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Prodromal Psychosis/ onset of Schizophrenia


Mjolnir07
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Greetings,

I have always fancied myself an intelligent fellow, able to separate fact from fiction. I am presently able to discern the difference between reality and the irrational, but lately at times it does take a degree of effort. Over the past three or four months I experienced my first episodes of psychosis, needless to say they were scary as hell, until, out of necessity, I taught myself how to cope with them, these episodes were accompanied by intense and distressing 'intrusive thoughts'. I have since developed methods of dealing with these intrusive thoughts with encouraging success, (see my first posts on the newbie forum) -they're all but eliminated. However, unfortunately, the psychosis has remained, and generally lasts from anywhere between 4 hours to a week, often going away for days or weeks at a time and obviously varying in severity.

I'm 23 years old and may have a history of this type of thing in my family, a large number of my close relatives have demonstrated mild symptoms of schizophrenia and heavy paranoid personality disorder. I'm also aware that this time in my life is pretty much the prime age of blossoming for mental disorders of this equation. I will often get obscure, absurd ideas in my head and feel the strong urge to believe in and act upon them, it is through sheer, gut wrenching force of will that I manage to acknowledge these ideas as fabrications of my head, but the temptation to believe them is imminent and overwhelming. These instances, the ones grave in severity, are rare, however, as stated above, I have continually experienced what I have come to understand is psychosis. A frightening, detached state of mind where I don't feel grounded at all in reality and have to resort to heavily drawing from memory to contain my idea of reality at all. This is painful and worrisome but I have accepted it.

Here is my dilemma and the reason I come to the rest of you for advice.

I am relatively poor, and without the means to seek professional help. I find that talking about it when it happens seems to drive it away for a moment, but the only person that I have to talk to about it (my wife) misunderstands and thinks I'm being a hypochondriac, then pretty much makes me feel like I'm alone to suffer the worst terror of my life, I can't blame her because she has her own trauma's to cope with(we have a healthy and fulfilling relationship otherwise, by the way, just in case that factors in). For all I know she is right and this is a form of hypochondria, something I've had to deal with at great lengths in the past as well.

Since I cannot seek professional help and I cannot talk to anyone about it, I'm looking for opinions on whether or not this will degenerate into a state beyond my control, or for opinions on how long I will be able to maintain my present capacity to see through the irrational. I am afraid that I will devolve into a place where I am no longer capable of recognizing that this is indeed prolonged psychosis, to a point where I cannot diagnose myself, I believe that when this happens I will have indeed finally been overtaken by the disorder.

A few examples:

I am a pagan, for about a decade now when I address my gods, wordlessly "think at them", I receive a response, however, it is always something that I want to hear, and I have long since accepted that this is probably a fantasy that I have designed in my head to provide me with comfort, being that I know it's a physical impossibility; I equate it with talking to myself. Being that this is primarily a spiritual thing I have often disregarded it as harmless, since so many people claim to hear or talk to their God or to Jesus. I have never, however, ruled out that it may be a symptom of insanity or thought disorder. Note that I don't actually 'hear' anything, that I understand it's originating in my head, and that any thought I have to the contrary is recognizably one based on the desire to have faith. Could this be "thought insertion" even though I have the power to recognize that it may be?

That is mild, compared to this, this still stands out as my most terrifying psychotic, delusional episode, it was my first- About a year ago it crossed my mind that all things die with time, from this I concluded that time is a negative, purely destructive force against nature and that something malevolent must have created it or is driving it. I instantly recognized that this was an insane thought and that I should do whatever is possible to keep it out of my head, but I experienced a manic, hyper-reality for about two weeks afterward during which I obsessed over the idea, where it felt as real as the sun rising and setting. I had to exert a great deal of effort constantly for days to convince myself that this was an irrational thought and that I needed to not allow myself to follow it. It took a toll on me.

The bottom line is, should I begin selling my stuff so I can pay a psychiatrist to diagnose me and seek the professional help that I need?

As usual I have become long winded, please offer your opinions if you have them. Though honestly, this was probably more just because I felt the need to let this out somewhere where I won't be made to feel like an idiot for it, rather than to receive a response.

Thanks for reading.

Edited by Mjolnir07
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Hello Mjolnir.

A few thoughts. I'm going to start with these statements...

About a year ago it crossed my mind that all things die with time, from this I concluded that time is a negative, purely destructive force against nature and that something malevolent must have created it or is driving it. ...

I am a pagan, for about a decade now when I address my gods, wordlessly "think at them", I receive a response, however, it is always something that I want to hear, and I have long since accepted that this is probably a fantasy that I have designed in my head to provide me with comfort, being that I know it's a physical impossibility; I equate it with talking to myself. Being that this is primarily a spiritual thing I have often disregarded it as harmless, since so many people claim to hear or talk to their God or to Jesus.

I don't know if you've been reading any of my posts. If you have you may have noticed that I occasionally refer to the name "Kali". I'm not referring to a living, breathing person so much as I am a state of consciousness. I have other names for Kali too -- the Unmanifest Absolute, Silence, and sometimes, "The Place Where Time Melts". That designation arises from a portion of my experience wherein I died and then, was reborn. For a while there, "I" didn't exist.

Among some spiritually based literature, this is referred to as an "ego death" experience. It was very painful, and frightening too, but obviously, it wasn't a physical death experience even though it felt that way at the time. Meantime, Kali is a Sanskrit word that means Time and she probably does look rather terrifying and malevolent... until you get to know her. :oAnd that's the Luminosity.

At any rate, I just thought I'd comment on those possibly similar points of experience. Maybe -- perhaps as a result of your spiritual practices and beliefs, perhaps as a result of something else -- you brushed up against an ego death experience and it scared you. It created an awareness in you of your physical existence including your own mortality. Is that nuts? Or is it un-nuts? Hard to say. I suppose it might depend on how we choose to interpret or draw meaning from such experiences. In my case, I've adopted Kali as my teacher and from time to time, I slip into Silence so I can try to soak up some of that knowledge.

Meantime, in this post Guy and I took a look at developing What if strategies. In your case, your 'What if question centers around What if I am going crazy?' If you were, you'd probably want to seek out some medical advice and might further benefit from the containment of your experience, talking about your experience, and perhaps, taking medication for your experience. Maybe you would find it reassuring to investigate your local options in terms of hospitals, professional caregivers and treatment options. Perhaps you could write it all down, stick it in an envelope and say to your wife: "If something happens and I go out of my mind, open this, read it and do your best to honor my wishes in terms of preferred medical treatment."

~ Namaste

Music of the Hour:

See also: This Is Your Brain, On God

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Among some spiritually based literature, this is referred to as an "ego death" experience.

-- you brushed up against an ego death experience and it scared you. It created an awareness in you of your physical existence including your own mortality.

Maybe you would find it reassuring to investigate your local options in terms of hospitals, professional caregivers and treatment options. Perhaps you could write it all down, stick it in an envelope and say to your wife: "If something happens and I go out of my mind, open this, read it and do your best to honor my wishes in terms of preferred medical treatment."

~ Namaste

Music of the Hour:

See also: This Is Your Brain, On God

Ironically I have experienced extreme ego death and yes, been acquainted with Kali. That is very insightful of you to read so well into my post. Let's just say I was never much of a drug user and one of the few times I was coaxed into eating something I shouldn't have (a lot of it) it was way more than I could have expected to handle, this sounds shallow, I know. But I was unwittingly cast into what I have lovingly dubbed the unworld of coalescing nonexistence between worlds. That 'place' (nonplace) where all things (and things that have never been) are eternally and never at all blending chaotically before something gives them thought and thereby gives them form? Oh yes, well acquainted. One of the most terrifying and macabre experiences of my life, I've had to meditate for many hours in order to block out what that did to my conscious state of mind after it happened upon me in so cruelly an unexpected manner.

Bravo, Spiritual_E,

As far as the forbidden and sought after objective awareness of physical manifestation and the abrupt loss of the essence and identity of self, goodness, I have had to accept that I will never be rid of it, and I now understand why ignorance is bliss. I am intrigued that your relationship with such matters is one so gentle and mastered, you have my envy. I had studied and read much about Kali before I was ripped out of this world into her humble and horrific as all hell place of residence, it is with a great weight that I am almost tempted to believe it was a matter of fate. But again, I try to acknowledge and control my delusions. Not at all to say that it is a delusion for you, just that I need to keep it under the prison of that term to extinguish its hold on me.

Thanks for your reply, I've never spoken to anyone else so wise about such matters.

Edited by Mjolnir07
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Hello Mjolnir,

It's a pleasure to meet someone who is already acquainted (however uncomfortably) with Kali. I might want to pick up on that a bit more but for now, I thought you might enjoy this story...

Skeleton Woman

- A Tale of the Inuit -

She had done something of which her father disapproved, although no one any longer remembered what it was. But her father had dragged her to the cliffs and thrown her over and into the sea. There, the fish ate her flesh away and plucked out her eyes. As she lay under the sea, her skeleton turned over and over in the currents.

One day a fisherman came fishing, well, in truth many came to this bay once. But this fisherman had drifted far from his home place and did not know that the local fisherman stayed away, saying this inlet was haunted.

The fisherman's hook drifted down through the water, and caught of all places, in the bones of Skeleton Woman's rib cage. The fisherman thought, "Oh, now I've really got a big one! Now I really have one!" In his mind he was thinking of how many people this great fish would feed, how long it would last, how long he might be free from the chore of hunting. And as he struggled with this great weight on the end of the hook, the sea was stirred to a thrashing froth, and his kayak bucked and shook, for she who was beneath struggled to disentangle herself. And the more she struggled, the more she tangled in the line. No matter what she did, she was inexorably dragged upward, tugged up by the bones of her own ribs.

The hunter had turned to scoop up his net, so he did not see her bald head rise above the waves, he did not see the little coral creatures glinting in the orbs of her skull, he did not see the crustaceans on her old ivory teeth. When he turned back with his net, her entire body, such as it was, had come to the surface and was hanging from the tip of his kayak by her long front teeth.

"Agh!" cried the man, and his heart fell into his knees, his eyes hid in terror on the back of his head, and his ears blazed bright red. "Agh!" he screamed, and knocked her off the prow with his oar and began paddling like a demon toward shoreline. And not realizing she was tangled in his line, he was frightened all the more for she appeared to stand upon her toes while chasing him all the way to shore. No matter which way he zigged his kayak, she stayed right behind, and her breath rolled over the water in clouds of steam, and her arms flailed out as though to snatch him down into the depths.

"Agh!" he wailed as he ran aground. In one leap he was out of his kayak, clutching his fishing stick and running, and the coral white corpse of skeleton woman, still snagged in the fishing line, bumpety-bumped behind right after him. Over the rocks he ran, and she followed. Over the frozen tundra he ran, and she kept right up. Over the meat laid out to dry he ran, cracking it to pieces as his mukluks bore down.

Throughout it all she kept right up, in fact, she grabbed some of the frozen fish as she was dragged behind. This she began to eat, for she had not gorged in a long, long time. Finally, the man reached his snowhouse and dove right into the tunnel and on hands and knees scrabbled his way into the interior. Panting and sobbing he lay there in the dark, his heart a drum, a mighty drum. Safe at last, oh so safe, yes, safe thank the Gods, Raven, yes, thank Raven, yes, and all bountiful Sedna, safe... at...last.

Imagine when he lit his whale oil lamp, there she - it - lay in a tumble upon his snow floor, one heel over her shoulder, one knee inside her rib cage, one foot over her elbow. He could not say later what it was, perhaps the firelight softened her features, or the fact that he was a lonely man... but a feeling of some kindness came into his breathing, and slowly he reached out his grimy hands and using words softly like a mother to child, began to untangle her from the fishing line.

"Oh, na, na, na." First he untangled the toes, then the ankles. "Oh, na, na, na." On and on he worked into the night, until dressing her in furs to keep her warm, Skeleton Woman's bones were all in the order a human's should be.

He felt into his leather cuffs for his flint and used some of his hair to light a little more fire. He gazed at her from time to time as he oiled the precious wood of his fishing stick and rewound the gut line. And she in the furs uttered not a word - she did not dare - lest this hunter take her out and throw her down to the rocks and break her bones to pieces utterly.

The man became drowsy, slid under his sleeping skins, and soon was dreaming. And sometimes as humans sleep, you know, a tear escapes from the dreamer's eye; we never know what sort of dream causes this, but we know it is either a dream of sadness or longing. And this is what happened to the man.

Skeleton Woman saw the tear glisten in the firelight and she became suddenly soooo thirsty. She tinkled and clanked and crawled over to the sleeping man and put her mouth to his tear. The single tear was like a river and she drank and drank and drank until her many-years-long thirst was slaked.

While lying beside him, she reached inside the sleeping man and took out his heart, the mighty drum. She sat up and banged on both sides of it: Bom Bomm!.....Bom Bomm!

As she drummed, she began to sing out "Flesh, flesh, flesh! Flesh, Flesh, Flesh!" And the more she sang, the more her body filled out with flesh. She sang for hair and good eyes and nice fat hands. She sang the divide between her legs, and breasts long enough to wrap for warmth, and all the things a woman needs.

And when she was all done, she also sang the sleeping man's clothes off and crept into his bed with him, skin against skin. She returned the great drum, his heart, to his body, and that is how they awakened, wrapped one around the other, tangled from their night, in another way now, a good and lasting way.

The people who cannot remember how she came to her first ill fortune say she and the fisherman went away and were consistently well fed by the creatures she had known in her life under water. The people say that it is true and that is all they know.

Source: Skeleton Woman: The Life/Death/Life Nature

Music of the Hour: Dancing With Skeleton Woman

That's a Shadow, Anima/Animus and Kali story all rolled into one. :P

My point though is that everyone runs away at first. It's what you're supposed to do. If you don't run away, it's not your darkest fears you're facing. I ran away at first too until I couldn't run away anymore. Then, it was time to face those fears but I brought my Animus with me and I think that's an important point. We need to have someone in there with us to help give us the courage and the love to do what needs to be done.

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Some additional thoughts, Mjolnir...

I was unwittingly cast into what I have lovingly dubbed the unworld of coalescing nonexistence between worlds. That 'place' (nonplace) where all things (and things that have never been) are eternally and never at all blending chaotically before something gives them thought and thereby gives them form?

tucked away.

If Kali was The Place Where Time Melts, that was The Place That Bleeds The Color From Your Eyes. I've struggled to describe that place and the best descriptor I can come up with has been... whenever people are hurt or in pain, there is an energy attached to that experience. The Place That Bleeds The Color From Your Eyes was the place where all the energy of that pain and anguish had gathered. It was all the horror, the trauma, the torture, the rape, the murder, the wars and bloodshed that humanity had inflicted upon one another since time began. It made an impressive point upon me that what I was seeing was humanity's treatment of humanity. Meantime, that dark energy seemed to me, rather like a beast that I could feed or not feed in accordance with my own actions.

Were we "seeing" the same thing? I'm not sure. Others have described an Abyss -- also dark and terrifying. Or maybe it was something like this...

The Cosmological Dark Side

The cosmological dark side is ultimately the most terrifying. It is the"All is Suffering" of the Buddha, the "Let the dead bury their dead" of the Christ, the endless wheel of meaningless rebirth of the Upanishads, and, as pictured by the early Gnostics, the prison-planet Earth created by the mad demi-urge Yahweh. There is an anguish implicit in being a fragile living being -- doomed to live in an uncaring eternal universe, doomed to suffer and die and disappear -- that is universal and absolute. This anguish cannot be explained away, and it cannot be fought. The spiritual literature claims that the cosmological dark side only appears terrible, and that, in fact, its nature is love. The truth of this assertion can only be verified in the crucible of personal experience.

Source: Meeting Darkness on the Path

Are we in the realm of Kali? I'm thinking maybe. Those dualities rub up against the other and you have to accept the one to accept the other. Nonetheless, that darkness was not the same darkness as Kali.

Music of the Hour: Awakening by the Gate of Sorrow

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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... Kali's four arms represent the complete circle of creation and destruction, which is contained within her. She represents the inherent creative and destructive rhythms of the cosmos. Her right hands, making the mudras of "fear not" and conferring boons, represent the creative aspect of Kali, while the left hands, holding a bloodied sword and a severed head represent her destructive aspect. The bloodied sword and severed head symbolize the destruction of ignorance and the dawning of knowledge. The sword is the sword of knowledge, that cuts the knots of ignorance and destroys false consciousness (the severed head). Kali opens the gates of freedom with this sword, having cut the eight bonds that bind human beings. Finally her three eyes represent the sun, moon, and fire, with which she is able to observe the three modes of time: past, present and future. This attribute is also the origin of the name Kali, which is the feminine form of 'Kala', the Sanskrit term for Time.

Kali's dwelling place, the cremation ground denotes a place where the five elements (Sanskrit: pancha mahabhuta) are dissolved. Kali dwells where dissolution takes place. In terms of devotion and worship, this denotes the dissolving of attachments, anger, lust, and other binding emotions, feelings, and ideas. The heart of the devotee is where this burning takes place, and it is in the heart that Kali dwells. The devotee makes her image in his heart and under her influence burns away all limitations and ignorance in the cremation fires. This inner cremation fire in the heart is the fire of knowledge, (Sanskrit: gyanagni), which Kali bestows.

The image of a recumbent Shiva lying under the feet of Kali represents Shiva as the passive potential of creation and Kali as his Shakti. The generic term Shakti denotes the Universal feminine creative principle and the energizing force behind all male divinity including Shiva. Shakti is known by the general name Devi, from the root 'div', meaning to shine. She is the Shining One, who is given different names in different places and in different appearances, as the symbol of the life-giving powers of the Universe. It is she that powers him. This Shakti is expressed as the i in Shiva's name. Without this i, Shiva becomes Shva, which in Sanskrit means a corpse. Thus suggesting that without his Shakti, Shiva is powerless or inert.

... Kali's boon is won when man confronts or accepts her and the realities she dramatically conveys to him. The image of Kali, in a variety of ways, teaches man that pain, sorrow, decay, death, and destruction are not to be overcome or conquered by denying them or explaining them away. Pain and sorrow are woven into the texture of man's life so thoroughly that to deny them is ultimately futile. For man to realize the fullness of his being, for man to exploit his potential as a human being, he must finally accept this dimension of existence. Kali's boon is freedom, the freedom of the child to revel in the moment, and it is won only after confrontation or acceptance of death. To ignore death, to pretend that one is physically immortal, to pretend that one's ego is the center of things, is to provoke Kali's mocking laughter. To confront or accept death, on the contrary, is to realize a mode of being that can delight and revel in the play of the gods. To accept one's mortality is to be able to let go, to be able to sing, dance, and shout. Kali is Mother to her devotees not because she protects them from the way things really are but because she reveals to them their mortality and thus releases them to act fully and freely, releases them from the incredible, binding web of "adult" pretense, practicality, and rationality.

Source: Kali ~ The Divine Mother

I don't know if any of the above might help you come to terms with some of your own experiences Mjolnir. You can hang out with it, walk with it for awhile... see how it fits for you and decide for yourself.

~ Namaste

See also: The Black Madonna

Music of the Hour:

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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This was interesting...

Psychosis and transpersonal states

Failure to evaluate one's perception and experience of reality and to integrate them into a coherent worldview seems to be central to psychosis. In Psychiatry, people are diagnosed as psychotics, not only on the basis of their behaviour but on the content of their experiences or what they communicate to us using the language they have. These experiences, typically, are of a transpersonal nature and in sharp contradiction to all common sense and to the classical western world view. Many of them are well known to mystics, occur frequently in deep meditation, and can also be induced quite easily by various other methods (entheogens).

The inability of some people to integrate transpersonal experiences is often aggravated by a hostile environment. Immersed in a world of symbols and myth, they feel isolated and unable to communicate the nature of their experience.

Transpersonal experiences involve an expansion of consciousness beyond the conventional boundaries of the organism and correspondingly, a larger sense of identity. This mode of consciousness often transcends logical reasoning and intellectual analysis, approaching the direct mystical experience of reality. The language of mythology, which is much less restricted by logic and common sense, is often more appropriate to describe transpersonal phenomena than factual language.

The only way to overcome the existential dilemma of the human condition, ultimately, is to transcend it by experiencing one's existence within a broader cosmic context. Creative experience, religious conversion, and other peak experiences may involve much of the form of inner experience, which can accompany an acute psychotic reaction. If an individual (psychotic) does "return" and fairly completely, he is usually much better adjusted - he feels more capable, more open to the world and less defended. The "successful" schizophrenic episode (where one returns "healed") seems to be a precise example of true regression in service of the Self, in the Vedantic sense. It is a creative type of psychic readjustment and growth, a type of death and rebirth experience.

Source: Ravi Pisharadi - Psychosis and Transpersonal States

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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If Kali was The Place Where Time Melts, that was The Place That Bleeds The Color From Your Eyes. I've struggled to describe that place and the best descriptor I can come up with has been... whenever people are hurt or in pain, there is an energy attached to that experience.

I]The Place That Bleeds The Color From Your Eyes was the place where all the energy of that pain and anguish had gathered. Nonetheless, that darkness was not the same darkness as Kali.

Oh my, that sounds so much closer to the wire. I was in a state of absolute, maximum terror. A terror so intense and so beyond me that I am sure at this point that it is the furthest reach of terror that I myself will ever be capable of experiencing. But that was for a fleeting moment, the moment of my ego-death. I felt that I was actually there for an eternity, but as far as tangible time it wasn't any longer than about 8 seconds. I hit stages of horrible, mind destroying awareness in marked phases until I hit the apex.

The thing that struck me the hardest about this place was, in fact, the color, or lack thereof. It wasn't black, white, it wasn't red, blue, or orange. None of these colors were present, it was simultaneously all color and none. Colors unperceived by the human mind. It didn't feel like color, it felt like a depthless ocean of scorching, infinitely burning energy, but my mind keeps returning to the remarkable color, and noncolor, of that place.

I do not believe in Hell, have never been able to wrap my mind around accepting so simple and arbitrary a concept for an afterlife, but I believe in this place, it not as a stage in the cycle of annihilation than as a definitive, reachable point within all human minds.

I have read, by those who seek out Kali, that ultimately one must surrender his or her own identity to kali in order to end this maddening cycle of meaningless rebirth, which is fueled by the need to have an identity and a self awareness, so that she will annihilate the ego and one may exist in harmony as apart of the cosmos.

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Mjolnir: I do not believe in Hell but I believe in this place, it not as a stage in the cycle of annihilation than as a definitive, reachable point within all human minds.

It is a struggle to try and describe such things for ourselves but we do need to find names and descriptors as a means of trying to understand within rational terms. For myself, the concept of a collective pain works but the term "Hell" certainly crossed my mind too. More recently, I was reading a book and it has a chapter titled The Pain of the Collective Shadow. I haven't got that far yet but if I find any relevant tidbits, I'll come back and post them. Meantime, speaking for myself, it was necessary that I "see" those things because there was a cultural component to my experience. In addition, that "in" -sight probably altered some of the choices I made during that experience.

The thing that struck me the hardest about this place was, in fact, the color, or lack thereof. It wasn't black, white, it wasn't red, blue, or orange. None of these colors were present, it was simultaneously all color and none. Colors unperceived by the human mind.

Black is the color that contains all colors. If you took all of the colors of the rainbow and combined them your resulting mix would be black in color.

Source: In the Beginning

I don't recall a multitude of colors although I do recall an awareness of levels.

Mjolnir: ...it felt like a depthless ocean of scorching, infinitely burning...

~*~

backwards

Into a wall of fire

Backwards...

Into a wall of fire

Backwards...

Into a wall of fire

BACKWARDS!

INTO A WALL OF FIRE!!

Strange Days ~ Beautiful Midnight

Mjolnir: ... energy

Yes. But that energy was also communicative. It's just that there are no words to express that degree of communication and that's part of what I'm still learning from. It was very intense.

I appreciate you sharing your own experience Mjolnir. It's not often I've encountered anyone who has experienced anything similar. Thank you.

~ Namaste

See also:

- Archetype of the Apocalypse

- Kundalini

- Catching the Thread: Sufism, Dreamwork and Jungian Psychology

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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I got curious about the term "annihiliation anxiety". (Don't try this at home. :D)

In annihilation anxieties, the basic danger involves a threat to psychic survival, experienced as a present menace or as an anticipation of an imminent catastrophe. The experience entails fantasies and/or feelings of helplessness in the face of inner and/or outer dangers against which the person feels he can take no protective or constructive action.

The construct derives from Freud's 1926 view of a traumatic situation where the person is faced with a quantity of stimulation that he/she cannot discharge or master, a failure of self-regulation. The experience of overwhelmed helplessness has much in common with Jones' aphanisis, Klein's psychotic anxiety, Schur's primary anxiety, Winnicott's unthinkable anxiety, Bion's nameless dread, Stern's biotrauma, Frosch's basic anxiety, Little's annihilation anxiety, and Kohut's disintegration anxiety. Derivatives of underlying annihilation anxieties are fears of being overwhelmed, destroyed, abandoned, mortified, mutilated, suffocated or drowned, of intolerable feeling states, losing mental, physical or bodily control, of going insane, dissolving, being absorbed, invaded, or shattered, of exploding, melting, leaking out, evaporating or fading away.

Source: answers.com

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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This was interesting...

Psychosis and transpersonal states

Failure to evaluate one's perception and experience of reality and to integrate them into a coherent worldview seems to be central to psychosis. In Psychiatry, people are diagnosed as psychotics, not only on the basis of their behaviour but on the content of their experiences or what they communicate to us using the language they have. These experiences, typically, are of a transpersonal nature and in sharp contradiction to all common sense and to the classical western world view. Many of them are well known to mystics, occur frequently in deep meditation, and can also be induced quite easily by various other methods (entheogens).

The inability of some people to integrate transpersonal experiences is often aggravated by a hostile environment. Immersed in a world of symbols and myth, they feel isolated and unable to communicate the nature of their experience.

Transpersonal experiences involve an expansion of consciousness beyond the conventional boundaries of the organism and correspondingly, a larger sense of identity. This mode of consciousness often transcends logical reasoning and intellectual analysis, approaching the direct mystical experience of reality. The language of mythology, which is much less restricted by logic and common sense, is often more appropriate to describe transpersonal phenomena than factual language.

The only way to overcome the existential dilemma of the human condition, ultimately, is to transcend it by experiencing one's existence within a broader cosmic context. Creative experience, religious conversion, and other peak experiences may involve much of the form of inner experience, which can accompany an acute psychotic reaction. If an individual (psychotic) does "return" and fairly completely, he is usually much better adjusted - he feels more capable, more open to the world and less defended. The "successful" schizophrenic episode (where one returns "healed") seems to be a precise example of true regression in service of the Self, in the Vedantic sense. It is a creative type of psychic readjustment and growth, a type of death and rebirth experience.

Source: Ravi Pisharadi - Psychosis and Transpersonal States

Wow, this is very interesting. Incredibly encouraging, too. It is my belief that the alleged insane are likely far closer to grasping the underlying and undefined reality (and non-realities) than the sane. Many people become lost in a battlefield within their minds and do not understand that they can seek to make a new whole for themselves again out of the experience, by looking upon it as something to learn heavily about themselves from.

My best friend recommended to me Phillip K. Dick (science fiction writer), who, like us, had a serious identity crisis of his own involving multiple realities. He proudly accepted these multiple realities and was quoted saying that no one reality can truly be the right one if there are others to be experienced.

Too many of us become lost in the worlds we are plunged into without ever thinking to attempt understanding them objectively,

This is easy to say for the sane, who can reach the places that we 'travel' to through spiritual practices, psychedelics, meditation and so forth, but with considerably less risk of becoming 'lost' because they retain a semi-permanent footing in this reality, I tend to feel sorry for these people because I feel that true mastery of universal and spiritual understanding and comprehension cannot be achieved without complete abandon of the idea that there is a permanent definition to any reality.

The point I'm making here is that what you've presented is comforting evidence to support something I have suspected all along, that all minds are capable of witnessing the things that people like us are at times helpless not to. Personally, I am struggling with this because I feel the constant pull to drift back into this high-cosmos and am deathly afraid of it, so I fight it with willpower. Though I know that I will never become whole again until I return and allow the cycle of annihilation to take place, conquering my fear at its origin and journeying all the way through it to come back out at the other side. I just fear that I will become ultimately lost, which is why I am not ready yet. I am living a parallel life where I deny what I have seen and what I am driven to believe about it, labeling them as delusions, and simultaneously thirst to know if I truly have the strength to let it all rush back in and overwhelm me, then ultimately accept everything that I experience and continue to exist in whatever realm i find myself in without going so completely mad that I cannot separate the two (or infinite) realities in my perception. I see that you have done this with great success, and as I have stated before, I am truly impressed and envious.

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I'm still composing my thoughts to your last message Mjolnir, but I thought I'd drag this in here too in case you hadn't seen it. I have no doubt it will "speak" to you on some level...

==================================================

And you open the door and you step inside... we're inside our hearts. Now, imagine your Being as a white ball of healing light. That's right, your pain, the pain itself ... is a white ball of healing light.

........ I don't think so

this is your life

good to the last drop

doesn't get any better than this

this is your life

and it's ending one minute

at a time

this isn't a seminar

this isn't a weekend retreat

where you are now

You can't even imagine

what the bottom looks like

only after disaster

can we be resurrected

it's only after you've lost

everything that you're

free to do anything

nothing is static,

everything is evolving,

everything is

falling apart

you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake

you are the same decaying

organic matter as everything else

we are all a part of the same compost heap

we are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world

YOU ARE NOT YOUR BANK ACCOUNT

YOU ARE NOT THE CLOTHES YOU WEAR

YOU ARE NOT THE CONTENTS OF YOUR WALLET

YOU ARE NOT YOUR BOWEL CANCER

YOU ARE NOT YOUR GRANDE LATTE

YOU ARE NOT THE CAR YOU DRIVE

YOU ARE NOT YOUR F*CKING KHAKIS!

you have to give up ...

you have to give up ...

you have to realize

that someday you will die

until you know that

you are useless

i say, let me never be complete

i say, may i never be content

i say, deliver me from Swedish furniture

i say, deliver me from clever lunch

i say, deliver me from clear skin and perfect teeth

i say, you have to give up

i say, evolve and let the chips fall where they may

this is your life

doesn't get any better than this

this is your life

minute, minute, spending one minute at a time

you have to give up ...

you have to give up ...

........ i want you to hit me as hard as you can

Welcome to Fight Club

If this is your first night

You have to fight.

Music of the Hour:

That's from the Fight Club thread which serves as an example of using Jungian insights to understand the experience we call psychosis and/or schizophrenia in this culture. If you wish to explore it for yourself, you can find that thread here: Fight Club: An Example of a Schizophrenic (Fragmentation) Process

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Mjolnir: I was recently discussing my psychosis and spiritual crisis with a friend of mine who seeks to attain the level of mental awareness we are now discussing. He contends that us, the alleged insane, are likely far closer to grasping the underlying and undefined reality (and non-realities) than the sane.

There is often a religious or spiritual aspect to such experiences. I attribute them to the fact that the ego has been dispensed with. As you note, this is often the goal of many religious/spiritual paths but a critical difference is that the "schizophrenic" has been thrust into such experiences with no preparation or framework for interpreting their experience. It can also be a rather brutal experience for rather than the slow wearing away of the ego that contemplation or meditation offers, it's a bit more akin to having all the skin ripped from your body.

... he believes that many people become lost in a battlefield within their minds and do not understand that they can seek to make a new whole for themselves again out of the experience by looking upon it as something to learn heavily about themselves from.

There are many layers where a person can get lost. It can be helpful to have a guide. This was one of the areas where I was very fortunate for I did have a mentor through that experience. He was my animus -- a woman's inner masculine. Within the Jungian model, males have an equivalent inner feminine known as the anima. I suspect that this is the best level of "guide" available.

For an example of the anima and animus at that level of relationship, Dante or St. John of the Cross can probably offer up a glimpse. In my case, because I was middle aged when I went through that experience, I had a well-developed animus. That is not likely to be the case for the majority of individuals who encounter these kind of experiences in their late adolescence or early adulthood. That may be part of the reason they have so much difficulty with those experiences and recovering from same.

Music of the Hour:

See also:

- The Inner Beloved

- Alchemy Images: The Rosarium Philosophorum

- Understanding the Jungian Anima Archetype

- Understanding the Jungian Animus Archetype

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Mjolnir: The point I'm making here is that what you've presented here is comforting evidence to support something I have suspected all along, that all minds are capable of witnessing the things that people like us are at times helpless not to. Personally, I am struggling with this because I feel the constant pull to drift back into this high-cosmos and am deathly afraid of it, so I fight it with willpower.

There is no point in forcing anything but should you find yourself back in that state again, perhaps you'll have some reference points that might prevent you from becoming lost there. R.D. Laing addressed this same point many years ago...

... We start again from the split of our experience into what seems to be two worlds, inner and outer.

The normal state of affairs is that we know little of either and are alienated from both, but that we know perhaps a little more of the outer than the inner.

We need not be unaware of the "inner" world. We do not realize its existence most of the time. But many people encounter it -- unfortunately, without guides, confusing outer with inner realities, and inner with outer -- and generally lose their capacity to function competantly in ordinary relations.

This need not be so. The process of entering into the other world from this world, and returning to this world from the other world, is as natural as death and giving birth or being born. But in our present world, which is both so terrified and so unconscious of the other world, it is not surprising that when "reality," the fabric of this world bursts, and a person enters the other world, he is completely lost and terrified and meets only incomprehension in others.

Sometimes, having gone through the looking glass, through the eye of the needle, the territory is now recognized as one's lost home, but most people now in inner space and time are, to begin with, in unfamiliar territory and are frightened and confused. They are lost. They have forgotten that they have been there before. They clutch at chimeras. They try to retain their bearings by compounding their confusion, by projection, (putting the inner on the outer), and introjection (importing outer categories into the inner). They do not know what is happening, and no one is likely to enlighten them.

The person who has entered this inner realm (if only he is allowed to experience this) will find himself going, or being conducted -- one cannot clearly distinguish active from passive here -- on a journey.

This journey is experienced as going further "in" as going back through one's personal life, in and back and through and beyond into the experience of all mankind, of the primal man, of Adam and perhaps even further into the beings of animals, vegetables, and minerals.

In this journey there are many occasions to lose one's way, for confusion, partial failure, even final shipwreck, many terrors, spirits, demons to be encountered that may or may not be overcome.

We do not regard it as pathologically deviant to explore a jungle or climb Mount Everest. We feel that Columbus was entitled to be mistaken in his construction of what he discovered when he came to the New World. We respect the voyager, the explorer, the climber, the space man. It makes far more sense to me as a valid project -- indeed, as a desperately and urgently required project for our time -- to explore the inner space and time of consciousness.

No age in the history of humanity has perhaps so lost touch with this natural healing process that implicates some of the people whom we label as schizophrenic. No age has so devalued it, no age has imposed such prohibitions and deterrences against it, as our own. Instead of the mental hospital, a sort of reservicing factory for human breakdowns, we need a place where people who have travelled further and, consequently, may be more lost than psychiatrists and other sane people, can find their way further into inner space and time, and back again. Instead of the degradation ceremonial of psychiatric examination, diagnosis and prognostication, we need, for those who are ready for it, (in psychiatric terminology, often those who are about to go into a schizophrenic breakdown) an initiation ceremonial, through which the person will be guided with full social encouragement and sanction into inner space and time, by people who have been there and back again.

What is entailed then is:

(i) a voyage from outer to inner,

(ii) from life to a kind of death,

(iii) from going forward to going back,

(iv) From temporal movement to temporal standstill,

(v) from mundane time to eonic time,

(vi) from the ego to the self,

(vii) from outside (post-birth) back into the womb of all things (pre-birth),

and then subsequently a return voyage from

(1) inner to outer,

(2) from death to life,

(3) from the movement back to a movement forward once more,

(4) from immortality back to mortality,

(5) from eternity back to time,

(6) from self to a new ego,

(7) from a cosmic fetalization to an existential rebirth.

[...]

One would hope that society would set up places whose express purpose would be to help people through the stormy passages of such a voyage. A considerable part of this book has been devoted to showing why that is unlikely.

In this particular type of journey, the direction we have to take is back and in, because it was way back that we started to go down and out. They will say we are regressed and withdrawn and out of contact with them. True enough, we have a long way to go back to contact the reality we have all lost contact with.

The Politics of Experience - R.D. Laing

Source: spiritual_emergency_blogspot

Music of the Hour:

Edited by spiritual_emergency
Fixing music link.
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In regard to all minds being able to have such experiences... I do believe it's possible to produce ego collapse in anyone and everyone. It's simply a matter of applying pressure in the right place for a long-enough period. I may be wrong however for here's a few points I culled from the neurotheology article linked above...

- In order to feel that time, fear and self-consciousness have dissolved, he reasoned, certain brain circuits must be interrupted. Which ones? Activity in the amygdala, which monitors the environment for threats and registers fear,... must be damped. Parietal-lobe circuits, which orient you in space and mark the sharp distinction between self and world, must go quiet.

Frontal- and temporal-lobe circuits, which mark time and generate self-awareness, must disengage. When that happens, Austin concludes in a recent paper, "what we think of as our 'higher' functions of selfhood appear briefly to 'drop out,' 'dissolve,' or be 'deleted from consciousness'."

- In neurotheology, psychologists and neurologists try to pinpoint which regions turn on, and which turn off, during experiences that seem to exist outside time and space. In this way it differs from the rudimentary research of the 1950s and 1960s that found, yeah, brain waves change when you meditate. But that research was silent on why brain waves change, or which specific regions in the brain lie behind the change.

- Attention: Linked to concentration, the frontal lobe lights up during meditation

- Religious emotions: The middle temporal lobe is linked to emotional aspects of religious experience, such as joy and awe

- Sacred images: The lower temporal lobe is involved in the process by which images, such as candles or crosses, facilitate prayer and meditation

- Response to religious words: At the juncture of three lobes, this region governs response to language

- Cosmic unity: When the parietal lobes quiet down, a person can feel at one with the universe

- A bundle of neurons in the superior parietal lobe, toward the top and back of the brain, had gone dark. This region, nicknamed the "orientation association area," processes information about space and time, and the orientation of the body in space.

- It determines where the body ends and the rest of the world begins. Specifically, the left orientation area creates the sensation of a physically delimited body; the right orientation area creates the sense of the physical space in which the body exists. (An injury to this area can so cripple your ability to maneuver in physical space that you cannot figure the distance and angles needed to navigate the route to a chair across the room.)

- The orientation area requires sensory input to do its calculus. "If you block sensory inputs to this region, as you do during the intense concentration of meditation, you prevent the brain from forming the distinction between self and not-self," says Newberg. With no information from the senses arriving, the left orientation area cannot find any boundary between the self and the world. As a result, the brain seems to have no choice but "to perceive the self as endless and intimately interwoven with everyone and everything"

- The fact that spiritual contemplation affects brain activity gives the experience a reality that psychologists and neuroscientists had long denied it, and explains why people experience ineffable, transcendent events as equally real as seeing a wondrous sunset or stubbing their toes.

- "The fact that spiritual experiences can be associated with distinct neural activity does not necessarily mean that such experiences are mere neurological illusions," Newberg insists. "It's no safer to say that spiritual urges and sensations are caused by brain activity than it is to say that the neurological changes through which we experience the pleasure of eating an apple cause the apple to exist."

- electrical stimulation of the temporal lobes (which nestle along the sides of the head and house the circuits responsible for language, conceptual thinking and associations) produces visions. ... He suspects that religious experiences are evoked by mini electrical storms in the temporal lobes, and that such storms can be triggered by anxiety, personal crisis, lack of oxygen, low blood sugar and simple fatigue-suggesting a reason that some people "find God" in such moments. Why the temporal lobes? Persinger speculates that our left temporal lobe maintains our sense of self. When that region is stimulated but the right stays quiescent, the left interprets this as a sensed presence, as the self departing the body, or of God.

- "In people whose unconscious thoughts tend to break through into consciousness more readily, we find some correlation with spiritual experiences," says psychologist Michael Thalbourne of the University of Adelaide. Unfortunately, scientists are pretty clueless about what allows subconscious thoughts to pop into the consciousness of some people and not others. The single strongest predictor of such experiences, however, is something called "dissociation." In this state, different regions of the brain disengage from others. "This theory, which explains hypnotizability so well, might explain mystical states, too," says Michael Shermer, director of the Skeptics Society, which debunks paranormal phenomena. "Something really seems to be going on in the brain, with some module dissociating from the rest of the cortex."

- Even people who describe themselves as nonspiritual can be moved by religious ceremonies and liturgy. Hence the power of ritual. Drumming, dancing, incantations-all rivet attention on a single, intense source of sensory stimulation, including the body's own movements. They also evoke powerful emotional responses. That combination-focused attention that excludes other sensory stimuli, plus heightened emotion-is key. Together, they seem to send the brain's arousal system into hyperdrive, much as intense fear does. When this happens, explains Newberg, one of the brain structures responsible for maintaining equilibrium-the hippocampus-puts on the brakes. The result is that certain regions of the brain are deprived of neuronal input. ...

- One such deprived region seems to be the orientation area, the same spot that goes quiet during meditation and prayer. As in those states, without sensory input the orientation area cannot do its job of maintaining a sense of where the self leaves off and the world begins. That's why ritual and liturgy can bring on what Newberg calls a "softening of the boundaries of the self"-and the sense of oneness and spiritual unity. Slow chanting, elegiac liturgical melodies and whispered ritualistic prayer all seem to work their magic in much the same way: they turn on the hippocampus directly and block neuronal traffic to some brain regions. The result again is "blurring the edges of the brain's sense of self, opening the door to the unitary states that are the primary goal of religious ritual," says Newberg.

- mystical experiences, says Forman, may tell us something about consciousness, arguably the greatest mystery in neuroscience. "In mystical experiences, the content of the mind fades, sensory awareness drops out, so you are left only with pure consciousness," says Forman. "This tells you that consciousness does not need an object, and is not a mere byproduct of sensory action."

Source: This is Your Brain, on God

See also:

- Jill Bolte Taylor ~ A Stroke of Insight

- Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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In case you're not back to read for a while Mjolnir... I felt compelled to initiate a new topic after my last few posts. It touches on some of the themes we've talked about/shared thus far but also begins to concentrate a bit more on the themes of the opposites / duality. Feel free to share your thoughts if/when you wish.

It's here: Schizophrenia / Psychosis and the Opposites in the Psyche

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~*~

The emotion it was, electric

And the stars, they all aligned

I knew I had to make my decision,

but I never made the Time

No, I never made the Time

... In the dark, for a while now

I can't stay, so far

I can't stay, much longer

Riding my decision home ...

Now, there's a majesty at my doorstep

And there's a little boy in her arms

And we'll parade around without game plans

Obligation or alarm

In the dark...

Click to see the images: Isis and Horus/Madonna and Child

I don't know who writes the lyrics for The Killers, but I'll bet they've been to some interesting places.

We've got two threads on the go here Mjolnir and maybe I shouldn't have split them but I wanted to pull out the information on the opposites yet still stay with the themes of Kali, madness, Time, dissolution and the terror that entails.

In this post I dragged in four archetypes of the Masculine and Feminine but it's the Feminine that applies here:

Static Feminine - Positive Qualities

- Organic, undifferentiated wholeness

- Uterus, nature-in-the-round

- Being and self-acceptance

- The Great Mother (Archetype)

Static Feminine - Negative Qualities

- Smothering entanglement

- Inertia, ensnaring and devouring routine

- Stupornous, mere existence

- The Devouring Mother (Archetype)

Dynamic Feminine - Positive Qualities

- Transformation

- "Altered states"

- Imagination and play

- Liminality and "potential space"

- Dionysos, the Dancing Maenad, the Trickster (Archetypes)

Dynamic Feminine - Negative Qualities

- Transformations and altered states leading to chaos, emptiness, despair and death including depression, alcohol and drug intoxication, hysteria, and identity diffusion.

- The Mad Man/Woman (Archetype)

Ego consciousness arises out of the mother so if we're going to dissolve that structure, we have to return to the Feminine to do so. That means returning to a spiritual rather than material, chaotic rather than ordered, irrational rather than rational, right-brained rather than left-brained mode of experience.

This is what takes us back to the black womb of the Unmanifest Absolute, back to a state of consciousness before we were born where linear Time did not exist, back to the Garden of Paradise before Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Good and Evil and thus, entered the world of duality. It's the place where Jill Bolte Taylor "went" when she had her stroke. It's the place you and I "went" when our ego's "died". It is the Beginning and therefore, it is also the End...

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot ~ Little Gidding

Music of the Hour: The Killers ~ I Can't Stay

See also: The Nag Hammadi Library ~ The Thunder, Perfect Mind

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The path, according to Jungian thought...

Psychological Development is the progressive emergence and differentiation of the ego or consciousness from the original state of unconsciousness. It is a process which, ideally, continues throughout the lifetime of the individual. In contradistinction to physical development, there is no time at which one can say that full psychic development has been achieved. Although we may distinguish various stages of development for descriptive purposes, actually one stage merges into another in a single fluid continuum.

In the early phase, the ego has very little autonomy. It is largely in a state of identification with the objective psyche within and the external world without. It lives in the world of archetypes and makes no clear distinction between inner and outer objects. This primitive state of ego development is called, after Lévy-Bruhl, participation mystique, and is shared by both the primitive and the child. It is a state of magical participation and interpretation between the ego and its surroundings. What is ego and what is non-ego are not distinguished. Inner world and outer world are experienced as a single totality. This primitive state of participation mystique is also evident in the phenomena of mob psychology in which individual consciousness and responsibility are temporarily eclipsed by identification with a collective dynamism.

Jung made no effort to present a systematic theory of psychological development. However, some of his followers, especially Neumann, have attempted to fill in this gap. Following Neumann, the stages of psychological development can be described as follows.

The first or original state is called the uroboric stage, derived from uroborus, the circular image of the tail-eating serpent. It refers to the original totality and self-containment which is prior to the birth of consciousness. The ego exists only as a latent potentiality in a state of primary identity with the Self or objective psyche. This state is presumed to pertain during the prenatal period and early infancy.

The transition between this state and the second stage of development corresponds to the creation of the world for the individual psyche. Thus world creation myths refer to this first decisive event in psychic development - the birth of the ego out of the unconscious. The basic theme of all creation myths is separation. Out of undifferentiated wholeness one element is discriminated from another. It may be expressed as the creation of light - the separation of light from darkness, or as the separation of the world parents - the distinction between masculine and feminine, or the emergence of order out of chaos. In each case the meaning is the same, namely, the birth of consciousness, the capacity to discriminate between opposites.

The second stage of psychological development is called the matriarchal phase. Although beginning consciousness has appeared, it is as yet only dim and fitful. The nascent ego is still largely passive and dependent on its uroboric matrix which now takes on the aspect of the great mother. Masculine and feminine elements are not yet clearly differentiated so that the great mother will still be undifferentiated as to sex. To this stage belongs the image of the phallic mother incorporating both masculine and feminine components. Here, the ruling psychic entity is the great mother. The predominant concern will be to seek her nourishment and support and to avoid her destructive, devouring aspect. The father archetype or masculine principle has not yet emerged into separate existence. Mother is still all. The ego has achieved only a precarious separation and is still dependent on the unconscious, which is personified as the great mother. ...

The third stage is called the patriarchal phase. The transition is characterized by particular themes, images and actions. In an attempt to break free from the matriarchal phase, the feminine with all its attributes is rejected and depreciated. The theme of initiation rituals pertains to this period of transition. The father archetype or masculine principle emerges in full force and claims the allegiance of the individual. Tests, challenges, rules and discipline are set up in opposition to the sympathy and comfortable containment of the great mother. The incest taboo is erected prohibiting regression to the mother-bound state.

Once the transition to the patriarchal stage has been accomplished, the archetype of the great father, the masculine spirit principle, determines the values and goals of life. Consciousness, individual responsibility, self-discipline and rationality will be the prevailing values. Everything pertaining to the feminine principle will be repressed, depreciated or subordinated to masculine ends. In childhood development, the patriarchal phase will be particularly evident in the years preceding puberty.

The fourth phase is designated the integrative phase. The preceding patriarchal stage has left the individual one-sided and incomplete. The feminine principle, woman and therefore the anima and the unconscious have been repressed and neglected. Another change or transition is thus needed to redeem these neglected psychic elements.

This transition phase also has its characteristic imagery. The most typical myth is the hero fighting the dragon. In this archetypal story, a beautiful maiden is in captivity to a dragon or monster. The maiden is the anima, the precious but neglected feminine principle which has been rejected and depreciated in the previous patriarchal phase of development. The monster represents the residual uroboric state, the great mother in its destructive, devouring aspect. The anima or feminine value is still attached to this dangerous element and can be freed only by heroic action. The hero represents the necessary ego attitude that is willing to relinquish the safety of the conventional patriarchal standards and expose himself once again to the unconscious, the dangers of regression and bondage to the woman in order to redeem a lost but necessary element, the anima. If this is successful, the anima or feminine principle is raised to its proper value modifying and completing the previous one-sided patriarchal attitude.

This is a decisive step in psychological integration that amounts to a reconciliation of opposites; masculine and feminine, law and love, conscious and unconscious, spirit and nature. In individual development of the youth, this phase corresponds to the emerging capacity to relate to girls during puberty which is subsequently followed by love for a particular woman and eventually marriage.

It should be understood that although these phases of psychic development have been related to various periods in the development of the child and young man, their meaning is not confined to these external events. The end of psychological development is not reached with the event of marriage. Such external happenings are only the external manifestations of an archetypal process of development which still awaits its inner realization. Furthermore, the series of psychological stages here described can be traversed not once but many times in the course of psychic development. These stages are, so to speak, successive way stations that we return to again and again in the course of a spiral journey which takes one over the same course repeatedly but each time on a different level of conscious awareness.*

*The foregoing account of development refers particularly to masculine psychology. Although the same stages of development apply to a woman, they will be experienced in a somewhat different way. Relevant myths are those of Demeter and Persephone and Amor and Psyche. See Neumann's excellent commentary on Amor and Psyche.

Jung's major contribution to developmental psychology is his concept of individuation. The term refers to a developmental process which begins in the adult individual, usually after the age of thirty-five, and if successful leads to the discovery of the Self and the replacing of the ego by it as the personality center.

Individuation is the discovery of and the extended dialogue with the objective psyche of which the Self is the comprehensive expression. It begins with one or more decisive experiences challenging egocentricity and producing an awareness that the ego is subject to a more comprehensive psychic entity. Although the full fruits of the individuation process only appear in the second half of life, the evolving relation between the ego and the objective psyche is a continuous one from birth to death.

Source: An Outline of Analytical Psychology

See also: Schizophrenia and the Hero's Journey

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Integration...

In the process of integration we first become aware of the opposites within us, the ego and its shadow, and then the inner partner. Our ego-identity, an illusory sense of individuality, breaks down under the impact of these opposites hidden in the unconscious. We discover that we are not what we think we are or what we have been conditioned to believe.

The alchemists called this the stage of separatio, as we become aware of the separate aspects of ourself. This initiates conflict as opposing aspects fight for dominance or for a "place in the sun". Accepting disagreeable, confusing and frightening aspects of ourself is a painful process. It is a journey into the darkness in which we encounter both monsters and jewels. Often the confrontation and acceptance of the monsters uncover the jewels that are hidden within them. When Beauty finally loves the Beast, the prince is revealed.

On this journey, the Self guides us through the maze of the unconscious. Without its inner direction we would become lost. As we work upon ourselves we come closer to this guiding center of consciousness and the light of its guidance grows stronger. What had been so hidden gradually infuses our attitude and awareness.

The deeper mystery of our own being becomes accessible. Because we are each unique, this process of self-revelation will be individual. In our own way we each sense the quality of completeness, the sense of wonder, the depth of meaning, that comes from the ever-increasing connection with our own divinity.

The Self is infinite and the experience of unity is without boundaries. "Smaller than small, greater than great" the Self lives in the center of the heart and yet, contains the whole Universe...

The inner journey is a process of psychological purification in which rejected aspects of ourself are transformed through love. This is the work of "polishing the mirror of the heart" through which we come to glimpse our true nature. When this inner mirror is covered with projections and ego-conditioning, we see everything distorted, we see the confused reflections of our own light and darkness.

But as we polish the mirror the distortions are removed and we begin to see with a quality of clarity and simplicity. From the seeming chaos of multiplicity we become aware of a sense of unity. The Self is born into consciousness and its quality of wholeness permeates our inner and outer life. Looking within, we see beyond the ego to what is more essential and more enduring.

Source: Sufism: The Transformation of the Heart

See also: Roberto Assagioli ~ The Balancing and Synthesis of the Opposites

Music of the Hour:

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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This post would make a great starter post for a topic on Integration: How to polish the mirror in the absence of a psychoanalyst. Few are lucky enough to have therapist help in this, I think.

Enormous topic, I know, but then aren't they all?

(How many topics can you juggle at the same time, SpiritEm? :))

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Luna: How to polish the mirror in the absence of a psychoanalyst.

I think that takes us back to the realm of the Anima/Animus -- the inner opposite...

It's a long, long get away

It's a long, long get away

Make it home again

Make it home again

It's a long, long get away

It's a long, long get away

I can't see that thief that lives inside of your head

But I can be some courage at the side of your bed

I don't know what's happening and I can't pretend

But I can be your, be your . . . mirror

But I can be your, be your . . . mirror

It's a long, long get away

... little by little... every day... like Jesus... he's changing me...

Gallagher's Song

See also: Awakening by the Gate of Sorrow

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More, from the book I'm currently reading. Please note, because the word "God" seems to be such a loaded term in our world, I've replaced it in the passage below with the world "All".

... In the scorching sun of this inner landscape the dreamer will come to know her own connection with Him whom her heart loves. But first, she must be burnt by the scorching sun, which will burn away all her attachments to the world, leaving her empty...

Only when we have been made empty are we able to realize our true nature which carries the imprint of our Beloved.

For a woman, her inner partner is an important figure on this quest. He provides the focus and discrimination necessary for working with the contents of the unconscious. Her masculine consciousness creates the container, the inner boundaries that form the alchemical vessel. Without a positive relationship to the masculine, she cannot separate out what belongs to her and what belongs to others, what is to be accepted and integrated and what is to be left outside the vessel of transformation. Without this masculine container her psychic energies remain dispersed and no real transformation takes place. The masculine also gives her the support and perseverance necessary for this most difficult task, and counters the natural inertia of the feminine, the pull of the Great Mother back into unconsciousness.

But what is essential is that the masculine remains in service to the feminine. The woman must remain a "virgin," true to her feminine self and never prostitute herself to the masculine. This is a great danger in our patriarchal culture in which women have been conditioned to be frightened of their own nature. If a woman allows her feminine self to be in service to the masculine then the inner lover becomes a rapist, and the sword of discrimination becomes a murderer's knife, cutting her off from her own instinctual wholeness. How many women have experienced their inner masculine as a rational voice arguing against her innate knowledge, or as a threatening figure, chasing her in a dream, wielding this same cutting knife?

Work on the Shadow, on both a personal and a collective level, reveals the positive masculine, the lover and friend, who adds the strength and clarity of consciousness to her "diffuse awareness". He helps her to consciously know her instinctual nature, the pure gold of her feminine Self. Once she has realized the wonder and beauty of her own nature, the masculine then enables her to live this essence of her outer life, to bring her sacred knowledge of life's wholeness into the world. Without a positive inner partner, her instinctual knowing remains in the unconscious, an unlived dream.

Once our dreamer has discovered herself as an "All given person" she has needs to live this newfound sense of self, which is her own innermost connection with All. This connection needs to be lived in every cell of her body; only then will its wonder be realized, only then will she fully come to know her own sacred being -- the mystery of the feminine side of All.

Source: Sufism, Dreamwork and Jungian Psychology

Music of the Hour:

I believe I've noted elsewhere that the Inner Masculine/Inner Feminine goes beyond gender or sexual orientation.

Meantime, I hope you caught all that Mjolnar. You need a guide in such places. The best guide you can find is the one within you but, as a young man, you likely hadn't had the opportunity to develop the life relationships that could feed that part of you. From what I understand however, you are in a loving relationship now and no doubt, you have had and will continue to have numerous relationships with people of the opposite sex. This will flesh out that inner Beloved in both positive and negative ways.

See also: Fight Club: Stage Three: Psychosis - Entering the Land of the Unconscious: The Anima/Animus

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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I wonder how often the Animus becomes the Shadow?

This woman seems to have begun with a male figure who guided her, then later became her tormenter and abuser.

Schizophrenia – Floating In An Anchorless Reality

by Janet Jordan

Schizophrenia Bulletin, Volume 21, No. 3, 1995

First Person Account series

The schizophrenic experience can be a terrifying journey through a world of madness no one can understand, particularly the person traveling through it. It is a journey through a world that is deranged, empty, and devoid of anchors to reality. You feel very much alone. You find it easier to withdraw than cope with a reality that is incongruent with your fantasy world. You feel tormented by distorted perceptions. You cannot distinguish what is real from what is unreal. Schizophrenia affects all aspects of your life. Your thoughts race and you feel fragmented and so very alone with your “craziness.”

My name is Janet Jordan. I am a person with schizophrenia. I am also a college graduate with 27 hours toward a master’s degree. I have published three articles in national journals and hold a full-time position as a technical editor for a major engineering/technical documentation corporation.

I have suffered from this serious mental illness for over 25 years. In fact, I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t plagued with hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. At times, I feel like the operator in my brain just doesn’t get the message to the right people. It can be very confusing to have to deal with different people in my head. When I become fragmented in my thinking, I start to have my worst problems. I have been hospitalized because of this illness many times, sometimes for as long as 2 to 4 months.

I guess the moment I started recovering was when I asked for help in coping with the schizophrenia. For so long, I refused to accept that I had a serious mental illness. During my adolescence, I thought I was just strange. I was afraid all the time. I had my own fantasy world and spent many days lost in it.

I had one particular friend. I called him the “Controller.” He was my secret friend. He took on all of my bad feelings. He was the sum total of my negative feelings and my paranoia. I could see him and hear him, but no one else could.

The problems were compounded when I went off to college. Suddenly, the Controller started demanding all my time and energy. He would punish me if I did something he didn’t like. He spent a lot of time yelling at me and making me feel wicked. I didn’t know how to stop him from screaming at me and ruling my existence.

It got to the point where I couldn’t decipher reality from what the Controller was screaming. So I withdrew from society and reality. I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening because I was so afraid of being labeled as “crazy.” I didn’t understand what was going on in my head. I really thought that other “normal” people had Controllers too.

While the Controller was his most evident, I was desperately trying to make it in society and through college to earn my degree. The Controller was preventing me from coping with even everyday events. I tried to hide this illness from everyone, particularly my family. How could I tell my family that I had this person inside my head, telling me what to do, think, and say?

However, my secret was slowly killing me. It was becoming more and more difficult to attend classes and understand the subject matter. I spent most of my time listening to the Controller and his demands. I really don’t know how I made it through college, much less how I graduated cum laude. I think I made it on a wing and a prayer. Then, as I started graduate school, my thinking became more and more fragmented. One of my psychology professors insisted that I see a counselor at the college. Well, it appeared that I was more than he could handle, so I quit seeing him.

Since my degree is in education, I got a job teaching third grade. That lasted about 3 months, and then I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for 4 months. I just wasn’t functioning in the outside world. I was very delusional and paranoid, and I spent much of my time engrossed with my fantasy world and the Controller.

My first therapist tried to get me to open up, but I have to admit that I didn’t trust her and couldn’t tell her about the Controller. I was still so afraid of being labeled “crazy.” I really thought that I had done something evil in my life and that was why I had this craziness in my head. I was deathly afraid that I would end up like my three paternal uncles, all of whom had committed suicide. I didn’t trust anyone. I thought perhaps I had a special calling in life, something beyond normal. Even though the Controller spent most of the time yelling his demands, I think I felt blessed in some strange way.

I felt above normal. I think I had the most difficulty accepting the fact that the Controller was only in my world and not in everyone else’s world. I honestly thought that everyone could see and hear him. It progressed to where I thought the world could read my mind and that everything I imagined was being broadcast to the entire world. I would walk around paralyzed with fear that the hallucinations were real and the paranoia was evident to everyone.

My psychosis was present at all times. At one point, I would look at my coworkers and their faces would become distorted. Their teeth looked like fangs ready to devour me. Most of the time I couldn’t trust myself to look at anyone for fear of being swallowed. I had no respite from the illness. Even when I tried to sleep, the demons would keep me awake, and at times I would roam the house searching for them.

I was being consumed on all sides whether I was awake or asleep. I felt like I was being consumed by the demons. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. How could I convince the world that I wasn’t ill, wasn’t crazy? I couldn’t even convince myself. I knew something was wrong, and I blamed myself. None of my siblings have this illness, so I believed I was the wicked one.

I felt like I was running around in circles, not going anywhere but down into the abyss of “craziness.” I couldn’t understand why I had been plagued with this illness. Why would God do this to me? Everyone around me was looking to blame someone or something. I blamed myself. I was sure it was my fault because I just knew I was wicked. I could see no other possibilities.

In the hospital, every test known to man was run on me. When the psychiatrist said I had paranoid schizophrenia, I didn’t believe him. What did he know? He didn’t know me. He was just guessing. I was certain he was trying to trick me into believing those lies. Nevertheless, he did start me on an antipsychotic medicine and that was the first of many drugs I have been given over the years.

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