Spiritual emergency: one way of interpreting activity of the psyche that is often labeled psychotic

Updated: Dec 2015

The below articles and posts from Beyond Meds are ones that use the spiritual emergence lens to look at the activity of the psyche when it otherwise is often labeled as psychotic. One could just as easily call these phenomena existential crisis of the psyche too. When it comes to understanding the psyche it’s often helpful to use many different models. Such is the nature of the psyche.

This post is updated as new articles appear on Beyond Meds. It can always be found in the drop-down menus at the top of the page.

The most famous person who has gone through a spiritual emergence, and documented it too, was Carl Jung see: another drug-free recovery from psychosis

Carl Jung himself said:

I had the feeling that I was in an over-compensated psychosis, and from the feeling I was not released until August 1, 1914. (see here for context)

If you read The Red Book, it’s clear that what Jung was experiencing would have been labeled psychotic by any self-respecting psychiatrist today.

From Wikipedia, a definition:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpiritual crisis (also called “spiritual emergency”) is a form of identity crisis where an individual experiences drastic changes to their meaning system (i.e., their unique purposes, goals, values, attitude and beliefs, identity, and focus) typically because of a spontaneous spiritual experience. A spiritual crisis may cause significant disruption in psychological, social and occupational functioning. Among the spiritual experiences thought to lead to episodes of spiritual crisis or spiritual emergency are psychiatric complications related to existential crisis, mystical experience, near-death experiences, Kundalini syndrome, paranormal experiences, religious ecstasy and meditation or other spiritual practices (Grof & Grof, 1989; Turner, Lukoff, Barnhouse, & Lu, 1995).

I will update this page as I post anything that belongs or as I come across something else from the archives that I’ve maybe missed.

At the bottom of this post there is also links to websites of interest as well as books.

●  That which gets labeled psychiatric illness is rarely only one thing…we are holistic beings

  Psychosis or Spiritual Awakening: Phil Borges at TED

  A psychiatrist speaks: Breaking Down is Waking Up

 Making the Unconscious Conscious: Embracing the Dark Night of the Soul

●  Madness as a reckoning of one’s own psyche. Yes.

●  More on “Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift in our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis”

●  Spiritual aspects of psychosis and recovery

●  Sean’s experience with manic psychosis and the transformation that followed

●  Mystical experiences, spiritual emergency, madness etc… – includes video

●  Dr. Edward Whitney’s manic psychosis that resolved itself with a spiritual understanding

●  The heroines journey –recovery using Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung

●  Hope, Time and Love; three guardian angels: Alternative Routes to Recovery

●  An Intimate Walk through the Labyrinth of Madness and Mysticism

●  Spiritual emergence: when psychosis is a transformative process

●   Psychosis, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Story as a Vehicle of Healing

●  We are all shamans in training

●  Spiritual Emergence — David Lukoff

●  Mania as spiritual awakening

●  Soul in Crisis: why cultural healing must replace the “mental illness” fiction

●  Mania and psychosis as purposive

●  “Madness” as a spiritual and awakening journey

●  Mania as spiritual emergency

●  Acute psychosis in mania and schizophrenia

●  Mania as Spiritual Emergency: psychotic process being one of the psyche demanding to be paid attention to therefore and healed

●  Mania as spiritual emergency (another recovery story)

●  Links to articles that look at the Shamanic-like nature of consciousness

●  What happens if we listen to the mental anguish of others? (healing occurs)

●  In the Fellowship of His Suffering: A Theological Interpretation of Mental Illness – A Focus on ”Schizophrenia”

● Psychiatric drug withdrawal, kundalini and shamanic initiatory illness

 ● 7 Billion Paths to Awakening: healing from what is often called psychosis

 ● Herbal medicine, Extreme States and Transformation

More related collections:



*it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care.  Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page.  

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