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So-called ‘Schizophrenia’ as ‘Spiritual Emergency


Much needless suffering results from ignorance of the multidimensional nature of the human personality, human psyche or ‘human nature’. Insights into the workings of human nature are revealed by combining Western scientific research with concepts provided by Eastern psychologies, such as Buddhism, concerning the dimension of human nature which is beyond the persona or ‘ego’, namely the transpersonal or ‘spiritual’ dimension. Complete development of human spirituality results in spiritual awakening or ‘spiritual emergence’ also known variously as ‘individuation’, ‘self-realization’, ‘self-actualization’, ‘spiritual renewal’ or ‘spiritual rebirth’. In terms of the transpersonal dimension of the human psyche, so-called ‘schizophrenia’ is a part of the human condition and a concern of transpersonal psychology. In the conceptual framework of transpersonal psychology, schizophrenia can be understood as a period of crisis involving psychic overload…chaotic and uncontrollable subconscious material surfaces to the conscious level of awareness and this results in intense psychological and spiritual growth… a ‘psychospiritual crisis’ or ‘spiritual emergency’. Spiritual emergency is a process which should be properly understood, respected and supported because of its potential for positive transformation of the person from an ego based consciousness of the ‘conditioned self’ to a higher consciousness state which is more effective for social adaptability, namely the ‘authentic self’.

Passage from one into the next is revealed by the person’s apparently bizarre speech and behavior which are still misunderstood as ‘symptoms’ of disease or ‘mental illnesses’.


Schizophrenia has been described as a nonspecific disease or ‘mental illness’ by the psychiatric profession. The supposedly devastating condition was originally named by the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin (1856-1926). Kraepelin believed that the condition involved an irreversible mental deterioration and coined the term ‘dementia praecox’ - Latin for ‘prematurely out of one’s mind’. It later became clear that the term was a misnomer and a new term was coined in 1910 by

Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939), teacher of Carl Jung and professor of psychiatry at the University of Zürich where he headed the famous Burghölzli Clinic. Since the condition seemed to involve a mental split between thought and emotion, Bleuler who was noted for his kindness and humanity, coined the term ‘schizophrenia’ for ‘splitting of the mind’. The term is derived from German ‘schizophrenie’ from Greek ‘skhizein’ meaning ‘to split’ and ‘phren’ of unknown

origin meaning ‘heart or mind’ so that‘schizophrenia’ actually means ‘broken soul’ or ‘broken heart’. Although there is still no universally accepted definition of the term, it has been applied to many so-called ‘mental illnesses’ including a set of socially and culturally unacceptable thinking and behavior patterns. The condition is largely misunderstood as a result of people’s fear of the unknown.


Schizophrenia in fact is not a disease or ‘mental illness’, nor is it a hopeless condition. Schizophrenia is a brilliant condition… a personal ‘story’ which involves a natural and temporary self-organizing transformative process or crisis of transformation, a ‘psychospiritual crisis’ now known as ‘spiritual emergency’ . ‘Spiritual emergency’ is the term coined by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof to refer to the self-healing process which involves dissolution and removal of illusions and false beliefs which originate in the programming of social conditioning. This gives rise to aberrant thought complexes which prevent the person from making accurate evaluations for appropriate decision-making for effective social adaptation. In a period of spiritual emergency, the person instinctively surrenders to a spontaneous organismic process involving the temporary separation of thought and emotion (‘ego-loss’) which is necessary for the reassessment of their thoughts without having to deal with the emotional implications. The person undergoes a series of varying stages or ‘episodes’ and eventually learns to grow beyond fear based ego-consciousness, beyond cultural conditioning and the expectations of others to a higher consciousness state and the new level of awareness characteristic of self- transcendence or ‘ego-transcendence’. The state of ego-transcendence is characterized by an inner sense of emotional liberation which purifies and sharpens moral consciousness or ‘rational conscience’ … and therefore results in clarity and an accurate perception of reality… intuitive understanding or ‘intuition’. 

Human intuition allows for the discovery of ideas and behaviors which increase the effectiveness of social adaptability… ‘Creativite intelligence’ is the defining characteristic of the human psyche or human personality i.e. ‘human nature’.


What is human nature? Human nature can be defined in terms of the universal moral values of humanness, the social values required for survival of the species as a social species i.e. ‘human values’. Human values are universal values of moral justice, understanding or ‘knowledge’, social responsibility or’ peace’, wisdom of compassion or ‘loving kindness’ and so on. Awareness of human values results in heightened intuition and social intelligence which is necessary

for effective adaptation to the complexities of changing social conditions i.e. ‘adaptability’. Human adaptability is a function of the social nature of the human organism as a social organism with instincts for social cooperation and social harmony i.e. ‘social instincts’. These must be cultivated in a process of development of moral consciousness or ‘conscience’. Rational conscience is a product of moral or ‘spiritual’ development which involves the preservation of the

integrated functioning of the personality and transformation of the self or ‘enlightenment’ or ‘spiritual emergence’.

“In the most general terms, spiritual emergence can be defined as the movement of an individual to a more expanded way of being which involves enhanced emotional and psychosomatic health, greater freedom of personal choices, and a sense of deeper connection with other people, nature and the cosmos. 

An important part of this development is an increasing awareness of the spiritual dimension in one’s life and in the universal scheme of things. Spiritual development is an innate evolutionary capacity of all human beings. It is a movement towards wholeness or ‘holotropic state’, the discovery of one’s true potential.”

(Stanislav Grof)


Spiritual emergence is a gradual dynamic, fluid, naturally ordered and integrated on-going process of personal development into greater maturity and spiritual awareness and involves a personal evolution from the limited sense of self or ‘ego’ and its egocentric perspective to the expanded sense of self beyond ego…the ‘higher self’ or ‘Self’… and its transpersonal perspective. The transpersonal perspective allows for the attainment of knowledge of one’s true nature… or human nature… as the source of motivation for personal productiveness and creativity or ‘work’ i.e. ‘self-knowledge’. As a result of transcendence of the ‘ego or ‘ego transcendence’, the consciousness is expanded, purified and sharpened to allow for a clearer perception of reality. The result is a sense of the wisdom of compassion an understanding of the ultimate connectedness or ‘unity’ of all things and an appreciation for the divinity of humanness. This spiritual awareness allows for a more accurate evaluation of changing social conditions and more effective adaptability. Self-knowledge is the source of personal power and creativity i.e. ‘self-empowerment’.


Each person is at a different stage of spiritual emergence depending on the level of their moral or spiritual development. Spiritual emergence takes place over a period of years and depends on conditions of freedom in education i.e. ‘free education’ or ‘holistic education’.

Holistic education is based on the necessary fulfillment of biologically based motives or ‘human needs’ which must be met in a process of normal moral or ‘spiritual’ development. 

Human needs include both ‘lower’ psychological needs for security and self-esteem - the ‘ego needs’ - and ‘higher’ psychological needs for moral or ‘spiritual’ development - the spiritual needs or ‘meta needs’… instinctive yearnings for unconditional love, truth, beauty etc. Motivation by the metaneeds…metamotivation… allows for the discovery of one’s true potential.


If in highly sensitive individuals, the process of spiritual emergence is blocked for any reason, the person might be warned that their growth is in grave danger and that they rapidly need to make adjustments which are essential for effective adaptation. The transformation process of spiritual emergence can be so dramatic as to become uncontrollable and reach a point of crisis or emergency. So-called ‘spiritual emergency’ is known by many names such as transpersonal experience, transpersonal crisis, psycho-spiritual transformation, psycho-spiritual crisis, spiritual journey, hero’s journey, dark night of the soul, spiritual opening, psychic opening, psychic awakening, spiritual awakening, enlightenment, kundalini awakening, kundalini process, kundalini crisis, shamanic initiation, shamanic crisis, psychotic-visionary episode, ego death, ego loss, alchemical process, positive disintegration, post traumatic stress disorder with psychotic features, night sea journey, psychosis, shamanism, mysticism, gnosis, inner apocalypse, and so on.

Spiritual emergency is a process of healing and renewal and is characterized by spontaneous alternative consciousness states or ‘realities’ in which the person experiences unbearably distressing psychic overload involving chaotic and overwhelming sensory experiences which in fact offer invaluable opportunities for personal growth. The experiences can be frightening and confusing because they appear to be out of context with everyday reality. As a result they are often misunderstood and discredited as being pathological and hence the medical model of so-called ‘schizophrenia’. For the reasons outlined above, so-called ‘schizophrenia’ is a concern for psychology of the spiritual dimension of human nature i.e. ‘transpersonal psychology’.


N.B: we are not referring here to obvious organic mental diseases and admit that psycho-spiritual crisis can disrupt everyday life, hence leading to periods of anti depressants, tranquilizers and a hospitalization, and then back to periods of the emergence of regressed unconscious material until the transcendence of the crisis! 


texts collected from multiple sources

and combined by Clement Farah


Mind | Matter

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