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Where have all the prophets gone? (Part One) 06/18/2012

Posted by ALT in Philosophy/Spirituality.
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I haven’t talked about spirituality much here.  In some ways, that’s a glaring omission, given that this blog is concerned mainly with a critique and rethinking of mainstream psychiatry, literally, “soul healing.”  The big critique being mainstream psychiatry’s denial of the soul, its insistence on treating only the bodies and the brains, forgetting the spirit that brings them to life.

I’ve avoided it because, well, I didn’t want to offend.  Most people (myself most definitely included) are allergic to proselytization — run at the first hint of it.

So, fair warning: I’m going to start talking about spirituality.  I may even talk about some of my spiritual beliefs.  But with the important caveat that while this evolving faith seems to be true for me, something entirely different may be true for you.  And I respect that.

A spiritual battle

I view the struggle for mental rights and freedoms as a battle to secure for the discerning and self-actualizing part of a human being – “soul,” if you will – the right to exist, fully and dynamically.  From this perspective, it’s almost inappropriate to approach questions of wellness, of being-in-the-world, from an entirely clinical, secular point of view, because these issues are inextricably tied up with matters of the heart (the seat of spiritual insight). 

Again, we’re not robots, not just bodies with a helping of brains on top – there’s a spirit in there that makes us alive!  With that spirit we quickly transcend the bare chemical fact of our existence.  Carbon atoms bonded to other carbon atoms?  That is only the beginning; truly, we are much, much more!

So a person in emotional distress needs more than a chemical intervention, a pharmaceutical or a “natural” vitamin for the body (though a vitamin probably wouldn’t hurt…).  This person needs spiritual comfort and guidance.  Mind, body, and spirit – I believe that healing requires a balance of all three. 

This battle for mental rights and freedoms is fought on several levels: we say forced treatment is a violation of a citizen’s rights (body) and a thinking individual’s free will (mind).  But we must not forget the spiritual ramifications – to be restrained, secluded, unwillingly drugged or shocked, is it not a violation of the living spirit?

Anne Woodlen, whose writing I greatly admire, states it starkly:

American medicine treats the body with drugs until it kills the soul.  It’s rather like a root canal:  the tooth is left in place but the nerve is taken out… More and more people are crying out in spiritual pain, and their cries are being silenced with drugs… You call this caring—this business of silencing the pain of wounded spirits?

–  Anne C. Woodlen, “Mind, Spirit, or Soul” [emphasis added]

We live in a society where every spirit, every human being, is systematically assailed.  No one escapes entirely.  How did this come to pass? 

How did we, as a society, come to be so very, very sick? 

A related question

I grew up attending Baptist church services every Sunday.  In sermons, and in conversations, I would often hear a question that seemed to trouble whoever asked it, and it troubled me, too:

Where have all the prophets gone? 

Why doesn’t God send us messengers anymore?

The Old Testament is full of prophets, visionaries, men who saw God, talked with God.  If a society was on the path to ruin and evil, God sent someone with a message, a mandate, to make things right.  These were real, undeniable miracles, and they happened all the time!

This stuff would be big news, today, right?  You just don’t miss a man proclaiming the word of the LORD and then ascending to heaven in a chariot of fire.

Ultimately, I learned to accept that for some mysterious reason, God doesn’t do big, obviously miraculous stuff like that anymore.  He answers prayers and works on the small-scale, individual level – but sending messengers with miraculous visionary and prophetic powers to lead a community back to righteousness?  That’s a thing of the past; it just doesn’t happen like that anymore.  This answer to the question never did sit quite right with me, but it was the best I had.

Until I revisited the church of my childhood a few weeks ago after a long absence, and a resoundingly powerful answer, one that has been building for a while, finally burst into being in my consciousness.  There are still spiritual messengers that come to us with a vision of healing, societal change – but they’re silenced.  Routinely, as a matter of course.  They MUST not be allowed to speak.

This “business of silencing the pain of wounded spirits” and the quelling of revolutionary visions for community-wide healing are one and the same.  The practice of biopsychiatry encompasses them both.

I repeat: it is a spiritual battle.

(to be continued…)

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1. Marie - 06/18/2012

After one loses someone close to them due to cancer or other unexpected illness where physical changing occurs before your eyes for months, where you have stayed strong and did all that was necessary though the hardest thing you ever had to do….and that person you cared for, had a near death experience but returned at one point, to speak with incredible spiritual energy —- high energy and loving thoughts conveyed (though physically weighing very little), well, it changes you. Pure and simple. Spiritual growth anew ~~~ Then, when in bereavement, you speak of love being needed more in the world and even tell people more readily “I love you” ~~~ It SCARES them !! It is still unbelievable to me that talking about LOVE scares people !! So, then they say ~~ uh oh, psychotic, better get out the prescription pad !! One can only wonder how many hundreds of wonderful, gentle, people have been misdiagnosed and disrespected within the mental UNhealth system !! //

ALT - 06/19/2012

I had a close friend whose husband fought a long battle with prostate cancer. Their love was an amazing thing to behold. A few days before his death (which they were prepared for), her sister, a social worker, recommended she go on anti-depressants “proactively” to help her deal with the grief that would come with his passing.

My friend, a positive and uplifted person, soon after starting the meds, soon after his death, found herself having suicidal thoughts for the first time in her life and was committed involuntarily to a psychiatric ward that houses the criminally insane of our city (she couldn’t afford anything else).

Her experiences there were unbelievably horrifying, traumatic. What brought her out the other side (when she easily could’ve been trapped for a long time in the system), was her love for him and a strong belief in her right to grieve for him in her own way, free from drugs and institutions.

Love is beautiful. It’s what our society’s institutions too often do to people who love, unconditionally and transcendentally, that’s scary.

2. committeeformoredanceparties - 06/19/2012

This is a very long comment that is actually a group of excerpts from one of many facebook and email threads that have been occurring on this topic. Thank you for bursting the bubble here.

“That is actually an area of profound interest to me. Less in the manner of being “interested” – as in, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and more…

Wow. Wow. Wow. 

Thank you for offering some of your background. I deeply respect people who have taken time living inquiry into spirit and idea, self and history. 

Two years ago, I began to understand some things and then I could not stop understanding. I am still learning to understand, but have managed quite a bit of significant reckoning in ways somewhat remarkable and affirming in my faith that the world does work like they said it does…as told in different story throughout time…all the same story, in different sound and from different landscape and, then, for different purpose. 

The eternal struggle, the seeking of equilibrium, evolution crafted between a dance of forces…some now quite unnatural, blasphemous even. The splitting of atoms? 

That defies any sanctity.

So, yes, please do keep talking. Please do know my name. Two years ago, I began asking for help in understanding. Sometimes I cried. I begged the sky and all that I knew of it. I knew there were people who understood. I knew it. There had to be. It’s all so simple and grand. How could people not know this? I tried to find someone to talk to me and to help me make sense of all the reckoning, but I didn’t find anybody particularly helpful, though some were kind. Perhaps the greatest kindness was just letting it unfold as it did, so I could learn what I needed to learn in my own way.

The world works. We are a part of it. 

I wrote about those who feel an irrepressible sense of stewardship in regard to the world. That perhaps, like ants and other colonial-social animals, we have strengths and attributes that promote survival of the species within their habitat. Would it not make sense that there would be those who were sensitive to disorder and who were naturally gifted in solving problems and in fixing things and who were endowed with a great propensity toward deeply feeling everything. We are alive, we are a species.

This all feels quite bold of me to discuss, here in “real time.” I have written many bold words, but they are cast out into the ethers and I do not know if or when they are read, or even by whom. This is different, I am speaking to people who understand, in their way, precisely what I am talking about and hallelujah in all languages for that. 

Ah, regarding the bloody death of modern fascism…I personally abide by nonviolence, which seems absurdist in the face of the atrocities that these institutions and complex-systems have committed. Really. It is absurd that they have not all been violently turned against by their own brutalized regiments and regimes.

Still, I’d like to have a few words with them. Try to speak reasonably with them about reasonable things, such as the fact that the ill will and wicked (dare I say evil?) gains of power that have taken place over the past 100, 200, 300, 400, 5,000 years are nothing in comparison to all that came before and are nothing in comparison to all that will be carried forth. Nothing. A blip. What they have done is in defiance of every rule ever written by man. Ever.
That is interesting that you were involved in psychiatry. I am becoming somewhat known as a vocal supporter of medical model psychiatry not existing. Meaning, I want medical model psychiatry to not exist anymore. I want a world without medical model psychiatry and the PsychoPharmaceutical Complex.
One of the sub-textual-but-quite-open facets that try to advocate awareness of the is the distinct possibly that people on particular “spectrums” – such as the schizophrenic spectrum and the autistic spectrum – may have a proclivity toward certain ways of experiencing the world that may result in such things as conscience, intelligence, analysis, compassion, integrity, perception, and a deep feeling of the world in a very real an measurable way. When who we are and what we orient toward conflicts with the constraints of the world or when we are harmed in ways that are deeply traumatizing and all harm is traumatizing in one way or another, that is what makes it harm…well, we react, we become stressed, we cannot function, we become ill. 

What becomes of the speakers when they cannot speak? What becomes of them when they try? What of the fixers? Critics will wave the eugenics/social darwinism card and they can put it right back down, cause it is what it is and if it keeps up, we’re fucked. Excuse my language…
Yes, I got a little hyper-verbose myself last night. That’s very self-affirmed of you to reckon with the possibility that you have, as a function of your unique humanity, a cast role in defeating the forces that are steering all this so poorly. Usually when people say such things, particularly if the have the misfortune to carry a psychiatric label, they are discounted as being psychotic or megalomaniac. Which is rubbish, as every saint or prophet in every story ever told, at some point felt a clear calling, a divine purpose. It’s all contextual. Of course, most saints and prophets weren’t exactly treated kindly as they bore the work they were handed. They were killed and then only hundreds of years later did the church decide that they were worthy of recognition for the knowledge they held and fought for. Here’s to all the saints and prophets, by any name, recognized or not… 

Maybe we should make a facebook page or respectable site to discuss all of this, the prescient webs?

There is a fellow in Canada who is running off the rails with his reckoning right now and probably hundreds of other voices in the wilderness. 

The role between madness and spirit is no joke. People are beginning to realize that. I’d really like to have a series of productive talks with the global interfaith community about this topic. It’s fairly important. 

Did you know that two domestic drone craft have crashed in the US within the past week? They are the least of worries. 

What do you suppose would happen if there were someone who spoke about all of this in a way that their voice was heard? What do you suppose that would take?

Oh, have you heard about the Vatican’s banking debacles? Shameful.

Enjoy your day in the wide, wide world. Yes, I am comforted knowing that this – – is not the end-all-be-all of our souls or existence. 
We do not get to live without Truth. We must reckon with it. We must tell it and we must nurture it. How we do that, however, takes many different forms. So, for example, we sing songs, we make art, we go out on limbs and we shake hands, we talk, we write letters. We identify the message and we find others who carry it and who speak it well and we do not stop voicing, we do not stop working. We will be rewarded…not in the accoutrements of notoriety that may likely come to some, those things are not reward but contextual resource of variable value. We are rewarded in the warmth of the knowledge that we are serving our purpose as it was handed to us by the mind and heart of all things true and eternal, by Nature and by God, All and The Same. We know when we are serving God by any name, because we feel it in our bones and in our minds. Love is not a delusion. Love is a current that was born with the world itself and which rose alongside it. It is a frequency and a field and particular arrangement of a few vastly simple variables. It is everywhere and it affects everything that is alive and electric. It is clarity and hope undistilled, it is golden. It is a feeling that is worth more than any fleeting tangible. 

We do not have to be loud, but we cannot be quiet. 

In Solidarity and Spirit. Thanks for posting your realization.

3. Rossa Forbes - 06/19/2012

ALT – I have raised this question several times in my blog, and even gone after the Church on that one. Why, the prophets are all around us – they are called schizophrenics. Seems to me the Church, rather than helping the mentally ill into subsidized housing, should be helping them to see the value of their experience. Here’s a link to some of my older posts on this subject.



annecwoodlen - 06/19/2012

It is my understanding that schizophrenia results from trauma, and that the unusual utterances of a person with schizophrenia are his symbolic way of trying to tell what happened to him. Just because it’s crazy-talk doesn’t mean it came from God.

4. annecwoodlen - 06/19/2012

Ah, ALT, you have finally come home to spiritual consciousness. You have read widely in psychology, now how about balancing that with reading in spirituality? Go back to the source documents—Hinduism’s Bhagavad Gita, anything Thich Nhat Hanh wrote about Buddhism, the Wiccan Bible, Holy Bible, and Holy Koran. Go to the source documents and read them completely. You will be surprised.
And how can you say there are no prophets? For example, have you not watched Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech? The fiery chariots may be gone but the prophets are still here—only not listened to. They are not silenced; they are ignored. Who can hear them above the noise of 24-hour CNN, walking with music plugged into your ears, and texting while driving?
Learn to be silent, then you will hear.

5. Marie - 06/19/2012

The above sharing which made reference to someone advising another to “proactively” begin taking medication while during ‘anticipatory grief ‘ is just bizarre. WHY are so many hell-bent on wanting to turn off people’s feelings ??! Long ago Celtic music could match any human emotion that arose. It was matching, that is now used in music therapy ~~~ called the ISO Principle…. then music therapy gradually uses “entrainment” to ‘guide’ a change in someone’s emotions which eventually leads to a different vibrational level ~~~ what some would refer to as more ‘upbeat’ or ‘happy’… All of this is successful WITHOUT drugs called medication. Alternatives of poetry writing, artwork and music over all is ever-important to quality of life. I told a psychiatrist “I will always believe that grieving is NOT mental illness”. She looked down at the floor and said quietly “Cry it out, huh?” I responded immediately “Yes!” She herself had been a widow, but had gone on to remarry and give birth to twins. She was younger than I. My point being, that even women psychiatrists who know better, play the game and line their pockets with $$$ from the labeling of other women ! Grieving is a process and it can be a beautiful, spiritual process if the psychiatric realm would honor it and the people experiencing it, never, ever forcing one into a restrictive, cold environment and forcing drugs! Music is needed, the out-of-doors, family NOT being encouraged to treat another family member as if something is wrong with them because they feel things deeply BUT encouraged instead to LOVE and naturally include that member into family meals moreso (as in other cultures), encourage yoga, swimming…AND NOT putting someone on disability which steals credibility, steals careers AND totally places financial limitations on one’s entire future…//

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