Red Ice Radio interviewed Paul Levy and Seth Farber regarding the dark side of psychiatry and the mis-interpretation of schizophrenia and an individual having a spiritual awakening. http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/2012/10/RIR-121023.php
Here is my response to that program.
An interesting program again on Red Ice Radio. I agree with Grend4l. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. I have worked in psychiatric hospitals and also had a spiritual awakening in the 1980’s. My awakening process occurred where I had a practice in place to contain it and also a support network to assist me through the process without pathologizing the experience.
My work in the Mental Health field demonstrates to me that psychiatry does have its place. When an individual has an awakening process and there is no ego strength in place, i.e. the individual has not developed a strong sense of self, then the level of danger associated with awakening is increased. With no prior foundation, the awakening process can become a very dark journey and not one of spiritual light. This type of journey can be likened to having a bad trip on LSD with no clear time of when the “bad trip” will end, if ever. When an individual is in a dark experience of awakening and arrives in the emergency room, completely out of control and violent, the only thing available is to use a medication restraint for the safety of the individual and others. This type of scenario happens as daily occurrences in a large city ER.
Once that person is stabilized, then they can begin to explore what their experience was all about, as Levy did for himself. Unfortunately, what I have discovered in working with individuals who have been labeled Bipolar with Psychosis or Schizophrenic is that the individual has to have the initiative to do the inner work necessary to integrate the awakening process. The person has to have a foundation of skills to begin to perceive their situation differently than consensus reality and to re-direct the flow of energy. Some of the people experiencing a psychosis may enter a state of consciousness that allows them to connect to Divine Love and perceive unity in their experience, but often the mind is so disorganized that within minutes they are back to seeing rats in the room and the evil chanting of the voices in their head.
Shamans have years and a series of initiations that prepare them to access the different states of consciousness. Spiritual work may involve self-reflection or meditative practices as Paul Levy incorporated within his own life. Many people are not interested in taking on this process or don’t have the resources, and in these cases, unfortunately would need to remain on psych medications to ease their suffering. In most cases, it does come down to personal responsibility versus taking the easy road of swallowing a pill.
Often times when we demonize a practice or see it as a failure, psychiatry in this case, then we are not accessing the level of consciousness that can pick up the theme or the purpose to the mystery that lies underneath. I think the question we could reflect on is how does the disorganized and chaotic mind in individuals labeled mentally ill serve our collective process?