Recognise altered states of consciousness


Some years ago, I went into an altered state of consciousness that was totally unexpected. Fortunately I had read Carl Jung's books on individuation and the collective unconscious, so I thought probably this was an experience like the ones he described as the prelude to psychological wholeness.

To make sure I could get through the experience safely, I visited a psychiatrist to enlist his help. But by the time I left his office, I knew he considered me already bonkers and off the deep end, so I never went back or sought out any other help, for fear of being institutionalized against my will.

I toughed it out, and in a few days began to recover, ending up (as Jung suggested) "better than normal." The whole experience taught me that the current concepts of "psychosis" and "schizophrenia" are sadly lacking in common sense and any notion of what these experiences have always meant to the human race in every culture on earth - except "psychiatry."

It seems to me its practitioners are causing untold pain and ruptured lives for innocent people going through transient and potentially valuable states of altered consciousness. Labeling all of them "sick" is unconscionable stupidity the likes of which is usually practiced only by diehard religious fundamentalists on colonial-style witch hunts.