Is schizophrenia a “severe mental disorder,” as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO)? How might changing the perspective of the traditional western medical model, which labels certain symptoms as strictly pathological, ultimately transform those who are suffering? The Hearing Voices Movement (HVM) which originated in Europe teaches people with schizophrenia to respect their voices and to treat their voices as persons, says Dr. Tanya Marie Luhrmann, whose research seeks to understand the phenomenology of unusual sensory experiences often linked with schizophrenia. C.G. Jung used the imagination to work at the borderlines between dissociation and psychosis…
Sharing some ideas that came out of my new audio interview with Tanya Luhrmann below.
Listen to the interview with Dr. Tanya Luhrmann. (Summary article written by Melissa Nazario).
“Spiritual Implications of Psychosis: How a Spiritual Perspective Can Provide Health Benefits to Mind and Body”
Dr. Tanya Marie Luhrmann, Watkins University Professor in the Stanford Anthropology Department, uses a combination of ethnographic and experimental methods to understand the phenomenology of unusual sensory experiences, including those often linked with schizophrenia.
How people interpret unusual sensory experiences has differed significantly over time and in different cultures, Luhrmann says. Those who are very sick are often universally recognized as sick or schizophrenic regardless of culture or region, but people who are more on the healthy side of that continuum might have their experience interpreted in many different ways.
The way such experiences are shaped by ideas about the mind and person, and what we can learn from this social shaping that can help us to help those whose voices are distressing, notes Luhrmann, who has done ethnography on the streets of Chicago with homeless and psychotic women and worked with people who hear voices in Chennai, India; Karaga, Ghana; and in the San Francisco Bay area.
While there is a strong correlation between reporting childhood trauma and a higher risk of schizophrenia, it’s important to know there are paths for transcending the experience of a traumatic event. C.G. Jung used the imagination to work at the borderlines between dissociation and psychosis. Only recently have mental health researchers and professionals looked at the content of unusual voices as something that should be studied and listened to, instead of as insignificant side effects of the disorder, Luhrmann observes.
Listen to my audio interview with Dr. Tanya Luhrmann at http://www.pacificapost.com/spiritual-implications-psychosis-mind-body