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 Numinous  Unbounded - a state without boundaries  Access to propositional knowledge/memory is patchy  Suffused with meaning or meaningless  Self:

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Presentation on theme: " Numinous  Unbounded - a state without boundaries  Access to propositional knowledge/memory is patchy  Suffused with meaning or meaningless  Self:"— Presentation transcript:

1  Numinous  Unbounded - a state without boundaries  Access to propositional knowledge/memory is patchy  Suffused with meaning or meaningless  Self: lost in the whole or supremely important  Emotions: swing between extremes or absent  No means of anticipating or discriminating  Both/and - two contradictory things can be simultaneously valid This slide combines 2 slides by Isabel Clarke

2 Rely on defective or dogmatic constructs: Mystery, or awareness of limits to the constructs, is denied. Lost in the mystery: Since constructs were not adequate, all attempts at constructs are abandoned. But then there is no way to organize or communicate. Attempts at constructs coexist with an awareness of the mystery that surrounds them: Attachment to constructs is tentative, humble, maintains a sense of humor about their limits. Lively. People may “flip” between being lost in the transliminal & relying on rigid & defective constructs

3 New Integration Implicational Mind split from propositional, Relationships that have no concepts Old integration, has problems Propositional Mind split from implicational, Concepts that aren’t related May flip between states or coexisting, un-integrated opposites

4  The transliminal itself can be threatening in two ways  Any possible danger can be seen within it  Preoccupation with it could cause one to miss mundane dangers  Leaving the transliminal can also be threatening  Loss of the transcendental  Risk of getting stuck again in a mundane, flawed interpretation of one’s existence

5  There are striking parallel between a fully resolved psychotic process and the metamorphosis of a butterfly:  They both entail an initial stage of profound disintegration.  They both entail eventual reintegration into a form that is much more resourced than the original form. Slide borrowed from Paris Williams, author of “Rethinking Madness”

6 Level of Arousal Ordinary, alert, concentrated, state of arousal. Low arousal: hypnagogic; attention drifting etc. High Arousal - stress Slide by Isabel Clarke and Donna Rutherford

7 Discussion of Ways of coping suggested by this approach – management of arousal and distraction. Slide by Isabel Clarke and Donna Rutherford

8  Clarify history up to first experience of “psychosis”  Define the life problem that needed resolving  Look at how constructs at that time may have been inadequate  Education on how breakdown in constructs can lead to new insights  And what it’s like to be “in the process”  Explore how to keep access to this process  While better handling the risks

9  For many, spirituality is key in response to any sort of adversity  Many report spirituality assists in recovery from psychosis  Visionary experience can contain keys to recovery  “Negative symptoms” can sometimes be overcome by opening up to spiritual themes present in the original psychosis

10 Person perceives problem not solvable within construct system Person enters “renewal process” looking for solution Surrounding society sees renewal process as a threat Surrounding society attempts to suppress renewal process in a way that causes problems for the person

11 Lack of discernment: No limits are set on mad ideas or actions, no sorting process to protect against serious errors or dangers Rigid Walls Against Everything “Not Normal”: Fear of madness prohibits seeing anything spiritual or positive in “mad” experiences or perspectives Balance Between Openness to Renewal and Caution About Error: Possibility of positive transformation is seen as existing alongside dangers of “madness,” sorting/helping process exists A Balanced Approach to Possibly Mad Experiences

12  Rather than suppress the Visionary  A better role for society is:  Protect and contain the person and the process  Collaborate with the person in selectively drawing from the process  Train people prone to this process in how to navigate it successfully  Our survival may depend on a better relationship with the Visionary

13  Share what have you noticed regarding the relationship between the issues we’ve discussed, and your own experience of spirituality and spiritual crisis and/or spiritual growth  Do you have unanswered questions related to that?  Does your own experience contradict in some way any of the perspectives presented so far?  If so, how?  What do you think you might draw on from your own experiences that might be helpful, or not helpful, in relating to clients with these kinds of issues?  (If you are someone who usually declines to think of anything real as “spiritual” then answer these same questions in relation to the sorts of existential issues that others may use spiritual language or metaphors to talk about)

14  Suspend disbelief – embrace uncertainty and hope  Be lovingly receptive  Encourage expression  Including modalities other than speech  Notice your own anxiety  So you can shift back to loving receptivity  See Michael’s article, “How to best serve clients with a psychotic/visionary experience”

15 Overly avoidant of some aspects of spiritual experience: For example, resists the psychic death that precedes rebirth, fear of seeing sense in which one is insignificant Overly grasping toward some aspects of spiritual experience: For example, seeking to be seen as more important or more powerful than others Balance in spiritual experience: Neither too attached nor too avoidant, able to both take in and let go as needed Equanimity is important in approaching spiritual or mad experiences

16  “God” can be understood as Mystery, both Terrible and Wonderful  Faith in God can mean simply understanding that there are always these two sides  “Satan,” the Trickster, gets us caught on one side or the other  Attached to some mundane “good,” relying on it for our security rather than relying on the whole, or God  Caught in some negative state and fearing it is the whole, losing our faith that there is always something more within mystery  Being caught in one extreme mood or another involves being tricked

17  Mood swings can be both  A result of failing to appreciate God, or the whole  A part of the process of discovering God, or the whole, or spiritual opening  Mania can be part of spiritual discovery  Depression can be part of spiritual emptying, opening the space for discovery  Can help to change one’s relationships to mood swings  Accept them  Be open to learning from them  Don’t take them too seriously

18  One study of 3,000 religious experiences, 7% heard a voice  Hardy, 1979  Another study, 11% of college students reported that at least once they had heard the voice of God “as a real voice”  Posey & Losch, 1983  Both of these citations were found in “Hearing Voices” by John Watkins

19  These are suggestions John Watkins derived from studying guidance in various spiritual traditions regarding voices  see “Hearing Voices, A Common Human Experience”  Do not actively seek voice hearing experiences  Attempt to ignore the voices  (while looking for deeper sources of truth)  Discuss voice hearing experiences with others  Study the personal effects of the voices  Do not act on voice experiences  (think for yourself about what to do instead of doing something just because a voice commands it)

20 Everything/ Nothing Identity Identify with the transliminal, both expansive and non- attached, immortal, no fixed form Rigidly Defined Identity: Identity is a fixed form, any internal experience contrary to this identity may be experienced as external, other, and often threatening Loosely Defined Identity: Some sense of form and boundaries to the identity, but also flexible, has resilience, internal complexity, not so easily threatened Both very rigid, and very loose, identities are a setup for voices

21 I surrender to a voice or impulse, even when it appears to be persecutory or corrupt: Since I have no real power, I might as well surrender now and get it over with. I never surrender to anything, or let go in any way: I must stay in control because I don’t trust anything that is spontaneous. I exhaust myself & get overwhelmed I do what I can, then I make wise choices about when and how to surrender or let go of the rest: I turn over power only to what is good or once I have done what I can to create what is good. No flexibility leads to willpower being overcome by voices, impulses etc.

22 Serious problems, depression Goes into trance and wild ideas to escape problems and depression Acts on trance or wild ideas without using adequate discernment Bad results from person’s own actions & from mental health intervention leads to life going further out of control Vicious Circle Mental health system intervenes in way that is traumatizing, stigmatizing and/or disabling More

23 Serious problems, depression Uses discretion, though sometimes still goes into trance and wild ideas to escape problems and depression Acts on trance or wild ideas only after using adequate discernment Actions lead to better results, life makes more sense Virtuous Circle Any mental health intervention is normalizing, encourages reflection & discernment Less

24 "Perhaps everything terrible is, in its deepest being, something that needs our love."  -Rainer Maria Rilke

25  Compassion from caretakers toward the person  Compassion from others in social network, family etc. toward the person  Person’s ability & willingness to be compassionate towards others  Person’s compassion for self  Person’s compassion for parts of self,  Ability of parts of self to be compassionate toward each other and toward whole self

26  Client identifies an issue which triggers a self critical voice  Client expresses the point of view of the critic, then the point of view of the part of self that is criticized  Can go back and forth on this a few times  Can use different chairs for clarity, or write on paper  Then client shifts into a compassionate perspective  Shares thoughts and feelings both about critic and criticized self, from the compassionate viewpoint

27  Soothing, without soothing too much  Too much self reassurance can lead to negative symptoms!  Finding peace in the midst of striving  “All the way to heaven, is heaven…..”  Finding the sense in which there is eternity  The sense in which we are immortal  Can be key parts of people’s spiritual quest, that also leads to psychological health!

28 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Into the Cool Into the Cool is a scientific tour de force showing how evolution, ecology, economics and life itself are organized by energy flow and the laws of thermodynamics. There are natural, animate and inanimate systems like hurricanes and life whose complexity are not the result of conscious human design, nor of divine caprice, nor of repeated, computer-like functions. The common key to all organized systems is how they control their energy flow. Scientists, theologians, and philosophers have all sought to answer the questions of why we are here and where we are going. Finding this natural basis of life has proved elusive, but in the eloquent and creative Into the Cool Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan look for answers in a surprising place: the second law of thermodynamics...

29 I’m spiritually fine, perfect just as I am: I don’t need to do a thing to make anything better, I’m invulnerable, perfect, beyond criticism. I’m totally overwhelmed with worry I need to manage and/or change everything, and I can’t possibly do it all I have lots of problems but that’s fine: I work on solving them as best I can, changing course as I learn more, and this process of doing what I can is perfectly acceptable. Balance of Activation and Soothing

30 Mistrust in the spontaneous, or Nature, or Spirit: Because I lack trust, I must rely exclusively on my own efforts or willpower, and so I get overwhelmed. Blind trust in the spontaneous, or Nature, or Spirit: Since I am so trusting, I make no efforts to sort things out for myself, or to question what pops into my head. I trust in my own efforts working alongside the spontaneous, or Nature, or Spirit: My own efforts have a role, but I don’t get overwhelmed because I can also find times and places to let go and trust. Developing Appropriate Trust in the Spontaneous


32 Sharply Organized, Fixed on One View, Knowledge is Seen as Certain: One side of “psychosis” and also of spirituality Disoriented, Disorganized, No Sense of Having Knowledge: One side of “psychosis” and also of spirituality Fractal mix of organization & disorganization, knowledge and uncertainty, orientation & disorientation: “Normal” human state Spirituality – is it about being open, or closed?

33 Love of Being a Self, Autonomy Love of Other, Connection From Paris Williams, “Rethinking Madness”


35  Questions  Do people “create their own reality?”  Does reality exist, outside of the views of it that develop?  Such questions become more than academic, when lives depend on it  But to what extent should we be imposing our own views?

36  Mental health system role should be:  To protect the person going through extreme states  Help people develop a dialogue with that which disturbs them  Train people prone to extreme states  in how to negotiate these states successfully  And in how to draw on extreme states to support “creative maladjustment” in interaction with social groups  so the best aspects of “mad” or visionary experiences can play a role in social transformation  Our survival may depend on becoming able to nurture, rather than suppress, visionary experience


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