A Different View of Mental Illness

How disconnected are we “civilized” Westerners from our spiritual self? Is there really such a thing as the spiritual world or a realm of the spirits? How effective are our conventional methods of treating mental disorders? Are they really disorders or illnesses, i.e. states and symptoms we need to get rid of?

The article What a Shaman Sees in A Mental Hospital
several excerpts of which I quoted below, sheds a different light on mental health.

Thank you, Ben Naga  http://bennaga.wordpress.com/, for sharing this very interesting article (and website) with me.


 In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer”, explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.


Mental disorders, behavioral disorders of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field,” says Dr. Somé.  These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm.


… we in the West are not trained in how to deal or even taught to acknowledge the existence of psychic phenomena, the spiritual world.  In fact, psychic abilities are denigrated.  When energies from the spiritual world emerge in a Western psyche, that individual is completely unequipped to integrate them or even recognize what is happening.  The result can be terrifying.  Without the proper context for and assistance in dealing with the breakthrough from another level of reality, for all practical purposes, the person is insane.  Heavy dosing with anti-psychotic drugs compounds the problem and prevents the integration that could lead to soul development and growth in the individual who has received these energies.


Alex:  Crazy in the USA, Healer in Africa

To test his belief that the shamanic view of mental illness holds true in the Western world as well as in indigenous cultures, Dr. Somé took a mental patient back to Africa with him, to his village.  “I was prompted by my own curiosity to find out whether there’s truth in the universality that mental illness could be connected with an alignment with a being from another world,” says Dr. Somé.

Alex was an 18-year-old American who had suffered a psychotic break when he was 14.  He had hallucinations, was suicidal, and went through cycles of dangerously severe depression.  He was in a mental hospital and had been given a lot of drugs, but nothing was helping.  “The parents had done everything–unsuccessfully,” says Dr. Somé.  “They didn’t know what else to do.”

With their permission, Dr. Somé took their son to Africa.  “After eight months there, Alex had become quite normal…





  1. Very interesting thoughts– I was introduced to ideas much like this during my stay at The Icarus Project. I’d provide a link but I’m not sure what your comment moderation policy is.


  2. so,so interesting. truly i was musing the other day about how what if it flip flopped and to have Schizophrenia became a highly sought after luxury… not that different than when people take LSD and other hallucinogens… what if they became species of higher level of evolved conscious?
    here we are… in 2014 medicated to make it stop… what if in 3014 they are medicating to create it…
    i mean truthfully – how many things from our past do we NOW look back on and shake our heads and roll our eyes at… there was a time where we thought the world was flat and slavery was fine, and there were beings transcended into stars making the constellations…
    what from our society today that we are so hell bent on judging one way will our successors look back and roll their eyes to…

    certainly begs the question;

    wonderful, thought-provoking piece


    1. Hi MissFit and sorry for replying only now… yes, the article is definitely thought-provoking. Yet, from what I know about people with schizophrenia or other mentally complex states is that they have great problems coping with the environment and living a stable and satisfying life because their “disorder” causes great emotional and mental instability and often a completely disconnected view of the surrounding or reality. Of course our fast-paced world and the demanding western lifestyle are a huge stress factor and giving pills to “mentally disturbed” people seems like the easiest way to get them “under control”. In many cases the medication really does help them but I think it should be combined with intense psychotherapy, together with family and friends, and activities that involve nature and creativity. I know many people with a psychiatric problem who have gotten used to just taking their pills, but otherwise being totally inactive and lacking motivation to do anything. This is, in part, a side effect of the pills but also of the fact that our society has been turning its back on these people, something which fortunately is slowly beginning to change. Here in Israel, as in most of the western world I assume, mental health care is gradually being integrated into the services i.e. clinics,hospitals etc.of regular health care, so as to reduce stigma and segregation. Thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙂


  3. Heila thanks. The article is right on the fundamental issue of what is wrong with Western Societies and their people. There is a loss of connection with spirit. Hence, all the violence. A sad commentary on “modern-man”.

    In truth, the Mental Health profession as it is practiced is ……

    well CRAZY!

    And Ben the link worked for me. Liked your work.


    1. Dear Tubularsock,
      sorry for replying only now… so true, we have lost our connection to our inner self. I don’t see myself as a spiritual person but I do know that when I meditate, I am able to connect to something way beyond our stressful bustle and rush for money and material stuff. That’s why I believe that helping people who are mentally or emotionally challenged and suffering, needs to involve the intense contact with nature and engagement in creativity and physical activity. See also my reply to Miss Fit’s comment above. Thanks for commenting. BTW, I wanted to reply in depth to your posts on Israel but for the time being, I have decided to refrain because I feel that the blogosphere is not the right place for political discussions… 🙂


    2. Dear Tubularsock,

      thanks for your comment. I just replied and I’m not sure whether you received an according notification, therefore these lines. 🙂


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