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 Mental Health and Spiritual Practice

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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:31 pm

[Admin Note: this thread was created as an offshoot from the thread titled "Rev. Wilber" under the category "OBC Experiences". Although Bill is shown as the thread's "author", this is a function of the forum software, since his post was the first to be split. My apologies if the split is confusing to anyone.]


In one of my infrequent visits here I will chime in with a brief comment as I believe this is an important topic.. As a retired mental health counselor with 30 plus years experience as a clinical practitioner in the public sector (including extensive work with patients with major mental disorders) and a lifelong meditation practice, and 18 years of affiliation with Shasta Abbey and the OBC, I have a point of view about this topic. I also have the benefit of having been a clinical colleague with Rev. Daizui MacPhillamay who was a doctorate level clinical psychologist and also Director of the OBC for some years. My own observation in the early years of Shasta Abbey and the OBC is that a very wrong-headed view and suspicion of mental health treatment was promoted by Jiyu Kennett. The view was often promoted and anecdotes were told of persons who were "cured" of mental illness through Zen practice and meditation. And I witnessed in at least one case a Schizophrenic mentally ill person who was quite symptomatic who was not only allowed but encouraged to participate in a sesshin, to his and every one else's detriment. The result of that was he assaulted the guest master and was a source of some disturbance and distress to other retreatants. Daizui's own personal view was at times ambiguous, but in general he did try to advise the Abbey monks about the appropriateness of mental health treatment when it was needed and his psychological practice in the clinic where I worked was entirely in the mainstream of the profession, including the appropriate use of psychiatric medications. My assessment of those trained by Jiyu Kennett and the general tenor of teaching at Shasta Abbey is that there was an mistaken tendency to spiritualize mental health problems and to be suspicious of appropriate mental health treatments, especially medicines. The current science of mental health disciplines supports the idea that major mental illness is largely a manifestation of brain disorders of biological etiology, and current research suggests they are of genetic origin. Many, if not most, of those who commit suicide do manifest symptoms of major brain disorders, such as Major Depression. For that reason I find the remarks by Daishin Morgan to be troubling in their apparent lack of reference to any consultation with mental health professionals, use of appropriate medication, and the inclination to describe this monk's development or lack of it as a spiritual failing or deficit. While I find fault with that approach with Zen or other teachers of Eastern origin, I too often find the same failing in Western Christian clergy, and even more so in teachers of the New Age or other metaphysical orientation who are even more inclined to attribute Major Mental Illness or even obvious other physical illnesses to lack of "spiritual harmony" or other such nonsense.


Last edited by Lise on Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:12 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : thread split)
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:03 pm

Hello Bill.

While I agree with you that spiritual practice often cheapens and denies emotional health issues, I would say that emotional health issues are totally in the domain of spiritual practice, as spiritual practice is, for me, about love.

Also you said: "The current science of mental health disciplines supports the idea that major mental illness is largely a manifestation of brain disorders of biological etiology, and current research suggests they are of genetic origin" and you included major depression in this.

I strongly disagree with your statement. While there is a lot of research going on funded by drug companies to make "mental" conditions purely chemical brain physiology, there is a huge amount of work done showing otherwise.

I'd refer you to Judith Herman, who was head of psychiatry at Harvard medical school. I'd also suggest you look at the most recent research in schizophrenia showing it to be a social condition, not a genetic one as previously thought.

I'd also refer you to the recent meta research on anti depressants which show that their use is no better than a placebo.

I'd also refer you to the work of physicists discovering the ways in which the brain may actually work according to quantum mechanics. I have a friend who is a professor of physics who has verified for me that what he knows of this research is indeed valid.

I would also refer you to the field of psychology which has far from decided that major "mental" conditions are just physical disfunction.

Also brain research is in its infancy. Just 10 years ago the "experts" were certainly the brain could not repair itself. They were wrong. They are doubtless wrong about much of what they now think to be true. Just read the schizophrenia story to see how ridiculously infantile the research can be.

Indeed, they are not even that sure where the brain stops and the rest of the body begins.

The link between emotions, early childhood trauma and "mental disease" is not being explored in an intelligent way mostly, because the drug companies control research. I have personal damming evidence of this. If you think the drug companies are interested in anything else other than making money in huge amounts you are naive.

There can be physical genetic causes of disease, but as a friend of my brothers who is one of the world's top geneticists told me, pretty much all you read about genetics really has nothing to do with genetics. Go figure.

My personal experience of 30 years of looking at my mental health issues is that my early childhood dictates nearly all of who I am, and it is sortable, and that drugs would have had a hugely detrimental effect on me sorting me. Drugs for emotional difficulties do the opposite of what spirituality is for me all about, namely love.

Oh, and I have a huge amount of past-life regression experience as well, including professional training with Roger woolgar, and that certainly changed my views on etiology and prognosis.
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:12 pm

As a practitioner of 30 plus years I am in total disagreement with you. And present science does not support your assertions about spiritualizing mental health problems and brain disorders. I believe you do not carry the professional or academic credentials to assert what you do. As for your past life regression, they carry no weight with me, or with science. I think a New Age site would be more suited for these kind of notions.
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:30 pm

Hello Bill and thank you for your immediate and robust reply.

I never said that science supports my spiritualising mental health. The Buddha did though, is that any good to you?

I was under the obviously misguided impression that a core part of the Buddha's teaching was that of rebirth, so for me this is the perfect place to raise the issue of past lives.

I don't need to have academic credentials to be right so please desist with sophistry, which is a low enough form of argument to be best left to politicians.

You appear to be ignoring the voices I have quoted. Judith Herman is very cool and eminent enough for anybody.

Either we are biological entities and we do not survive biological death, or we are more than this and do survive biological death.

If we are just biological, then we are fundamentally afraid aren't we. and also it means ethics and morals are just biological growths, like belly buttons and bottoms, with no real meaning other than biology.

If however there is more to life than biology, then I can be a far happier chappie.

There is much evidence both ways. I'm hoping spiritual and humanistic theories are right rather than the biological behaviourist ideology. Call me a depressed optimist.

I have been a practitioner for 30 years also, and have experience of clients with "mental illness", though my only experience of mental hospitals is going and getting my mother from one, where they had erroneously diagnosed her as having major depression and put her on major drugs that turned a capable woman into a rocking jibbering wreck curled up in the corner of a room in the fetal position. I took her home immediately, took her off her drugs and she was her normal self the next day. Unfortunately a few months later some sensible doctors diagnosed her correctly as having pancreatic cancer.

Re genetics, Rupert sheldrake, professor of biochemistry at Cambridge university is worth a read as well. He kind of agrees with my brother's geneticist friend but what do they know.
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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:18 am

I agree with quite a bit of what you have to say David.

I personally do not consider Psychology to be a proper science. It tries to delineate "behaviours" in order to deal with them as identifiable objects. Silly.

More properly, Psychology should be considered a Humanity.

I lifted this from Wikipedia:

"In 1959 statistician Theodore Sterling examined the results of psychological studies and discovered that 97% of them supported their initial hypotheses, implying a possible publication bias.[86][87][88] Similarly, Fanelli (2010)[89] found that 91.5% of psychiatry/psychology studies confirmed the effects they were looking for, which was around five times more often than in fields such as space- or geosciences."

That is laughable. Or would be if children were not being stigmatized and drugged by these people.

Anecdotal: I've witnessed loads of kids driven, by parental treatment, to behaviours that register on the spectrums of all sorts of psychological "conditions." The Pychologists, ignoring the real cause of the behaviours, seemed very eager to push drugs on some of these children.

EDIT: This thread looks ripe for a thread-split.
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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:12 pm

david. wrote:
While I agree with you that spiritual practice often cheapens and denies emotional health issues, I would say that emotional health issues are totally in the domain of spiritual practice, as spiritual practice is, for me, about love.

The problem is neither perspective applies in every instance in the real world. While I continue to believe that mental illness has (at its core) roots in spiritual matters, I also saw how this view sometimes worsened people's suffering at Shasta Abbey. Buddhism came into being to address suffering and it wasn't unreasonable to experiment and determine the extent to which it could do so. The problem though was the inability to acknowledge when it wasn't working for some people. During my years at Shasta Abbey Buddhist practice was viewed as a dogma and set against psychology, psychiatry, etc, instead of just one of many ways to alleviate suffering.

Each person needs to be looked at individually and helped in the best way possible, which means not acting from a dogmatic point of view. People whose mental conditions are made worse by meditation should not be encouraged to meditate. People who benefit from anti-depressants, therapy, and other tools of modern medicine should not be stigmatized for using them. Things change - reevaluation is necessary. What works well today may not tomorrow. It can take courage to buck the beliefs of whatever paradigm you're currently aligned with and consider other options. It is a sign of health in any system when there is an awareness of limitations and an openness to alternatives.
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Sophie70



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:07 pm

Hi

Thanks Isan for stepping in. I do not entirely agree with Bill either because I find it very simplistic to reduce the realm of mental health to the domain of psychiatry where all mental ailments could be sorted with a pill. This is completely omitting the fact that we construct ourselves on a social level too from early childhood onwards, and attachment issues then can have disastrous consequences in adulthood in how an individual will be able or not to relate to their environment, be able to form relationship, especially intimate ones with others and/or approach life in general, and make choices. We are in 2012 so it is just about time we saw more of an integrated approach between sciences and spirituality (Einstein had understood that ages ago) and no, I am not 'New Age' and also, Bill, I do appreciate your '30 years of professional practice' but I am sorry to say, it does not say much to me.

The sole medicalised approach of mental health sounds to me like the state of this field indeed 30 years ago with all the horror stories that comes with it in mental health institutions. Yes, some conditions are to do with biochemical disorders in the brain and need to be treated with medications but again, mental health is not just about that and other social and cognitive parameters paticularly in childhood need to be considered in order to understand lifelong degree of resilience and existential coping mechanisms.

We all have a mental health just as the physical one and like the physical one, it could be more or less healthy. I agree with David that spirituality can help mental health in drawing life force, hope, courage, wisdom and compassion to take the right action to respect one's life and the lives of others. If not, then it is because dogmatism has possibly crept in. But having said that, spirituality will not replace psychotherapy if people need to revisit and heal any past trauma which, to my experience, requires professional guidance because it can be a very distressing experience before becoming a healing one. And in the case of psychological issues related to past traumatic experiences, no medication will help as it won't address the problem at its root. medication can only complement a therapy if the person is really not coping and at risk of self harming or harming others and in this case, it should be used short term when disorders are not caused by a pathology.

Anyway, like Isan, I would also agree that each person is to be considered individually and in light of the above, I would reassert that a religious/spiritual leader such as an abbot should be able to discern what is the remit of spirituality and what is the remit of psychiatry and/or psychology. And considering that they have a duty of care of individuals in the monastic community and sangha, my view is that they should also be familiar with the adult protection procedure of their respective country. In the UK, any citizen suspecting that an individual is at risk of harm should contact the person's GP if known or the local social services for advice because local authorities have a legal mandate to make enquiries, assess and take action if required to protect adults and/or children.
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:43 pm

I'm not a mental health professional, but I've watched this drama between psychology and spiritual explanations throughout my life. I have to say I have a strong distaste for both camps.

Mental health professionals have a dog's breakfast of models about how the mind works and how to cure its maladies. They are not very good at it yet. Jung once said that he helped about 1/3 of his patients; they got better and functioned better in life. One third stayed about the same, despite years of therapy; perhaps it was a triumph of sorts that they didn't get worse. And the remaining one third did get worse, though perhaps more gradually than they would have on their own. At least he was honest; many of his profession are not.

While mental health professionals have a marginal to poor record, the record of the spiritualists is one of profound harm if you cut through the glowing anecdotal evidence they always offer up.

One OBC Zen teacher with near mental health problems himself boasted that in Japan, as a Zen master, he would be automatically licensed to practice psychiatry -- his vast understanding of the mind by virtue of his Zen training would be sufficient.

If you jump to Christianity, several of my acquaintances with mental problems have been harmed by having demons cast out of them, being condemned as having "hidden sin" because they could not overcome depression that was driving them to suicide, etc. It's the same ignorant, harsh, stuff in Christian clothing. The spiritualists always seem to be at the ignorant, primitive edge of the spectrum.

The honest answer is nobody knows how to fix many mental problems. Our tools are mostly clumsy brute methods which mainly treat symptoms. Some problems are clearly brain problems; Alzheimer's is more a physical phenomena than a mental one. Others can't be traced to brain morphology. though clearly physical morphology and mental function are related.

The reach of Buddhist teaching seems to be helpful within the boundaries of normal mental function; it can be extremely helpful for normal minds. And if a Buddhist teacher also had solid mental health training, then some aspects of Buddhist teaching might be occasionally useful as part of therapy. But a Zen teacher without mental health training is as clueless as the average lay person, and will do great harm if he arrogantly believes somehow he "knows" the cause of the problem and that his Buddhist teaching will fix it. Ugh! So much ignorance and arrogance. So little humility about what one knows. It sometimes makes me want to vomit all religion from my system.

As a civilization, we have moved away from the approach of ignorant spirituality for most problems. Most people go to doctors first when they have medical problems. They no longer go to the witch doctor or priest first for spiritual magic to cure them. Hopefully, mental health problems will sometime reach that same stage.

The good thing I've found is that Buddhism is extremely helpful for what it is. It doesn't need a spiritual karma and magic show to bolster its merit or demonstrate its wisdom.
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:58 pm

Hello Gorfindel. Psychology can seem laughable sometimes! Actions are as scientifically measurable as objects. The basic level of quantum mechanics is full of this. What is light after all?

There is a wealth of science in clinical psychology, and there is much agreement. There is disagreement, as in any of the sciences. Supernanny is a good example of successful science in mental health.

Drugs are for me a treatment of last resort,and can be a life saver. However I agree that psychiatrists and psychologists can often ignore this.

I knew a psychiatrist who worked in a mental hospital, and who every morning had 60 women who had been raped as children and who had been diagnosed as suffering from severe psychiatric disorders to "help". She said to me in despair "I have 3 minutes per patient to help each one, what do I do?" What would any of us do? She prescribed drugs.

Isan I agree. Just to say that the meta research is in on antidepressants and a sugar pill is just as good. BUT the side effects of antidepressants can be horrific, with some of them haveing hugely increased suicide and murder rates on taking them.

Hello Sophie, I agree with almost everything you say. I do think that spiritual teachers should have a good understanding of standard psychotherapy theory,as in my experience the pathways of spiritual practice and psychotherapy are very similar, with some extremely important caveats. The terrible state of Zen is for me because Japanese Zen as imported into USA is half a spiritual practice not a whole one, and so is fundamentally flawed.

Jack, I think i agree with you totally.

I dont think doctors will ever be properly trained in emotional issues, because it doesnt earn them enough money to do so. Therapy works better than tablets for many severe emotional conditions, but the cost is huge compared to tablets if doctors are doing the work. Like they say, follow the money.

I would also say that it is common for people meditating deeply to experience a loss of identity, an emotional "breakdown", out of body experiences, past life experiences, changes in conciousness, and most importantly the opening to children inside ourselves who are in need of love compassion and wisdom. Love does not turn its back on children in pain and terrified. For me beginners compassion class is loving children inside ourselves. Any "Zen teacher" who does not understand this and have a lot of experience is too full of denial and "acting out" to be much use to themselves or their students.

I have had what seem to be another big relaxing open through meeting one of my small children within me over the past 2 days. Astonishing whats happening, and its only 2 days, so.. fingers crossed...
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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:01 pm

david. wrote:
Hello Gorfindel. Psychology can seem laughable sometimes! Actions are as scientifically measurable as objects. The basic level of quantum mechanics is full of this. What is light after all?

There is a wealth of science in clinical psychology, and there is much agreement. There is disagreement, as in any of the sciences. Supernanny is a good example of successful science in mental health.

Drugs are for me a treatment of last resort,and can be a life saver. However I agree that psychiatrists and psychologists can often ignore this.

I knew a psychiatrist who worked in a mental hospital, and who every morning had 60 women who had been raped as children and who had been diagnosed as suffering from severe psychiatric disorders to "help". She said to me in despair "I have 3 minutes per patient to help each one, what do I do?" What would any of us do? She prescribed drugs.

.

Hi David. It's not true that behaviour can be delineated in the same way an object can. Any anthropologist would let you know that a behaviour is faceted within a social nexus. You cannot draw a circle around a behaviour and say "That's a thing."
In addition to the quoted tendency of psychology experiments to confirm their original hypotheses, there is also a tendency for an inability for peers to reproduce the same results. There is also a worrying lack of publication of experiments that fail reproduce the results of trusted experiments. I will dig up sources when I'm not on my phone.

I agree that drugs can be helpful but your description of your friend further exemplified problems in the discipline.

Concerning Super Nanny. Super Nanny parenting is complete garbage. Many of the kids I mentioned earlier are developing autistic spectrum behaviour AS A RESULT of being subjected to crude, artificial discipline, rather than being shown love.

So, this time I disagree with nearly everything you say Smile
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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:09 pm

David! I just read your last few sentences! Wow. Are you pregnant? With twins too! Congratulations.


(or are you a kangaroo)
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:45 pm

I wouldn't be surprised if Bill did not respond to this thread anymore and it saddens me to see that it has been turned into a separate, searchable topic.

I don't even know where to start. I fully support Bill in this thread in every way. I completely disagree with everything else. It is a shame that this forum gets used in the way that it does. I feel that what has been allowed to be posted here is dangerous and irresponsible for many reasons. I hope that people who read it do not take the opinions of others seriously.

The assertions that psychology/psychiatry, etc.., are not helpful, don't do any good, and harms people, are irresponsible, untrue, dangerous, and utterly ridiculous.

I am offended by the examples given and by the tone of the people giving them.

As far as I'm concerned, this forum has become ridiculous as well; so little of the content is actually helpful at this point. I wish Josh and some of the others would start a blog or another site to keep the relevant discussions going. The rest is folly. I believe it served it's purpose for a time, but it's a shame that it's turned out the way it has.

It should be noted that anyone reading this site should take it with a grain of salt and if anyone is experiencing any mental health issues or emergencies, that they should contact a professional and not heed the advice of any non-professional or person citing their opinions on this site.

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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:19 pm

Diana - this thread was split in order to preserve the original poster's intent, not because anyone disagreed with Bill, or any other poster. I think, after several years together here, Bill (and others of us) can handle one or more persons disagreeing, and not take it a personal attack.

Everyone has the right to their own opinion on this site, including their views on the efficacy of psychological/psychiatric treatment. You don't have to agree with them - it's ok. Works both ways. Doesn't make anybody wrong, or bad.

All opinions, civilly expressed, are welcome here.

Lise
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:19 am

Diana wrote:
I don't even know where to start. I fully support Bill in this thread in every way. I completely disagree with everything else. It is a shame that this forum gets used in the way that it does. I feel that what has been allowed to be posted here is dangerous and irresponsible for many reasons. I hope that people who read it do not take the opinions of others seriously.

It would be more helpful if you would say specifically what you consider dangerous, irresponsible, etc, and why.
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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:56 am

Hi Diana. The only two posts in this thread that I'd consider vaguely rude are Bill's original response to David in which he quotes his own credentials, doesn't respond to any of David's points and then tells David his thoughts are not appropriate for the forum. The other one is your own post Diana, in which you rant effusively about everyone else's posts without responding to any specific points!

But even those two posts hardly register on the rude-o-meter.

I'm guessing you have studied psychology? I'd suggest some reading up on analysis of experimental techniques in psychology. It is not controversial to say that psychology has difficulty holding itself up as a science.
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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:22 pm

Oh this is rich...

Somebody here used to compile post after post complaining that Shasta & co's was dangerous because they wouldn't question or tolerate any criticism of their own party platform.

The only change I'm seeing here on this site is now we have members mimicking what they used to accuse Shasta of doing when their own personal party line is being questioned.

Pardon this font challenged posting.
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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:26 pm

I agree with what Sophie said:

Quote :
I would reassert that a religious/spiritual leader such as an abbot should be able to discern what is the remit of spirituality and what is the remit of psychiatry and/or psychology.

This to me is the middle ground, the third way, in the lively and interesting debate triggered by Bill and further fired up by Diana's post. I think it is the responsibility of an Abbott or monk counseling lay people to be trained and willing to make this distinction.

The OBC problem, at least as practiced at North Cascades, is claiming that psychology and spiritualit are inconsistent and that you can't both meditate AND undergo psychiatric treatment/therapy. A good friend of mine was told by the "Abbott " at NOrth Cascades that he could not attend meditation group or ceremonies while he was undergoing therapy. This makes no more sense than excluding someone with a broken leg from the meditation hall.

This is just wrong. I was raised as a reluctant Christian Scientist. They believe that prayer and "thinking right" will cure whatever physical ills you have. I have seen Christian Scientists die from curable illnesses. An old family friend who was a Christian Scietist died of uterine cancer, which even decades ago could be treated successfully with surgery.

The discerning mind must be able to distinguish between a pschological breakdown and a spiritual event. It makes no more sense to say that spirituality and psychology are inconsistent than to say that a person with a broken leg should pray rather than see the doctor or that a person having a heart attack should think "right thoughts" rather than get to the emergency room quickly. It also is wrong to assume that every spiritual problem is a mental disorder. This kind of thinking creates an artificial duality between the "mind" and the "Mind." If this is OBC doctrine and not just a warped North Cascades practice, then the Zen being taught by the OBC monks is dangerous.
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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:04 pm

It would be ideal if a religious leader could see when somebody needed a type of help that is found outside of the community, but I question how many of them are capable of assessing the question objectively, with the person's best interest truly in the forefront.

I think many of these leaders, including some OBC, are naturally disposed to diagnose the issue so that it matches the prescription they want to dispense. In the case of SA's culture, I think (from ongoing digestion of their Dharma talks) they see almost every problem as being a result of engaging with the world instead of renouncing it. Cut all ties, grind away the self, seek nothing, put it on the back burner and just sit; that's the solution to unrest or disturbance. In other words, don't live; don't seek other solutions to your problem; just wait for life to be over, in hopes you won't be reborn. I know I sound harsh, but it's the message I hear consistently. I hear and read the same, sometimes in a more veiled form, from other religious groups. They have a prescription they want you to follow, because it validates their choices and supports their belief system.

It would be a rare religious leader who sees that dynamic at work within herself or himself, and tries to temper it with moral and ethical awareness. A humility, even, that would let them say "maybe I don't know what's best for this person, and the kind of help they need is not what we have."

I wonder if it's possible -


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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:23 pm

Lise I quite agree. It is not that there is spirituality and there is clinical psychology and neither the twain shall meet. Nor is it the case that one encompasses the other. In fact they are different disciplines looking at people in different ways. They overlap and sometimes seem to contradict each other but I'm sure as our knowledge evolves we will see more and more harmony between them. However it is important for those in charge of congregations to know when someone would be better served by psychological rather than spiritual help. Looking back I can see that without the proper psychological training there were one or two occasions during my time at Throssel when someone would have been better served by my advising them that they should seek psychological help. And the converse can also betrue, there are times when spiritual help is more appropriate than psychological.
It is also true that spiritual practices are sometimes not appropriate, in fact they can be damaging. Intense meditation is mentally intense and some are not up to it, I would think that this would particularly apply to those who are already in a frail mental state. J D Salinger recognized this portraying Franny in 'Franny and Zooey' as exacerbating her already mentally isolated and frail condition by (mis)using the Jesus Prayer from 'The Way of the Pilgrim'. I personally think that the idea that all ills are spiritual in nature is rather akin to the medieval Catholic position that the sun went round the earth. But on the other hand psychological methods can equally have deleterious spiritual effects.
We may have the knowledge one day to form a synthesis between spirituality and psychology but I think that day is a long way off, if it ever comes. In the mean time we need to recognise that neither has the answer to all our ills, in fact even together both often fail miserably. It is not that we should decry one view rather than another, both give partial views that can illuminate different aspects. But in the end our understanding is very limited; in a hundred years time will may well all look like flat earthers.
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:19 am

Glorfindel, of course behaviour is as measurable as objects... Gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces, velocity (that's how fast your car is going) etc etc. I agree totally though that within the field of psychology it can get rather complicated, tho maths and physics can have similar levels of complexity for me.

And thank you for your support and empathy, how did you know i'm having twins hee?

In my spiritual practice/life psychology and spirituality are intrinsically linked. How can I be loving and compassionate if I am not willing to look at the child inside me? (subconcious as it is sometimes called in psychology).

Also the more loving I am the more the child inside me is allowed into consciousness (oh god it might be twins how confusing hee).

Psychotherapy is very misunderstood by most people, including it seems zen practitioners.

One of the great psychologists/psychotherapsts Carl rogers in clinic with clients, 97% of everything he ever said was repeating back to the client what they had just said to check he had heard them correctly. Zen teachers should be able to do that.

Also in the road less travelled, psychotherapist Scott peck says that psychotherapy is loving your clients, but because u r a psychotherapist, that doesn't mean u have to only do that with clients, you can love your family as well.

Another great psychotherapist, when asked in his 80's how best to help clients replied "love them".

For me, as you are all starting to get, spiritual practice is about loving ourselves and others. Carl rogers would be a great 1st read in zen people realising that they and psychotherapists are in the same boat. Do not be put off by not being "professional". I am professional in this and am not particularly good make loads of mistakes and consider myself a beginner after 30 years. This for me is healthier than being holier than thou. Also rogers said at the end of his life "I used to think someone being empathic was easy, now I think it is a rare thing"

The major difference between buddhism and psychotherapy/psychology is that in buddhism there is no separate self and in psychology the self is real, and that the goal of buddhism is to let go of identifying yourself as a separate self, while in psychotherapy the goal is to make the individual self stronger and more genuinely and congruent who I am.

Strangely though the methodology for me for both spirituality and psychotherapy is closer than many realise. The one Buddhist teacher for whom I have a lot of time for re this is Genpo. I have also heard that his teacher was similar in approach.

So love your clients, students, friends, families... They all say... But how to do that... Ah.. How about starting with Carl rogers genuineness, empathy and unconditional positive regard? Goodness doesn't that take a lot of the blame, judgementalism and accusations away.

just spending 5 minutes with someone who is struggling emotionally, then thinking u know them enough to prescribe a drug that will shut up what their emotions are trying to say. Is that loving behaviour? What if their emotions are trying to tell you something important that will take a lot longer than 5 minutes to tell? And like all of us, what if the telling comes out initially garbled, about something else, in metaphors, or just plain confused. Does that give someone licence to force me to take a pill that will shut me up? Judith Herman, who was head of psychiatry at Harvard medical school argues this point wonderfully in her book on post traumatic stress disorder (she was on the board for the 2nd reading for ptsd as a disease).

There's no love in a pill, and no love qualification required for a doctor to give one. Sometimes giving a pill may be the loving thing to do, but I'm unlikely to know that in 5 minutes no matter how qualified I am.

And the reason why the psychiatrist will give you 5 minutes? Partly because it's cheaper, partly because the drug companies have enormous power, and partly because he is not willing to work for less than the huge salary he is getting,

Love is about time and space and allowing a child that wants to speak to be here. Isn't it?
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:27 am

And a core part of buddhism is rebirth. Past and future lives are what happens according to the Buddha.

When we factor in past lives, professionalism goes out the windows rather doesn't it.

We may be the greatest professional who has ever lived this time round, and a newt the next, what a comedown! For the newt that is, when he remembers what he was.

We have all been abusers, abused, right, wrong, male, female etc etc.

So let's stop talking falsely now, the hour is getting late..

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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:11 am

David we will have to just disagree on the issue of being able to isolate a behaviour out of its gradient of behaviours and out of its social context, in order to deal with it as a "Thing" which is then often used to stigmatise (and drug) a child.

Other then that I have to say I really enjoy the pizzazz in a lot of your posts!
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:09 am

Hi Glorfindel. I have just re-read what you have written, and (within the context of my behaviours on this thread being right and repeatable obviously) I think I'm beginning to understand what you are saying better, and I'm thinking I agree with you.

Psychiatry diagnosis is known for its lists of symptoms in formulating a psychiatric diagnosis, without taking into account the context of these symptoms, as RD Laing and Rosenhan famously exposed.

I am often shocked by the formularic labelling of adults and children as having severe psychiatric "diseases", and being prescribed extremely heavy duty (on a par with diamorphine for that person) prescribed drugs so quickly and matter of factly. The ritilin epidemic in USA is something of an example.

I agree that gradient of behaviour and social context are vital indicators that are often outside the diagnosing framework. I also agree that behaviour is compicated enough to make research very difficult, and your comments on results fitting initial hypotheses way too often and not being repeatable is a sign that something may be very wrong with the research.


Last edited by david. on Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:24 am

And for those of you who believe that psychiatrists "know" about the brain hear this:

until the 1980's babies were routinely given little or no anaesthetic during surgery, because the medical profession world wide believed that babies do not feel pain!!!!!!!!

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-05-08-babies-pain_x.htm

Their understanding of the brain now is way behind where their understanding of babies was in the 80's.

Drug pushing psychiatrists are a million miles away from therapy giving psychotherapists in philosophy and in theory.

I believe that in 30 years time we will be as astonished about what the drug pushers are doing now as you lot will be when you read the above link.

Also a cursery read of the history of mental hospitals and their purposes historically reads far far worse than any Zen scandel ever could. And it still goes on.

http://www.surfingman10.org/crimeofpsychiatry.html

40 years ago this was all known, through the writing of the likes of R D Laing.

I am a great believer in drugs being used when appropriate. but whether it is the mostly useless antidepressants or even the wonderclass of drugs, antibiotics, doctors are not to be trusted to be logical, scientific or even sensible, and certainly not wise.
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:01 pm

here is another great read, which I am still astonished by, even tho i first read it many years ago:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment

The methodology ( the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that Rosenham was exposing is still industry standard in psychiatry practice today, and as wickipedia aludes to, still making the drug companies and medical profession billions every year. Gotta laff.

Time to start hoping this rebirth thing might just be true, cos that oppressive fear can kinda cramp me up some..



Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times i can bearly see
Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip its been..
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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:25 pm

Thanks David. I've probably been explaining it badly. I'm using only my phone so it's kinda hard. You have summed it up nicely.
I'm quite partial to laing myself! I don't like how some of those ideas were brushed under the carpet by a discipline that is desperate to possess the credibility of one of the proper sciences. And do you know where the "Science" gets some of its raw data? Questionaires! Yup, folks, humans fill out Questionaires and psychologists use this as raw data!

My belly is exploding with laughter.
Except, it's not.
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maisie field



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:59 pm

I have been thinking about this thread,and wondering why I find it hard to focus on the subject.
Strange ,because I am a psychologist,with a strong predisposition to favour the insights my training and experience have afforded.
I am also a buddhist,with a strong disposition to favour the insights my training and experience have afforded.
I find it hard to focus on the idea of a split between the two kinds of exploration.To me,I think ,psychology and buddhism are like two foods.I don't have to mix them for them to both be important,essential.
To take the analogy further,there is no comparison ,aesthetically,between smoked salmon and ice cream.They both occupy the category of food,but I wouldn't eat them in the same mouthful.I couldn't live without food: I don't have to commit myself to one idea of what food is.One day,ice cream is the cure.Another day,it's smoked salmon.They don't cancel each other out.They occupy different places in food-world.
When I am in trouble,(and ain't life just all trouble?),or I see that someone else is in trouble,I don't have a little battle with myself,whether I am a psychologist or a buddhist.If I try to stay awake,I may just respond.Most of the time,I can't help.I just have to endure.
The teachings of buddhism are deep and wide and wonderful.And there is a lot of bxxxxxxt,too.And it is disappointing to find abuses and perversions in there.
Likewise,the questions asked by psychologists are fascinating, and often vital.And there is a lot of bxxxxxxt.It is disappointing.Perhaps the abuses and perversions are a little less because psychologists work in places where they are supervised and their practice is open to scrutiny.We are a varied lot.I couldn't name you a " typical " psychologist.
I co work with some anti-psychiatry folk.My ex boss was the Chief Exec of the Local Health Trust.He had been a user of psychiatric services,and brought his insights into mental health care and the mistreatment of patients into his work for the Trust.He advises the Legal Commissioners now,and speaks about his views on empowerment and change.
And I was talking recently with someone who is also a service user and a professional-by-experience.She headed up a powerful lobbying group,campaigning for patient's rights.It seems to me good that her insight can be a force for enlightened change.Because mental ill health is mystified and demonised when it needn't be.People polarise around views and opinions,and the person who suffers isn't heard.
People who have used the services,and worked in them,develop skills and understanding.They grow intuition,like a second skin.This professional competence often saves lives,quietly.Often folk in these jobs have deep misgivings about the models they employ,and chafe at their impotence.Often,there is no right thing to do,no answer.Bion suggested we needed to "know nothing".The therapeutic method was to ask,and be open to the evidence.
Our views,our cleverness,our composure,don't matter much do they?
Who knows anything much,really...
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Mental Health and Spiritual Practice   Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:35 pm

Maisie, thank you for saying all that, everything you say seems to make sense to me. Sometimes i feel like the more i know, the more i realise how little i know.

I know a psychiatrist in America who does the best he can for people with the tools (drugs) he has at his disposal, has done for 35 years. I always have listened to what he has to say.

The way i see it peversions are everywhere. Psychiatry and Medicine are just as inundated as Religious bodies, they just disguise it better and hide behind their professions better at the moment.In the UK the politicians, press and police force have been recently exposed again, with little resulting effect.

My experience is that we are all struggling, making mistakes, acting out, imposing our world on others all the time through our subconcious. I know I am, and everyone I know is.
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