Crazywise: Revisioning Narratives of Psychosis
By Sascha Altman DuBrul May 16, 2017
As someone who was told as an 18 year old that I had a biological brain disease and that my visions and behavior meant I needed to be held down and shot up with antipsychotic drugs for months in a locked mental hospital, I take very personally how our current psychiatric system treats young people who’ve been diagnosed with psychotic disorders. While I was fortunate enough to make my transformative journey from breakdown to breakthrough, there are a lot of people just like me who end up trapped in a narrative of disease with programs and treatments that keep them stuck in a cycle of dependency and chronicity.
I so badly want all the young people who are going through the kinds of experiences I went through to have more guidance, more mentorship, more role models, more community support from people who have struggled in similar ways. I want there to be places for young people to go where they can heal, people who’ve been trained to see those young people as solutions and not as problems. I see the potential for this type of support and camaraderie in the modern day Peer Specialist workforce and some of the First Episode Psychosis programs that are emerging around the country, but in order to create a mental health system that works for people we need to be able to shift our perspectives and truly adopt narratives of liberation rather than narratives of sickness.
So with that thought I highly, highly recommend you watch this 3 minute trailer, it’s mad thought provoking and beautiful:
Ultimately, the longing for spiritual rejuvenation and community empowerment will break through the cage of modernity, if we are not first destroyed by ecological devastation and/or economic collapse. Longing, in all actuality, is too mild a term; actually, there is an intense craving for unique and authentic notions of identity, for belonging to a caring culture, for sharing and cultural blending. There is also, to an extent, evolutionary reasons and epigenetic possibilities for the deep desires, for instance, to want to sing and dance around a fire, to go on long walks to calm the mind, to talk to plants and animals, to feel the Earth’s joys and pains, to partake of psychedelic plants. It’s what our species has done for millennia, and no freeways, high-rises, fluorescent-lit malls, or gated communities can possibly make up for these urges.
Inner calmness and contentedness, feeling joy at other’s successes, altruistic actions of bravery, spontaneity, the creative act, and transpersonal experiences all teach us that our egos are illusions. The drive of the ego is the drive of civilization, with all its life-denying baggage. It is this ego-based desire to dominate, to harness and pillage nature, which expands outwards to include all life-forms, including even our close loved ones. The judgments and pain inflicted on others are projections of our own, deep inner hurting. The ego shifts the blame, projecting, always outwards onto others, always disguising and rationalizing its selfish deeds. Indigenous life is not without problems, but it recognizing and integrates the shadow-side of ourselves: there was no need for modern psychology until modern, Western man ramped up the process of destroying the world, all in order to fill the gaping void within the soul.
Thus, rewilding our psyches will mean dissolving the ego, recognizing it as a small part of the mind, occasionally useful in survival-enhancing or problem solving situations, but not as an absolute master of our sense of self. In short, it must be acknowledged that there are many aspects to individual minds, spectrums of ways of thinking, just as specific brain-waves exist, and differing states of sleep and dreaming.
Shrinking the ego will re-establish our commitment to protecting the Earth. As creator and protector of life, our planet, along with crops, animals, mountains and rivers, all have been venerated and deified across history. Thus, the sacredness of life and its continuity can be seen for the miracle it truly is. New spiritual and religious groups will be founded, with cross-fertilization and syncretism causing an explosion of kaleidoscopic cultures. Shrinking petty individual desires and grievances enlarges our view of nature: it allows for free living and amicable relations, promoting an idea of an Unconquerable World which can triumph over the capitalist-dominated, chaotic, absolutist, totalitarian impulses of modern life.
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