Monday, September 12, 2005

Religious and Spiritual Problems

Actually this whole "cause or effect" debate concerning mystical type experiences is moving much more mainstream into academic psychology. Fringe psychologists such as Jung, R.D.Laing and Grof have long maintained that psychosis harbours something sacred. Now the possibility that religious and spiritual experiences can CAUSE severe psychological trauma, rather than simply being an EFFECT OF, is up for serious academic investigation.

Dr. Martina Belz-Merk of the Psychological Institute at the University of Freiburg, has launched a project for "Counselling and Help for People with Unusual Experiences". Some interesting snippets:

  • "The term "unusual experiences" is meant as a collective term for occurrences which are variously described as psychic, transcendental, supernatural, magical and so forth."
  • "We prefer to use the term unusual experiences in order to avoid confounding these experiences with aspects of psychological disorders. With this term the special nature of the experience is respected as such without initial prejudice, diagnosis or unjustified labeling."
  • "There is currently a controversial debate concerning whether unusual experiences are symptoms of a mental disorder, if mental disorders are a consequence of such experiences, or if people with mental disorders are especially susceptible to or even looking for these experiences" (for the full article go here:

The most concrete evidence to date that mainstream psychology is beginning to widen its net is the inclusion of a new category in the latest version of the DSM IV (Diagnostic and statistic manual for mental diseases) named "religious and spiritual problems".

Disovering information like this is very exciting for me. I've spent the last 20 years trying to convince many, many people that the first psychotic episode I experienced was more than just a case of malfunctioning chemicals in my brain. It can be a very lonely and soul destroying battle.

Don't get me wrong. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that my bipolar disorder is a hereditary brain chemical condition. But that does not neccessarily mean that there weren't other factors at work too. It's this Western notion of ALL or NOTHING that I'm fighting against. Because All or Nothing always results in THE EXCLUDED MIDDLE.

And I'm tired of being excluded.


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