“In my wildest dreams I couldn’t imagine more of a hell-realm than psychiatry. It was only years after I had left the psychiatric community that I began to re-contextualize and reframe my experiences with psychiatry as a shamanic descent into the underworld, into the depths of a modern-day Hades. What the psychiatrists were doing was truly maddening and crazy-making. Psychiatrists are trained to pathologize; once I was diagnosed and labeled with a mental illness, my behavior was myopically viewed through the lens of pathology, which only served to draw out the pathological aspect of my process, further confirming to the psychiatrists the correctness of their diagnosis in a self-fulfilling prophecy.” ~ Paul Levy
This quote from Paul Levy reminds me of stories friends told about their psychiatric experiences and how difficult it was for them to get away from that hell. Psychiatric medications were prescribed to them without emotional support, proper diagnosis, holistic perspective and after-care. There is more then just one dimension to the suffering within psychiatry and the ongoing consumption of psychiatric medication.
“A potentially huge army of young anti-authoritarians are being depoliticized by mental illness diagnoses and by attributions that their inattention, anxiety, depression, and disruptiveness are caused by defective biochemistry, not by their alienation from a dehumanizing society. These diagnoses and attributions, leveled at them often before they have an opportunity to gain political consciousness, make them less likely to organize democratic movements to transform society.” ~ Bruce Levine
“It was like I got shut down and shut up, and whenever I tried to get myself adequate help from within the system the threat of getting sectioned into a psychiatric ward always loomed over me”, one friend told me. He had suffered near psychotic episodes in consequence of a prescribed cocktail of barbiturates (sleeping pills), benzodiazepines (medications from the valium family), anti-depressants and over-the-counter pain killers that contain Codein – all in combination with Asthma inhalers that contain amongst many other substances steroids.
“A few more months of such “treatment” and he would have been “taken care of” in a psychiatric ward.”
In my friend’s case, he lost excessive amounts of weight and his body got in time covered with big bruises like he was beaten up by somebody – the beating came from inside, from the meds. In psychic reading I even claim that his trapped self kicked him from inside, screaming for help. In addition he, like other patients who “are trapped” by psychiatric meds, suffered episodes of acting out of character, fantasizing about self harm, suffering memory lapses and getting paranoid (long term use of benzodiazepines is known to cause suicidal thoughts and damages the memory – see also this article in Psychology Today) . Against these symptoms he took in turn more pills of varying effects, which ended him in the typical vicious circle of psychiatric over-medication. A few more months of such “treatment” and he would have been “taken care of” in a psychiatric ward, getting his mind eventually completely destroyed in ever more “treatments” or he would have simply died through suicide or heart attack. All this suffering started when he became anxious after a traumatic event (he was the victim of a crime and had to attend various court hearings) and so he went to see a doctor who send him to a Psychiatrist and from there his road to hell began.
“Western culture by and large still avoids spirituality and spiritual views on life, even though within spirit is the key for a holistic treatment of almost any human ailment.”
The varying psychiatric and psychological interpretations of my friend’s symptoms were entirely unhelpful and only added further layers of harm and confusion. Nobody took the time to explain to my friend why he had fantasies of self-harm. In holistic reading however, there was a clue, and that is that his body was abused by wrong treatment, and his self was battling to break free and grow, to understand the force of evil he had encountered. As a consequence of the popular policy of “strictly no meta-physics”, Western culture by and large stills avoids spirituality and spiritual views, even though within spiritual readings and treatments are keys for most human ailments. In Islam and other traditional religious schools a spiritualized and holistic life style is at the very foundation of a healthy existence.
“These prayers and learning and experiencing God’s presence first helped him to get off the sleeping pills, pain killers and benzodiazepines and then also healed him completely of Asthma.”
What started to help my friend, who was back then an “educated rational atheist”, was the discovery of prayer techniques that aided him to strengthen and focus his mind and taught him to connect with God and his own self-healing powers. These prayers and learning and experiencing spiritual awareness and presence first helped him to get off the sleeping pills, pain killers and benzodiazepines and then also healed him completely of Asthma. This was one aspect of his recovery. Additionally he changed his diet – one of the side effects of the medication was that he became gluten intolerant – the meds had harmed parts of the sensitive interworkings between his brain and his digestive system – and worked to improve his character and awareness. He was increasingly more able to deal with his trauma and the subsequent experiences, of which the experiences with the “system” were worse then the actual trauma in his words.
“I can not emphasize enough the healing powers of a mind and a life style that is spiritually aware.”
I want to make clear again, that this blog is not about recruiting people to any particular religion, but I can not emphasize enough the healing powers of spiritual therapies. In summary, my friend’s mind turned from a medicated, trapped mind into a mind that was able to grow and acquire spiritual awareness in the process. In my friend’s case the wider implication in my view is that there are large segments of our medical and social care systems who lack understanding of most basic human needs . Lack of proper care is an ever increasing problem in the age of privatisation of public medical services and what is increasingly required is useful self-help guides and communal initiatives, as well as initiatives by dedicated “real” healers, churches, mosques and all kinds of spiritual centers to teach people how to heal through spiritual means.
I will post further on this subject of treating mental health problems through spiritual means, and will share remedies that were tried and tested and bring results. To receive updates please subscribe to the newsletter.
You may find interesting:
Islam and Psychosis, Part 1: The Psychiatric Dystopia
Islam and Psychosis, Part 2: Islamic traditions of mental health care and treatment
Rescue remedies against mental distress, Part 3: Bathing and Cleansing
Interesting blogs, articles & literature:
Paul Levy, The Mal-Practise of Psychiatry
Paul Levy describes in this article his journey through the hell of Psychiatry.
Anatomy of an Epedemic, by Robert Whitaker
The astonishing increase in the disability numbers during the past fifty years in the US alone, raises an obvious question: Could the widespread use of psychiatric medications–for one reason or another–be fueling this epidemic? Anatomy of an Epidemic investigates that question, and it does so by focusing on the long-term outcome studies in the research literature.
Bruce E. Levine writes and speaks widely on how society, culture, politics and psychology intersect.
Beyond Meds documents and shares many natural methods of self-care for finding and sustaining health in body, mind and spirit. This blog also deals with wider issues in the socio/political and spiritual realms as they pertain to mental health and human rights issues surrounding psychiatry. What I find very curious is how self-healing techniques are “discovered” amongst the anti-psychiatry movements in the USA that are already well known to Muslims since many centuries (such as herbal treatments, baths aso).