Myth of Mental Illness

The Myth of Mental Illness

“If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; If you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic.” – Thomas Szasz, ‘The Second Sin: Schizophrenia’ (1973)

This quote from Thomas Szasz, a leading psychiatrist and outspoken critic of coercive psychiatry, and summarises society’s attitude towards people with an alleged mental illness.

He went further in his book ‘The Myth of Mental Illness‘, saying that mental illness was created as we moved out of ‘The Age of Faith’ into ‘The Age of Reason (Madness)’ with the rise in power of science as an influence on social thinking.

His work is “based on the principles that each person has the right to bodily and mental self-ownership and the right to be free from violence from others”.

It is beyond the scope of this post to provide enough evidence of the fact that ‘Mental Illness’ is a myth created by society to keep certain members of our society under control. All I can do is provide you with some information to think about and pointers on where to find more information! People under the ‘care’ of our psychiatric services deserve better assistance, not further abuse.

As we have moved out of The Age of Faith, we can no longer torture and burn witches and heretics. In The Age of Reason, we assess them as being deviant and requiring treatment to make them ‘normal’. They are incarcerated in ‘Treatment Facilities’ and given ‘psychotropic drugs’ to stop them from thinking. We label them as ‘Insane’ and strip them of dignity.

Our current model of treatment and care

Psychiatry is a sub-branch of Allopathic Medicine and, as such, is based on the belief that disorders and malfunctions of the human body are caused by a disorder, or imbalance, of the chemistry of the physical form. With this belief structure, psychiatry believes that a person’s thoughts and behaviour are determined by a person’s inner chemistry. In effect this removes responsibility of the person for their behaviour as they have no control over their chemistry and are a victim of the circumstances of heredity. Their DNA inherited from their family determines how they will think, behave and act.

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) produced by the American Psychiatric Association, is the ‘Bible’ used by all psychiatric services in the Western World to diagnose and treat ‘Mental Illness’. The DSM is currently in its fifth edition. It started as a guide to physicians when in 1840 a condition was identified and named by southern alienists as ‘Drapetomania’, an inexplicable, mad longing of a slave for freedom. This ‘malady’ has since been recognised as a false diagnosis and removed. By the 1880’s, seven conditions were added including; Mania, Melancholia, Monomania, Paresis, Dementia, Dipsomania and Epilepsy. By 2000, the DSM-IV-TR has 365 conditions recognised as ‘Mental Illnesses’.

The DSM is “a medical classification of disorders”. It defines a mental disorder as; “a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress or disability in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above” DSM-V pg-61.

The DSM also determines that these disorders have a classification of disease or illness. This puts these disorders into the realm of having a biological cause. It is believed that imbalances of neuro-transmitters within the brain cause aberrant thoughts and behaviour. It places these conditions into different ‘Axis’.

The main effect that determining ‘mental illness’ has a biological cause and can be treated with pharmacology is that it is no longer a mental illness. When a condition has a physical cause within the brain, it is a Neurological condition and, therefore, falls outside the realm of Psychiatry. A blood test should be able to predict the likelihood of developing the condition and surgery or medication should provide relief, if not, a cure.

So, what is a Mental Illness?

By definition, a mental illness is a condition of the mind that is unhealthy or in a state of disease. It is easy to determine a physical illness because our body ceases to function in a correct way and we experience some loss of function with pain or discomfort as a result. Certain physical markers are able to be detected using blood tests indicating the malfunction.

Does the same definition apply to the mind? When our mind ceases to function in a correct way and we experience some loss of function with pain and discomfort as a result. I would say, “Yes, except there are no blood tests to determine if someone has a mental illness.” If you search online, you will find many ‘promising’ research studies dating back to the 1970’s all with the tag ‘may have found possible links’. But with all of science’s might it has not, and probably will not, be successful in finding a blood test for mental illness.

As to the cause of the malfunction within the mind, I differ markedly from the scientific view. Science would have us believe that errant thinking and behaviour is caused by a genetic predisposition and imbalances of bodily chemistry combined with certain stress factors. For instance, it is believed that Depression is an inherited fault within certain families which causes the levels of serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine to be out of balance. By giving certain medications these levels can be regulated and symptoms relieved. Once the symptoms are controlled, further work can be done to correct errant thought patterns and better stress management techniques.

While this is good in theory, the application of this process is sometimes deficient. Particularly in the public health system. Often, because it is too costly to provide the ongoing support and treatment, there is too great a reliance placed on pharmacology providing a ‘miracle cure’.

For an explanation of the history of the treatment of depression with drugs like ‘Prozac’, have a look at this article.

In my view, the cause of the imbalance of neurotransmitters is the errant thinking or inner belief that leads to aberrant behaviour. As our minds are the creators of our reality, our minds create the changes in brain chemistry as a result. By giving psychotropic medication we can only ever give symptomatic relief because we haven’t changed the underlying thought, belief or value that the person is acting on. This is the mind-spirit connection that controls the physical form.

A mental illness then is not a physical illness but a disorder of the mind and the spirit.

A Spiritual Crisis

There is no blood test for someone going through a Spiritual Crisis. It is by its very nature an individual experience. No two people experience the same thing.

As an example, I was working in an Acute Admissions Ward within a Psychiatric Hospital as a Psychiatric Nurse. During the evening, it became time to dispense the evening medications. The nurse assisting me and I had been discussing some issues around the efficacy of psychiatry and personal experiences. We came to a patient who had been admitted for treatment for a psychotic condition where he believed aliens were talking to him telling him to do all sorts of bad things. The medication caused him to feel numb and he didn’t care so much about the voices (his report of the effects of the medication).

The nurse and I continued our rounds and our discussion shifted to things spiritual. She began telling me that she heard the voices of ‘Angels’ that guided her through her daily activities. Her face visibly brightened when she spoke of her experiences and she found it joyful.

The difference between the two people’s experiences started me thinking. How is it that two people can have ‘auditory hallucinations’, one positive and the other negative? What is the difference? I concluded that the main difference is how the ‘hallucinations’ were perceived and interpreted. As well as the effect they had on the people’s lives. One helped her to function more successfully, the other meant he lost his job and was homeless. Each person had experienced something, perceived it as being of a certain value and created an explanation as to how and why it happened. Each described a period of great turmoil in their lives when their ‘voices’ first appeared, but each dealt with it differently.

Each person experienced ‘psychotic episodes’, because we all know that aliens and angels don’t exist, right!

In their perception of reality, they do. Who are we to say that they did not, or do not, hear what they say they hear? The fact is that they hear voices telling them things. We call it an hallucination because we don’t hear them. It doesn’t mean they aren’t real.

Is the ability to hear or see things other people can’t a sign of mental illness? Obviously their reality is very different to ours. That does not necessarily make them ill or suffering from a disease. My nursing colleague was euphoric from her experiences and obviously benefited from it.

If we accept that these perceptions are real, then it comes down to how they are interpreted to explain the difference in experience.

In my post on Higher Sense Perception, I used an analogy of a computer representing our brain. A computer has a hard drive that records and stores information much like our physical brain. On the hard drive is stored an operating system and software that controls how the computer functions. Our mind (software) and spirit (operating system) pick up information from the brain (hard disk) and the environment via our physical body (the Human Interface Device; keyboard, touchpad) and acts upon it.

If you are running software that is capable of hearing or seeing inter-dimensionally, is it operating effectively when you hear ‘voices’ or see things that ‘aren’t there’. Or, is it malfunctioning?

Even if the computer is bringing back wrong information due to broken code in the operating system (spirit) or software (mind), why try to fix the hard drive (brain) when it is simply the recorder of information? If the code is broken, fix the code. Oh yes! That takes time and effort. Lets just press the reset button or better yet, install a new operating system and update the software. No need to fix the hard drive unless it is physically damaged!

Our current system for treating ‘mental illness’ is trying to fix a brain that is not broken. When a system of treatment is based on a ‘lie’ and treatment decisions are based on that ‘lie’, an act of violence is the result.

A New Operating System

Anyone who has installed a new Operating System on their computer knows how difficult and time-consuming that can be. When it comes to changing your spiritual operating system, and related mind software, it can take years or decades. But with the right guidance and assistance, it is possible.

Particularly in the public health system, we need a new way of treating people in mental and spiritual crisis that does not use systematic coercive violence to help them regain control over their lives. This shift can only happen when we truly respect our fellow travellers and use methods that do not de-humanise and degrade.

We need to be helping people in mental and spiritual crisis not treating them as a set of symptoms or as if diseased!

The Science Myth

The Myth of Science

Science has been defined as “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment” or “is the study of the nature and behaviour of natural things and the knowledge that we obtain about them.” The study of science then should disprove or dispel myths. However, science can create its own myths or stories that many people believe but it is actually untrue. Like the myth that all progress is good.

The Natural World

One of the main myths of science is that scientists only study the ‘Natural World’ through observation and experiment. An explanation, or hypothesis, is developed to explain an observed phenomena. Then to prove the hypothesis, experiments are conducted within strict guidelines to ensure untainted results are recorded. Any results that contradict the hypothesis are often judged to be the result of a random anomaly or failure to control the experiment. In medicine these are often recorded as paradoxical events or the result of ‘The Placebo Effect’. More on this at another time.

The natural world studied by science is restricted to what can be proven, i.e, seen with the eyes, felt by touch, smelt with the nose, measured with some piece of technology or replicated by independent sources. This tends to restrict science to only examining about 5% of the natural universe, 95% of the universe cannot be observed with our five physical senses  or a device created by man for the express purpose of measuring what we expect to measure. What these devices don’t measure is what else exists in harmony with the effects or substances being measured. The device is limited to only find what we have programmed it to find.

By definition the ‘Natural World’ includes “all of the animals, plants, and other things existing in nature and not made or caused by people” (Merriam-Webster). This is a broad definition but creates the delineation as being ‘created or caused by people’. Those things created by people would include all forms of technology or devices that we have created through the centuries to make living in this world easier. What has existed prior to our interference is part of the natural world. It becomes a little blurry at times when you consider that a substance, like gypsum is part of that natural world but when we apply certain techniques to that substance, it becomes dry wall plaster sheet that we use to line the walls of our homes and is therefore not natural.

Science would have us believe that the only substances that exist in the natural world are those able to be measured or observed through the use of scientific methods. In the 19th century, if you told someone that within the next 100 years people would be able to communicate with another person on the other side of the world while standing in a paddock, you would have been thought to be crazy, or a magician. Scientists discovered ways to use and manipulate the already existing energy to transmit and receive signals in that hidden environment and the use of mobile phones is now common place with people talking to friends on the other side of the world while walking down the street.

Many scientists now recognise that this world exists even though they cannot see, measure or observe it. The only thing they can see is the effect created when the energy is manipulated. Much the same way as a scientist experimenting in the area of Quantum Physics measures the existence of sub-atomic particles by examining the effects those particles have on the natural world around them and decide that those particles probably exist, even though they cannot be seen, measured or observed. This mass that does not reflect light is referred to as ‘Dark Matter’. The energy that cannot be detected with existing equipment is referred to as ‘Dark Energy’. It’s there but they don’t know how to measure it. Dark Matter and Dark Energy make up approximately 95% of the universe but cannot be observed by science or proven to exist. It is believed that they exist because their effects can be measured or seen. It is the matter and energy that holds everything in their place.

It is with this in mind that we revisit the works of someone like H.P. Blavatsky (“ISIS Unveiled”, 1875) who has been widely regarded as being a crackpot and a spiritualist charlattan. In her first volume sub-titled ‘Science’, she explores the concept of the ‘ether’ as those forms of matter and energy that science cannot, will not, conceed exists because it is too challenging for many in the scientific community to accept as a possibility. To admit that a hidden invisible natural world exists that cannot be explained is way too challenging. So, a label is put on it so it can be classified to fit in to the scientific world view. It is called ‘supernatural’ or ‘paranormal’ so those phenomena can be excluded from the natural world. However,those phenomena are part of the natural world when they are not caused by people but are seen or perceived by people.

The Invisible Natural World

This invisible, immeasurable, undetectable world exists whether you choose to believe or not. If you want to see the possible future, look at the works of science fiction that exist. Science fiction writers are at the fore-front of scientific exploration through the use of their imagination. Without Jules Verne’s 19th century writing of his nuclear powered submarine in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” which certainly inspired the development of them in the 20th century.

Ask any child to tell you about ‘Dark Matter’ and ‘Dark Energy’. It is part of the storylines in ‘Pokemon’.

The world is full of subtle energy fields, spirits and hidden forces accessible by some and recognised by many. It is the magical world of myths, legends,  psychics, mediums, spiritual healers, paranormal and superstition. This world is real! It is arguably more real than the veneer of civilisation we have created to try and displace it.

As science progresses in its understanding of the natural world, we see advances in the use of these hidden energy fields like Quantum Locking. Quantum Locking occurs when a super-conductor is frozen with liquid nitrogen and can be placed within a magnetic field and will hold its position without any observable support. Appearing to ‘hang’ in mid-air supported by unseen forces that defy logic.

While I cannot on this site prove the existence of spirit entities and subtle energies that influence how we think and behave, anyone who is sensitive to those influences knows what I am talking about. And just because you haven’t experienced them does not mean they don’t exist. It means you haven’t recognised the influence it has on you and, therefore, haven’t experienced them. Maybe you would think differently if you open your mind to the possibility of their existence.

I have met many people who swear they have been visited by the dis-embodied spirit of their husband, wife, father, mother, grandparent or other significant person not long after their death. It may be a trick played by their grieving mind. But, what if it isn’t?

The plethora of intelligent people who use Alternative and Wholistic Medicine  in its many forms, as described by Richard Gerber in his book ‘Vibrational Medicine‘, when it is not subsidised by government funding ‘because it works’. While ‘Science’ requires proof of the effectiveness of such treatment systems, it rejects forms of evidence that does not meet its strict guidelines governing such evidence. Anecdotal evidence, stories told by people who have experience some change or benefit from these complementary techniques, is not acceptable evidence according to rigid thinking scientific mind. The Platonian myth that only rational, logical argument is ‘true knowledge’ is blatantly false and is probably the source of the elitist view that many scientists seem to have about science’s place in the world.

The knowledge of the Ancients is not to be ignored. Any group of people who could build pyramids and other structures that cannot be constructed using modern equipment and building techniques should not be ignored. The Ancients worked in harmony with those hidden forces using techniques lost to the modern age.

The great science myth is that ‘if we can’t see, measure or observe it, it doesn’t exist’ or ‘if we can’t prove it, it doesn’t exist’! It’s sort of like standing on a railway track with your back to the oncoming locomotive saying ‘If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist!’

“… the way in which certain results of quantum mechanics are presented seems to signal the return to a religious view of the world, as indicated by the break with a deterministic vision of natural phenomena. The ultimate essence of matter leaves space for the unforeseeable since quantum mechanics presents the results of its calculations by means of a mathematical language that expresses uncertain phenomena.” (‘Myth’: INTERS – Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science, edited by G. Tanzella-Nitti and A. Strumia, www.inters.org)

Original Spirituality: Out of Australia

Original Spirituality

What is the Original Spiritual belief system that has influenced all religious belief systems? There is a common thread within all religions worldwide, that of the existence of a God (supreme being) or Gods (lesser deities). That we have a soul or inner spiritual connection to the supreme being. What are the origins of a belief in a supreme being? Why are the stories from different cultures so similar?

The earliest monotheistic belief system recorded is Zoroasterism. Sometime around 6300BC, Zarathustra travelled away from his homeland, reportedly into the area now known as India, and studied the Rig-Veda and Gathras of the Hindu faith, as it is now known. What he studied was partly recorded and partly oral tradition. But where did that oral tradition about a supreme being come from?

In his own country, Persia, the people believed in many gods. They had a god for every occasion. They were the gods of the earth spirits, similar to the Wicca spirits, of the weather, trees, water, animals and elementals.

Zarathustra returned home to Persia and began teaching about the one supreme being, Ahura Mazda which in Persian means the ‘Lord of Wisdom’. The supreme being created all things from out of a void. Creating first the earth, then water and air and land. The supreme being was the source of all life.

The Zoroasterian teachings spread throughout the Middle East, Egypt and the Mediterranean, into Africa and the lower parts of Europe. By around 600BC, the Zoroasterian beliefs had been adopted by the Egyptians, was the basis for the Judaism and Islamic faiths and was accepted the Greek philosopher Aristotle as the foundation for his new science.

Could it be that all religious belief systems come from the one source!

But where did the origin of those teachings come from?

In the tradition of the ‘Dreamtime’ of the Aboriginal people of Australia, the oldest oral tradition of a supreme being responsible for the creation of this world has been taught for over 60,000 years. Passed down from generation to generation, the oral tradition of the ‘Dreaming’ has been proven to be incredibly accurate.

According to Evan and Steven Strong on their website, Forgotten Origin, the Aboriginal (original people) spirituality and teachings may be the source of all religious belief systems as it is the oldest recorded belief in a single supreme being who created the earth.egyptian glyphs

They have been able to demonstrate through archealogical finds from around the world and Mitochondrial DNA testing that Aboriginal travellers visited many parts of the world and were visited by people from other lands. For example, the Egyptian hieroglyphs found near Gosford in New South Wales. It is believed that two Egyptians visited the Gosford area approximately 4300 years ago for spiritual guidance, according to the local elders.

Mitochondrial DNA testing has revealed that Aboriginal DNA can be traced back to one of two sources of DNA variants over 400,000 years old. That seems to give credence to Wegener’s theory of Continental Drift where the super continent of Pangea broke in two and Gondwanaland drifted away. Two distinct DNA patterns on two continents. This massive landmass then broke up into Australia, Africa, Antartica, India and South America drifting into their current positions.

The elders of the Original People tell a very similar story. Myth or fact?

 

Zoroaster: The First Monotheist

zoroaster

Zoroaster: The Persian Monotheist

Zoroaster was a Persian monotheistic teacher who is reputed to be the first spiritual preacher who proposed that there is only one supreme being who he called Ahura Mazda. In the Persian language, Ahura Mazda is translated as meaning “mighty wisdom” or “lord of wisdom”.

According to some Greek historians, Zoroaster lived approximately 600BC However, under his Persian name, ‘Zarathustra”, he is recorded to have lived around 6000BC and has a large body of written works attributed to him.

The Persian Gathas attributed to Zarathushtra were written in a language similar to Sanskrit and the Rig-Vedas of Indian tradition.

In the Gathas, Zoroaster sees the human condition as the mental struggle between asa (truth) and druj (lie). The cardinal concept of asa – which is highly nuanced and only vaguely translatable – is at the foundation of all Zoroastrian doctrine, including that of Ahura Mazda (who is asa), creation (that is asa), existence (that is asa) and as the condition for Free Will, which is arguably Zoroaster’s greatest contribution to religious philosophy.

The purpose of humankind, like that of all other creation, is to sustain asa. For humankind, this occurs through active participation in life and the exercise of constructive thoughts, words and deeds.

Elements of Zoroastrian philosophy entered the West through their influence on Judaism and Middle Platonism and have been identified as one of the key early events in the development of philosophy. Among the classic Greek philosophers, Heraclitus is often referred to as inspired by Zoroaster’s thinking. Contemporary Zoroastrians often point to the similarities between Zoroaster’s philosophy and the ideas of Baruch Spinoza. Zoroasterism was a major religious and philosophical system of belief that spread across Persia into Egypt and the Indian continent.zoroaster

Zarathustra is regarded as the first source of knowledge on astrology and the magical arts. As a magi, he taught the healing practices and performed religious ceremonies.

The belief that Ahura Mazda was the supreme being who created all things, good and evil, soon devolved into a dualist belief that good and evil were seperated into two beings who were in conflict with each other.

According to mythical belief, Ahura Mazda was an alien god possibly from the Plieades along with Mithra and Anahita. They are depicted as arriving in ‘spaceship’ type craft to communicate with Zarathustra. He is also pictured travelling in a spaceship type craft travelling to meet with the god Ahura Mazda.

As such, Zarathustra’s (Zoroaster) philosophy could be the basis on which all monotheistic belief is based. And is regarded as being the source of most religious beliefs that exist on this planet into the modern age.

Urban myths and legends

urban myths

According to Wikipedia, an urban legend ‘is a form of modern folklore usually consisting of fictional stories, often with macabre elements, deeply rooted in local popular culture. These legends can be used for entertainment purposes, as well as semi-serious explanations for random events such as disappearances and strange objects.’

While these stories are entertaining, they usually do not have the key elements of the traditional myth or are about a legendary character. They also do not have the benefit of inner moral value or lessons needed to assist the philosopher (lover of wisdom) in their quest for truth.

They usually focus on a hapless victim of a specific, or vague, threat and is used to create fear or trepidation in the audience.

Urban myths also have a secondary effect, whether by design (if you believe conspiracy theorists) or not. They devalue the words ‘myth’ and ‘legend’.

The stories in Australia of ‘drop bears’ is used by locals to create fear in the minds of gullible tourist that koalas fall from the trees with the intent of attacking foreigners. Or, the tales of ‘yowies’ that live near watering holes and creeks, that take small children and animals and devours them. Along with the stories of ‘blowflies’ that can carry off sheep, white-pointer sharks in the oceans, and kangaroos hopping down the main streets of Sydney and Melbourne.

The effect in the minds of the general public is that a myth or legend is, therefore, based on erroneous information and is false.mythbusters

The television show ‘Mythbusters’ is usually about ‘busting’, or exposing the truth about the myth. They are very effective in using a scientific approach to testing the validity of the science behind the myth.

However, using a scientific method to examine a myth goes against what a myth is supposed to be. A myth does not contain historically accurate information. It is the hidden truth or wisdom contained within the myth that must be understood and brings with it a spiritual truth.

The traditional myth about a legendary character is so much more than a tale to entertain or frighten.

Myth: historical fact or spiritual guidance

“As to the myths, Plato declares … that they were the vehicles of great truths well worth the seeking.”  H.P. Blavatsky, 1877. ‘Isis Unveiled’

plato
Plato

Are myths a description of historical fact or spiritual guidance for us to achieve a state of enlightened living? Or, are they tales to keep us amused and philosophers stimulated with mental exercise?

Myth is an immensely complex subject, and often it is difficult to define except in opposition to other terms. Perhaps an oversimplification: mythology is traditional knowledge associated with ritual or social customs from a particular social group. In this way, myth is related to religious or spiritual elements, and a mythic story contains supernatural beings, deities, and spiritual powers.

Traditional knowledge is passed down by previous generations and can take the form of myth. If myth is accepted as traditional knowledge, it is an inherited set of ideas; and as traditional knowledge is not limited to any format, myth can apply to musical elements, rituals, chants, aphorism, epics, short stories, blessings, charms, spells, and so on.

dragonweb

The important distinction for myth is, generally speaking, the connection of spirituality and religion. A mythic dragon will appear alongside of deities, heroes, or monsters, and the myth will likely relate to a religious element, such as an icon, story, or blessing.

These myths passed from generation to generation has been an effective way to pass tribal wisdom to each new generation. Within the story-line of the myth is a moral value hidden within to stimulate discussion or further enquiry into deeper levels of understanding.

All myths have a similar structure;

  • Separation or departure
  • Initiation or death
  • Return or rebirth

In all myths, the ‘heroes journey’  results in the hero returning transformed or changed in some fundamental way that causes them to gain special powers or recognition of their divinity.

heroes journey
The hero’s journey

They are often stories about heroes as legendary characters involved in some struggle with a god, person or creature that is opposing them in some way. So they are stories about conflict and eventual victory. They often involve a quest on behalf of some benefit to their community, clan or social good.

The hero needs to face challenges or fears that he uses to develop skills that he or she can use at the next level of challenge. Each new skill helps the hero recognise a new level of their divine nature.

As H. P Blavatsky notes, it is a statement about the inherent divinity that exists in us all that we reach towards as a guide to our behaviour. They are an example for us to aspire to.