Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Comments by Emma Bragdon, PhD

Showing 23 of 23 comments.

  • Great interview, Robert. Thank you.
    I just watched again “I never promised you a rose garden” a 1977 film and D. Mackler’s “Take these broken wings”. Both excellent and substantial evidence that a loving, caring community is THE backdrop for the best in-patient care. I wonder if Daniel Mackler would be available to help with bringing the TV program to film so it could be available with subtitles in various countries–starting with the USA? Clearly there are hurdles, ie negotiating with the Norwegian TV documentary creator and the channel where the documentary was hosted. Funding would be the question-John W. Brick Foundation? My guess is they would love what the hospital is doing.

  • Was this based on an “infusion” of ketamine with no trained guides present to help with ketamine assisted psychotherapy? Or, was this ketamine given as an intramuscular injection with 2 trained guides present trained in KAP? Differentiating the two different situations can make a world of difference. When ketamine is used with responsible ketamine assisted psychotherapy the participant has interaction before, during, and after the session for integration. Those integration sessions can carry on for weeks/months giving sustained support. This is a world beyond the “infusion” clinics where the patient is in a clinic with no connection to any person but a nurse checking vital signs.

  • From the last comments made in this string I can see that many people have been hurt directly and/or felt manipulated by healthcare providers using the term “integrative”. I am sorry to learn about the abuses. I have personally not been hurt in these ways. I have also met and interviewed some very wise and compassionate integrative practitioners. These people realize the hold that Big Pharma has had and continues to have. The compassionate integrative practitioners are forwarding a kind of care that is empowering to people seeking help. These practitioners take a very cautious attitude to psych meds. Those who are somatic therapists encourage people to feel the pain so they can go through it and come out the other side–more fully themselves. There is hope. Change for the better is occurring in some places–not all, but some. This is good news.

  • HI Frank, It is certainly disheartening to look at big-time healthcare…and the big-time conventions that may be the flagships of Big Pharma. I certainly agree with the basic idea “First, do no harm.” I also agree with the fact that we don’t turn to a sequence of first psych meds and then other methods. I would prefer we turn to effective alternative methods first…They can be even more effective than psych meds and certainly less toxic. Thanks for your post! Emma

  • Dear Steve, Thank you for your comments! It’s very clear that Big Pharma has a lot invested in keeping psych meds front and center. And, it’s all too clear that their lobbies have tremendous pull in politics, healthcare education, and even dominating standard of care in most hospital settings. I’m with you in believing that there are grave limitations to psych meds and also in believing they can be highly effective in some crisis situations. The push to fully understand how they can best be used–and document that–is yet to be done in a way where it can really transform how mental health care is practiced.
    The good news is that there is a groundswell of interest in a whole new paradigm which perceives the grave limitations of psych meds. There are some psychiatrists who understand this very well and have, in fact, created a way of working with individuals that helps them detox from the effects of psych meds and then fortify the body/mind/spirit with nutrients and energy work that lead to stabilization and wellness. I have been fortunate to meet and interview many of these pioneering psychiatrists for courses at IMHU.
    More good news: Other countries model integrative mental health and their successes are strengthening the support of those who want an integrative model in the USA. Cuban healthcare providers use flower essence therapy as their first “go-to” in responding to individuals with mental disturbance who are seeking wellness. This therapy has been so effective (when used by qualified, educated practitioners) that there is now less mental health disturbance in Cuba and less hospitalization. Brazil has 50 Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals that have been developing their way of working since the 1930s. They offer best of care which includes psychotherapy, music therapy, physical education, animal therapy, good nutrition, permaculture gardening, flower essences, homeopathy, and the option of energy therapy, consultations with medical intuitives, fellowship with those on a personal path of spiritual growth, and spiritual healing.
    You may agree that people like Susan Samueli are stepping up to the plate and advocating that we don’t lead first with psych meds but turn to other forms of effective healing with fewer side-effects. It appears that medical school students at UC Irvine will also be exposed to the research that shows the efficacy of integrative methods vis a vis the shadow side of Big Pharma’s methods and practices. These future docs will be better equipped to follow the integrative paradigm of care.
    Of course, big change is medical schools, hospitals and community clinics will not happen overnight. But, I think we can all take heart that there are positive signs of change.

  • Kelly–I love your article! So vital in today’s world to be aware of the impact of spirituality–how deeply centering and uplifting it can be. So vital to see how the USA is impacting the world with our bio-medicine, bio-agriculture, and screen viewing addiction, etc. Thanks for the reminder that deep spirituality being reborn through American women may have a vital role to play in turning the world away from the self-destructive path we appear to be on now. The Dalai Lama first said it and it bears repeating.

    I offer a Certification program in “Effectively Supporting People in Spiritual Emergency”. The org I direct also offers health care providers continuing ed on phenomena in this same arena. I would love to be in contact with you about it. We are on the same page.

  • Nice article, Sean!
    I agree that MadinAmerica is short on positive options and long on how/why the current paradigm of mental healthcare is not working. (But that is a role they are fulfilling very well.) Also agree with the need to put more attention on the phenomena of spiritual experiences and how they can be a doorway to increased wellbeing.
    Essentially, we need to develop more positive options for optimizing mental health.

    One option that has been mentioned briefly in Robert Whitaker’s books and MadinAmerica is cultivating a meditation practice. This can not only offer more stability (to all of us) but increase the possibility of accessing higher levels of consciousness more frequently. That opens the doorway to increased creativity to apply to the problems of the day and more compassion and wisdom to enrich personal life and all our relationships.

    Also, let’s remember: Grof is not the first MD to speak about the healing potential of non-local consciousness. Larry Dossey, MD (for one) has been very articulate about it–even suggesting an “Era 3” medicine that incorporates non-local consciousness in theory as well as practice. Most MDs who see this option–and there are many–advocate a daily practice of meditation. See for ideas on a new training for psychotherapists–currently being researched in the UK– that includes 3 components: open dialogue, peer support and mindfulness meditation. Russell is a pioneering psychiatrist who works within the National Health System…Change is happening! See

    Thanks again for writing the article and stimulating more conversation about spiritual experiences and mental health! I’m trying to do the same on “Integrative Mental Health for You,”, a website dedicated to positive options for optimizing mental health…that stresses the value of spiritual community and non-sectarian spiritual practices.

  • Hello, So sorry to hear of the difficult journey you had in the medical system! If you want to read more about Spiritism you might check out the book, “Spiritism and Mental Health” in your local library. I think you would find it to be very affirming and may even give you some valuable perspective as well! Thanks for writing! Emma

  • PS. Spiritism is a big topic. It is not just about “psychic abilities”. It is actually a way of life that supports spiritual evolution and includes spiritual healing. Many have written books on the topic, including me. That being said, the Spiritists are particularly skilled at helping individuals learn how to understand and wisely use psychic abilities.

  • Hi Rossa,
    I see 3 possibilities:
    1&2: I do believe that overwhelming trauma is most often the cause of psychosis. I also see that many people in dysfunctional households develop latent psychic abilities as a coping mechanism (eg hypervigilance can cultivate mental telepathy) and sometimes have psychic phenomena (eg out of body experience) as a result of untenable situations like abuse by a parent or close family member. What this means to me is that people in traumatic situations can be thrust into the ground of being which catapults them into what we call “psychic phenomena”. In these situations psycho-social abuse becomes linked up in a meaningful way with spiritual emergence phenomena. From my perspective, this does not mean that all psychoses are simply spiritual emergence phenomena per se; but it does mean that spiritual emergence phenomena can happen at the same time as trauma and both need to be sorted out as part of recovery. Individuals going through these experiences need a cognitive framework and some training in a safe environment to be able to work appropriately with psychic phenomena. They also need a particular kind of acceptance and nurturing to heal from the psycho-social trauma(s).

    If a person does not receive both kinds of nurturing then the psychotic episode can turn into schizophrenia. I think Open Dialogue’s success teaches us that psychotic episodes do not have to turn into a schilzophrenia diagnosis if the person having the symptoms (and his immediate family) is given adequate nurturing and assistance quickly after symptoms arise.

    3. I do believe that there are also some people who do not sustain particularly traumatic experiences in early life but have a spiritual emergency nonetheless. In these cases the potential for spiritual awakening (which can include being psychic or being a gifted healer, or other manifestations) begins to take over more of a person’s conscious awareness and energy. Going more deeply into spiritual experiences becomes a compelling desire. A new sense of self is being birthed. Individuals who experience this usually have to spend some time healing psycho-social wounds from the past, such as forgiving parents for moderate mistakes made, but this may not need to occupy as much time as it would had that person been more profoundly wounded in early life. The spiritual crisis then involves re-evaluating spirituality and one’s relationship to it. It is a matter of values as well as understanding, and may include specific spiritual practices to do; and the process can be facilitated by a positively oriented spiritual community that is personally meaningful to the individual going through the emergency process.

    I hope this addresses your question?

  • Thanks for your response. It is tragic to know that so many people have been so profoundly hurt by the infatuation we have had with psychiatric meds in the USA and our ignorance of consciousness and psychic gifts.

    A saving grace is the tide is turning. There are increasingly more psychiatrists and other health care providers who are having their own psychic experiences, acknowledging the positive power of them, and in a position to help others disoriented by their spiritual experiences. I know they are out there as I can count some as my friends and more as associates.

    Ancient Indian sages believed that we are transitioning now into the Dwapara age, a time when people will acknowledge that energy is more primary than physical matter. Quantum physics is proof of that. Einstein’s theories, too. As this age matures we will see more people wake up to the fact that the drugs we have been using are harming many people…and the true cause of mental disturbances may be far more spiritual than we now understand. Of course, trauma, social issues, etc can tip individuals into emotional distress…but, still, there are also spiritual issues to be addressed as well.

    I hope you do write your story. It can then be part of the wave waking up those who are ready to see more perspectives.

  • Hi,
    Thanks so much for writing. I appreciate your story.
    It sounds as if your book will make a real contribution to the literature. I would like to read it.
    FYI, I’ve written several books about Spiritist therapies and their model is a good one for us to follow, I think. I take health providers to Brazil to visit these hospitals and centers and learn from the psychiatrists and mediums who collaborate together there. So, I am trying to do my bit to get this info out there where it can help our ailing healthcare system.
    Check out to see what the trip offers.
    Keep up the good work!

  • HI,
    I can highly recommend Jill Leigh, director of Energy Healing Institute in Portland, Oregon. She gives online courses and teleseminars and reaches people all over the world.
    I have heard people say that the Berkeley Psychic Institute is good but I have no reference for that other than grapevine. They also do online courses.
    Neither of the two above compares with the training offered thru Spiritist Centers. The training these centers offer takes years to complete but one comes out as a member of a team that is highly attuned to working together and team-members help each other stay balanced in life.
    Being psychic is a God-given gift that needs to be treated with great care and having peers to connect with around the gift and its use is very valuable–especially important is an elder who can supervise.
    May you find everything you are looking for!