the current begins flowing, however, dielectric breakdown lowers the impedance of the head to lower than 300 ohms, which would only need less than a potential difference of 240 volts (the suggestion from ECT manufactures is 280 ohms, which would need 224 volts).

    Under normal conditions, dielectric breakdown of the skin occurs above 450–600 volts, which is likely why a cutoff of 450 volts was chosen for ECT machines, which are not used under normal conditions.

    Beyond this, a pulse-wave current makes the math more complicated. However, the fact that the impedance of the head goes from between 1400 and 1500 ohms to below 300 ohms and a convulsion results is more than enough evidence of a serious electrical injury… an electroconvulsive injury.

    Report comment

  • Just before the ECT protest in 2015, I happened to meet an old friend who was an electrician. He had been in a major work related accident since I last saw him and displayed a number of symptoms common to persons who have had ECT. Electricians, electrical engineers, even an auto mechanic would be able to dispel the misinformation propagated by the medical industry about ECT. This isn’t rocket science. It’s just basic electrical theory and safety.

    Report comment

  • I am not Russian. I am Canadian. My family history is a mix of Lithuanian (hence the family name), German (from Slavic lands, likely having gone there under Catherine the Great), English, and Belgian. I converted to Orthodoxy in large part due to a bishop from Ukraine and a monk from a Greek monastery on Mount Athos, both with whom I became antiquated from visiting a Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Nonetheless, my path to Orthodoxy had begun since childhood.

    When it come to politics, I prefer to simply quote St. Maxim Sandovich: “My only politics is the Gospel.”

    The above mentioned monk from a Greek monastery on Mount Athos was the author of ‘The Psychological Basis of Mental Prayer in the Heart.’ I have one of the few printed copies (given to me by the author’s brother after the repose of the author) and hopefully it will be published once his estate has been settled. Until then, the Athonite monk left it online for the whole world to read because worldly gain is of no importance to a truly Orthodox monk nor to any real psychiatrist (physician of souls):

    Report comment

  • Alice appreciates your concern and gave permission for me to say this. Her records show that she had a total of 101 ECT over a little less than six years. She does have major memory issues, but her family says she’s much brighter and more alive than when she was having ECT.

    While having an eye example, the optometrist noticed that Alice displayed classic symptoms of a TBI. Assuming the most common reason for this, the optometrist asked her how bad the car accident was and if she had an MRI. Since the symptoms were obvious to the optometrist, Alice’s mother attempted to have the brain injury diagnosed so that they could access services. However, since they couldn’t point to any such accident and any harm from ECT is denied by the medical system, Alice was denied access to any medical assistance for the brain injury.

    Report comment

  • The Orthodox believe that the seat of the soul (i.e., the psyche) is the heart while the head (i.e., the brain) is the eye of the soul (i.e., the source of all sense knowledge). The objective of hesychasm is to bring the nous, the heart of the soul, down from the head back into the heart where it belongs. Those who live only in their head can only have sense knowledge and rely only on fallen human intellect. Those with a purified heart can be in communion with the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in the heart of men, and be guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which allows correct interpretation of the sense knowledge received via the head (i.e. the eye of the soul).

    I very much appreciate and like your last sentence: “To have informed consent we really need to have information about the different choices one can use understand and navigate their extreme states.” Thank you.

    Report comment

  • Jasenn Zaejian: When you say, “[your] comments address exactly what [I am] proclaiming,” are you referring to what I proclaim as a member of the Orthodox Faith or are you referring to what I have proclaimed in this article?

    If you are referring to what I proclaim as a member of the Orthodox Faith, there is no conflict with you describing it as an “attempt to rationalize the delusions or false beliefs and myths” of Orthodoxy. This article even mentioned that “[a]nyone in the private sector is free to disagree with Orthodoxy, even in the strongest of terms.” However, this article also says, “this is not the place for such discussions,” so I will not be engaging in such discussions.

    If you are referring to what was proclaimed in this article, would you like to present an argument why you believe it is a delusion, false belief, or myth that governments that legally protect freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief, as well as professions regulated by these governments, are legally unable to force their citizens to accept and submit to the beliefs of modern western psychiatry?

    Report comment

  • Jasenn Zaejian:

    I’m curious as to what you are referring to. Could you elaborate?

    This blog post simply points out that the beliefs of modern western psychiatry are incompatible with Orthodoxy and suggests that the beliefs of modern western psychiatry may also be incompatible with other beliefs, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof. Therefore, governments that legally protect freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief, as well as professions regulated by these governments, are legally unable to force their citizens to accept and submit to the beliefs of modern western psychiatry. Since this is the context of this blog post, your comments appears to be framed in a context other than this blog post, which is why further clarification is necessary to understand your comment.

    Report comment

  • The author of Orthodox Psychotherapy, Metropolitan Hierotheos, said elsewhere: “The incarnation of Christ was considered and was celebrated by the Fathers of the Church and the worshipping ecclesiastic community as the abolishing of religion and its transformation into a Church. In fact, the memorable father John Romanides had said in the most categorical way that Christ became human, in order to free us of the illness of religion.”

    Report comment

  • Your explanation of how ECT works is a rather good summary and basically the same explanation that modern western psychiatrists used to acknowledge before 1970. Since that time, their stock answer has become: “We don’t know how it works, it just works.”

    A simple explanation of how ECT works was also implied in the above blog post:
    “Although it was the observed lessening of the psychic troubles of epileptics after having seizures that led to the development of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other shock treatments, followed by the development of neuroleptics and newer classes of psychotropic drugs, this same response can be observed in survivors of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Some TBI survivors who have also had major interpersonal and social traumas, often caused by becoming disabled, can objectively look at their situation and conclude that they should feel depressed, but can’t because of their acquired TBI.”

    This is not an endorsement of purposely giving a person a traumatic brain injuries via an electric current large enough to cause an injury so serious that a seizure is triggered with the intention of leaving the person too disabled to care about his or her psychic traumas.

    The most common description of ECT that I have personally heard from people who have had it is: “It’s like my soul being raped.” It is interesting that the word “soul,” rather than “psyche,” is always used in this description.

    Report comment

  • There are a few ideas for future articles like this one. These are three such ideas:
    * the reason there is so much overlap in terminology between Orthodoxy and modern western psychiatry and an explanation of what these words meant before modern western psychiatry began using them
    * a summary of how the Orthodox understand the human psyche, how to heal the broken psyche, and how modern western psychiatry frustrates this healing
    * an explanation of how ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) actually works from both the perspective of electrical theory and an Orthodox understanding of the psyche

    Is there some aspect of Orthodoxy (or electrical theory) that you would like to read about on Mad in America?

    Report comment

  • All of the comments are greatly appreciated. As stated, the objective was not to argue for or against any particular beliefs regrading the human psyche (which is just the Greek word ψυχή, commonly translated into English by a word of Germanic origins: soul), but to point out that these beliefs are protected by international and often national law. Perhaps all governments and government regulated professions bound by these laws should be held accountable to these law and not be allowed to promote and enforce only one particular belief regarding the human psyche, especially one that is statistically shown to be ineffective and harmful in the long run.

    Report comment