“Patients who claim to channel spirits are immediately prescribed medication.” – Prominent Australian Psychiatrist
The above statement was made during a televised discussion about Australia’s broken mental health system. Given my interest and experience in the contentious topic of ‘spiritual crises,’ it naturally captured my attention. I don’t channel spirits but have been a spiritual researcher for about thirty-five years during which time I learned and experienced many valuable things, including the transformative power of authentic mediumship and the difficult, often traumatic life path that precedes an authentic medium’s selfless life of service to the grieving.
In fact, I spent ten years in a relationship with a highly attuned, evidential mental medium and have first-hand experience of the highs and lows of this ‘gift’. Many people are not aware that the work of a medium requires a high level of sensitivity, self-awareness, compassion, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy. If a stringent self-care protocol is absent from a practicing medium’s life, or anyone else that delves into the spiritual and metaphysical realms without awareness of the potential pitfalls and dangers, they naturally face an increased risk of illness and imbalance. This, then, can easily and rapidly spiral into a spiritual crisis which, from my research and experience, is best dealt with by a combination of traditional and spiritual intervention.
To help you further understand my way of thinking, this is an opportune time to share part of my own spiritual journey that suddenly shifted from a spiritual awakening to a spiritual crisis that I didn’t see coming.
Understanding Death and Grief
I stumbled onto my spiritual path in my early twenties after the sudden death of my father in 1980. With no understanding or beliefs around death, my impossible grief and inability to accept the cruel finality of never seeing my dad again, proved too much to bear. Consequently, I remained in a limbo state of denial for nine years.
With few people to turn to for guidance, my largely solo ‘seeking’ journey brought me private glimmers of solace, hope and wonder along the way. By 1989, I experienced the onset of what felt like a liberating spiritual awakening that opened me up to new realms of loving energies that propelled me along my path like never before. My father also began appearing in my dreams and later guided me through what would become one of the scariest experiences in my life; a secret media scandal laced with silver bullets that would smash my life, fledgling media career and health to smithereens.
It all unfolded in 80s Adelaide, a time when I was a twenty-something wild child and self-care obliviate. I played Russian roulette with my health, partly because of the TV industry’s relentless work hard, play hard culture, partly because I lacked consciousness in health and wellbeing, choosing instead to indulge in way too much partying, inadequate sleep, acute stress and poor nutrition. Adding fuel to an already ominous fire, my friend and flatmate, who happened to be the TV paymaster, was busted for embezzling the company.
Even though the scandal was kept under wraps by the media shy station owner, the grapevine soon caught on fire and many people who I once regarded as friends, obviously thought I was involved in the crime. This couldn’t have been further from the truth, as my parents didn’t raise me to be a criminal. Various other staff members, from blindsided executives to innocent accounts department staff, were also adversely impacted; one was wrongfully dismissed, another suffered a nervous breakdown while other unsuspecting victims were harassed by the tax office because of the paymaster’s deceptive actions.
Lucky for me, the looming, cut-throat process of TV networking kicked into play and in 1988, my job in the promotions department was among the first to be made redundant. Relieved to take a modest package and move on, I was fortunate to score a writing job in the far less stressful world of radio and sever ties with my former friend-turned-embezzler whom I wished good riddance and good luck with her court case.
But little did I know that the salacious, secret scandal would follow me. By mid-1989, I received a shattering phone call phone call from the accused embezzler in the midst of her self-created nightmare. She went against her lawyer’s advice and contacted me to warn that we were both under surveillance, the prosecution lawyers and police believed that I masterminded the embezzlement scam and that “informants” had falsely accused me of being a “Mafia Godmother” boss a hard drug trafficking operation. She also said that detectives had interrogated her on several occasions to force a false confession from her and that they were hellbent on arresting and imprisoning me on false charges for the crime she committed. The words that still ring loudly in my ears after all this time are: “They are out to crucify you, Linda.” (How satanic of them.)
If that wasn't shocking enough, soon after being smashed by those revelations, two massive silver bullets were fired through the radio station window overnight – a terrifying event that flipped my scales and led to the calamitous end of my job and life as I knew it. The station general manager granted me immediate leave, which I had requested several weeks earlier because of the onset of exhaustion. During my time off, I quit my job in an irrational moment following an abusive phone call from the supervisor who delayed my initial request to take leave.
(Over thirty years later, the motivation behind the bullets, which were allegedly never reported to or investigated by the police, remains a mystery. Maybe they didn’t like the music.) To top things off, this cauldron of seething chaos crudely interrupted my spiritual awakening that triggered my rapidly spiral into a major personal and spiritual crisis, plunging me over the edge and into a deep, dark abyss.
In need of rest and spiritual counselling, I unfortunately ended up in the dangerous hands of a spiritually ignorant psychiatrist that was recommended by a well-meaning friend of my mother who thought she was a psychologist. This sparked a short-lived nightmare with debilitating psychotropic drugs that almost drove me to suicide – and I was never suicidal, to begin with. Thank goodness my mother's intuition screamed at her to intervene at the eleventh hour when I was on the verge of swallowing the entire bottle of pills.
I have since come to regard psychotropic medication as a debilitating quick fix that shuts down the spirit without identifying the root cause of the issue to enable healing to occur. While it wasn’t the psychiatrist’s fault that big pharma’s medical school taught her to prescribe medication to treat grief and anger, how did she fail to diagnose my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? This came to light several years later thanks to my friendship with a spiritually-minded psychologist.
After dismissing the psychiatrist’s damaging services and recovering enough to work again, I moved to Sydney to begin a new life and new job with Channel 9, unaware of my PTSD condition and the havoc I would invariably cause myself until I was appropriately diagnosed. My mother later told me that the psychiatrist suffered a nervous breakdown, allegedly a common occurrence in the psychiatry industry, ironically. In retrospect, the psychiatrist did me a favour because she gave me an excellent reason to steer clear of Australia’s drug-driven mental health system for the rest of my life.
How a Dream Catcher Changed The Course Of My Life
In September 1990, after settling into my new life and making some wonderful friends, I received a stunning Native American dream catcher as a birthday gift. Despite not knowing what it was, the mere sight of it filled me with a powerful sense of love, reconnection and solace, and awakened something deep within me.
Compelled to learn about this intriguing indigenous culture, my first teacher arrived via a set of Sacred Path cards created by Jamie Sams, of Cherokee and Seneca descent, and who is now recognized as one of the foremost teachers of Native American spirituality and wisdom. She taught me many significant things, including the “Good Red Road” of physical life and the “Blue Road” of spirit. I continue to learn and hold Native American teachings close to my heart to this day.
One thing led to another and more helpful people began to appear on my path and open my eyes to the many fascinating realms of holistic health. Of particular benefit, was learning about the vital role that nutrition plays in maintaining our health on all levels – particularly mental health. If only comprehensive nutrition was taught in medical schools.
A lack of essential nutrients known to contribute to the onset of poor mental health in people suffering from anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and ADHD. Nutritional psychiatry is a growing discipline that focuses on the use of food and supplements to provide these essential nutrients as part of an integrated or alternative treatment for mental health disorders. – Joyce Cavaye, Author & Senior Lecturer, The Conversation
I slowly found my way through the elusive, dark tunnel to the proverbial light, largely thanks to a combination of wise spiritual guidance from the Native American culture and experienced, holistically trained practitioners. And I can’t help but wonder how many sensitive souls such as healers, artists, mediums, visionaries and empaths haven’t been as lucky. How many are trapped in lonely, mind-numbing, medicated worlds, blocked from developing and contributing their gifts to society by dismissive physicians?
This is surely humanity’s loss. A preventable loss.
Psychotropic medication may have its place as a short-term solution for some mental health issues, but long-term use needs to be discouraged because it inevitably leads to a life of disability, disconnection, depression and poverty which, in turn, places increasing pressure on public health and welfare systems. The only winners are the big pharma companies.
Niall McLaren is an Australian psychiatrist who, according to his bio, ‘occupies himself delving into the philosophical basis of psychiatry, only to find there isn't one. This has not helped his popularity with his colleagues, now well into negative territory.’ This excerpt from one of his many enlightening articles bears repeating:
‘In the UK at present, 16% of the adult population (one in six) take antidepressants. In the US, that figure is 13%, and in Australia, 12%, up from 9.8% just three years ago, and a bare 1% in 1991. Significantly, the length of time people take these drugs is growing, meaning that once they start, they don’t stop.
The consumption of these drugs is a social phenomenon, not a disease phenomenon: there is zero evidence to say that the actual incidence of depression in Australia has increased by 1200% in one generation. Certainly, they don’t appear to be very effective as the suicide rate in this country has been rising for years and recently hit a peak.’
American Holistic Psychiatrist Kelly Brogan is another leading light and bestselling author of A Mind of Your Own, Own Your Self and co-editor of the landmark textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression. Her first book, A Mind of Your Own, found its way to millions of people despite a mainstream media blackout – such is the power of the flourishing grassroots media. Dr Brogan’s resonant words about the rapid rise of mainstream psychiatric diagnoses and correlating drugs also deserve to be highlighted:
‘In 1952, DSM was a slim 130 pages and outlined 106 illnesses. Today’s version is a colossal 886 pages and includes 374 diagnoses. It encompasses a general consensus by a committee consisting of practitioners with profound conflicts of interest and pharmaceutical enmeshments.
Psychiatrist Dr. Allen Frances of Columbia University and author of Saving Normal, chaired the task force that produced the fourth edition of the DSM and has been critical of the latest tome. In 2013, he rightfully said that “psychiatric diagnosis still relies exclusively on fallible subjective judgments rather than objective biological tests.’
Curious as to whether the DSM even mentioned religion and spirituality, I browsed through the latest edition and found references to: spiritual healing practices, possession, ‘normal’ hallucinations and the importance of considering cultural concepts to avoid misdiagnosis. Perhaps the prominent, pro-medication Australian psychiatrist quoted at the beginning of this story would benefit from revisiting his industry ‘bible’ to ensure that accurate and objective mental health advice is provided to government policy makers.
According to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), $9.9 billion was spent on mental health in Australia in 2017-18. One would expect the result to be a happier, healthier population but this is not the case. Statistics sourced from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveal that in 2018-19:
· 39.0 million mental health-related prescriptions were provided
· 4.3 million patients (17.1% of the Australian population) received mental health related prescriptions, an average of 9.0 prescriptions per patient
· 86.3% of mental health-related prescriptions were prescribed by GPs; 7.7% prescribed by psychiatrists; 4.5% prescribed by non-psychiatrist specialists
· 70.9% of mental health-related prescriptions were Antidepressant medications
· 67 psychiatric drug warnings have been issued by Australia’s drug regulatory agency warning of the risk of aggression, increased blood pressure, hallucinations, life-threatening heart problems, suicidal behaviour and possible death.
Of most concern is the fact that more than 100,000 children under 17 are on antidepressants, even though they are not approved for children under 18. The number of suicides in young people has increased by almost 40% since 2009 while the use of antidepressants has increased by 60% in young people. At the time of writing in 2020, lockdown-related suicides are expected to dwarf Coronavirus deaths in Australia where eight people currently die by suicide each day.
Given Australia’s relatively small population of approximately 25.6 million, the mental ‘illness’ system is clearly broken.
The experience of becoming wounded can seemingly break us, while simultaneously breaking us open, thereby facilitating a connection to the world of the unconscious with its inexhaustible riches. We have all been wounded, which is to say that we are all potentially wounded healers in training. – Awaken in the Dream, Paul Levy
Healthier Healing Pathways
After a couple of bumpy decades dotted with intermittent episodes of ‘crashing and burning’ whilst trying to help myself recover from PTSD, and avoiding the medical system at all costs, my “assisted” holistic healing journey officially began in 2013 following a wise decision to take a twelve-month sabbatical from my job with the police department. My supporting GP respected my holistic choices, including shamanic, sound and quantum healing, even though she didn’t understand them, and was amazed by my rapid progress and recovery.
When it was time to return to my job, I chose to resign instead, partly due to the high stress, oppressive and understaffed work environment, but more so because I felt my spirit being called back to my creative path. Choosing to take a daunting leap of faith so I could continue with my healing journey, reconnect to my passion of working with words and also develop my film making skills, I trusted that the unknown path ahead would bear rewarding results.
I also adopted a range of healthy lifestyle protocols including a mix of indigenous and other cultural wisdom, shamanic healing practices, energy medicine, sound healing, inspirational books and movies, writing, nature immersions, bodywork, pampering, fun, friends, adventures, new business ventures, a whole lot of self-love and writing a new story for myself.
As Professor Brene Brown so rightly says: ‘Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do.’ West African Shaman Malidoma Patrice Somé also provides some pearls of wisdom concerning mental health and I hope you find the following excerpts from his article “What a Shaman Sees in a Mental Hospital” as helpful and uplifting as I did:
‘In the shamanic view, mental illness signals the birth of a healer. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born. What those in the West view as mental illness, the Dagara people regard as “good news from the other world.” The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm.
Mental disorder, behavioural disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field. These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm.
In the Dagara tradition, the community helps the person reconcile the energies of both worlds – the world of the spirit that he or she is merged with, and the village and community. That person is then able to serve as a bridge between the worlds and help the living with information and healing they need.
Thus, the spiritual crisis ends with the birth of another healer. Western culture has consistently ignored the birth of the healer.’
These days, I perceive my healing journey as a work in progress and seek the assistance of holistic practitioners when necessary. The most valuable lesson I have learned is that we essentially heal ourselves, so please bear that in mind if you make an appointment with a holistic practitioner.
The schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight. Edgar Cayce made the same observations in his readings. – Joseph Campbell
Of the 374 official mental illnesses listed in the DSM, Schizophrenia is arguably one of the most contentious. Perhaps the least known new frontier in mental health recovery involves spiritual intervention by experienced, authentic mediums.
Professional evidential medium and spiritual interventionist Jock Brocas is a pioneer in this fascinating, emerging field. He is also the author of several books including the ground-breaking Deadly Departed, co-founder and president of the American Society for Standards in Mediumship and Psychical Investigation (ASSMPI) and heads the Parapsychological Intervention Division (PID).
I asked Jock to share some thoughts about medicating people who claim to hear voices or channel spirits, and his experience with spiritual intervention. I received this thought-provoking response concerning one of many cases he has dealt with:
‘I had an email from a distraught mother who requested help because her son was hearing voices. The medical community’s instinct was to medicate and I must say in my own perception – discriminate. They were convinced it was Schizophrenia.
The individual was referred to me because of a previous case involving another family member who was in a similar situation and being medicated to the detriment of her being. Investigations revealed that the individual was suffering what I consider as “mediumship psychosis’ or “potential obsession from a misaligned spirit entity.”
After only one intervention, the issue was dealt with and to date, there have been no more interferences and nor is the individual under any medication or medical treatment. I truly believe that mental disturbances that have no foundation in physical or traumatic ailments should be investigated for a spiritual solution and that spiritual intervention should be a considered approach.
The problem, of course, is that you can’t have just anyone doing this type of work, as the responsibility is huge. This is why within our ASSMPI/ISSMPI organization, we are moving forward in research and development of protocols to investigate and deal with mental health issues requiring spiritual intervention.
While I have no foundation as a healer or indeed a psychiatrist, I do understand the spiritual efficacy of intervention by divine law and authority, and believe it goes some way to providing relief from spiritually-based parapsychological disturbances or psychosis.’
This is just one of many emerging stories about individuals who are experiencing profound healing through spiritual intervention.
In closing, during a visit to the Hopi Lands in 2018, I noticed a poster on a community noticeboard about their annual health conference. It included keynote speakers covering the four levels of health: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. The western world has some catching up to do, me thinks.
Here’s to a brighter, healthier and happier future.