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Psychology of So-called ‘Schizophrenia’ as a Self-healing Process

The psychiatric profession has created one of the great myths of our time by
describing so-called ‘schizophrenia’ as a nonspecific disease or ‘mental illness’.
It was German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin (1856-1926) who believed that
this supposedly devastating condition was a result of irreversible mental
deterioration and so he gave it the name 'dementia praecox’, Latin for
‘prematurely out of one's mind'. It later became clear that the term was a
misnomer. In 1910 a new term was coined by the kind and humane Swiss psychiatrist
Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939), teacher of Carl Jung and professor of psychiatry at the
University of Zürich where he headed the famous Burghölzli Clinic. Bleuler coined
the term 'schizophrenia' for 'splitting of the mind' because the condition seemed
to involve a mental split between thought and emotion. The term is derived from
German 'schizophrenie' from Greek 'skhizein' meaning 'to split' and 'phren' of
unknown origin meaning 'heart or mind' so that ‘schizophrenia’ actually means
'broken soul' or 'broken heart’. There is still no universally accepted definition
of the term. Nevertheless it has been applied to various conditions including a
set of socially and culturally unacceptable thinking and behaviour patterns which
make it a model of ‘unwanted conduct’. As a result of people’s fear of the
unknown, the characteristic feaures of so-called ‘schizophrenia’…hallucinations,
bizarre speech etc… are often miscontrued as ‘symptoms’ which in fact are not
problems to be combatted but indications of a spontaneous healing effort by the
organism as a whole.

So-called ‘schizophrenia’ is not a a hopeless condition but a brilliant

condition which is the concern of psychology of that dimension of the human psyche
which is beyond the persona or 'ego' i.e. ‘transpersonal psychology’. In the
conceptual framework of transpersonal psychology schizophrenia or can be
understood as a self-healing process which involves dissolution and removal
of illusions and false beliefs which originate in the programming of social
conditioning. As a resut, the person formules aberrant thought complexes and these
prevent the person from making accurate evaluations of their social environment.
The incorrect evaluations lead to inappropriate decision-making and non-adaptive
social behaviour. The condition has usually been thought of as the concern of

Much needless suffering results from ignorance of the multidimensional nature

of the human personality or 'human psyche'. Insights into the workings of the
human psyche are revealed by combining Western scientific research with concepts
provided by Eastern psychologies (such as Buddhism) which are concerned with the
dimension of the human psyche which is beyond ego, the transpersoanal or spiritual
dimension. Complete development of human spirituality results in spiritual
awakening also known variously as 'individuation', 'self-realisation', 'self-
actualisation', 'spiritual renewal', 'spiritual rebirth’or ‘spiritual emergence’.

"In the most general terms, spiritual emergence can be defined as the movement of
an individual to a more expanded way of being that involves enhanced emotional and
psychosomatic health, greater freedom of personal choices, and a sense of deeper
connection with other people, nature and the cosmos. An important part of this
development is an increasing awareness of the spiritual dimension in one's life
and in the universal scheme of things. Spiritual development is an innate
evolutionary capacity of all human beings. It is a movement towards wholeness or
'holotropic state', the discovery of one's true potential." (Stanislav Grof)

Spiritual emergence is a gradual dynamic, fluid, naturally ordered and

integrated on-going process of personal evolution from the limited sense of self
or 'ego' and its egocentric perspective to greater maturity of the expanded sense
of self beyond ego, the ‘higher self’or 'Self'. Transcendance of the 'ego’ (‘ego-
transcendance’) allows for an inner sense of emotional liberation which expands,
purifies and sharpens the moral consciousness or ‘rational conscience’ thus
allowing for increased spiritual awareness and insight or 'intuition’ and this
allows for more accurate evaluation of changing social conditions… a clearer
perception of reality or ‘clarity’. Increased intuitive understanding of the
‘transpersonal perspective’ is based on a sense of the wisdom of compassion as a
function of appreciation for the divinity of humanness and the ultimate
connectedness or ‘unity’ of all things. This leads to the knowledge of one's true
nature or 'self-knowledge’ as the source of personal power or motivation for
productiveness, creativity and meaningful work. Feelings of self-empowerment lead
to the discovery of ideas and behaviours which are effective for social
Spiritual emergence takes place over a period of years and depends on
conditions of freedom for development of the person as a whole... 'personal
development' i.e. 'free education' or 'holistic education'. Holistic education is
education based on fundamental laws of nature and is free of dogmatic principles
cultural ideals. Complete human development is a function of ordered fulfillment
of biologically based motives or ‘human needs’. Human needs include both 'lower'
psychological needs for security and self-esteem - the 'ego needs' - and 'higher'
psychological needs as instinctive yearnings for unconditional love, truth,
beauty, justice etc. the spiritual needs or ‘metaneeds’. Motivation by the
metaneeds ('metamotivation’) allows for the discovery of one’s true potential as
a complete human being. It is completeness of moral or ‘spiritual’ development
which forms the basis of ‘creative intelligence’- the defining characteristic of
‘human nature’.

And what is human nature? Human nature can be defined in terms of the
universal moral values of humanness, the human social values which are required
for survival of the species as a social species. The human social values are
universal values of ‘justice’ as moral or social justice, 'knowledge' as
understanding, ‘peace’ as social responsibility, ‘wisdom’ as compassion or
lovingkindness…. Awareness of human values results in heightened intuition the
basis for social intelligence which is necessary for effective adaptation to the
complexities of changing social conditions i.e. social adaptability. Human
adaptability is a function of the social nature of the human organism as a social
organism with instincts for social cooperation and social harmony i.e. ‘social
instincts’. These must be cultivated in a process of development of moral
consciousness or ‘conscience’. Rational conscience is a product of moral or
'spiritual’ development which involves the preservation of the integrated
functioning of the personality and transformation of the self or 'enlightenment'
characteristic of ‘ego-transcendance’.

If in highly sensitive individuals the process of spiritual emergence is

blocked, they might be warned that their growth is in grave danger and that they
urgently need to make
adjustments essential for effective adaptation. The result is a crisis involving
powerful spontaneous psychic overload derived from the chaotic and uncontrollable
surfacing of subconsious material to the
conscious level of awareness. The result is intense psychological and spiritual
growth of uncontrolled spiritual emergence. The transformation process of
spiritual emergence can be so dramatic as to reach a
point of crisis or emergency and is variously known as transpersonal experience,
transpersonal crisis, transformational crisis, psycho-spiritual
transformation, psycho-spiritual crisis, spiritual journey, hero's
journey, dark night of the soul, spiritual opening, psychicopening, psychic
awakening, spiritual awakening, enlightenment, kundalini awakening, kundalini
process, kundalini crisis, shamanic initiation, shamanic
crisis, psychotic visionary episode, ego death, ego loss, alchemical process,
positive disintegration, post traumatic stress disorder with psychotic features,
night sea journey, psychosis, shamanism,
mysticism, gnosis, inner apocalypse, or ‘spiritual emergency’ - a term coined by
psychiatrist Dr. Stanislav Grof, founder and president of the International
Transpersonal Association..

Spiritual emergency represents an aspect of the human condition and a

personal 'story' involving a temporary but natural self-organising process of
transformation and renewal which enables the person to readapt effectively to
their social environment. In a spiritual emergency, the person instinctively
surrenders to a spontaneous organismic process involving the temporary separation
of thought and emotion which is necessary for the reassessment of thinking
patterns without having to deal with the emotional implications. The person
undergoes a series of varying stages or episodes’ which are characterised by
spontaneous alternative consciousness states… non-ordinary states of consciousness
or ‘realities' which make it possible for unconscious strong emotionally charged
material to emerge into consciousness. The person experiences unbearably
distressing psychic overload involving chaotic and overwhelming sensory
experiences which can be frightening and confusing because they appear to be out
of context with everyday ‘consensus reality’. As a result they are misunderstood
and discredited as being pathological whereas in fact they offer invaluable
opportunities for personal growth..

Spiritual emergency depends for its successful outcome on proper respect

understanding, encouragement and support. It should be allowed to complete itself
because of its potential for bringing about positive transformation of the person
from an ego based consciousness of the ‘conditioned self’ to a higher
consciousness state of the ‘authentic self’ or ‘Self’ which is more effective for
social adaptability. It is the apparently bizarre speech and behaviour patterns
which reveal the passage from lower to higher consciousness states. The person
eventually learns to grow beyond fear based ego-consciousness, beyond cultural
conditioning and the expectations of others to a higher consciousness state and
the new level of awareness characteristic of the transpersonal perspective of the
transpersonal, moral or ‘spiritual’ dimension of human nature i.e. ‘ego-