The topic of mental health and its relationship with spirituality is quite a sticky wicket. Just the fact that so much of spiritual belief and practice depends upon intensely personal and subjective thoughts and experiences makes it hard to draw a line between mental “illness” and the vivid spiritual experience. Throw in the dogma attached to both the psychiatric/psychological fields and the sometimes just-as-rigid “New Age” movement, and you’ve got a can of worms that’s not easy to untangle.
I’m aware of therapists and psychologists who won’t even discuss spirituality because they equate it with religion. It’s startling to find such close-mindedness in a profession that perforce requires a whole bunch of winging it to be effective. But even the less rigid psychologists who recognize the value of some kind of spiritual belief as a part of a healthy ego, generally refrain from introducing it into the therapeutic program in favor of the safety of what they were taught in school; and when they do, it’s usually centered around the mainstream notion of relying on a Higher Power outside of the patient’s influence, to be supplicated for help.
We also see some spiritual ”teachers”, intuitives and psychics assert that there’s no such thing as mental illness; that the subjective reality of a person is completely valid and not to be questioned. They seem to feel that one who is experiencing a “different” reality than the one commonly accepted should be left alone…that introducing medication or other therapies is meddling with that person’s authentic spiritual experience. They are invariably the ones who put huge stock in channeling extra-physical beings, seeing spirits and visions, and all the trappings of the occult and non-ordinary. When I see one of them tell a person who is, say, hearing voices to not listen to their doctors and family, but to embrace the phenomena as a spiritual “gift”…well, frankly I sometimes have an urge to tear my (or their) hair out. Based upon one blog comment or forum post, they’re making a diagnosis that could literally mean life or death. Not smart. Not thoughtful or prudent. Not anything good at all.
In these cases, they may or may not know that they’re totally feeding into the illness that may be present. The thing about what we might call the “negatively altered mental state” that makes it different from all other illness, and makes it so insidious, is that it cannot recognize itself. If you have a bad heart, you can understand that and make a choice whether to do something about it or not. But if you’re psychotic, that is your only point of reference. Your reality is what it is…you know what you know, and you know it just as surely as anyone else knows their own reality. Thus, having one who is a supposed authority (the psychic or intuitive) tell you exactly what you want to hear (namely, that there’s nothing wrong with you) puts the last nail in the coffin of sanity. Thus, through the power of affirmation, a possibly well-meaning numbskull helps to reinforce the illness and possibly affect the course of a person’s life for years to come.
All that said, there is for every physical/mental illness or malady a reflection in our spiritual aspect. As it is above, so it is below (and vice-versa). If we’re sick in the body, there’s usually also something wrong in our mind, our emotions, and yes…in our soul. In my training, my practice, my intuitive insights and in my observations, I’m quite sure that mental illness more often than not has roots in the higher dimensions…and the “vice-versa” part is that it can be rooted in the physical and have an effect on those higher dimensions of our psyche. For instance, mental abilities can be affected by head trauma, which obviously is going to affect our emotional aspects, and I dare say our ability to evolve spiritually since we have lost some of the ability to consciously learn and act. That would be a case of the physical dimension having an effect on the spiritual dimension.
Going the other way…from spiritual-level damage to physical/mental…is, of course, quite an esoteric topic. All I can do is to relate my observations and conjectures.
Firstly, in the interest of openness, I will say that I have several family members who have been seriously mentally ill. One is fine now; the other is recovering. At any rate, I think that that has given me a unique point of view since I have been intimate witness to not only the life-disrupting aspects of the thing; but I have spent much time thinking about and researching remedies for it.
One should never, ever rely solely upon any kind of psychic or spiritual remedy for serious mental illness. The kind of clearing work that I do, for example, is based upon the conscious participation of the patient or client. A person who lacks the capability to think clearly has, to some extent, lost not only a frame of reference…they’ve also lost a good portion of their free will. Indeed, exposure to the kind of esoteric practices common to many healing modalities could be destructive for these people, simply serving to reinforce their idea that “this” reality is not real at all.
In my healing modality, one common cause of serious mental disruption is the loss of soul facets (or “fragments”). In a nutshell, particular and specific parts of the soul are missing…the ability to interact socially, the sense of reality, or the ability to be creative or to love. Often, several of these aspects can be missing at the same time. And it’s not as though these parts of the individual can be “taught” or “therapied” back into existence…they’re simply gone. Unavailable. In some cases these essential personality fragments can be recovered. But it’s extremely difficult.
A somewhat less problematic situation occurs when there’s an attachment. This can be an actual entity, or a non-intelligent “psychic organism”. They are all rather equivalent to ethereal bacteria or viruses…foreign bodies that don’t belong where they are. They can also be thought of as neuroses on the mental level, which may make them easier to swallow for traditional thinkers. These can be extracted fairly easily if a person is capable of understanding what’s going on, and set the intention to get rid of them. But in the midst of full-blown psychosis, the patient is just as likely to want them to stay since they’ve attained so much control that there is no longer any distinction between person and foreign body. It is possible for these entities to be the source of “voices”…but that is certainly not to be assumed without serious investigation. Again, things can be done, but it’s still very difficult.
Yet another source of mental distress can come from open “portalways” to past-life experiences. We live in the physical under a veil that is in place for a reason. Imagine experiencing a hundred lifetimes at once, and it’s easy to see how a psychotic person would have trouble dealing with daily life. And access to certain experiences within those lives could obviously be bothersome; having vivid memories of trauma like being murdered, executed, or of war experiences with no filter in place is bound to produce difficulty.
In Part Two, I’ll address some specific cases and discuss the possible root causes and why a soul might choose to incarnate into a life of infirmity and low level functioning.