This post is going to be different from what you may have expected. Every time I’ve tried to find references on the topic online, all I find are bloated text books about schizophrenia. But that’s not what you are going to find here. I’ve had far more success finding the type of schizophrenia books we might actually enjoy reading secondarily while going through some of the most important spiritual and psychological writings according to the mystic community.
My aim here, then, is to guide you to some of the lesser known books on schizophrenia, because they aren’t outright marketed as such, but are completely relevant and claim to be so. So without spending too much time justifying my choices, I’ll just list them below and let you read my summaries about them and decide if you’d enjoy them or not!
These are among my favorites. I will add more as time goes on once I resort through my library and find more books to buy and read! Click the images or titles to learn more about them at Amazon.
This book is the culmination of much of Stanislav Grof’s research over the many years, involving psychedelic therapy (which mimics the symptoms of schizophrenia in many people) and through his own discovery of Holotropic Breathwork. Through controlled hyperventilation and exposure to emotive music, all of the experiences of the schizophrenic may be experienced. Grof has guided countless numbers of people through these experiences and has categorized them all very scientifically. He focuses on the mythological aspects of the experiences, and what they mean for the individual having them, symbolically. From experiences of becoming microscopic, nuclear, and even quantum processes, to the expansion of the self to cosmic and universal proportions, he has seen it and worked with it all. He speaks of contact with external and independent entities of all sorts, with identifying the self with important historical figures, and more. The focus on integration and understanding the symbolism makes this book sit at the absolute top of my list!
San Juan De La Cruz, or as he is more famously known as St. John of the Cross, composed a series of poems called the Ascent of Mt. Carmel. Among these, the most important with the largest impact for the mystic, spiritual aspirant, and person living with schizophrenia is called “The Dark Night of the Soul.” It speaks of the most ‘far out’ moments, right before experiencing a form of atonement or unification with ‘what is.’ It is considered one of the high signposts of spiritual growth and can be misconstrued as negative as it involves the final stripping away of some of the final things our ego holds on to. It is a period of absolute aloneness, separated from oneself, one’s desires, the divine, and the world. It is the feeling of being totally abandoned even by the one thing that wouldn’t do so. And it serves a purpose. This books sheds a lot of insight into the spiritual dimensions of schizophrenia. Check it out if you are into that sort of thing!
This book, written by John Weir Perry, did much for the world of schizophrenics. It focused on schizophrenia from a Jungian psychoanalytical perspective, treating the visions and hallucinations as archetypal and symbolic, rather than delusional. From this angle, the visionary experiences are not meaningless but are communications being spoken to us from the deepest levels of our psyche in one of the strongest forms available to us, through mythological symbolism. Allowing people to work through and integrate these experiences, without the interference of medications, forced therapies, oppressive atmospheres and other “traditional” treatments, can result in not only a full recovery but an advancement of personality and functioning.
Another one of Stanislav Grof’s works, this time co-written with his wife in a less scholarly format, presents the idea of schizophrenia and other acute psychotic episodes as an overly strong spiritual emergence. The title is actually a word-play on the phrases ’emergence’ and ’emergency,’ because when an emergence comes on too fast and hard, it can become an emergency. This book is good for any schizophrenic themselves, but offers far more insight for friends and family who hope to create a supportive atmosphere and arena for the person to heal within. It is chock full of the personal story of Christina Grof and many of their patients that they’ve encountered throughout their work. It also features writings by many other psychologists and spiritual leaders on the specific topic of our interest.
This is a very interesting case that deals a lot with self-identity in schizophrenics. It is something we all struggle with on this planet, but even more so when dealing with the powerful experiences of synchronicities, meaningful hallucinations and delusions, and other symptoms of schizophrenia. Three paranoid gentlemen suffering with a messianic complex were all three brought together for the length of two years. What unfolds is the conversation between the impossible… three people all exclusively claiming to be the one and only Jesus Christ. This is a large conundrum, the sharing of a single identity. It pokes and prods at the philosophical questions of human nature and human identity. If you want to get your mind blown and entertained at the same time, this book is for you!
Again, this is just a small selection of the wonderful and lengthy list of books about schizophrenia out there. If you have more you’d like to suggest I read, please mention them in the comments and we’ll talk about them! I’d love to hear about more great ones that I can include on this page. Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing, and I hope you all enjoy any of these you decide to read.