Re: [t93] Magick & Psychosis
- View Source
>I would say that -- in my experience -- your observation is more or less
> I personally suffer from clinical depression. Don't worry, I'm not looking
> for a support group, but recently it seems I've noticed something of a
> pattern in myself and my friends who regularly and seriously follow a
> magickal path: It seems we're all depressed. I'm not talking just the
> occasional bout of blues here, but actual, clinical depression of some
> sort, usually a form of manic-depression.
> Keeping in mind that Regardie mentioned counseling before a student set
> upon serious magickal work, I'm wondering if there's something to this.
> The work often seems to dredge up some pretty high emotions at least in
> me, ranging sometimes from euphoria to bone-crunching despair. Is this
> just part and parcel of the sort of alchemical process we're undergoing or
> is it just coincidence?
> The magi I know who aren't depressive often seem to have other
> psychological difficulties, from obsessive-compulsive disorders to even
> more serious "ailments."
> I'm curious to know your opinions on the matter, and I thank you for your
> time and consideration.
> (end snip)
correct. However it is just as notable that psychologists tend to enter
their profession to work on themselves through their patients. I was
diagnosed with manic depressive disorder when I was hospitalized at 16,
though the hospitalization actually followed a severe negative reaction to
prozac... Though its hard to say, I don't think I would have been in the
state I was in if it wasn't for the medication I was given.
Which led me into studying psychology, and leads me now into my point about
DSM-IV style classifications. Its all bunk. I can't say that the theraputic
process doesn't work, but our current means of identifying aberrations in
human behavior (when a norm hasn't actually been established, thankfully),
and pigeon-holing personalities into static qualifications that are
immutable and oftentimes 'insurmountable' without the aid of the
pharmaceutical companies alienates patients, and allows them to take their
individual problems and re-classify them in those useless terms. Having
worked now for these pharmeceutical companies for a few years doing
advertising I can say with some certainty -- as if anyone with half a brain
thought otherwise -- their interest is not in the health of those they
'cure' so much as purpetrating the myth that allows for them to be dispensed
across the board to cure any sort of mental ailment. Psychological disorders
aren't like broken bones, the fascinating thing about psychology to me is
that every case and every person is unique. Though case studies are useful
to get a baseline, when you come into a room with a patient and try to help
them navigate through their world, the rulers you were given at school
should be left at the door.
So I'd say that though your observation is correct I'm not sure what it
means. Many of the people I spend time with have been diagnosed with manic
depression, one or another borderline state, depression, or ADD. Nothing
frustrates me more than people who say 'I can't concentrate, I have ADD.' or
'I do this because I'm manic depressive.' Not that I haven't lost control of
myself and done things I wish I hadn't but you can't pass the blame to a
disorder. The classification takes over.
This commonality you recognize is a similarity in personality traits that
would lead a person to practice/study magick, I think you'll find those
personalities with 'manic depression' in common are also attracted to art.
Supposing that the classification was a good one and during manic states
their sexual drive is out of control, they may also make good candidates for
the OTO though of course I wouldn't know about that. More than being a
chemical imbalance my 'manic depression' seems to stem from having very high
goals and expectations -- working for months endlessly on those tasks, then
feeling hopeless as the goal seems so far away, then shrugging it off and
becoming frantic with the task again. Though you may be prone to look for a
deeper psychological cause, ...
- View SourceOn 7/30/01 4:32 AM, "Eric O'Dell" <eodell@...> wrote:
> On Sun, 29 Jul 2001, sardonic wrote:Yeah. I'd have to say that yoga and kungfu (both external and internal)
>> I personally suffer from clinical depression. Don't worry, I'm not looking
>> for a support group, but recently it seems I've noticed something of a
>> pattern in myself and my friends who regularly and seriously follow a
>> magickal path: It seems we're all depressed. I'm not talking just the
>> occasional bout of blues here, but actual, clinical depression of some
>> sort, usually a form of manic-depression.
> Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
> I'll cop to having been clinically depressed for long stretches of time in
> my life. I don't attribute my magical practice to it, at least not
> directly. People who are content with life seldom seek magical or mystical
> experiences -- it's discontent that drives them. Ergo, it is unsurprising
> that mood disorders would act as an impetus for magick, though I suspect
> the same is true of any experience that either drastically dimishes one's
> quality of life or else opens one's awareness to what's Out There.
> Visionary types like William Blake -- certainly rarer than your garden
> variety depressive -- are good representatives of the latter.
> Regardie was fond of saying that magick is not psychotherapy. I'd agree
> with him, except that real magical practice increases energy flow, which
> tends to cause buried complexes to surface. In that sense, it's can be a
helped me more with depression than any medication, or even 'ritual' form of
magick ever did.
- View Source93!
> I would say that -- in my experience -- your observation is more or lessPsychologists are some of the craziest people I've known. LOL. Now, for
> correct. However it is just as notable that psychologists tend to enter
> their profession to work on themselves through their patients.
the most part, I'd say that people studying psychology are not any more
crazy or disordered or what have you than the average person, but there are
interesting parallels between the personalities of people who become
psychologists and the area of psychology they study. Most of the people I
know who study eating disorders have "food issues" or have had some weight
problem in the past. Many of the people I know who study schizophrenia have
a fear of or suspected at one time that they were basically psychotic. It's
hard to say -- most people capable of getting into a good psychology
graduate program tend to be a bit obsessive-compulsive personality-wise just
because of the competitiveness and high academic standards required to get
in. Those are also the people, IMO, who tend to be a bit hypochondriacal and
see "pathology" in themselves when it's not really there. Still, I'd say
> I wasOf course, the psychiatrists are fond of saying that there's no
> diagnosed with manic depressive disorder when I was hospitalized at 16,
> though the hospitalization actually followed a severe negative reaction to
> prozac... Though its hard to say, I don't think I would have been in the
> state I was in if it wasn't for the medication I was given.
research evidence that SSRIs can do this, but I've come across too many
people who have had this reaction to think it's just an illusion. I don't
see why anyone would be surprised, considering SSRIs affect the same
neurotransmitter systems in about the same way as cocaine -- yet
psychiatrists are fond of calling reactions like yours "allergic reactions"
or "paradoxical reactions." Imagine the kind of twisted logic it takes to
rationalize the fact that you're wrong as a paradox! "Hmmm....I'm
infallible, and yet this didn't work. It's a paradox!"
One time, I had a client who was quite depressed and tearful when I first
saw her. She took no medication, yet made fabulous and lasting progress with
some cognitive-behavioral work. She called me about a year later, telling me
that her GP had prescribed Prozac for her -- despite her assertion that she
was not depressed, and despite the absence of any recent behavioral or mood
changes she was aware of -- because she had a history of depression. The
physician called it "masked depression," which is about as big a crock of
shit as I'd heard from a physician. It was only masked by the fact that this
woman had courageously made a number of real changes in her life that made
her feel better, more fulfilled, etc. Then there's my good friend, who was
prescribed thorazine for years because he became combative in the ER after
taking a bottle of OTC sleeping pills in a suicide attempt. The psychiatrist
he saw on followup continued the thorazine -- at an outrageoulsy high
"acute" dose -- for three years, despite the fact that he'd never had a
psychotic symptom in his life. After three years of being put through the
abusive state "mental health" system, he stopped all meds (he was on three
or four others by that time, including antidepressants, anxiolytics, and
mood stabilizers), all therapy, etc., and is today one of the most stable,
successful, non-crazy people I know.
> Which led me into studying psychology, and leads me now into myPersonally, I wouldn't say it's *all* bunk. People do become miserable
> point about
> DSM-IV style classifications. Its all bunk.
and break down in terms of their ability to care for themselves, maintain
meaningful relationships, etc. The "pathways" by which this happens tend to
fall into broad categories that can be reliably defined. Of course, I don't
think there's any doubt that the draconian system of DSM-IV diagnosis in use
now is mostly useless and artificial. The phenomena the system is trying to
capture aren't categorical. The distinctions made between diagnostic
categories aren't particularly useful in determining preferred treatment
strategy, except in the broadest sense (for example, people diagnosed with
Major Depression, Bulimia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Obsessive
Compulsive Disorder, Panic Attacks, PMS, etc., are all probably going to get
an SSRI). It's mostly a matter of justifying insurance reimbursement,
shoring up the facade that psychiatry is an actual medical discipline, and
giving the illusion of objectivity. Still and all, it wouldn't be *as* bad
if psychiatrists actually used the system appropriately, which they rarely
do in my experience. This just demonstrates the relative lack of importance
it actually has -- if diagnosis had any real utility, there would be more
reason to apply it correctly.
> and allows them to take theirAbsolutely. It's especially bad with people's whose misery takes the
> individual problems and re-classify them in those useless terms.
form of thinking they're inherently defective anyway. People who are
depressed go to a psychiatrist and have their worst fears confirmed --
you're broken, you're inherently flawed, you'll never be like "normal"
people, etc. It reifies and literalizes all the destuctive and inhibiting
fantasies people with depression have, making it that much harder to
> HavingUnfortunately, I think a lot of people *do* think otherwise & aren't
> worked now for these pharmeceutical companies for a few years doing
> advertising I can say with some certainty -- as if anyone with
> half a brain
> thought otherwise -- their interest is not in the health of those they
> 'cure' so much as purpetrating the myth that allows for them to
> be dispensed
> across the board to cure any sort of mental ailment.
given much reason by the popular press to have any other opinion.
"Breakthroughs" are reported enthusiastically, while the scientific bubble
bursting that almost inevitably follows hardly ever gets reported. I can
think of at least two or three genetic linkage studies of schizophrenia that
have been reported in the last 10 years that ended up being completely
refuted, with almost no public reporting of that fact. People don't really
have an awareness that the same cycle has been going on practically since
the beginning of psychiatry as a distinct profession. I could tell you about
some *really* absurd "breakthroughs" over the last 50 years that have been
totally abandoned after further investigation. Meanwhile, most of the
substantial progress in helping psychologically disturbed people has been
due to providing alternatives and reversing the abusive & coercive excesses
of biological psychiatry -- setting people free from mental hospitals,
decreasing reliance on horrors like lobotomy & electroshock, increasing
community support, etc.
I think that for people in the magical/fringe religion/pagan communities,
going to a psychiatrist or psychologist can be a dangerous (or at least
unfulfilling) proposition. I would agree with Regardie that psychotherapy of
some kind can be a useful adjunct to magical practice, but the risk is that
one's spiritual practices will be pathologized. This makes even relatively
unremarkable personality differences or temporary mood fluctuations take on
a sinister aspect for professionals who are basically provincial clods with
degrees. I've been in several case conferences where the revelation of a
client's non-standard spirituality has prompted rolled eyes and knowing
smiles, as if this one fact spoke volumes about her (lack of) mental
stability. In the context of that kind of unspoken lack of respect, anything
else you want to talk about can get wrapped around the basic assumption of
your "strangeness" and possible "latent psychosis/schizotypal personality."
So be careful who you choose as a therapist.
Another caveat is to remember that the kind of psychotherapy Regardie was
talking about isn't what you're likely to find just anywhere. Depth
psychology/psychoanalysis is what Regardie was talking about, and that's
hard to find unless you live in a large city and are willing to pay high out
of pocket expenses. Insurance companies don't like paying for it, and there
a lot of people who claim to work in these traditions without having the
kind of classical training that was once expected.