Every mad person is a potential shaman. Yes, I do believe so, and it is one of these rare truths being confirmed by massive historic evidence. Shamans, also known as medicine men, were the first healers on this planet, who would have direct link with the nature and spirit world, and by being able to use this connection (such as through hearing voices), were able to know how to heal a person, or at least, how to help this person find a correct path towards recovery or just die in peace.
(image found on dreamstime.com)
Moving back to the 21st century, where we are now, shamanism is a dying, or better said, twisted upside down skill. There are still, hardly to find, individuals, located in some remote places (such as in Africa), and where they are helped and even strongly encouraged, to develop their talent, which does require getting mad at first, and then being able to experience two worlds at once. Being here, and listening to the spirit world at the same time requires extensive stamina and bravery.
But here, in the Western hemisphere, this shamanic skill (or call to heal, and it can be manifested differently, depending on the individual), is being repressed by the psychiatry.
Let me try to explain.
Michel Foucault, the French philosopher, was among the first, and is still the best person who was able to analyse the approach to madness from the point of view of power and institutions. As he says in many of his works (volumes and volumes, in fact), at some point in history, it was decided by those in power that all forms of weirdness should be controlled (otherwise, there is always this potential of resisting the status quo by those who see and hear things which matter), and the institution of psychiatry was created. Psychiatry is not just a domain of medicine, it is indeed an institution and as with every other institution, it means that some abuse of power is always there.
Don’t take me wrong, I am not among those ‘mad’ individuals who think that the psychiatry as such is totally evil, that we should ban it like totally and just go on with our lives. In all honesty, I think that a dialogue with psychiatry is needed, as well as a more balanced approach towards people who experience weird stuff (hearing voices, being psychotic, being delusional, and so on), like a radical reform in mental health completely. But we are not there yet, and so, I am just arguing my point on my blog.
For instance, nowadays, if you have this misfortune of ending up in a psychiatric hospital (and the number is on the increase, due to pressure of our capitalistic, reality TV society), you will meet a psychiatrist at some point. He will sit you down and spend 5 minutes of his time (that’s the precise amount of time a leading consultant-psychiatrist has to spare on each patient once a week, because of cuts in the budget and struggling NHS), on telling you that you have a big problem, that you are not well, that what you hear and experience is not real, it is a disease, and then will end up by prescribing you a killing dose of medication and giving you a diagnosis, in most cases.
This is totally wrong.
Ok, yes, I was diagnosed as bipolar at some point, but after studying the domain of psychiatry and everything else (spirituality, shamanism, different belief systems, and so on), I came to the conclusion that if I still wanted to enjoy my life then I needed to take control of my illness, and not give this power to psychiatrists (as nice as some of them are, but I don’t think they understand madness properly and have to follow too many rules themselves, as in every institution). I learned that yes, I do need medication, unless I want to become a proper shaman and retire somewhere in a village in Siberia, but that I had to decide on the dosage myself. I mean, how can the psychiatrists be so sure, when they prescribe things (read about the diagnosis I gave to the psychiatry itself)? In 5 minutes time? Dealing with totally different personalities, needs and souls?
Well, they can’t.
And so my advice to all those who are diagnosed as mental, try to take madness into your own hands. Research it, question things, think about what it means to you, and most importantly, don’t allow to kill that nascent shaman inside you.
I am a shaman and I learned how to live in two parallel realities at once. It is a gift.
(do I look like a proper shaman or as a mad witch, mhh?)