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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

Spiritual Emergence as Spiritual Emergency

Spiritual Emergence as Spiritual Emergency

Unlike most, many schizophrenics only experience a single, brief, but very acute psychotic break without any further relapse or reoccurrence of heavy symptoms.  There are still lingering after-effects which resemble mental illness, but many culture accept these after-effects as a positive opening of the psyche.  Shamanic cultures may not consider a hallucination as such, but a vision into other, more subtle worlds, and at the very least a recognition of the mythological aspects of the experience.  The brief psychotic episode then, is a vision quest and a rite of passage into priesthood.

It has come to the attention of some current transpersonal psychologists, such as Stanislav Grof, that this type of experience is not only very normal, but very beneficial for the sufferer.  There are times when having a schizophrenic episode can be slow, gentle, and adventurous as the individual discovers a larger sense of spirituality to himself and the world.  But if this experience happens too suddenly and fiercely, the spiritual emergence can act as a spiritual emergency.

What is a Spiritual Emergency?

Where as a spiritual emergence is relatively a slow-moving realization of the transcendent aspects of reality, a spiritual emergency is a much quicker, jolting realization of the metaphysical and experiences that are beyond the common functioning of the ego.  The result of both an emergence and the spiritual emergency is a healthier psychological, psychosomatic, and emotional experience, a loss of societal influences and previous imprinting, and an increased freedom of choice related to the relaxation of preconceived notions and rigidity in thought.

While a spiritual emergence begins the same and ends the same across the board, it is the speed and intensity of the process which dictates whether or not it is to become a spiritual emergency.  It is spiritual because it leads to an awareness of dimensions of existence that previously were not recognized by the individual, on the personal, biographical level and on the universal level in regards to the cosmos at large.  It is an emergency because the dramatic speed at which these realizations unfold and arise can lead to disorientation and a sense of instability that interferes with normal functioning.

A vast expansion of one’s world view will leave one in a state of groundlessness as new exciting and fear-inducing thoughts arise.  Accommodating these new thoughts can be strange, yet novel, leading to anxiety but a sense of curiosity and wonderment that leads the individual through the process.  These revelations come in waves hard and fast, and each plateau is surpassed quickly as this psychological transformation occurs.  Relationships can suffer, work attendance and performance can halt altogether, and one’s spiritual connections and ideas will be altered forever.  The person’s psychospiritual reality shifts as non-ordinary states of consciousness come and go.  The name of this experience is derived from the rapidity of this transformation, lending to the names of “spiritual emergency” and “evolutionary crisis.”

When do Spiritual Emergencies Occur?

There are situations in life that are more likely to produce a spiritual emergency than other times in life.  The most likely is during a period of time in which an individual is accelerating towards increased maturation and yet internally the person has not gained a sense of satisfaction from the experience.  This growth period has expanded this individual until the normal sensual stimuli and ego gratifications cannot fulfill the vacuum within.  There is a sense of meaninglessness to it all as the person begins to feel an existential angst.  When this person begins to talk about these issues, he or she will find that most either do not understand or are too fearful to discuss it.  A feeling of loneliness, isolation, and a yearning for atonement, wholeness, and unification combine to form a ripe field from which a seed of a spiritual emergency can sprout.

This can also occur during times in which the individual’s spiritual work is intense, in activity and duration.  Examples of certain practices that can reach this level are:

  • Pranayama
  • Kirtan
  • Yoga
  • Prayer
  • Meditation

During times of extreme distress and pain specific to the physical body, a spiritual emergence can begin, such as:

  • Childbirth
  • Surgery
  • Near Death Experiences
  • Extreme Injury
  • Observing These in Others

And of course, times of deep psychological and emotional stress are also conducive to the first stirrings of a spiritual emergence, including:

  • Psychotherapy Sessions
  • Transitional Periods of Life
  • Puberty
  • Identity Fragmentation
  • Psychedelic Substance Use

It is during these times and at these junctures that the evolutionary energies can foster and grow.  If the process is too fast and uncomfortable to the point of interfering with daily activity, then a spiritual emergency is at hand.

Three Internal Conditions for a Spiritual Emergency

There are three more conditions that are usually present when a true spiritual emergency occurs.

  1. The first of these regards a person’s cognitive framework.  If he or she has no prior experiences into which the new spiritual reality can be assimilated, then it must be accommodated.  There is no previous event to which the new revelations can be related, and the person becomes lost in chaos as the mind must begin restructuring and making room in it’s belief system for the new.
  2. Suppose even if it were possible that the experiencer were capable of psychologically apprehending, comprehending, and relaxing through this event, there still remains emotional and physical flexibility required to fully integrate the experience.  If even one of these acts as a bottleneck, there will be a congestion of energies and an eventual discharge.
  3. Finally, there are societies, cultures, and families that are not capable or willing to allow such an experience to fit into their normal conception of life.  The individual will be labeled as ‘crazy’ and the event as psychopathological.  Unfortunately, this interferes with integration and also alters the person’s own views of what is happening.  And we know, perception is everything.  The person may willingly or involuntarily be made to submit to mistreatment from misunderstanding medical professionals.

If these three factors are present, then you can predict with stronger confidence that what is occurring is an “emergency.”

The Types of Spiritual Emergency

There are many types of evolutionary crises that can occur that all concern themselves with specific facets of transpersonal phenomenon.  Although they appear differently, the cluster of symptoms all belong to the same constellation.  For instance, an individual could experience a:

  • Kundalini Awakening
  • Psychic Opening
  • Ego Death
  • Shamanic Breakthrough
  • Transpersonal Consciousness

All of these would create a new sense of mystical knowledge about the person’s higher self and world and alterations in perception that include synchronicities, hallucinations, delusions, and insights.  If the delusions are mythological in nature, they are likely to inclulde themes related to the hero’s journey, martyrdom, messianic references, and archetypes.  These motifs are highly organized and meaningful, which is why it is important for the schizophrenic to have a solid understanding of mythology so that they can gain personal insight into the meanings of these motifs.

The Outcome of a Spiritual Emergency

To put it simply, there are only two options after emerging from an emergence.  The spiritual worker will have increased in his ability to function in the world or will have decreased.  Nobody remains the same after this experience because to some degree, it will have been integrated into his or her world view and self-concept.  The hitherto unknown and unseen are now real.  Ignorance is no longer an option; the individual either expands to accommodate, or shrinks to deny.  A supportive social system and home environment can lead to healing and growth, or institutionalization and over-medication can lead to stagnation and even degradation.

Among the positive results a decrease of psychosomatic symptoms, the removal of emotional blockage, changes in the personality that are favorable to the self and others, increased solution-seeking skills in regards to complex life situations, and a growth towards peace, creativity, and compassionate response.  If the individual functioned well before the episode, he or she is likely to have an increased positive functioning.  If the onset of the symptoms was acute and rapid, then they are likely to leave that way as well without causing permanent damage. If the psychotic break was caused by a stressful precipitant, then it is less likely that there was a medical or genetic predisposition or problem, meaning full recovery and growth is more likely.  Maintaining a social network and quality performance at school or a vocational position is a positive indicator of a good outcome.  Most of all, maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude is a powerful safeguard against lasting negative outcomes.

With this knowledge in hand, it is possible to arrange for a more beneficial outcome and prognosis when the crisis is just beginning.  If the symptoms take longer than three months to grow to full intensity, and then persist for longer than three additional months, than please look into the possibility of other situations, such as a medical or mental health issue, as opposed to a spiritual issue.

Conclusion

The spiritual emergency is a rapid progression into consciousness development.  The world view of the individual will be expanded and previously hidden spiritual realities will be revealed.  An exploration of these dimensions of reality that is too hasty, whether by choice or not, can lead to a spiritual emergency.  Be wary of chasing a breadth of experience, such as in the new age culture. or a depth of experience, such as in the occult culture.  The myth of Icarus is a handbook and manual for this experience.  Do not purposefully fly too close to the sun’s clear light without internally preparing oneself with the knowledge and tools of the mystic.  For if you land in the ocean unprepared, you will drown as a psychotic while the true attainers swim skillfully.

3 Comments

  1. Brilliant stuff!!

    Thank you for highlighting this. My spiritual development group has recently started talking about spiritual emergence. I myself have been diagnosed Bipolar, but have come around to thinking that it is actually a spiritual emergence of some sort. I’ve had lots of help and support from my group with this – they’re fantastic. I really hope the Spiritual Emergence perspective becomes accepted by the mental health profession, as there are so many people that can be given much more appropriate help.

    • Hi Rachel – I have been recently diagnosed with BPD having embarked upon a long and painful awakening. I would love to communicate with you about your experiences.

      I attend a therapeutic community and regular mass to help me integrate all the changes. PHEW.

  2. Thanks, Rachel! I agree, there is certainly a spiritual aspect to much mental illness, whether it is a cause or an effect of the illness depends on the situation, I suppose. Dealing with these types of issues go to the core of who we are and how we deal with the external world. Everyone would benefit from this approach in some fashion! Thanks for your comment.

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To view the the schizophrenia treatment centers in your local area, please click the state in which you live on the map above or find your state in the alphabetized links above. Each respective page will lists the name, address, and contact number for each individual treatment center. You may also visit the top level page of the directory by clicking here and navigate further from there.
Read the description and visit the personal webpage of each treatment center to find out more information. You can contact them from there, but we understand that this is a tedious and intimidating process, so we've provided a form you can fill out with the requested information and we'll set you up with the most appropriate treatment center for your needs.
If you require further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at Schiz Life. We are here to serve the needs of the schizophrenia community and are happy to do so!

Schiz Life - Living With Schizophrenia

living with schizophrenia
For many of us, living with schizophrenia is our reality. And instead of struggling with the wish of how things “could be,” we finally come to an acceptance of our predicament and ultimately we embrace the fact of our lives: We are people dealing with schizophrenia. So then the question becomes not “Why” we suffer from this illness, but “How” we will cope and continue to enjoy our lives. We certainly will not give up! We have every right to demand the niceties, freedoms, and enjoyments of life to which all living creatures are entitled. This is what Schiz Life is all about.

Mission Statement Concerning Schizophrenia Information and Culture

Schiz Life serves to…

  • • Provide a safe haven for persons who wish to converse, cope, and share their experiences with schizophrenia in a positive manner in an attempt to celebrate the beauty of life, especially concerning our unique perspective on existence.
  • • Provide the highest quality of information concerning our psychological difficulties, including a frame of reference on the symptoms, treatment, history, and the future of schizophrenia.
  • • Take corrective action to dispel the myths and stigma surrounding schizophrenia, such as false ideas surrounding the cause, associations with violence, and others, all being perpetuated by the media by providing truth through scientific research and statistics.

Schiz Life intends to achieve this goal in the following manner:

The Schiz Life Schizophrenia Action Plan

  1. 1. We will continue to take advantage of internet outreach, contacting news agencies and other medical bloggers in hopes that they will join us in raising awareness of schizophrenia.
  2. 2. We will continue to promote this website through video and media outlets, including the dissemination of informational videos and graphics such as the first official schizophrenia infographic.
  3. 3. We will all contribute where possible off-line, including at health expo’s, psychology conferences, and any other relevant opportunity to spread the good word.

Thank You for Your Part in the Schizophrenia Journey!

We all thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for playing your role in the developing journey surrounding schizophrenia awareness and research. With all of our combined efforts, we will change the way the world perceives this illness and we will advance the medical efforts of professionals in their search for a cure and effective medicines. Thank you again!

Do Your Part!

Do you know of a great schizophrenia resource out there? Let us know! Do you see a person in need inside the comments of this site? Lend them some advice or encouragement! Are you a graphic designer or artist? Show us your work and I'm sure we can find some way to include your skills here on the site. Are you a writer who would like to contribute to the site? Shoot us an email and we'll discuss it. This site is for all of us and excludes none of us. Contact us for any reason and get involved!

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Our content has been linked to or distributed by...

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...and also the sites listed below and more!

Try This Quick Schizophrenia Mini-Quiz:

This is but a quick quiz to test your general knowledge of schizophrenia. If you would like to take the extended and in-depth quiz, venture over to our Schizophrenia Quiz page and see just how much you know! Try the Schizophrenia Test to gauge your symptom levels.

Schizophrenia Quiz Directions: Please select the correct answer for each question and then press the button below to grade your quiz.

1. What is the term for perceiving stimuli that doesn't exist?




2. Which is NOT a type of schizophrenia?




3. Which of the following is a symptom of schizophrenia?




4. How common is schizophrenia in the general population?




5. Who can diagnose a case of schizophrenia?




6. How can schizophrenia be treated?




7. Are the causes of schizophrenia genetic or environmental?




8. What is the most common age of onset?




9. Catatonia is categorized as what type of symptom?




10. Is Schiz Life the best website about schizophrenia?




 

Show me the answers!

 

Question 1: The correct answer is the Hallucination.
Question 2: The correct answer is Hyperlipid.
Question 3: The correct answer is All of the Above.
Question 4: The correct answer is 1%.
Question 5: The correct answer is A Doctor.
Question 6: The correct answer is All of the Above Should Be Used.
Question 7: The correct answer is Both.
Question 8: The correct answer is 25.
Question 9: The correct answer is Negative.
Question 10: The correct answer is DON'T BE A PARTY POOPER!.
You answered them all right! Good job! You know a little something about schizophrenia, don't you!

 

How To Use This Site

If you're brand new to this site, it might look overwhelming until you get a sense of where things are at.  Schiz Life is a content-based site, much like a newspaper or a magazine.  However, we focus strictly and solely on schizophrenia.  So where does all of this content reside?  We have decided to separate our articles into several categories, as described below:

Basics

This category will be of the most interest to those who wish to gain a very broad but shallower overview of the entirety of the academic view of schizophrenia.  We cover all of the topics you'd expect to find in an abnormal psychology text book here, and at a similar depth.  It is a great introduction to this illness and will guide you further along into deeper topics.

Knowledge

We cover various angles such as statistics, research, and more factually based views of schizophrenia and place them in this category.  One could say that it is almost a repository for article that don't fit into the other categories, but it is more than that.  Go check it to find out more!

Treatment

The name says it all.  This category of content covers all topics related to the treatment and prevention of schizophrenia and its relapses.  We've started with the empirically sound and scientifically backed methods first, but we intend to venture into more holistic and alternative therapies as well.  Without investigating all options, progress wont' be made, and so we do.

Symptoms

There are countless symptoms involved in schizophrenia. We cover them in depth in this category, including the positive (outward) and negative (inward) symptoms of every type of this disorder.  There is much to read here, so if a particular symptom is giving you or a loved one trouble, this is the place to go and learn more about it.

Coping

What use is all of this information when we simply don't feel good enough to read it and learn?  The category for coping provides many ideas that you can apply to your own life to help you maintain the best health possible, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.  Schizophrenia is a mental illness that some of us simply cannot escape, but we can learn to live with it, minimize its problematic aspects, and take advantage of some of the aspects it unlocks within us that others don't have!

Culture

Let's face it.  People are afraid of what they don't understand.  This category addresses the cultural issue of schizophrenia and it's impacts on the way we are treated or perceived by the masses.  It is up to us to represent ourselves in the best light and to combat the myths and misunderstandings that exist in the world concerning our plight.  Learn about these issues here and apply them in your lives!

Spectrum

There are other classifications of illnesses that are very closely related to schizophrenia.  The only differences might just be a research label actually, but we have found it useful to place these articles in a category of their own.  We deal with schizophreniform and psychosis disorders and their respective symptoms here.

Spirituality

While the medical community deals with schizophrenia as a psychological or physical disorder of the brain, those of us who actually experience it know it is much more.  It is a philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical, and mythological issue.  Coming to terms with this, confronting it, integrating it, and reconciling it leads to much higher functioning not only as an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia but as a member of society in general.  We have a deeper access to this aspect of life and have a great opportunity for learning and healing.

Artwork

Many of us past and present have chosen to express ourselves through the arts.  Whether this is painting and drawing, poetry, dancing, or any other artform, it is healthy and beautiful.  We are writing biographies, displaying artwork, and welcoming submissions from our own community to be included here in this category!  Please submit if you have something to share!

News

The internet has opened up the world.  There is a constant flow of news concerning our illness but you wouldn't know it by watching the television.  We cover new research topics, treatment modalities, and nationwide and worldwide coverage of schizophrenia or incidents related to it in this category!

Other Items

We have also included other items of interest throughout our website.  For instance, we are producing a series of infographics to help educate the public on this topic.  We also are collecting and reviewing books concerning the illness.  In addition, we have created a directory for the United States of all treatment facilities and hospitals that have staff that are trained to work with schizophrenia cases.  Please look around and find these sections and more.

Disclaimer

There is something that was slightly mentioned in the footer of the site, but that could be overlooked easily so we felt it was the responsible thing to do to create a large disclaimer to be displayed here on the homepage.  This has to do completely with safety.  Let us explain.

Individual Uniqueness

unique individualEvery individual on this planet is a unique person.  Even more so, those of us dealing with this special psychological difficulty are even more unique, if that makes sense.  On this site, we are talking about one of the most complex brain mysteries ever and it expresses itself through every person differently.  Every case is going to have it's own peculiarities and all we are able to do in the articles on the site is speak in generalities.  We invite anyone to leave appropriate comments and engage in discussion, however we can't take responsibility for their words.  Nor can we take responsibility for the actions of any individual or group who have at one time or another visited our website.

Always Consult a Medical Professional

medical professionalIf you find yourself in a situation where you're trying to learn more about your condition or are trying to cope through a moment of crisis, please do not act upon any of the information listed on this site, whether in the main content or comments, without first corroborating the accuracy of the info with a medical professional first.  Reach out to a general practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.  Even then it's always helpful to have a second opinion from a separate professional as well.  Again, we must stress... always act with safety as the foremost concern, and this means consulting professionals before engaging in any practice intended to treat your condition.

Please Be Considerate About Delusions

delusion discussionWe understand that delusions can be very confusing and convincing.  We also understand that delusions can center around topics that simply are too philosophical to be proven wrong or correct and thus are tempting to explore in-depth.  We have no problem with this exploration as long as it is not harmful to those discussing it.  Please use your best discretion in this regard.  If the staff of Schiz Life step in and begin deleting comments or halting a conversation, please respect their decision and understand it is not personal.

Investigating delusions is encouraged.  Delusions are interesting due to their nature of being understood as strange and outside the norm of the culture of the experiencer, but there is a vast number of individuals visiting this site from many cultures.  There is a subtle difference between discussing these topics, and encouraging or trolling.  Please find that balance and abide by the above suggestions.

We also, under no circumstances, will tolerate anyone discussing or suggesting harming themselves or others.  Past-tense symptom discussion in this regard is fine, but nothing in the future tense will be allowed.

General Discussion Guidelines

We encourage discussion in the comments as much as possible and are looking into offering a forum and personal blogs as well.  In all of these mediums when carrying on conversation, there are some useful questions to ask yourself before posting that comment or response.

The main question to ask yourself is the following:

Is what I'm about to post going to help and support or will it further entrench illness and suffering?

Please consider this as you enjoy Schiz Life.  Try not to post angry or hurtful comments.  Try not to criticize or blame others.  Be as supportive, encouraging, and respecting as you can.  Accepting and negotiating differences is key to carrying on constructive conversation.

Remember, there is a real person on the other side of the screen.  It's easy to assume the other person is in a similar situation as yourself, but you don't know the extent of their emotions, symptoms, nor their age or even gender.

Let's Do This Together!

Let's have a supportive and comforting community where we all feel open and able to share as much as possible.  If you receive support from someone, please pay that forward and try to help out someone else.  If we all do this, we should all be okay!  Thank you for reading and enjoying this thing we are building together.

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