Are You Spiritual Or Psychotic? The Fine Line Between Prophetic and Crazy
Tuesday June 22, 2010
Categories: Inspiration and Prayer, Mental Health
In his bestselling book, "Strong at the Broken Places," Richard Cohen profiles, among five persons living with chronic illness, mental health advocate Larry Fricks. He writes:
Larry had been to hell and back and now his spirit soared. "Religion is for people who fear hell," Larry told me. "Spirituality is for those who have been there." Life to Larry is not about a church but belief in the human spirit. "Richard, that spirit is why I get up each day." For him, doctors did not understand this dimension.
"Psychiatry tried to beat it out of me, to convince me this was just a symptom of my disease, a psychiatric disorder"
"And that was not the whole story?"
"No. Even in sickness, I see a spiritual realm that to me is real."
Earlier Cohen writes, "Doctors force patients into non-psychotic behavior with such zealotry that they dismiss too many possibly positive and healthy dimensions of the patient's mind and soul. They do not tolerate eccentricity or unconventional views. Sometimes a fine line separates psychosis and off-center belief."
A very fine line, indeed.
Especially for a religious person like me who derives 85 percent of her will power and strength from a tight bond with the grandfatherly-type dude in the sky, aka God.
Am I psychotic or spiritual?
One of the first psychiatrists I saw would vote psychotic. As I rattled off a few of my thoughts--most of which pertained to God's unique calling for me, and the ways he had revealed his message through signs and symbols throughout my day--she told me I was making connections where none existed and much of my spiritual jabber was a symptom of hypomania.
It may have been.
I mean, I recall thinking almost everything that happened to me in my day was a sign from God. The fortune cookie I got (Since when did those things turn negative??? I'm so not going to that Chinese place again) during this psychic phase read: "You are in over your head. It's time to seek professional help."
So I went a little give-me-a-sign-and-please-create-my-destiny-because-I-haven't-a-clue-as-to-where-I'm-going crazy. But I'm not about to throw out Baby Jesus with the holy bath water, either, because I do believe, as loony as this sounds, that God has commissioned me with a purpose that He communicates through people, places, things, and randomly mean fortune cookies. I try to be as receptive as possible to picking up on those clues.
"It's beyond conceited that you would think God would care about your small decisions throughout the day," a friend argued the other day.
Fine. Call me arrogant. But how do I explain all the times everything happened in perfect synchronicity and I have felt an overwhelming sense of peace, tinged with a sacredness I couldn't explain?
When blogger Kevin Williams asked his psychologist what the difference was between being mentally ill and being prophetic, the head expert said: "People who hear voices and see things that aren't there can be classified into two groups. The first group are people who cannot cope with these voices and are called mentally ill. The second group are people who can cope with the voices and are called psychic. It is my personal belief that being psychic and being psychotic are the same thing depending upon how you cope with it. Society in general regards people who talk to God as holy. But society in general regards people whom God talks to as insane."
Kevin goes on to explain the gift of our madness:
Manic depression has been called a brilliant madness because of the expansive ideas that psychosis can create. In days of old, people recognized how mental illness can even be a gift. Socrates once declared, "Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness, provided the madness is given us by divine gift." Plato referred to insanity as: "a divine gift and the source of the chief blessings granted to men."
Native American Indians believed that their voice hearers revealed messages that had great spiritual significance. The idea of the mad scientist can probably be traced to the grandiose thoughts that intelligent mentally ill people can have. John Nash, a lifetime schizophrenic, received the Nobel Laureate in Economics and his life was portrayed in the movie A Beautiful Mind. Other famous mentally ill people are: Beethoven, Tolstoy, Van Gogh, Keats, Hemingway, Dickens, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Emerson, and Woolf, to name just a few.
Frankly, I'm for anything that gives a person hope. If a mentally-ill mom thinks the Creator is communicating with her through the shape of her daughter's Girl Scout cookies, then I say, "Go for it. Stock up on the Thin Mints, Trefoils, Samoas, and Tagalongs and decode the sweet messages."
Because, as Larry Frick tells Richard at the end of the interview: "Hope is to the soul what oxygen is to the body."
Illustration by Anya Getter.
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Filed Under: manic-depression, prophecy, psychic, psychosis, psychotic, spirituality
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June 23, 2010 9:37 AM
I believe we need to surrender our will to a higher power which I choose to call God. On a daily basis I believe we are lead by this higher power. I prayer for wisdom ,guidance and the courage to act on theses gifts of the holy spirit. I believe when a decision needs to be made or we need some insight we should pause and ask for direction. This direction could be considered a sign. I also believe in mindful thinking for direction. Also, remember there are no coincidences.
June 23, 2010 10:01 AM
Thanks, Therese, for this post. I don't know how many times I've been called crazy, in fun or otherwise, for being an out of the box, unconventional thinker. I think society has a standard for normal and those of us who live outside that MUST be crazy. How else can they explain how we actually think for ourselves? But how crazy is it to restrict ourselves to conventional thinking and never explore new phases and ideas. Most of what we would call progress in the world has started with a crazy idea.
June 23, 2010 9:51 PM
Anyone who believes something without objective, scientific proof is superstitious. Faith is an irrational belief and all who claim an irrational belif are mentally ill. I don't even know what one means by spirituality, but if what the author describes is the definition, one who is spiritual is mentally ill. There are no signs in life. There is no god, devil, angels, vampires, witches, gobblins, Jesus, Moses, Heaven or hell. Just matter and energy without beginning or end. There is no good or evil, just actions with no meaning. When you die you simply cease to exist and will never exist again. The end. No deep meaning. No afterlife. Just death with no meaning. Grow up and face reality. Living a delusion is for cowards.
June 23, 2010 10:56 PM
Dear Mary Ann,
Thank you for your post. It seems that we have similar, although opposite experiences.
I walked the Pagan Path for 12 years. At one point I was asked by a native American reader why I didn't follow the "red road." I told him it was because I didn't have enough blood (only 1/16). He said that I had more than enough spirit, so I walked it in spirit.
While I was worshipping creation I was happy. However, it wasn't until I gave my life to the Creator that I found fullness of joy and peace that passes understanding. Once I stopped trying to create my own reality and let Him fix my broken reality, joy and peace became sustainable.
I had fought bi-polar disorder all of my life. When I gave my life to Jesus Christ, He healed me. I have never fought it again (10 years later).
If I may ask a question in love: If you are right and I am wrong, what will be my outcome? At worst, I will have to live this life again. If Christians are right, what will be your outcome? Are you prepared for that possibility?
I'm truly not trying to be ugly. I am quite sincere. I have simply found something so monumentally awesome that I want to share it with everyone! It's like if I found the secret to winning the lottery. I'd want to share it with everyone.
May I ask one last question? In your post you say that you are a recovering Christian. Is it possible that for you to be able to say that, perhaps maybe you never were? There is a difference between going to church and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It's possible you were, I don't know you. I'm just saying it's a possibility. I've just never known anyone who did have a genuine personal relationship with Jesus Christ to then turn away.
Love to you and all here,
June 24, 2010 1:19 AM
Your blog has so mirrored my own realizations about myself in the last few weeks. Thank you.
And who does your artwork. It really is stupendous.
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