IThis last week's podcast was a live call in show. Because the callers do not give written consent to have their information rebroadcast on YouTube to a potentially broader audience, I will not be making YouTube videos. I will instead be blogging about the topics discussed on the show and include the resources I listed in the podcasts in case you missed the show and are interested in the topic.
This week a caller talked about hearing voices and the somatic awareness of energy leaving her body every time she needed to modify her behavior with other people. She is diagnosed with schizophrenia and a host of other disorders.
The basic definition of Schizophrenia (via Wikipedia) is: a mental illness characterized by relapsing episodes of psychosis. Major symptoms include hallucinations often hearing voices and delusions (having beliefs not shared by others). Other symptoms include disordered thinking, social withdrawal, decreased emotional expression, and lack of motivation. Symptoms typically come on gradually, begin in young adulthood, and in many cases never resolve. There is no objective diagnostic test; diagnosis is based on observed behavior, a history that includes the person's reported experiences, and reports of others familiar with the person. To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, symptoms and functional impairment need to be present for six months. Many people with schizophrenia have other mental disorders that may include an anxiety disorder such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressive disorder, or a substance use disorder.
After talking to this woman, it was apparent she had many of these symptoms. But as I continued visiting with her, she revealed more interesting experiences and sentiments that makes you question a lifelong prison sentence that these types of diagnoses create.
This woman expressed a desire to help people, while having difficulty even interviewing for jobs because her energy sensitivities increase when being in public, she expressed wanting a dream job helping people with her gifts of vision.
Having been dismissed as mentally ill with no other investigation as to what skills or gifts this person had and how they might be developed for their own and other's benefit, the self-esteem and self-image of this person were certainly low and underdeveloped. Instead of having a family member, friend, or mental health professional care enough to ask her what the voices where wanting to say and helping her cultivate the mental strength to work through some of the issues the voices brought forth, the potential for her psycho-spiritual development during her teenage and early adult years was delayed. I sincerely hope she contact the resources I gave her in the show. All is not lost, she may begin to work on strengthening her mind and find the support to find meaningful work and relationships.
She was never given the opportunity to work on healing and mastering the uncomfortable energy sensitivities preventing her from engaging in public as she would like.
She has visions, hears voices that offer uplifting and helpful advice, has a strong desire to be of service to prevent the suffering of others, receives helpful information from the visions and voices that helps her feel better and make healthier choices as opposed to the potentially co-dependent behavior she had been engaging in prior to hearing the voice or feeling the energy drain from her body. These experiences sound exactly like the experiences that so many mediums, spirit healers, shamans, and near-death experiences report. Many of the challenges she experiences are the same as well.
There is a great opportunity for psycho-spiritual development and a fulfilling life, even with the most difficult of challenges experienced by this woman.
It's very possible she might have been spared years of suffering had she been referred to the right educational and supportive resources and help.
Hearing voices doesn't have to mean people necessarily have a mental health diagnosis. It could mean they are a medium, shaman, or healer. A person could be trained how to master the communication and even become a psychotherapist that uses after death communication in grief therapy. Believe it or not, there ARE psychotherapists who provide this service. The Brazilian mental health program has recognized over half the people in their mental hospitals are mediums and psychic. Once they are identified and trained, they return to normal lives.
If you or someone you know hears voices and needs support you can contact The Hearing Voices Network, or The American Spiritist Society. Listen to Elanor Longden talk about her experience with hearing voices and her journey to healing in this Ted Talk.
You can find therapists certified by the American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences www.aciste.org that have been trained to work with people who have had these types of experiences that will not pathologize them and help people be with and work through the material coming up in the experiences and challenges, while still providing access to medications as they are needed.
If you are a mental health professional, or are a mental health client and would like to educate your mental health professional about these issues, you may want to download ACISTE's Competency Guideline for Professionals and give it to your therapist.
This is a complex topic that requires a thorough examination of body, soul, and spirit to discover what developmental tasks, and any psychological and physical needs may arising for the individual. When we pathologize and dismiss people with these types of experiences, we are devaluing their life, their very existence. We become part of a system that perpetuates illness and disease instead of supporting healing and wholeness.
We could instead be courageous enough to look at these experiences from a perspective that allows for an expanded examination of the possibilities for health and well being. So often we try to silence symptoms without truly examining the source. Hippocrates said we must look at the whole person, even to examine their dreams to thoroughly treat a patient. It seems that the modern mental health system has forgotten the whole person. Material reductionist theory has taken over our mental health system and turned us all into simple machines made of neuropeptides, hormones, and neurotransmitters. If it were only that simple. If your mental health professional won't work with you as a whole person, there are those out there that will, and their numbers are growing. I am certainly not anti-medication when it is helpful, but the question is first, are we medicating people with harmful antipsychotics without examining the internal cause for any apparent dysfunction? Are these people even dysfunctional? Can they be trained to master these voices and integrate them into their own personality development or use them to serve others?
I have talked to people all over the world who were medicated for depression without ever having been asked by their psychiatrist, "Why do you think you are depressed?" I cannot tell you how angry this makes me. How is it possible for someone to go through years of medical school and to become so trained out of the fact they are working with a living, breathing soul who has emotional needs?
I am glad to see the tides changing. But there is still SO much more work to do to get the word out there to people who suffer that there may be alternative medication and there are other ways to work with these experiences.
All My Love,