Monday, March 27, 2023

Comments by Sean Blackwell

Showing 25 of 25 comments.

  • I agree Paul. The “new paradigm” suggested here doesn’t sound much different than that of Szasz or RD Laing 50 years ago. IMO, and even bolder step forward needs to take place – a paradigm that fully embraces the inherent spiritual dimension of these experiences. Once that happens, deep healing, for the “patient”, family and society is no longer out of reach.

  • @despondent. I don’t get too attached because these disorders are simply a group of symptoms that, when they show up in a particular pattern or sequence, get a label. In Kerstin’s case, one psychiatrist may label her with schizophrenia, another shizoaffective. Many people receive multiple diagnoses from different psychiatrists. Instead, what I see is a person in pain who wants my help. I give them my own personal evaluation, based on criteria I’ve developed over the past decade, to help determine if I think my approach could he helpful to them.

  • I try not to get too attached to the labels, but as Kerstin was dealing with persistent paranoia (as you can see from the article), I’d say that most psychiatrists would have labeled her condition either schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. My work is intended primarily for people labeled with Bipolar Disorder, but it can be effective for people with more serious conditions, provided that the trust is there. Moni Kettler was a “rapid-cycling” bipolar disorder. Magdalena was more of a classic Bipolar 1, with repeated episodes into “acute psychosis”. I see them all as basically the same condition, just with a different character, severity and/or intensity. All of these conditions have the potential to heal, provded that the client is prepared to put in the work.

  • Rasselas.redux,
    Just curious, in the comments here, I’ve cited my first three clients, all of whom have gone public with their stories. All three are free of psychiatric medication, “psychotic” symptoms and hospitalizations for three years. And to this you say that I’m nothing but a quack, and these brave women are my deluded inner circle? If that’s the case, there is really nothing more to say.

  • Thanks for the skepticism. You watch my videos very carefully. Of course, only looking for something negative to pounce on, but still, you’re watching. Regarding your critiques, a few replies…First, my original story, where I talk about my 4 day hospitalization, has been on YouTube channel, bipolarORwakingUP for a decade now. I posted my story in 2007, so that’s hardly new.

    I also wrote a book about it, “Am I Bipolar or Waking Up?”, which is on my website as a free PDF.

    Back then, we also helped my neice in a more of a “Soteria” style approach (which has been widely advocated for here on MIA)
    (See, as it was her first “psychosis”. She went crisis-free for 7 years after our work together, without medications. She has started to have episodes recently and I haven’t had the opportunity to work with her. She is entitled to her privacy, so I prefer to leave it at that.

    Regarding “Holotropic Breathwork”, my presentation with Ron probably should be clearer that I use “Bipolar Breathwork”, which is an adaptation of Holotropic Breathwork. I say that at the 29:30 mark. Holotropic Breathwork is contraindicated because the typical format does not provide enough personal attention or time if a more difficult process opens up with a client. As our retreat process is usually 10 days, we have the time necessary to help people through more difficult processes. I’ve done about 40 retreats now and have never had to hospitalize anyone. I was certified by Grof Transpersonal Training in 2016 as a Holotropic Breathwork Facilitator, and they fully endorse my work.

    Also, in the Ron Unger interview, two more of my clients tell their stories of healing. One of them, Moni Kettler, has also written her story here on MIA.

    As I started doing retreats at the end of 2013, these initial three clients have all done two retreats, and have all been free of medications, symptoms and hospitalizations for three years now. So I got off to a very good start!

    You are completely correct in assuming that my safe setting means protecting clients from, well, “normal” people (among other things). This healing process is no joke. We play very loud music, and the spontaneous screaming can be very alarming to others. In fact, I insist that people bring a family member, or close friend to the retreat so that I know I have the support of the family with regards to what we are doing together.

    So, rest assured, if you ever want to stop me from working with someone that you know, I won’t go near them. I don’t need that kind of hassle. Of course, whoever you are trying to protect will never have an opportunity to do such deep, lasting healing like Kerstin, Moni and “Magdalena” did, but not everyone is as lucky as they were to have such supportive families. In truth, I know your problem is more with Dr. Stan Grof and transpersonal psychology as a whole. I’m just part of that camp. I could bring 100 healed clients to your home and you would still be skeptical. So, I’m not really writing you. I’m just backing up my work for people who are curious to what I’d have to say to your negative comments. If you have anything else to add, I’d be happy to reply.

  • Fees have always been transparent. I’ve also recently complete my certification as a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator with Grof Transpersonal Training, and they have recommended my retreat for people who are not suited to the holotropic breathwork format. I’ve been supporting people in anomalous states since 2007, helping them work through their processes in the peer-oriented style of Loren Mosher’s Soteria House.

  • Thank you for your support Tim,
    I’m a little surprised that MarekT could be so disappointed with the results of my healing retreat, considering that he has never been a client of mine. He is also in no position to know about the retreat results as he knows only one of my clients, who is actually quite happy with her long-term outcome and plans to work with me again. For 2016, I charge $300/day, information which is plainly available in the Bipolar Awakenings Retreat PDF, which can be downloaded on my website. While the total cost of a ten day retreat may be significant, I’m earning less per day than a psychiatrist makes in an hour. My book and videos are all available for free. I hope this clarifies any doubts readers may have about my work.

  • Thanks Fiachra,
    I’ve never heard of the 12 Step Fellowship, so I’ll look into that. Don’t get me wrong, I think Open Dialogue and Rufus May are taking steps in the right direction. Grof’s work, however, is so far ahead of anything else out there. To give an analogy from physics, if Freud is the Isaac Newton of psychology, then Grof is its Einstein.

  • Dr. Steingard,
    Thank you for your insightful post. I had been wondering about the background on the RAISE project and your post here is very informative. I guess, to no surprise, there is nothing new here. Same-old-same-old with a fancy new brand name. I can’t believe in 2015, the vanguard of science is “talk therapy”.
    Also, as there has been so much talk about Open Dialogue here on MIA, personally, I’m not so optimistic about the results of that program either. Having visited Finland twice in the past two years, I can assure MIA readers that the Open Dialogue program has has zero impact there. The Finnish system is just as conservative as anywhere else, if not moreso. Open Dialogue is restricted to one hospital north of the Arctic Circle, and, ironically, they are not very “Open” about how their program is doing. A contact of mine recently requested to visit this hospital to do a documentary there, and was declined.
    In my opinion, real change will not arrive until one man’s work is given much more noteriety, and that man is Dr. Stanislav Grof. Once Grof’s work is accepted, the very concept of “mental illness” will disappear.

  • Brave post Corrina!
    I think it’s sometimes forgotten here on MIA that, despite the obvious problems with psych meds (as well as the lack of solid science behind psychiatry as a whole) that many people depend on these meds simply to function in daily life – to stay out of jail, to hold their jobs, to keep their families together.
    No, meds are not perfect – far from it. But for many people in today’s world, they can be a helpful tool.
    So until a new solution comes along, I don’t think psychiatry will be disappearing anytime soon.

  • You are making an excellent point here Fouette! I found myself perplexed by Roberts comments as well. In supporting my niece through a psychotic episode, she made a number of attempts to fly out our 13th floor balcony doors. Fortunatly, we were there to block her path. She was expecting that she would fly away, to another dimension, or reality. In my own delusion of 1996, I never told anyone that I was on a sacred mission, that I was being tested by God. My own attempt at “suicide” was to turn out the lights in a hotel ballroom I was in (naked). Although it hardly sounds dangerous, I was quite scared to hit the light switch, but i did it anyways. I was arrested shortly afterwards. Both of us are meds free, and psychiaty free today!

  • What you describe is basically what I’m doing down here in Brazil. I’ve already made 3 videos on my Bipolar Awakenings Healing Retreat. However, I do my best to peel away the more new age associations, rituals etc. Also, there is no emphasis on anyone having shamanic powers. The shamanic process is within. I like to think of it as “peer shamanism”.

  • I see your point, but even though I call my website Bipolar Awakenings, I still use the word disorder because episodes of “mania” , “psychosis”, or even depression can have devestating consequnces to a persons life, even in an ideal setting – so we need to approach these issues is a somewhat cautious way. For me, the words “disease” or “illness” are where the real stigma lies, and both words are wholly inaccurate.

  • I understand your pain and frustration, even with some of the more “new-agey” elements of the conference. If there was something I could have changed, I probably would have liked to see more attention focused on people like yourself, who are really struggling, and even those who are medicated for life, through no choice of their own. I think Victoria Maxwell did a good job of representing that voice. As for me, I don’t particularly identify with the idea of everyone with a disorder being “called” to be a healer. It puts too much pressure on some people. You need to take care of yourself as best you can. If you ever get to the point of feeling like you are in a much better place, then maybe you reach out to help others. But not until then. Thank you for your feedback!

  • Thank you Fiachra!
    Nice to know that I blew your mind! 😉
    Many recovery approaches are talked about here on MIA, but I don’t see much related to a deeper form of healing that truly goes beyond recovery. From what I’ve seen, holotropic breathwork is an essential tool, and yet it is rarely discussed. I’ll be talking more about it in a future posting.

  • Hi Maria,
    Of course, I agree with you that the darker end of these experiences and the potential for harm need to be taken very seriously. We had a guy here in Brazil that killed three women, cooked them, made pastries with their meat, and sold them to his neighbors! This is clearly not what I mean by someone in a Spiritual Emergency.
    I have a video series addressing that very subject (#20-22).
    However, any attempt to address this very important issue doesn’t get much support here on MadinAmerica. “Who are you to decide who has the potential to be dangerous and who doesn’t?” “You’re just switching one set of labels for another.” are common criticisms. And, in truth, the challenge is that the situation is not black & white – more like 50 Shades of Grey.
    I will say however, that your suggestion for “A best practice standard of care that focuses on testing for and treating underlying causes” is, at best a dream, as there are no scientific tests. However, I do believe that my wife and I are treating the “underlying causes” with our healing retreat. Largely based on the work of Dr. Stan Grof, we are getting quite good results.

  • No worries Mate!
    All of the conversations in the series are pre-taped and will be available for anyone to listen to for free until Tuesday, July 14, 2015.
    So if you miss one, relax! It will be there when you wake up.
    Also, for paid packages, you can download the talks, plus a few other goodies.
    Thanks for following my stuff, Jan Carol!
    There will be more from me on Mad in America in the future!

  • Sorry to hear you’ve been through so much hell. I tend to stay out of the meds discussion now. When people want to do a retreat with me, I’m open to working with them regardless of what psychiatric drugs they are on (or not on). The same thing regarding addictions. I’ve come to learn that I can work with people who smoke marijuana, and get good results as well. Harder drugs, I’m not so sure.

  • Hi Pumpkin Pie,
    It sounds like what you are bumping up against is a transpersonal or even a “New Age” community that doesn’t recognized how destabilizing spiritual experiences can be. Is that what you mean by “moral repugnance?”
    Also, I know a number of people who fully accept and feel blessed by the spiritual dimension of their experiences, and yet choose to remain medicated because they enter into states in which they cannot function without the meds. Do your experiences go that far?

  • Thank you Naas,
    I think your insights are wonderful. They remind me of Grof’s stories about working with people in Germany, using Holotropic Breathwork. Time and time again family history and guilt related to the events of World War 2 would surface. When taken into breathwork, people could see how the events of decades earlier were influencing their relationships today. When we do this Online Series again, I’ll be sure to mention you to Dabney!