Psychiatric patients want more room for spirituality in their treatment.
This article appeared in the newspaper Trouw on July 16.
Sometimes I work with people in my practice who are so stuck in a spiritual experience that it looks like a psychosis. This is what they are often told by people around them.
Especially if someone has an extremely creative brain (like artists) I think it makes sense to respect these qualities and tune into them.
When I listen to their story I notice a logic and see the connections to their past. Very often this can be pointed to underlying trauma. If we then go into this story together, they manage step by step to unravel this story.
What I always get back is that for the first time in their lives they feel heard and seen. I do not want to say that other measures, such as medication, are never necessary to stabilize.
But sometimes it can be done differently. What is needed is being able to make the connection from the spiritual meaning to the daily reality of their lives. If you can empathize with this experience it becomes easier to normalize and build trust that this too can pass. What helps is when you have had these kinds of experiences yourself. In fact, I recognize these experiences from my long meditation retreats in Burma.
In my opinion, it would be nice if mental health workers themselves have explored the edges of their mind in longer retreats. This will be able to make treatments much more effective.
I will be coming soon with a vipassana retreat specifically for mental health workers.
Keep you posted.