Thursday, 23 July 2009

Spiritual Emergency: Mental health coming out of parapsychology

Several years ago I read about Stan Grof's notion of genuine paranormal phenomena and other seemingly "mad" experiences occurring as a part of natural psychological healing crisis, which he and Christina Grof termed a Spiritual Emergency. Since then I have been wondering why there isn't a more visible network of professionals in the UK exploring Grof's ideas seriously or investigating mental health issues within a shamanic self-healing framework where exceptional human experiences aren’t merely ignored out-of-hand or derided as only delusory - though, obviously, in some cases they are just that.

Plugging what I perceive as an intellectual gap, it's reassuring, then, to see that Dr. Christina Simmonds-Moore and The Parapsychology Research Group at Liverpool Hope University are hosting the First Conference on Health, Mental Health and Exceptional Human Experience, for just one day, on Monday, 7th September, 2009. I’m certain it will be a fascinating event, so why not be a part of it? The speakers are:

Dr. John Gruzelier - The mind-body connection and healing

Dr. David Luke - Altered states of consciousness, mental imagery and healing

Dr. Ginette Nachman - The interface between placebo effects and non-local aspects of healing/consciousness

Dr. Carl Williams & Dr Di Dutton - A phenomenological exploration of energy healing

Dr. Eve Binks - Religious belief as a moderator of mental health

Dr. Stefan Schmidt - Meditation, exceptional experiences and mental health

Dr. Nicola Holt - Creativity, anomalous experiences and mental health

Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore - Manipulating anomalous experiences for mental health and transcendence

Mrs. Isobel Clarke - Exceptional experiences from the clinical perspective

Dr. Martina Belz - Clinical psychology of exceptional human experiences in practice

Dr Eberhard Bauer - Counselling people with unusual experiences

Dr Ian Tierney - Clinical psychology of exceptional human experiences in the UK

Image: Pablo Amaringo


String said...

Good to see, am reading a fascinating 'old' book right now, 'Psychic Discoveries' - The Iron Curtain Lifted, where the Russians explored aspects of this in the 60's.

Sara said...

you might be interested to know: in the 19th century, during the rise of the asylums, it was common practice to deal with some "mental crises" as crises of faith rather than the result of insanity. (of course, in some regions catholicism was considered a form of insanity, so, you know, this wasn't a universal utopia :)) this trend slowly died out as psychology established itself as a science and was pretty much obliterated by the time it broke out of the asylums and set up private practices.

Unknown said...

I think that mental health is one area where Western rationalism really hasn't worked very well. Sure, it's better to see mental illness as it is rather than the result of witchcraft, but it's not clear to me that psychiatry has offered much beyond this.

The inside of mental health wards are frightening, and psychiatrists quite often have problems empathizing with their charges.

A big problem is the insistence that mental illness can be reduced to brain chemistry, hereditary, function, etc. The manifestation of mental unrest is far subtler than these simplistic, atomistic models allow.

I'm not romanticizing mental illness; far from it. It's horrible and disorientating. The problem is that it's inevitably seen as a [mechanical] malfunction, when some forms are potentially transformative.

psychicdeli said...

Thanks for the great comments. I wasn't aware of the crises of faith.

Matt, I couldn't agree with you more. Hope to see some of you in Liverpool perhaps.

Anonymous said...

ohhhh very good share
have a nice day

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