May 20

Psychiatric Labeling: A Modern Day Crime


We Are Not Behavior Alone

In 1994, I was labeled with bipolar disorder. I always hated to divulge this juicy nugget of info to doctors or budding friends, and I never revealed it to employers. By sharing this label I was submitting to society’s stigma and thwarted conclusion of what everyone felt this “illness” actually was—an abnormal state, a deformity within a flawed set of genes. After years of therapy and self-loathing, and then waking up to an acceptance of myself, I knew this was ridiculous. But I was ahead of my time. The medical world, along with the rest of the masses whom the establishment had successfully brainwashed over the years, thought otherwise

After I had just returned from India where I suffered from a life-threatening illness, I was permanently stamped with the most heinous label of mental illness stereotypes because I almost died and got upset. For ongoing years, I wasn’t sure if I was cracked or they were. There was no sure way to tell. I was sure I wasn’t nuts. But there are very few ways to prove that one is not crazy. Especially when the psychiatric institution bases their entire model of determining one’s craziness through observations of behavior alone.

I began to see early on that the mental health industry bases much of their approach to identifying mental illnesses on the outdated scientific philosophy of Radical Behaviorism by B.F. Skinner from long ago. Skinner rejected theorizing about private events of the mind and emotions, disregarding the inner experience, ignoring all that was observable by method, but excluding a great deal of what makes us human beings. Experiences of mental illness begin in the privacy of our minds and the emotions associated with them are keys to unlock the roots of the mental illness. Mental illness is most linked to the context from which it derives. In my experience, the scientific “theory” the hospital brought forth to explain my mental breakdown was not based on the context of my story, but rather on all these well-attained observations about how I behaved. But I am made up of more than behaviors alone. I am not a lab rat in a cage to be looked at.

First-hand stories that provided real-life context as to why people exhibit strange behavior are disregarded when a diagnosis is being made. In the spirit of non-bias and objectivity, doctors instead base their labels for life on the abstract and inventive psychiatric story of symptomatic markers. I didn’t know then that as early as 1980, the American Psychiatric Association eliminated “context” as a necessary factor in determining psychiatric disorders. A doctor has to simply refer to his bible, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM) and decide which diagnosis fits the patient best based on the number of behavioral criteria met. The formation of the DSM was influenced by Emil Kraepelin’s work (1856-1926), which leaned toward a more generalized approach to diagnosing symptoms in psychosis. Rather than looking at the contents of individual experiences, Kraepelin was interested in finding patterns in psychotic behavior that could be used for a therapy plan. In my psychosis, or rather my shamanic episode, no one was hurt or wronged. Yet, in their DSM, I was ill because I had met a certain number of characteristics and behaviors that they deemed abnormal in human beings. And that was that. No negotiations on this one.




Now that I was labeled bipolar, I knew it was going to be goddamn impossible to convince anyone I was normal. Renowned psychiatrist and academic, Thomas Szasz—whose 1960 controversial, groundbreaking article “The Myth of Mental Illness” critiqued the very heart of psychiatry in its moral and scientific foundations—claims that what we call mental illnesses are really “problems in human living,” which is largely the result of making poor choices motivated by unsuitable values, or responding negatively to the unexpected disappointments that are naturally a part of life. Szasz poses the question, “Who defines the norms and hence the deviation?” A general compass in society for “normal” behaviors is dangerous, for the definition of normal is precarious and subject to change. Quite often biases are usually in accord only with the values and norms of society at that fixed point in time before more progressive ideas are introduced. The most obvious example of this is the categorization of homosexuality as one of the “sexual deviations” in the DSM-II published in 1968. In time, homosexuals demanded social acceptance, and in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its official diagnostic list.

I knew the institution would never see me behind that label. They only saw the pharma code and description—296.41 Bipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Manic. Throughout the 22 years I was under the scope of the psychiatric institution, they never saw my potential, they ignored it. Instead, they effectively used their jargon to remind me of my limits. If felt like a sort of mind control, because although I had psychotic experiences, I was not crazy. I was just a regular person who was different from other people. But the psychiatric institution made it almost impossible for me to realize that.

Like the natural history museum scientists pinning beetles to cardboard with fancy genus and species names, the psychiatric institution is categorizing people with fancy labels, and then keeping them indefinitely sitting labeled for no good use. While diagnosing they say: ‘What is that behavior? I don’t know what that is. Let’s call it something and give it a label.’ Like we’re beetles. The prophets, the artists, and the warriors of this world are now part of the latest Classification of the Living Things and are made to keep their traps shut.

In our recent past, mental illness labels were not nearly as popular as today. In the first edition of the DSM in 1952, only 60 were listed. By the early 90s, the DSM IV carried approximately 280 disorders, which is excessive enough. But with the recent 2013 release of the latest DSM V, psychiatrists have managed to fabricate a whole boatload more in their collective psychiatric imagination. A growing number of medical professionals are critical of the latest DSM-V, as it now contains up to 374 mental illness labels. Psychiatrist and author, Allen Frances, who was chairman of the DSM-IV Task Force, stated, “This is not just an academic debate. It’s not just inside psychiatry. It has a huge impact on how lives are lived, how mental health dollars are spent and on the public health of the country.” Says Frances, “The reason there is so much controversy about DSM-V is that psychiatric diagnosis has become, if anything, too important …”.

Almost every facet of human behavior can now be viewed as a symptom of mental illness—from lethargy to shyness, from fastidiousness to inattentiveness, or from fatness to dishonesty. And they are conjured up by a panel of people (not all of whom are “doctors”) behind closed doors. Furthermore, among this last DSM-V Taskforce, 69% reported having ties to the pharmaceutical industry. It seems as though Big Pharma is in the business of making us all crazy. I can almost guarantee that everyone I know can be labeled with at least one mental disorder from the DSM bible.

Big Pharma is the headmaster of lies in this complex scheme of psychiatric labeling because in the 1980s, they took the field over. They needed to label everyone so that they could give them the right meds and code the proper insurance for the mental patients. But they couldn’t say it “like it is.” It would sound too discriminatory against what they perceived to be the lower life-forms. So, they made up different names for everyone with no truly descriptive words allowed except those that described outer behaviors.

Throughout my 22 years of being a psychiatrically labeled mental case, I needed to always inform the hospital of my plans because ultimately, the doctors were in charge of my life. I had lost my freedom to do as I wished long ago. In 1998, I told my doctor I wanted to relocate to Colorado to look into facilities that offered healing through a more natural, holistic means unassisted by pharmaceuticals. She did not take my new reasoning seriously. She turned to my mother who had accompanied me that day, and as if I weren’t there said, “Well, you do have some things to fear. She isn’t dealing with reality and may eventually lose it. She might act out in a brazen manner, begin to get rashly angry, and even damage the house with lighting fires and such.”

Offering my paranoid mom the absolute worst and unlikely of scenarios was not only ridiculous, but extraordinarily manipulative and unprofessional. Thanks to this so-called wisdom from my doctor, on each day of my countdown to my departure to Colorado my poor mother anxiously and irrationally begged me in panic not to light any incense or candles in my room for sheer terror of the house burning to the ground. This doctor believed she was able to surmise these possible future states of “acting out” because the label told her such. She never saw me as a person who was unique outside of the label and would never have the urge even in shamanic states to light fires.


duct tape

The Crime of Unlawful Detainment

 In 2012, I was committed to a mental institution again because I couldn’t sleep through Hurricane Sandy, and I was in and out of a shamanic state. I knew I had fallen to my inspiration, but that was no sin. For any New Yorker alive not being able to sleep was completely reasonable during Hurricane Sandy’s roar—I was no social deviant this time around. Sadly, I was alone on this journey because the hospital couldn’t get in touch with my private psychiatrist for the last six years (who poetically, was traveling in his homeland of India of all places), so they couldn’t simply get a script from him for sleeping medication; and further, he couldn’t act as my personal advocate. So at this point they saw a visit to the mental hospital as my only good option for “recovery” because I was labeled as having bipolar disorder, and I was a top priority mental case. And, of course, I complied. I had no choice because I knew this drama was in full bloom because of my label.

Within one day of them dispensing to me sleeping pills, I was fine to return back to my life at home. But my label affected my world in a huge way as I knew it would someday. I began to notice that suicidal inpatients that came in after me were free to leave the hospital before me. Gentle, coherent, even-tempered and compliant in all aspects of the program was I. My husband, my son, and my parents visited every day, which demonstrated that I had a strong support system to which I could return. So I appealed to the resident psychiatrist who had taken my case, “When am I going to be released to go home?”

He answered with the smuggest, most insincere, and authoritarian tone after staring at me with a pregnant pause. “Well, we’re still watching you to make sure you’re OK to go home. You just try to get better, and I’ll let you know when we decide what’s best for your recovery plan, shall we?”

Wow. She’s bipolar, watch her. Psychiatry has really advanced in the last twenty years since I first heard such a thing.

He thought it was appropriate to speak to me like I was a three year old asking for candy before dinner. I finally saw it. I looked straight into the pupils of his eyes, and I knew it. He was judging me wrongly. It was my label he saw, not me. He thought because of the description of possible behaviors that might be exhibited in those with the DSM label of bipolar disorder, that psychotic images must be dancing inside my head. Because that’s what the label told him.

In The Crucible, when the religious fanatics of Salem pressed John Proctor to sign his name to confess the crime of witchcraft he had not committed, he cried out in despair:

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another

 in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because

I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How

may I live without my name? I have given you my soul;

leave me my name!

Much like these mad brethren of yesterday, this modern day assemblage of psychiatric fanatics had permanently sullied my name by attaching it to a label years ago. I would have been better off having committed a high felony. At least before you incriminate yourself you are reminded of your Miranda rights, assigned a personal legal counselor, and presumed innocent until proven guilty.

During this particular stay I became dreadfully aware that these labels have silenced our voices forever in our own country. We weren’t free because there was no other way for us to be seen or heard except through our labels. For so many years leading up to this stay, I knew I had to prove that a label could affect me for the rest of my life. And it wasn’t only in the here and now that my freedom was being compromised. If I should not have the courage to fight it, it would one day again present a problem for me. In this lifetime, if I was to remain in America, I could never truly be free. My entire identity had been stolen from me. They never saw me for who I was—a smart, talented and gifted individual, but as an abnormal bipolar mental case with a history of psychosis.

I began to realize with each passing day that what was taking place was a negation of my freedom, as if I was the perfect example of a person who should be locked up. If such actions were taken place under the laws of criminal proceedings—if someone, for instance, was not released promptly after making bail—no one would stand for it. But such laws did not protect the so-called “mentally ill.” Whether or not we showed ourselves to be dangerous, our labels suggested the possibility of us acting out, and that was enough for them.

My good insurance was clearly part of the equation for keeping me locked up. But it was more than that. They could only get away with it because of the severity of the bipolar label they tagged me with decades ago—one of the most severe mental illnesses that is classified in the DSM—that was as linked up to every aspect of my life as my social security number.

No matter what I said, the institution saw me as an illness. I had a number attached to my name. Bipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Manic, DSM pharma code: 296.41. I became a numbered person to watch. I became a Jew.



The Limitations of a Label

 During this 2012 visit many complex characters populated the home, and I took to Alicia right away. She was a brilliant young girl of about 20 years, whose light shone so bright when she walked into a room it could wake up the most comatose of inpatients. She was classified as having Borderline Personality Disorder (DSM pharma code: 301.83). These types were pinned with exhibiting intense, unstable moods, under-regulated emotions, and basic rebellious behaviors like impulsivity and promiscuity. It seemed to me that many people in this group of the mentally ill at earlier periods of history might have made terrific, political and social protestors who had interest in trying to make real change in disrupting the low status quo of society. But as the diagnosis entered the DSM in 1980, the powers-that-be had surely squelched those tendencies by determining them as pathological. Somehow people have learned to believe that there is scientific progress in classifying people. And they are just simply wrong.

Alicia revealed to me that she felt relieved they had finally figured out what was wrong with her having identified it with a label. I loved the girl’s vibrancy and sharp wit and worried one day those traits might be nullified, for she had officially bought a ticket on the psychiatric railroad to lead her quest in becoming a normal human being. I grabbed her hand and said to her slowly straight into her eyes, “You are not a label. It might serve you now to help you get on your feet. But you are more than a label. You are Alicia. No matter what they tell you in the future, never forget that.”

She sighed and held her breath looking as though she might tear up. “Thanks. I’ll remember that.” She was released to go home with her label later that afternoon.

Beyond just the few that find themselves in a mental hospital, people should care about psychiatric labeling because it affects everyone. Especially our children. They have labels and codes for each and every one of us. Don’t believe me? Well, then open the damn DSM book, and read it. Find out what colorful label you are. These eloquent labels they have so creatively compiled apply the duct tape neatly across our traps for anyone who should challenge the establishment’s way of thinking. The religion of psychology does not even need to impose watchdogs. We are doing it to each other, observing each other’s every move, ready to report something strange, something suspicious in one another’s behaviors. From teachers to parents to friends to neighbors, we are all on guard labeling everyone into categories without ever being asked to do so. Being comfortable with one’s own idiosyncratic traits is becoming a thing of the past, and over-analysis runs rampant like the Black Plague.

The labeling process has sped up within the last few decades, and one must consider what things looked like in our history with no labels. When at one time we were making strides in the civil rights movement, today there is a reason the dissent has quieted down. Now social rebellion can be judged as pathological and diagnosed as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (DSM pharma code: 313.81).

When I became a teacher it broke my heart to see how a decade later after I was first slapped with a psychiatric label, the process of labeling kids in schools was now relentless. I worked in the Bronx and saw how the ethnics were the ones who suffered most because their behaviors and cultural ways did not measure up to what the white man, who came up with all these labels, deemed as normal. In schools at every level our children are being systematically labeled and organized so that they can successfully conform to the dumb-ass white-man system. If you don’t fit, you get a label, which one day might limit your freedoms as an American citizen as it did to me. That’s what we’re signing our kids up for.

Our kids are under dangerous influences artfully crafted from long ago, and we are allowing them to do it. Education initiatives since the 1950s by the World Health Organization were firmly put in place to separate children as early as possible from their family traditions and systematically organize them into psychological groupings based on behaviors and skills for jobs. The goal was to create a world citizen, but instead, the plan pulled kids away from their own people—their language, their spiritual beliefs, their family customs—replacing these foundations with a new coded scheme of citizen organization. And the mental illness industry is blooming into a full-blown Baron Munchausen fiesta from it.

Moms, take it from me. Do NOT get your kids labeled in schools. It never goes away. It is a permanent mark forever. It does not wash away with tears or with anger. It means you can’t lose it. Ever. Like how you can beat cancer? Nope. In their clinical world of lies you will never beat a mental illness. It is held to your identity until the day you die. It becomes part of you. It is identified in your DNA. It determines your future—your future relationships, your future self-esteem, your future opportunities, your future rights. No one hears your voice as a citizen behind a label. The labeled are deemed unfit and unable to make decisions with good judgment. It’s practically impossible for anyone to feel important under that label. Giving a personality a permanent psychiatric label is a sure way to control the behavior of the population. Which forces people to shut their mouths. “This is your kind,” they say. A barrel of the mentally ill. The permanently ill. It’s happening for real. Quietly and efficiently. They have our children, and the time is ticking.

The fact is this stupid label had colored my life for years, and the only way I was able to see my world was by looking through its lens—that I was ill, that safety came first, and that I needed caretaking in my life in order for me to stand on my own two feet. It took me most of my life to realize that nothing can be further from the truth. In this battle, I am not alone. I am many other people with assigned labels. I am misunderstood children in the education system. I am people of color who are misjudged by ethnic differences from the established norm. I am people of dissent and rebellion who find the pathetically low status quo unacceptable. I am all the emotional creatives who are losing their breath and their thrust in the race to stay alive, to thrive in wellness through their creativity, which to them is the stuff that makes an authentic life.

Over the last two decades I lost everything to that label. My dignity, my identity, my pride, and even my marriage. Most of all, I lost my certainty that my son would be safe and free under the American legal system. But I had a name before a label. I’m Jen Gaita.



May 01

The Shamanistic Nature of Psychiatric Patients: Let Them Hone Their Gifts


The Psychiatric View of the Shaman

It’s true. Many “mentally ill” people are budding shamans. Especially the bipolars. I can say this openly because for over twenty years, I’ve lived with a psychiatric label attached to my name when all I’m really trying to do is enter shamanic states safely in order to tell my stories and connect with my muses.

When I traveled to India in 1994, I suffered from an acute form of dysentery alone on the streets of New Delhi and a compassionate taxi-driver and Sudra class man, Mahander, came to my rescue and got me to my emergency plane departure on time.  Upon the return home, however, after noticing for the first time the disparity between the greed and overindulgence of New York’s city streets juxtaposed with what I just witnessed in the slums of New Delhi, an altered perception tail-spinned my mind into a spiraling tornado; and after an emotional outburst that I could no longer control after the trauma, I was thrown into a mental institution and labeled with bipolar disorder for the rest of my life.

I would not have returned home from India without the help of a family of angels who were directing my steps and providing me symbolic information in a wakeful dream state. Because the spiritual world communicates with us with the language we employ them, my DNA code seemed linked to these symbols as though only I could interpret them in a unique way. And I did arrive home after all, and I believe it was only because I listened to a guidance larger than myself, which provided me with an awareness I had never known before; and which was now being challenged in the psychiatric institution.

The psychiatric institution regards such stories as illusionary or delusional. And as anyone who walks through those mental institution doors knows, the psychiatric philosophy undermines anything that cannot be proven through empirical naturalism. Rather than considering alternative possibilities that create these states, it teaches us that there is something fundamentally wrong with all those afflicted, something innate that causes our states. My mental and physical strain in India was clearly the impetus for my mind shift. It was an enormous stressor, something traumatic and life-threatening. But the psychiatric doctors avoided the subject of India like a case of the flu, as if it wasn’t part of the equation at all. And this is because they lack understanding of alternate points of view on mental illness.

In but a couple months, the medical team handling my case informed me that they finally figured out “what was wrong with me.” This mental illness of bipolar disorder, they told me, would be with me for the rest of my life since it was a genetic, pathological illness with no cure. In the beginning of living with my label of bipolar disorder, as they had conveniently named my personality, they may have been convinced I was crazy in these states of mind, but I saw them as prisoners chained to the wall in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Shackled to their version of reality their entire lives, only seeing mere shadows of actual forms, how could they know the true light of the fire that was now emblazoned in my memory of India? I had broken free from the cave and came to know that the shadows did not reflect the real truth in the least bit.  With my journey to and back from India, I came to perceive a multidimensional reality, much like what indigenous shamans perceive through the depth and power of symbols—not merely the shadowy forms of the one tiny “objective” worldview that was taken as fact at home. I realized how indoctrinated they were, locked into the matrix of a one-way interpretation of humanity’s place and purpose. Up until that moment, I had been one of them. But my new eyes were no longer accustomed to the darkness, and quickly I realized that I would no longer be a good player at their game.

I was on meds for years, and longed to be off them as they had made a mockery of my interaction with others due to many visible and debilitating side effects, which not only made me feel like an imbecile but look like too. But the truth is, Big Pharma has us by our throats and their arresting mind control of the day convinces everyone they need a long list of psychiatric medications when they often do not. At least not forever, which is what they want. Another addicted life-long customer.

I ran off to Colorado when I finally had enough, and ended up having another insane experience in getting lost in the Rockies off the trail. And in this further life-threatening situation, I again began to enter the shamanic dream state, which I had not experienced since India. In but a few months after returning to New York, I began to have vivid dreams as wisdom from faraway souls revealed secrets to me. In addition, during my wakeful hours I began to journey like a shaman as I became an open channel to receive input from distant bloodlines. Then I began to realize, under the massive stress I found myself in, a shamanic initiation had indeed taken place in those Colorado Mountains.



The Wakeful Dream State

In Native American circles, shamans were believed to connect to their spirit guides through intense ritual and brave willingness to enter another level of consciousness. Shamanism is not a religion but a set of techniques that help one navigate in a wakeful dream, (which is a trancelike state similar to an altered state of consciousness induced by psychedelics), in order to collect information and bring it back to the tribe. In their communities, they knew if a state of “mental illness” occurred, the shaman needed to commune with the other side and enter another dimension where healing could be extracted for the good of the afflicted. In the same vein, after Colorado, through ritual and meditation, in my active imagination I began to commune with humble ancestors of long ago, with indigenous populations, with our native brethren that walked this American soil before imperialistic greed raped their families and ravaged their land. Through visual images and symbolism they tried to show me their truth, stories, and profound, lingering whispers of yesterday.

Shamans can journey into the past; they experience compressed time, or a time outside of time. Australian Aborigines practice the art of experiencing dreamtime and regular time simultaneously and can enter this at will. Being in two realities at once allows a person awareness of the merging with dream time, the origin of all things, a reality where shamans believe to hold the only truth that can be trusted. Tribal shamanic cultures see the “mentally ill” as having access to two worlds—the ethereal and the physical. Shamans have the ability to serve as the bridge between realms, merging with the world of the spirit and gathering information from a spiritual source that can help those who suffer emotional or mental strain. However, those in training are guided by experienced shamans and are taught how to navigate their way on the other side and safely return back so that madness does not manifest in their psyches. Think Carlos Castaneda’s Lessons of Don Juan.

Many “mentally ill” patients essentially enter the wakeful dream state, when the dream world crosses over into reality. These ethereal zones hold dream imagery with allegorical significance. One journeys in that space by way of making meaning of the symbolism, and then builds upon those meanings to gain clarity. This can only be achieved in the mental realm but is guided by clues found in the physical realm. And in the end, only the physical world can most people see.



Psychosis and the Shaman’s Journey


On the inside of the institution, psychosis is always the worst possible pathological symptom, whether or not it’s violent, whether it’s enlightening or debilitating. A disconnect with the “way things are” does not open up a conversation, but instead slams the door in the faces of those who depend on their imaginations to help them interpret their reality, as we artists do, in order to survive. Consumers of the mental illness industry often can’t make sense of their “psychotic” experiences, and then the psychiatric institution ushers themselves in as their healers and caretakers forevermore. In our lovely group therapy, instead of sharing the meanings behind the thematic elements that popped up in our psychoses, we instead were encouraged to mind probe and deconstruct each other’s thought processes. But all this over-analysis of such a private space as the mind, especially when one is mentally vulnerable, can be highly invasive.

Patients in mental hospitals appear to be walking around in faraway, dreamlike states because they are caught in timelessness. But going deeper into timelessness can only strengthen your understanding of these larger concepts, not weaken it. And yet, the psychiatric institution convinces our future artists, intuitives, healers, and dreamers that they are mentally ill, and thus, they shut themselves down and never hone their innate gifts.

Today’s Western psychiatric medicine is not in the practice of guiding the initiated home so many creative people and healers are willing to enter this state of “madness” alone, regardless of how overwhelming or precarious. And I knew too well that the dreamy context of these “psychotic” states would never be explored or taken seriously because to this institution, they don’t believe the statement of the great Romantic poet, William Blake, when he asserted that, “Mental things are alone real.”

For many years, while entering these states and getting myself inside the institution a few times, I was still just a novice shaman, and when I tried my best to put words to my mental imagery that was bursting to be told to my family and friends, I sounded like a little girl describing pictures in a toddler’s primary phonics book. I often lost any real communication abilities when it came to this inspired stuff, and I looked like a lunatic each of the few times it happened. It’s no wonder why a shamanic journeyer like me ends up in the loony bin time and time again.



Episodic Symbolism for the Bipolar Shaman

For many creative bipolars on the inside, entering these alternate layers of reality allows them to process their environment and try to interpret it sensibly, something I personally found extremely difficult to do after I returned home from India. My so-called real world never made sense again. In fact, this other reality I entered but only a few times in my life, held realer and truer memories for me. Everything else in my past falls away as illusion. The traditional psychological field refuses to even acknowledge the existence of such altered states of mind much less offer the appropriate course of action on how to deal with such psychic phenomenon.

Without any assistance over the years in learning how to deal with breaking through to another layer of reality in these bouts with “madness,” or the wakeful dream state, I was not able to harness the knowledge of such a gift nor hone any of its healing techniques. For creatives, it’s in this kind of dreamy world where inspiration sits. Its terrain is not one of logic or measurement, but rather symbolism, containing images that hold special meaning like that of a dream. Because all we are inside our minds are the symbols that remain as part of our consciousness from memories past.

And here is where one can slip and lose sight of the whole picture. Many of us who unexpectedly find ourselves in that ethereal zone, collecting our bits and pieces of symbolism in order to tell our stories, get lost along the way home to the reality we all agree upon as “objective reality.”

To others—our families and friends who are watching these “episodes”—these symbolic impressions may seem weird or disconnected, but for the shaman, the reading of these symbols is vital to discovering one’s unique understanding of how the Universe is connecting to him personally. It’s in that timeless dimension where the collective unconscious of symbolism sits, where the wakeful dream state offers us visions of past and present. In each one of my visions when I entered these states, the symbolic messages were highly personal and always meaningful, as they contained premonitions of psychic memories of the peoples of yesterday who walked the same path in finding their symbolic story of the environment in which they lived.

Dr. Joseph K. Dixon describes symbolic interpretation in his book in 1913, The Vanishing Race,

These primitive men hold time and money and

ambition as nothing. But a dream, or a cloud in the

sky, or a bird flying across the trail from the wrong

direction, or a change of the wind will challenge their

deepest thoughts. To the Indian mind all signs are



Viewing symbolic dream imagery as signs of neurosis or pathology, as Freud once had, is missing the entire meaning of the messages. Alternatively, Jung believed that dream imagery contained symbols deriving from our shared collective unconscious, from which we all can access the same meanings. It was obvious to me that the themes that consistently appeared in my psychotic states were not telling the story about my hang-ups; but rather, the dreamlike symbolism woven through my wakeful shamanic journeys was like a magical realism, which led me through the underworld and helped me understand my reality.

Many people when walking into an institution tell stories of the FBI chasing them, or they believe they are Moses, or that they are hearing whispers from the other side. But when one really gets to know these people, they are bursting with creativity and the Universe is communicating with them through symbolic dream imagery so that they can better understand themselves and their purpose.



Journeying with Creative Muses


It was in 2006, during my third hospital visit when I was shamanic journeying for ten days and nights straight while I was pregnant with my son. They couldn’t give me sleeping meds to stop my mania because it might’ve hurt the baby. On that occasion I knew full well that when I said goodbye to my family I would now enter the other side and did not know when I would return from my shamanic journey. Especially on this particular occasion, I was at a devastating loss. Because I was in the land of the non-material for so long, it was hard to find my way back; and upon returning, I was unequipped more than ever before to integrate what had happened with whom I was.

My getting lost in that world for days on end during this hospitalization felt like an eternity. My memories of that timelessness will provide me lifetimes of rich inspiration. However, while most of the imagery was positive and insightful, many visions were destabilizing so it was imperative that I was carefully watched, and I knew that. For ten days I was on 24 hour observation with my room door open as I existed in the wakeful dream state, roaming in my imagination, acting out one ritual after another, one epic dream flowing into the next, entertaining the staff and the inmates alike, all during the long nights into the following days throughout the good part of the week. But as insane as I must have looked to all peering in, I was in training. I was learning how to jump into timeless dimensions through doorways in time.

On this hospital visit, I requested a single room for the first few days of my stay, so that I could shamanic journey in private when I needed to access information to make sense of the mess I was currently in. I practiced being an owl, an eagle, and a sparrow. Practicing their natures helped me see things through a larger, bird’s eye perspective, which I needed more than ever on that flight. The owl’s spirit medicine gives wisdom from warnings and prophecies in dreams, which clearly led me there once again. My eagle yoga stance helped me create a sort of invincibility barrier of protection so that the powers-that-be in that hospital would know who to leave alone.  And my sparrow power animal came to me on my nature walks and showed up in some coloring pages in art therapy class. I brought them back to my 4-white-walled room to gaze upon during my stay.  This communication with spirit animals strengthens the shaman on her journey providing guidance along the way and back home.

Today, after much learning and mistakes along the way, I let the inspiration hit me as it wills. Sometimes there is none. But some inspiration is reminiscent of the powerful, ecstatic rushes of days past when I couldn’t write or paint fast enough. In these states I respond to the call of my creative muses and enter ecstatic prayer and deep trances in shamanic journeying late into the night, which is a no-no amongst the psychiatric institution. But I dare to make the journey.

Connecting with my celestial, creative muses is always a private affair and when that landscape opens up, energies from the other side can communicate—whether they are my angel guardians, or bloodline ancestors, or indigenous spirits from the world of yesterday—that Holy Spirit is alive and vibrant when I enter that space with committed intention. I’ve learned for decades how to hide my inspiring moments so that I can safely access them without people thinking I am having an “episode.” And then when no one is watching, I enter my shamanic journey without fear or hesitation.

It is sad to me that the psychiatric institution does not encourage many to listen to the whispers in the wind as I have, ones that show me the way through my intuition. Some have never been led as I have by a recurring symbol in nature that warms your heart popping up again and again at just the right moment so that you finally notice that eagle soaring above you high in the clouds; or one that leads you to see a rainbow at just the right colorful angle on a sad day. Making meaning of the universe’s magnificence through symbolism is essential when one asks for inspiration from something larger than oneself. These things are what are important in life. It’s the stuff that makes all the hardship and suffering worth it.

Jan 21

Biological Psychology: Stealing the Mysteries of Our Futures…


 The Biomedical Model



Let us ring in the new year with the latest scientific discovery. Last week science writer, Jenny Chen, writes an article in The Atlantic, “Childhood Guilt, Adult Depression?” and within days links and commentary were published all over the web. Prominent news sites like the Chicago Sun-Times, International Psychologists, and Huffington Post, to name but a few, open a forum of discussion on these new facts that have been heroically revealed in the medical field and suddenly everyone proclaims, “Ahh, now I understand!” And all I can see between the lines of those who are in support of the validity of this research are the words, “Please tell me what to think!” Unfortunately most people are quite content being told what to think about their own brains. They have long ago bought into the idea that we have no free will and that biology determines everything.

I am opposed to the biomedical model in determining psychiatric problems in people. Although the model is considered the leading approach for modern mental health care today, it focuses purely on biology. In physical illnesses this approach can be appropriate for determining much pathology, but in psychology it is simplistic and lacking. There is a litany of limitations to this perspective. The biomedical model strictly adheres to nature over nurture. It does not take into account other factors that play a role such as social structures, environmental causes, cultural differences, or individually subjective aspects in the analysis, and it does not care to do so.

Although lately this approach to psychology is all the rage, it greatly underestimates the complexity of human behavior. It is reductionist in its nature by oversimplifying the vastly complex brain system and its interaction with its environment. It implies that a person is nothing more than the sum of her parts. It supports deterministic thinking, which allows very little room for free will and personal responsibility. When we assume that these areas are predictive and therefore unchangeable, we are dooming our children to a future with no hope, restricting their freedom of mind and heart.

Using both nature and nurture as factors inside an analysis is the only way to make any kind of statement about human behavior. Unfortunately the answers are never neat and orderly as much as biological scientists want them to be.


The Study: Conclusions and Problems


genetics-emotion-anterior-insula  fixBrain scan


The research was based on brain scans of 145 children in the range of ages 7-13. The caregivers were given surveys measuring symptoms of excessive guilt in their children such as constantly apologizing for a minor misbehavior or feeling guilty for things that happened a long time ago. The results are in. Said Joan Luby, one of the authors of the study, “In the kids who had high levels of guilt, even the kids who weren’t necessarily depressed, they had smaller anterior insula volume, and that smaller anterior insula volume is predictive of later occurrence of depression. This research suggests that early childhood experiences impact the way the brain develops.” Predictive? The size of a part of a person’s brain makes an accurate case for a child’s future? Wow, what a conclusion.

In order to measure the research in this kind of comparative psychology, scientists use scans of brains from people who are mentally ill and compare them with brains of those they deem as normal. But exactly whose brains qualify as normal? When compared to the abnormal brains are the normal ones normal in every area? Surely this brain belongs to a person with some kind of problem. Out of all abnormal behaviors, and according to the DSM there are over 300 of them, it is almost mathematically certain that this normal brain must suffer from some kind of mental problem. Does this other mental problem also show up in the imaging taking place? Or has that not been yet mapped out? Whatever the case may be, making comparisons in brain sizes in order to make a prediction about a kid’s future doesn’t sound like science to me. Yet it has a lot of things in common with fortune telling.

Brain scan research has extremely low ecological validity because it is organized in artificial settings that lack realism, unlike research of high ecological validity conducted in settings in natural environments. Since this research has barely any connection with a situation found in a real-life setting, do these studies measure what they are supposed to be measuring?

The researchers have dealt with the issue of excessive guilt. But how much guilt is too much? Guilt in itself is not a bad thing. Simply, it is the feeling of having committed a wrong or failed in an obligation. Guilt can be a tool to self-regulate one’s behavior, and in the past we believed it played a role in revealing a person’s conscience. Guilt may certainly be overemphasized in some families, and something that may feel guilty in one family may not provoke the same feeling in another; both states of mind, however, may be valid. The emotion of guilt by its very nature is not always rational. And children being as innocent and impressionable as they are, are more emotional than logical.


Causalitydepression guilt 2


One of the gravest errors in predictions based on biological experiments in psychology is that the direction of causality cannot be inferred. Are children predisposed to depression likely to experience excessive guilt or does the appearance of excessive guilt cause mental illness to emerge?  Michelle New, a psychologist and associate professor at the George Washington University Medical School in Washington, D.C., doesn’t believe it matters in the clinical setting. “It’s not like that symptom is going to go away,” she said. “What’s important is that we practice early intervention and prevention.”

A “symptom” like guilt cannot go away? In my personal experience this “symptom” of guilt, (I always labeled it a feeling), dissipated when I apologized for something I did that was wrong, or I made a plea through a prayer to God asking for his forgiveness, or after much personal analysis of my flawed behavior I rose to the mature realization that in order to let go of the guilt, I needed to forgive myself and move on. But according to this researcher, if I had a particular brain imaging as a child, my symptom of guilt simply will not go away, and I’d be better off to bring in the mental health professionals in kindergarten so as to give me early intervention to not think a certain way.

We must empower our children by teaching them skills to cope in life by managing their feelings, however difficult they may be, not giving them the hopeless idea that they have no inherent ability to take care of their emotional states. We should be helping them become self-reliant and confident by believing in themselves, not ashamed of their defective anatomy creating dependence upon external institutions and long-term medical assistance.


TooManyPigeons fix

Early Intervention


According to Jenny Chen, New believes that, “…this research could help pinpoint specific brain anatomy to identify children who are at high risk for later-life mental disorders. New states, ‘This research is really new and exciting because you can look at changes in the brain, and it shows that early intervention is really important. Dismissing early symptomatology is dangerous,’ she said. New explained that mental disorders are often latent between the ages of four and 12, and so being able to identify children at high risk for mood disorders helps parents and mental-health professionals engage in preventative measures earlier in life.”

I love the word “pinpoint” because that is exactly what they are doing with this approach to helping children. Putting them in a box, pigeon-holing, and tagging children as young as seven with a label held down by a pin just the way entomologists do to pretty and ugly beetles alike in the drawers of classified things in the American Museum of Natural History.

In New York State, early intervention governmental assisted programs are offered in everything from occupational therapy to physical therapy, from speech therapy to social behavior therapy, and are highly sought after from parents who are worried about the slightest behavior in their children off the benchmark chart. I never submitted to this excessive worry on every level. Some things I believed were important issues to be addressed, and other things I believed would take care of themselves over the course of time in my son’s natural development. I sought after speech therapy for him when I saw after the first year in nursery school he was still suffering from being misunderstood amongst his teachers and peers, which was directly affecting his interaction with others.

But the program facilities wanted to overschedule Jack’s day with other early intervention measures too. I finally put a stop to the invasive and endless testing when they suggested Jack be given physical therapy because I answered a question on a survey that stated that he couldn’t catch a ball from three feet away. Maybe a few times he did, but that wasn’t an option on the multiple choice. I felt the intrusion of judgment to be rather unfair and simplistic, especially when my son inherited genes from my husband who still had trouble catching a ball. Needless to say my husband never aced gym class or became a ball player, but instead he is a highly successful banker. I wonder what would have happened if my husband received early intervention instead.

Similar to the way psychologists push governmental early intervention programs so that they have continued monetary support, New tries to validate biological research by putting the guilt trip on parents with her warnings that not responding to these early “symptoms” is dangerous. Did I endanger my son for not giving him physical therapy at age 3? I think not. Intuitively, I withheld pressure and instead waited for him to feel a little more coordinated with his body. An extra year or two later than his peers he eventually threw himself into gymnastics, an activity he has committed to for years. In addition, at the ripe old age of 8 he is on the peewee basketball team, and gym is his favorite subject.

The biomedical point of view helps promote the mental health industry and helps it thrive in many facets. The pharmaceutical industry develops new drugs each year to take care of new symptoms that crop up with each revised issue of the DSM. Psychiatrists continue to have customers increasingly younger due to the latest vogue idea of early intervention, and while everyone is happier and mentally stable, as a society we are becoming more and more imprisoned and less interested in matters of the soul.


 Perpetuating Stigma



In a dead robotic world teaching us that human feelings are nothing other than chemicals and our minds are made up of little more than cells and tissue, maybe we need some of these depressed, manic, and anxious folk to open their mouths to share the truth with people. Wake them up out of the coma the psychiatric community is convincing us to believe, namely, that by using the biological model they are helping change the stigma of mental illness.

Unfortunately, the mental illness awareness community of today is the strongest promoter of the biomedical psychiatric model. Yet this very philosophy further perpetuates the stigma by suggesting there is fundamentally something wrong with us on the deepest level of our DNA. They assert the model is scientific with many empirical studies to support it, but the realm of the mind branches from more than just our biology.

It’s in the language. Declaring that a person is not in charge of their own future due to their unfortunate heredity especially in regard to unpredictable future feelings and thoughts, is crippling and disempowering. This is yet another message to all children and their parents to lock their kids into thinking they are mentally ill way before anything should ever occur. It creates a restricted mind and does so at the earliest age.

Fostering the self-fulfilling prophecy, these beliefs become our reality because we act as if they are already true. Having expectations that we will see certain outcomes affects our behavior toward ourselves and each other. Thus, when any feedback returns to us that supports our preconceived notions, our original suppositions are reinforced making it difficult to recognize information to the contrary. A person’s life cannot be determined by computer imaging. Our worlds are shaped by our choices, lifestyles, upbringings, points of view, world beliefs, socioeconomic backgrounds–the list is extensive. Beyond the way our brains look in a scan, what resides inside is much more important.


physiognomy fixWe Are Not Physical Alone


Funny, this style of identifying physical constructs and then predicting certain character traits or propensity of future behaviors is very reminiscent of the 18th century notion of physiognomy, a pseudoscience that was fueled by the belief in racial superiority. This outdated view assessed the nature of one’s character or personality based on a person’s outer appearance, especially the shape of the head and face, to explain why these inferior and superior characteristics existed.

Scientists made comparisons between the races they chose as normal and the races they deemed as inferior helping them make “scientific conclusions” on such matters.  Just as in days past scientists are now trying to prove that certain mental types are more healthy and normal than others, not by comparing forehead shapes but rather, brain sizes. Today we have the ability to look inside the person’s head with brain images measuring physical structures in the brain, an organ that we know so little about that much of the work that brain scientists are doing is based on speculation. Most scientists can admit that alongside the growing data in this area are widening gaps of understanding.

While brain scientists make sweeping conclusions on a grand scale, they work on a tiny scale analyzing networks of cells in labs of low ecological validity. Identity, personality, memory, all the things that define a human being, do not only grow out of the way our brains appear, but out of experiences we each have, out of our consciousness, and out of our relationship with the Divine.

Strange. In a day when we believe we have progressed as a species, we are somehow convinced that the size of one’s anterior insula alone, a small part of the brain’s physical structure, actually determines future feelings and behavior years before something should ever be provoked. Scientists do not know why these parts are bigger, and it may not even matter all that much. They are simply making observations about something material and extrapolating from that a conclusion about something immaterial. Mental things and physical things are in two different genres, apples and oranges. This so-called science uses biology in a way that could never thoroughly explain issues that are non-local inside the heart.



Robbing Our Future Choices


 places youll go fWhy are we obsessed with preventing future states of mind? What are we afraid of? In the name of controlling the depressed kids of tomorrow by shaping the way they feel today, we are taking them away from being the authors of their own lives and instead making them patients. We are all in a state of healing, possibly some more than others. But have we stopped to consider that maybe these kids of tomorrow with small anterior insulas have special gifts not yet known to us to help shape a beautiful future world? Who are we to stop those gifts from growing and blossoming? Is it all in the name of biological psychology?

In my opinion preventing future mental illness has a lot more to do with making the right choices in life, thereby reinforcing those thoughts associated with such states of mind. For me personally, I lost mental grounding when I was impatient, when I had become arrogant and selfish, when I lost faith in something larger than myself and held little respect for others in my life. If I had practiced the opposite: patience, selflessness, faith, and respect for others, my life’s detour may never have materialized. I never at any point believed that the size of select parts of my brain had any factor in it.

It is the brave new world, my friends. The truth hurts whether you want to believe it or not. Tell me what to think, and I will be ok. If I am made to disengage myself from messy emotions, maybe I can avoid a further messy situation like depression in the future.

But let’s not get too wrapped up in the packaging. Life is life. It’s most often unpredictable. My brain may house my emotional activity, but it does not experience the feelings in the way my heart does.



Dec 19

Chemical Imbalances: Established Science or Mythical Theory?



Societal Conditioning in the Scientific Worldview…

A number of proposed causes of mental illness have been circling in the air for some time, and one of the most repellant to me is that brains with mental illness, when compared to normal brains, show a chemical imbalance deficiency of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. Somehow this theory over the years has gained widespread momentum, and we accept it without any investigation because it has been purported as truth time and time again. But is this a sound scientific theory based on facts?

I had a debate with a friend who was convinced that the chemical imbalance theory had been irrefutably proven without doing the slightest bit of research on the issue. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The theory is based on no conclusively sound, biochemical evidence whatsoever. In fact, not one single peer reviewed article to date supports the claim that there is a serotonin deficiency in any mental disorder; not only that, but many show evidence to the contrary. So why does the majority of Americans believe this theory to be proven true?

Our society has told us that science delivers us the most authoritative comprehension of our world and the most valuable part of our learning experience to the exclusion of all other viewpoints. Our dependence upon scientific conclusions on delivering the ultimate truth to us has shaped our worldview and has become a form of religion, namely that of “scientism.” We look to a few select scientists in the world who we believe have the only capacity of those alive to figure out for us the most important human issues, instead of relying on our own personal experiences to determine and shape the stories of our lives.

So in a world where what we believe with certainty can only be true if it’s backed by science, where things can only be considered part of our reality if they are established through some measuring tool showing some kind of empiricism, how is it that we take all this psychiatric jargon as true when there is no conclusive evidence whatsoever? True science is predicated upon the scientific method; namely, that to be termed scientific, the theory needs to be based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. But what instead has occurred in psychiatric medicine is the exact opposite. It has perpetuated myth.



Missing Empirical Data

Western medicine firmly asserts that physical, biological causes of illnesses provide the most logical answer to all health problems. But considering how non-local and ethereal matters of the mind actually are for all of us, it is a conundrum how biological theories for mental illness outweigh all others. Many scientists, however, are starting to take a different approach. “We’re certainly not saying that people should ignore biological factors when studying mental disorders,” says Yale professor of psychology, Woo-kyoung Ahn, “but it’s crucial to understand biology as something that’s part of all human experience, rather than something that separates so-called mentally ill people from everyone else.”

In no instance would we accept that we have a chronic physical illness unless there was some kind of proof found through a measurable test. How often do we hear doctors say, “I know there are all these symptoms, but I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” If they don’t have any test results to prove otherwise, we belief there is no pathogen to worry about.

Imagine you suspect you have high blood sugar. You go to your doctor with your concerns. He suggests a test that will determine your levels so that he can accurately diagnose you. If the tests come back negative and show you have proper levels, you are relieved. If on the other hand, levels show otherwise, a course of treatment is suggested. This is how a physical illness is addressed.

In contrast, if you walk into a psychiatrist office stating your list of symptoms, which in my opinion are really feelings and states of mind that have been shaped and triggered by some outside source or inside conflict, no test is given and therefore no results are obtained. The first thing the psychiatrist does is refer to his Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, which contains labels made up of nothing more than observable behaviors from people on the outside. Beyond marking behaviors, knowledge regarding lifestyle, relationships, and family history is not usually considered necessary in making the diagnosis. Frequently it is discussed later on in psychotherapy after the diagnosis has already been determined and the medical code for your insurance issued. A drug treatment plan and a course of action that usually involves trips to the therapist for weeks, months, and sometimes years at a time is then prescribed.

Unlike for physical illness, NO tests determining chemical levels are given to the people who are actually suffering with mental illness symptoms. So how can we know for sure that the mentally ill have irregular chemistry inside their brains if no tests can determine this? Can we call this biological science if it is based merely on assumption alone? This is akin to diagnosing a person with diabetes without taking any blood tests, or attributing cancer to someone without taking a biopsy. Without ever seeing any results from any medical litmus test, how can one fairly assess a morbid state like a chemical imbalance in the brain without looking at scientific evidence?

Quite simply, doctors do not test for these levels because it just isn’t possible to measure serotonin and norepinephrine in the brains of patients. Chris Kessler, author of the New York Times best seller, Your Personal Paleo Code, points out on his blog, “Estimates of brain neurotransmitters can only be inferred by measuring the biogenic amine breakdown products (metabolites) in the urine and cerebrospinal fluid. The assumption underlying this measurement is that the level of biogenic amine metabolites in the urine and cerebrospinal fluid reflects the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain. However, less than one-half of the serotonin and norepinephrine metabolites in the urine or cerebrospinal fluid come from the brain. The other half come from various organs in the body. Thus, there are serious problems with what is actually being measured.”



Beyond Chemicals

The unsubstantiated chemical imbalance theory is also debilitating within the healing process. The faulty assumption that chemical imbalances are the direct cause for abnormal behavior and emotions, does not lead to positive movement in self-growth. It implies that even after healing has begun, a person has no control over any intense emotional or mental states. The hope that things can change for the better is nullified, and trust that change is within their control is elusive.

We need to reclaim our autonomy in healing ourselves without presupposing limitations that faulty brain “chemistry” might suggest. I was told for decades that I had a chemical imbalance and that this bipolar disease and its symptoms were outside of my direct control, an explanation that offered me little hope to rise above such limitations. This notion can sensibly offer patients short term relief in attributing unpredictable and disruptive actions as involuntary expressions in times of crisis, as they sometimes are. But when things return to balance, holding to the same reasoning only teaches us that our actions are not to be trusted because we lack control over them. Excusing us from all responsibility also takes away the empowering human belief that we own our lives and can direct them through our personal actions and thoughts.

I cannot deny that some extreme emotions may trigger certain chemicals to move to and fro inside our brains. But let’s be clear about something: chemicals in the brain and how they move around do not directly cause certain emotions to appear as if we are machines lacking repair. Whether or not my emotions can be shown to have certain dopamine levels does not negate the fact that emotions themselves are real and exist in their own state of non-local space. My emotions may certainly leave a chemical trail behind them, but they are not merely chemical compounds that exist in neuropathways inside my brain. Emotions live inside the heart.



Beliefs Shape Our Reality

This imposed belief system by the “experts” reinforces the idea that biology is something that cannot be overridden or changed in any way. All one has to do is look at the yogis of the Far East to see how one has all the power in the world to do everything from dropping one’s breathing patterns into theta states, to sitting in a ridiculous pretzel pose for hours on end—feats that seem practically impossible to most people but are certainly achievable for those who use their minds to overcome natural human limitations.

The mental health and mental illness awareness community have graciously accepted biological explanations regarding mental illness for a number of reasons, and the most obvious one is that the benefits that result for the pharmaceutical and insurance companies are enormous. Entire industries thrive that are predicated on the premise that drug treatment is not only an option, but most often a necessity. A dependency is efficiently created, properly coded insurance claims are submitted, and a lifelong customer is attained.

Another more covert reason is that the theory controls a certain group of the population, namely the erratic kind. Patients who are convinced their brains are somehow chemically diseased not only believe they have no power to change within themselves, but also they lack the belief that they can have the ability to positively influence or change the state of the world in which they live.

Claiming that mental illness is not something within your control — just like getting the flu or food poisoning, or developing cancer isn’t within your control may be true on one level. Mental illness shows up when you least expect it, and you don’t invite it in. During unpredictable times that crept upon me without any warning, my bipolar disorder, (or as I like to describe it: my bipolar personality), caused much upheaval in my life destroying my most intimate relationships and cherished goals. I certainly did not have the power in directing the tornados that from to time crashed through my life. But, and this is a big but, life is meant to be messy, not perfect.

Erroneously, the mental health community believes that stigma will lessen by pointing to factors that are directly outside of our control, (namely our biology), to explain unpredictable and involuntary behaviors, thereby absolving the victims who suffer from them. While all intentions are good, the communities that should be supporting the mentally ill are, in fact, further promoting the mental illness stigma. The idea that we are somehow different than others through faulty biology is demeaning, dismissive and lacks compassion. When a person suffers emotionally and reacts to pain in their lives negatively, I see a normal individual who is dealing with problems with human living just like anyone else, regardless of her biology.

We mentally ill have far more control than we think. We are not disabled people. Convincing people who mentally suffer that they have no control over their illness, is like saying they have no control over the rest of their entire lives. A physical illness like food poisoning goes away, but we will always live with our minds. Our minds are not a chronic condition. But by convincing ourselves that we are somehow chemically different from normal people, we continue to define ourselves as a result of our uncontrollable chemistry and submit to the “mental illness” label as if that’s the only explanation that holds any weight in the equation.

The human experience contains naturally good times and bad. These bad times show up in life and for some of us can trigger some very unbecoming behaviors. In time, any “symptoms” that show themselves can be treated and often eradicated. As time heals wounds, so does applied effort and belief in oneself that one does have the power within to get better. We can use cognitive therapy, prayer, exercise, diet change, medicine, holistic therapies and a whole selection of combined treatments to redirect the course of our lives regardless of any biological framework that houses our neurotransmitters.

Mental illness is within an area that is arguably non-local, meaning it doesn’t have its main expression inside the brain physically. We are not just a skin sac of chemicals. We may have a body, but within it contains a soul and a heart. Because we are tied down to the 3-D world in these “body-suits” given to us by God, (not evolved from pond scum), emotions need to be housed in chemical compositions in a physical container. I see each of us as having unique brain chemistry with a single signature linked to each one of our DNA compositions. Yours is different from mine, and mine is no more chemically clean or dirty than yours. My brain is not a car engine. I am not a walking disease because of imbalanced chemicals in my brain. I am much more than that. I am a human being.

May 11

Freud’s Psychoanalysis: Is It Time We Moved On?


Psychiatry’s Relationship to Psychoanalysis

I can’t get away from it. I see them everywhere. The four-eyed doctors sitting with analytical cruelty behind a one-dimensional interpretation of reality that I see as senseless. There she is. As I exit the Mount Kisco Greek diner she’s sitting there proud and straight-backed, robotic and brainwashed. It’s Dr. Innez. And across the table of pancakes and breakfast sausages sits another one just like her—the psychiatrists of our Westchester medical universe. Both of whom are probably making connections that make no sense in the real world where I live, but in the scrutinizing world where they live. They foolishly believe they know just what the only reality is, the way it actually is, through their outdated psychoanalysis.

My personal experience has given me insight into the psychiatric institution on a grand scale. An entire “science” has stemmed from the attempt to answer this question: “Why are people abnormal?” At psychiatry’s onset, the problem did not arise from the question. The problem arose from the fact that only a small population of the world was allowed to answer it—namely, white European males.  And its philosophy is much stranger and darker than you think, existing inside the long, winding corridors of a weirdo’s imagination. And that weirdo is Freud.

Austrian psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud, is considered the father of psychoanalysis, and his theories fueled philosophical ideologies for over a century. Freud’s psychology heralds itself as the most influential psychological study of all time. His writings have been given over the years sacred status. But his philosophies resemble more of a cult than a continually developing scientific program.

His theories are grand delusional nursery rhyme fantasies that created a pseudoscience at best. And our society’s current psychiatric institution seems more like some perverse expression of a Freudian fantasy gone too far. It’s clear we’re stuck in the head of Freud down here, and I can’t see much in this deep, subterranean unconscious. There’s basically very few colorful choices leading to new theory, and that’s a problem.

Freud influences the field of psychiatry to such a great extent that tens of thousands of people are addicted to their psychoanalyst’s interpretations of their lives. One can argue that the field of psychiatry has become a form of a police state, exercising control over a certain expressive sect of the population, and within its techniques lies psychoanalysis, which has become a central vehicle for the power over our minds. In addition, its methods are also reminiscent of the confessional techniques resembling that of the Catholic Christian tradition, where the guilt is so overwhelming that one must succumb to his lack of self-love and self-esteem in a private setting with a sacred mediator.

Many have argued that Freud set back the study of psychology and psychiatry by over fifty years, and in doing so, he has created a whole sect of patients who have become disabled in depending on themselves to make meaning of their own lives, and instead, depend on their psychoanalyst to interpret their reality for them. In my own experience, it didn’t make sense that the psychoanalysts should be so sure about the inner space of my psyche, as if they could peer inside my mind and see its deep-rooted, unconscious, repressed neuroses doing a dance. But psychoanalysis encourages this very idea—that someone else can interpret your mind for you.

The psychiatric institution is encouraging our society to embrace a psychology that fosters dependence and invokes disability in directing the course of our own lives, which is as outdated and old-fashioned as bustles and corsets.

psycho mag

Freud’s Philosophy

After one’s outpatient visit from a psychiatric hospital, a treatment plan is offered, which pairs talk therapy with medication. Talk therapy, which is often psychoanalysis, is typically the only prescription (along with meds) for a person suffering with mental illness. But while psychotherapy is widely considered the most necessary of all mental health options, it can ironically be debilitating mentally. Opening up one’s stories of private mental distress to dispassionate questions about one’s psyche does not heal a vulnerable mental state.

In Freudian psychoanalysis, the patient verbally expresses his or her thoughts to the analyst who then can infer the unconscious conflicts causing the patient’s symptoms and character problems. As he interprets these conflicts for the patient, the analyst is thought to help create insight for the resolution of the problem and clarify the patient’s pathological defenses, wishes and guilt. But they arrive at this “clarity” by spending their time interpreting the nuances of a person’s communication by way of suspicion. Psychoanalysis searches for deception in language, and thereby destabilizes our natural reliance on clear, obvious meanings. For example, Freud encouraged the method of “free association” to infer the unconscious content of the patients’ wishes and dreams. This method encourages patients to talk freely about a prompt, without censorship or inhibition, about whatever ideas or memories occur to them.

The first time I entered a mental hospital I was given a test based on Freud’s free association theory that apparently measured, so they said, my mental development and neurosis at the time. I was given a wide variety of pictures and told to say the first thing that came to mind. But at the time, I had just recently had a life-threatening experience in suffering from dysentery in India, which was clearly influencing my answers, and which seemed to them exaggerated and lacking a sound interpretation of reality. In this test they encouraged me to report my thoughts and feelings without hesitation and make no attempt to concentrate or think over my answer before doing so. This puts the entire control of healing into the hands of the psychoanalyst who is expected to determine—using a miniscule amount of information—the patient’s mental and emotional problems. And yet the answers to the test were regarded as “proof” of my emotional immaturity and are in my psychiatric records forevermore for any therapist to gaze upon in further analysis.

Psychoanalysis believes that a person’s development is most often determined by forgotten events or figures in early childhood that lay in the unconscious. While this can be seen in some people’s experience with dysfunction in their family ties, a great many people have had very healthy relations with their families and to say something is inherently in one’s unconscious psyche when it is not is a form of mind control. In my years of psychotherapy, I was encouraged to keep analyzing my familial conflicts and how they got buried in my unconscious no matter what the subject, as they ignored more relevant topics—especially that of India. I was always asked about my mother and father and about what they did to me, and even when I couldn’t think of anything that was a sufficient answer, I was told to consider such connections before my next session like a homework assignment. Frequently, patients get locked into this kind of therapy for years and even decades trying to work on familial issues that should have been long forgotten and let go of by early adulthood.

Psychoanalysis also purports that human attitude, mannerism, experience, and thought is largely influenced by irrational drives that are rooted in the unconscious.  And it relies on the concept that only after having a cathartic experience under the help of a psychoanalyst can a person be assisted in recovery. Again creating dependence upon psychoanalysis and the drugs that go with it. If we give ourselves power to analyze our own shortcomings and develop personal plans on how to overcome our mental strain, we see that much control is inherent within conscious territory, not wandering forever in our unconscious whereby only a psychoanalyst can break us free from our irrationality.

In psychoanalysis, proponents believe it is necessary for patients to avoid psychological resistance in the form of defense mechanisms when bringing drives into awareness under a therapeutic setting. This approach usually results in the patient’s submissive deferring to the psychoanalyst on any matter. In states of mental vulnerability, suggestions by therapists can be taken seriously by the patient as though they are the primary reasons for our emotional and mental shifts. We accept their analysis of ourselves as more valid than our own, and thus, allow them to direct our actions and thoughts.



Fantasy or Fact?

As psychiatry’s relationship with psychoanalysis thrived throughout the decades, it continued to see itself as a real science—the saddest attempt I ever did see. Psychoanalysis’ usefulness has not been demonstrated through empirical science. Many critics of Freud regard him as making unscientific claims in his writing. His theories are largely incompatible with scientific approaches to the study of the mind. They are almost exclusively based on the clinical case study method, and not on quantitative and experimental research. He used a very limited and unrepresentative sample of patient cases—almost exclusively upper-class Austrian women of the late 19th century—which is not an efficient representative group, and therefore, his theories should not be placed as proven to the general populace. Further, many people I personally know who went through the psychoanalytic process have not resolved the conflicts that are in fact affecting their lives, and are often convinced that psychoanalysis was expensive and a waste of their time.

Naturally, Freud is best known for his Oedipus complex, in which in the phallic stage, a boy’s decisive psychosexual experience is in his son–father competition for possession of his mother. Freud tells us that much of this desire is in the unconscious sometimes shown in dreams. In his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, first published in 1899, Freud gives detailed interpretations of his own and his patients’ dreams in terms of wish-fulfillments. He believed dreams can be effectively analyzed to reveal unconscious material about subjects related to repression, which underlay symptom formation. Based on his case-studies, he would sometimes come across the Oedipus complex and believed that it was the source of much unconscious guilt. But he announced that the oedipal desire was universally innate to all human beings. Psychologist Steven Pinker wrote that “The idea that boys want to sleep with their mothers strikes most men as the silliest thing they have ever heard. Obviously, it did not seem so to Freud, who wrote that as a boy he once had an erotic reaction to watching his mother dressing.”

Scientific surveys have concluded that while personality traits corresponding to Freud’s oral, anal, Oedipal, and genital phases can be observed, they do not necessarily manifest as stages in the development of all children. Let’s be honest here. Freud, who in fantasizing about fucking his mother, came up with an entire philosophy that ‘proves’ his theories and ended up convincing everyone that every human being must be afflicted with the same neurosis.



A Misogynistic Point of View

Further, Freud’s misogynistic point of view considered a girl’s negative Oedipus complex to be possibly more emotionally intense than that of a boy, which would result in a woman with a submissive and insecure personality. Or it could lead to a phallic stage fixation, or penis envy, or may lead to a girl who continually strives to dominate men. Or possibly result in an unusually seductive woman with high self-esteem or an unusually submissive woman with low self-esteem. He basically covers the whole gamut of women’s personalities, calling them all neurotic and mentally ill.

These theories were put forth in a period where women had no say in anything and were highly persuaded on such matters with little freedom to choose an alternative explanation about their own mental and emotional states of mind. Madness and neurosis were prevalent during their day when deep recesses of the mind were being explored. It was a time of psychological darkness and mental and emotional oppression, as there were no choices, no options outside of what those privileged white men were deciding was the norm for every person on Earth where answers about the mind were concerned.

The time period imposed rigid confines on society, and the stifling social values were impossible to uphold. During an age that repressed people’s creativity and aspirations, both England and America were rampant with melancholia. Many were women. This was largely because their potential at the time was so suppressed, that they frequently coped through shutting down and de-pressing their spirits. They were stifled into sexual hysteria, severe anxiety, and depression. Further, there were many who suffered bouts with madness such as in novels like Emily Bronte’s Jane Eyre, where the crazy wife is locked in the attic, or in Elizabeth Gillman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, which portrays the woman expected by her husband to sit in her room all day, every day, until she got magically lost in the designs on the wall.

During this same time period in Europe, Sigmund Freud’s work in psychology grew in high regard. He viewed sanity as proper adjustment to social norms, however unfair, and considered insanity as a state that showed struggle and confusion in the psyche—a reality that is often a prerequisite of true awakening. Freud was from the powerful and privileged social class with access to the best schooling who regarded their own perverted interpretation of reality as absolute fact. He took his limited observations from his patients—a very small population of his own “kind” and mostly women—and projected it onto the general population of society. His brilliant “penis envy” concept is ridiculously still taken seriously in some academic circles, yet he only came up with it because he was visited by all the Austrian women in town of high upper class society who had no way of exercising their own power with their misogynist husbands. He believed he could accurately understand the psychological realities of all others alive based on his philosophy alone, which was saturated in a misogynistic point of view.  And yet, Freud flourished and became highly regarded as a man with the answers regarding states of mental illness from only a relative subjective perspective.


just plain nuts

A Therapeutic Setting

By no means am I claiming that therapy isn’t useful or therapeutic. But when entering a space when looking for aid in settling the mind’s mental strain, one needs to be careful when choosing a therapist and psychiatrist because in the end, they are dancing within a very personal territory and can harm such a private realm, which contain one’s personal thoughts and feelings.

Currently, I have a helluva good psychiatrist who doesn’t expect me to prattle on blaming my neurotic parents or overanalyze current neuroses or painful stories, but rather asks intelligent questions throughout the session that directly link to the healing process in helping me through painful times to help me get on my own two feet again. He got to know me over the years as a person with goals and dreams that are reachable and real, not as a mental patient who is only motivated by unattainable wish fulfillment.

Psychiatry needs to operate within respectful parameters. Mentally ill patients no doubt need assistance, but other than psychoanalysis, part of any treatment regimen should include a plan for changes in lifestyle or a renewed personal philosophy that can only be created by the patient herself. A patient should feel safe under a therapeutic setting—not overanalyzed—whereby she can enter a space where she can heal in a more compassionate environment. And psychiatry owes that to its patients if it positions itself as an institution that truly exists for healing.


Dec 23

Our Human DNA Code


It continually mesmerizes me…

In my night dreams and daydreams, in my visions and in my communication with God, the magnitude of its meaning rests always upon me.

Darwinists claim it holds the proof of evolution. Creationists believe the code is the ultimate example of God’s perfect design.  And Ancient Alien theorists find in it clues left behind from gods of yesteryear who tinkered with our code to create something new, for better or for worse.

Check out how Transhumanists are convinced Human DNA can be improved upon:



It is the ultimate mystery holding the most complex of answers.

Some ancient Egyptian experts say that understanding of the double helix was revealed in early hieroglyphics and preserved through the mystery schools for thousands of years way before Crick and Watson’s discovery.

Below the following radio interview shows an interesting point of view that researchers like Tom Horn and Steve Quayle hold, using theories based on references in the bible. Namely, it regards DNA manipulation of mankind before “the days of Noah” in Genesis 6,  which refer to the Nephilim, (or fallen angels).



Social Darwinism emerged from DNA fascination, which led to Eugenics, which then influenced Naziism. Each day the implications of genetic inheritance, (of either illnesses, characteristics or talents), continue to support the billions of dollars poured into the Human Genome Project. Our fascination with our Human DNA drives every one of us in some deep unconscious way, even if it’s simply wishing for a change of eye color. Below is part 1 of 4 parts of an informative documentary film on the history of the relationship between evolutionism, Social Darwinism, racism, and eugenics.


For even more, go to my YouTube page, Crazy Redemption, and subscribe. Many additional video links are there which cover a wide range of aspects regarding our Human DNA Code.



Oct 10

The Passage of Time

Memories Remain…


We all know time is an illusion. But when the stark reality of passing time suddenly kicks down your door becoming front and center stage, it can give you a rough wake-up call. Instantly time has caught up with us, and all things at once hold a new distinct meaning.

It all began two weeks ago when after painting an estimated 120 kids at a weekend festival, my body ached miserably. I used to be able to do a lot of these gigs when I was in decent shape. Before I became “healthy” and started exercising 3-4 times a week inviting into my life my hamstring pull, my bicep strain, my tendonitis, my hernia operation. Working out had become dangerous. It seemed being sedentary was a healthier state for me these days. So, when the perfect thing happened without my even assisting it in any way, with no forewarning I get adhesive capsulitis, or “frozen shoulder.” Who knew I could be so lucky? So I sit with my bum shoulder on ice for days in reverie, finally having a chance to give myself the excuse to relax.

The recup’s been fun as hell–lounging around in my PJs all day and scrolling on YouTube and Pinterest in between feeble attempts at working on my writing. An article catches my eye about an adolescent crush I had on this rock and roll musician. He had disappeared for decades, then suddenly pops up on the scene 20 years later just a few months ago and gives a surprise guest performance only to disappear into his seclusion again, (for how long no one knows), which ultimately, is what I find so endearing. I get inspired, actually pumped, and while I’m excitedly exploring all his old concert footage, some kind of unbelievable breakthrough is occurring. What it all means is still obscure to me, but nonetheless, it sets my heart on fire, softening my hardened arteries and massaging the flow of blood throughout my entire stiff body, which unbeknownst to me had coagulated into a thick sludge over the years.

steve-perry web

While I watch this incredible  passion drip out of this rock and roller whose talent I admired more than any other talent I have known to date, what I see, (beyond the sexiness of it all), is God’s gift, (I mean a real gift, not that corporately manufactured kind that “artists” of today wear with pride). And I sit there and cannot believe the pure beauty of God’s magnificence. How it shines boldly and brightly through him and how gorgeous it can really be.

Memories flood my mind. This band ruled during the era when rock and roll was real. When musicians recorded together in the studio in real time playing their demos repeatedly on rolling tape until they had the take just right. When vinyl albums were on scheduled release in record stores, and a new release meant a new tour. When you and your friends in order to get tickets were willing to stand on line for hours starting at the break of dawn. All the songs were written by the musicians themselves, and not only the radio hits were on those albums, but the whole LP had tracks that were great. These were innocent days in my life before my break, before my sadness, before my visions, before the knowledge that I disdained gaining as it weighed heavy on my heart.


To sit in my skin from yesteryear was heaven, indeed. See, I wasn’t like most people who had the fortune of keeping their memories of youth intact. No, I had my identity stripped away from me, and with it flew my memories. I didn’t know who that young girl was from 30 years ago, but through reliving this fascination with this musician, I return there and I see her; and I remember how she once felt inside. I like her a lot, and I want to get to know her again.

Forget about Gestalt therapy, I got down and dirty—listening on and on to the music, sinking into the gulf of sentimental sorrow with no shower, barely eating, lying around in sadness and regret and remorse, with longing for days gone by—and then breaking myself out of it before dinner. Which because of my otherwise very healthy mental state, I see that I suddenly am able to do rather adeptly. Mastering such an emotional discipline was what I’d been searching for my whole life. It certainly wasn’t developed through any psychiatric help or cognitive reprogramming, but rather through applied effort and directed intention over time. I had not even realized how skillful I actually was at this; I hadn’t practiced it in years.

I remember how this young girl would listen to these albums cranked as high as her ears could stand it through massive headphones while sobbing intensely in response to this amazing voice. It was during these heartfelt listening sessions when my soul traveled so deeply that I wanted to explode, when I wanted to be something more, and perhaps find my own God-given talents to express. It was in these private moments when lying on my purple carpet in my room with lights shut and door locked that I would go on a journey to visit that land of melancholy colored in both blue and golden tones, and to later return with good answers and renewed excitement for living and feeling. I was becoming an emotional artist and embracing it. I forgot what it was to access this space. I hadn’t even noticed, but I had long stopped treading in the flowing waters of emotionality.

Although who I was no longer exists, the woman I’ve become grew out of that vanished personality. Sadly I realize that I never fully integrated my spirit of yesterday into my womanhood of today, and the pierce of this wounds me. I had forgotten how wonderful that life energy was because the memories of my past were erased. And for the last 20 years instead of making any effort towards remembering who I used to be before India, I worked on forgetting about her.

  Emotion Overload


During these few weeks of manageable melancholia, I wade in this pool of sentimentality and sense how fantastic the solitary emotional quarantine feels. I had pushed that kind of maudlin and reclusive behavior away for years, as if that authentic and burning tug of heart was non-essential to the life experience, or to a functional one, at least. Since these behaviors are directly linked to how an artist accesses her feelings so that she can create more authentically, I lost a great deal more than my memories when I was told that the same traits that made me creative were not only ill-fitting to a normal human being, but pathologically symptomatic of mental illness.

Hear ye, hear ye, to mental health! Meditate and be clear-headed. Don’t think or feel too much, and hold a good routine. In the face of stress, anxiety and grief, these are valid goals, to be sure. But the guts of life have been sanitized and scoured away with abrasive steel wool. We have tried to reinterpret natural human emotions by calling them negative, detrimental, unimportant—we are bastardizing the emotional landscape of the heart as quickly as we are convincing everyone that technology is our dearest and best friend.

After the fall, having been broken down by the psychiatric system and deconstructed in my therapy, the “good doctors” convinced me that I had an unfortunate hand in life, that I had flawed genes, a defect, that I had a disorder that was a mental sickness, a genetic anomaly. My “ill” behaviors were identified with emotional states of mind, (since they classify bipolar illness with emotional swinging moods). And although I have it in my DNA to explode into expressing myself in an emotional manner, I began to systematically erase the relevance of these traits in my life, and thus, the beautiful memories contained therein. I became fearful of my own deeply emotional characteristics and was taught for 20 years to suppress any such profound, ecstatic states.

Now, the passage of time has brought me here, abruptly and without warning. My current tearful state is something that most assuredly would convince every one of my family members, (including my husband and some of my long-time friends who insist on “worrying about me” more than taking care of their own baggage), that I am not doing so well. But I’ve never been better. So as I keep this weepiness of mine a secret for the last two weeks, (going on three), I continue to relish every second of it. And as I pray about this confusing stage I find myself in, the clarity I receive is soothing and filled with grace. It’s just the beginning of my coming home to my natural state in mind and heart. If I should so wish, the chance of returning to the pleasure of being a purely emotional creative can be brought back into my life once again, if only I can find the courage within to grab it.

  i_matter crop 

Nostalgia Inspires

I am inspired and I’m writing non-stop, and when I’m not writing non-stop, I am weepy again. Ah, the circle of deep, emotionally raw creativity: become the dreamer in your imagination, enter the blues if necessary, create, feel that elation, then return to the role of the dreamer to further create…and thus the loop of inspiration continues on and on. This stimulating merry-go-round I’ve been afraid to ride on for years out of paralyzing fear. Now, I gain courage. Even though I have successfully avoided this process, I move forward enthusiastically and delve into a more extensive emotional catalog of pain and joy.

I am learning more about my once-idolized performer. I listen to recent interviews that he rarely gives. His speaking voice sounds like his singing voice, and how beautiful and sweet-sounding it is. Suddenly, I feel as though I am sitting in a college classroom; I’m aware that I’m learning new things through the story of this true artist’s process as he proceeds to share how he worked, how he wrote songs, how they entered his head, how he fiddled with them, how he dealt with his own perfectionism, how he still continues to do so. As I learn more about him and his creative process, I am learning about myself. I am learning about the way of the artist, the blues and joys of it, and knowing that someone else feels this in his own creative process deeply moves me. Could I reach those heights, not necessarily through material success, but in a personal artistic satisfaction if I embraced the process with more honest emotion and earnestness?

Although I’ve entered periods of inspiration before, when it felt easy to write, to paint, to access clarity, it often showed up during times of hardship, of disillusionment, of anger. Afterwards when trying to figure it all out through an expressive creative outlet, I exercised interpretive reasoning far more than allowing my emotions to lead the way. Trying to make sense of those negative states required changing my thoughts to positive ones, which took practice in cognitive therapy. But this time, it was different. This time, my renewed inspiration was flowing from the fountain of admiration for my muse, through heart-filled appreciation, and through the blue melancholy of nostalgia; a type of feeling I have buried so far beneath the surface that I no longer identified it as a real emotion.

In keeping that manic emotional flow constantly in check, I became less real, as if I lived in my own mind but without an emotional body. Yet, in not being afraid to explore depth by listening to my muse, I am rediscovering the part of me that holds passion within. In my sanctioning time to revel and wallow and feel deeply and talk to myself, without my own judgment of my small fits of brilliant madness, things are becoming a lot more authentic. I remember who this person is again, who I lost long ago in giving in to others’ ideas about what my mind’s health should look like, which often nullified the importance of creativity.

 Arc of the Blues


For all the joy this musician brought to my heart, and millions of others, I later learn that for many years he shut down creatively due to paralyzing emotional pain. It seems that this rocker who was once on top of the world, and who is now turning human before my eyes, suffered on and off depression for the last two decades, the same time frame when I also suppressed deep feelings and often lived in an emotional vacuum. Surreal, but true. And astoundingly poetic. The reality that so much time has passed stings. And it hits me with double the potency because the icon who I once adored seemingly misplaced the same 20 years himself.

When studying literature we have an objective displacement as the reader. We are comfortably able to witness the arc of a character’s life, identifying the thematic threads the author wishes us to follow. We learn the lessons from a safe distance, and witness how the character suffers under his Aristotelian tragic flaw. But in my idol’s case, the author of his life was our Maker. And what a lovely work of art the story of his life has become, exhibiting such romantic relevance. There can be no song written more harmonious than one that God creates for us. What a gift it is to witness all at once the progression of the life of a person who once moved us so deeply. We felt such a missing hole in the music scene from his absence, and yet, what lyrical verse resulted because this man followed his heart and his inner calling into success. And how great it is to see in Act II when our hero follows his heart again, pulling himself away from his glory, taking action not from reason but once more from his heart. He is the man in his own songwriting that falls and then reclaims his soul, and in the end, saves himself from the very dream he most wanted at the start of his journey. It defies analysis and explanation, and although the Greek chorus cannot accept such motivation by the lead character, they certainly are not owed an apology for actions that are personal and sanctified.

Through these realizations about this person, I also learn about patience, about letting go, about loving my individual soul and all the pain I’ve been enriched by, about not feeling afraid to feel that pain and be human, about not being scared of losing my mental balance by revisiting past feelings. Through it all, as I grow in empathy for this lustrous star of my youth, I am accessing empathy for myself.

I realize how the emotional heartland is the shared connection we all have with each other regardless of the things that separate us in a materialistic worldview, like status, prestige, and money. These areas have nothing to do with the range of the soul’s breadth and personality. And now, unexpectedly, as each stage of this emotional opera appears to reveal itself scene by scene, act by act, I find myself mourning. I mourn for him, I mourn for me. I mourn for all people who lose themselves along the way. And I mourn for the passage of time. For time lost and time poorly spent. We are victims of time, but it is a beautiful thing when its grace shows up through something poetic in our lives, something meaningful showing the elegant symbolism of it all.

 Hold Onto That Feeling

clock face

See, I once had the emotional approach to life all figured out, trusting it like nothing else, knowing I was right to deliver myself over to its power across the altar. Truly, it’s what led me to India to begin with. But as time moved away from my grasp, so did all my conviction.

What I have been blessed to see during this upheaval of emotions, is that the passage of time allows us to view God’s plan in a wider spectrum for our lives. In my case, in understanding a sketch from a page in the book of this rocker’s life drama—like a character in a movie, thanks to the internet– through his story, I see myself. And as I see God’s plan in his life, I see it in mine as well. And I now know the pain is not without gain. For both of us.

Because as I see him jumping back into the world with poise stepping comfortably out of his cavern, on his own terms to be sure, there is a perfect timing that has washed ashore onto my own sandy beach. Prior to this experience, I was in a serious writer’s block, in which being honest and emotionally relevant was at a loss for me; yet, here I am writing again, inspired like never before, beyond the intellect, slipping back into my own sensitive skin and passionate heart, gently led there by the Holy Spirit. A wrinkle in time has been ironed out. My inner time clock has restored its original, natural meter after all these years. I seem to be within the same unhurried biorhythm again like others around me who have followed their own rhythm all along, who lived for the last few decades without fear of judgment. My lost decades.

I feel as though I have caught up. In some strange and synchronistic way, now the lens of who I am focuses and I can see myself and my talents and purpose so much more easily, with HD clarity. I see that the youthful, budding and aching passion I once possessed was a deep, sacred space that God never meant to take away from me, for in an unexpected way he is granting it back, years and years later, during a time when I can finally be ever so grateful.


Sep 29

Soul’s Lost Desire


Resurrected Memories…

So, this week I come across some old rock n’ roll recordings from the 70s and 80s, my youthful years during which I soaked in sun-drenched music, wore hot concert t-shirts, and began to sneak in a beer or two undercover. Where had the time gone? Unlike many others in my generation whose days and then years gradually putted along, mine was interrupted by a colossal traumatic break. And this disruption would erase my memory as it completely stripped away my ability to access passion. All those soulful, breathless moments in time when I thought I could not bear a single ounce more, and yet always joyfully managed to somehow drink one or two more in, were ripped out of my chest and thrown away into a trash bin labeled, “bipolar crazy.”

In my immature past, I would have been happy if any one of my clueless peers suffered the same kind of turmoil as me if only to have the chance to commiserate with a single human being who had empathy for me. I felt so alone, desperately yearning to have someone understand. Today, however, I wouldn’t wish the experience upon my worst enemy. I was lost, beaten down by the woes of a massive life accident, which I believed should never have happened, not to me at least. Not in my only lifetime.

I feel inspired by the memories and revise a poem I had written long ago:


Time Journeys By

Traveling in the open-windowed car,

Inspiration hits and then stops.

As I soak in the echoes of the resonating radio vibrations,

My chambers of history open up in memory form.

Imaginings in an artful space of ancient time,

The past of mine is so olden but golden.

I take off my travel kimono, powder my face with sunbeams, and remember wistfully.

The red and fuchsia possibilities of new world merged with old.

May I grab my things? May I enter the tunnels of yesteryear?

Bittersweet. But joy-filled.

Gone days true; almost forgotten. But salvaged not too late.


I continue to listen to the rotation of songs, and I feel that my heart is enormous and might burst. I’ve been hearing these songs on and off for years, why now do they throw me into this weepy state with such a massive punch? Is a new day dawning? A change in state I had forgotten existed somewhere in time? One which was annihilated long ago in exchange for balance, steadiness, stability and vapid stillness? Now in this revived state, I sing along with those songs, without mulling over or obsessing about anything, but instead just feeling them intensely through streaming tears down my face. I am reminded of such a happier, simpler time. A time when I was merely thrilled feeling what it was to be alive. A time when passion was not just a concept, but a thing I could feel. And as sentimentality floods into my heart, (something I winced at during many difficult junctures in my life), I slowly reconnect to something more meaningful, much more satisfying than the usual habit I have adopted from our sterile society of aggressively analyzing the psychological story behind it all.



Passion Suppressed

My once passionate approach to life was flattened long ago, slowly and steadily influenced by the deadness of a cynical world. Growing up, a burning desire to feel deeply oozed from every orifice of my being. Everything I engaged in felt fiery and I only followed experiences that possessed that red hot flavor. But somewhere along the line, when the sadness and injustice of reality revealed itself to me, it was almost impossible to hold two directly opposing concepts in my mind at once. Because everything that was once alive with passion, now seemed wrongfully frivolous and selfishly absorbed.

Day by day, it was hammered into my brain that having passion wasn’t normal. It wasn’t healthy or productive, but rather, wasteful, abnormal and even dangerous. In response to the experts in the psychiatric institution as well as my brainwashed family and friends, I was actually becoming convinced that they were justified in being scared of me, as I increasingly became afraid of my own profound thoughts and intense feelings. After spending years in my own solitary, emotional cave of self-preservation, I realized that the only thing wrong with the condition of my mind was that I hadn’t yet learned to trust its remarkable understanding of the world.

In my cooperating in choosing to live a nonthreatening and bland existence, I learned that ordinary, non-moody, self-controlled temperance was the appropriate characteristic make-up cherished in our society. I quickly grasped that if one chose to pursue the impassioned good life, she willingly cut herself off from the rest of the tribe. Disturbingly, an overly enthusiastic and uninhibited person could quickly be thrown into the group with the defects, misfits, and disdained rebels whom no one in our culture took seriously.

The “bipolar” journey, as emotionally extreme as it can be for the average onlooker, is filled with such sublime moments, that any other way to live can feel insipidly numbing. If I had not gone into visionary states, (which the psychiatric institution persists in calling psychotic for their lack of understanding), then I would at least be able to fit into my own warm skin. Because without fear of others’ worry I could be left alone in my emotional moods, both sentimental and melancholy, and could access them whenever I needed to —for my art, my writing, and even for ecstatic prayer. I could travel up and down those corridors of inspiration at will. This would be God’s ultimate gift to me, for it is in my DNA, not as a mental defect but as my whole and natural self.

I am left inside a world that honors the stable flat lines of suppressed emotion, that shakes its head at the thought of tears falling for more than a few moments in response to a sentimental revelation, and that denies the importance of the sighing, breathless skipping of heartbeats created in trances of silent revelry. I’m willing to adjust. I had long ago, but I ponder today at what cost? Of losing all the passion?



Deep Pain Awakens

In the wake of all devastating emotional lapses that weaken our constitutions and alienate us from others, burns a delicate twin flame that resides within the same experience. For it was in my most enthralling visions that I witnessed the magnificent way God’s grace also reveals itself within the depth of the abyss by opening us to the realm of heart-filled emotions in a beautifully exquisite way.

In the deepest heartaches God discloses to us the perfect balance within opposites. A wide-eyed bewilderment can only awaken after a treacherous blow. How can one really reach those peaks of joy if they hadn’t felt the rock bottom and hellish ripping apart of the heart? Indeed it is the only way the heart can learn. Happiness is known only through sadness, and transcendent joy can only be truly discovered through overcoming heart-wrenching pain. In revealing to me the depth of the pain of humanity, wouldn’t he also gift me the ability to feel the enormity of the human heart, the world’s wonder, and the promise of his massive love and wish for our ecstatic happiness? I do believe in that kind of Maker, but calling up trust in such things is not an easy task.

These are the swinging moods and deliberations of the “bipolar” pendulum. And I thank God for their presence in my life, because only through them have I accomplished my best work. Although cold detachment once dwelled within me when my passion for life was extinguished, I labor with willingness at regaining it. I will keep trying. And when sensitivity grabs me, I am grateful. It helps me archive my memories and keep them alive like the recordings of yesteryear sealed in vinyl. Once fearless about following the path of desire, I am today much more tentative. But in choosing to either evaluate my psychological acuity or plunge into passion, I choose the latter. Arriving there may only be a potential right now and not yet a reachable goal, but maybe I can steadily wish and imagine it into being. With courage and hope. And with heart.



Apr 24

Damning the Least of My Brothers



I cried myself to sleep the other night because a girl on YouTube chastised me in public humiliation. I had defended a radio talk show host, a dear brother in Christ, after she declared him an anti-christ because he happens to reference the New International Version of the bible instead of the almighty King James Version. As if the all-powerful God could only communicate the true spirit of Christ through a single set of rules in grammar and usage in one language based on one Hebrew text, she was horrified by my indiscretion and said to me, “Why do you even bother calling yourself a Christian?” I thought perhaps she might be right. Who am I to believe that I am good enough for Christ, especially since I don’t even own a King James Bible and like to use the English Standard Version instead?

Since I again decided to commit myself to the Lord Jesus Christ, sadly I’ve re-entered a space of self-loathing and self-doubt. I remember this is the very reason why I had left the church to begin with, (and not the first time). It is not under Christ’s judgment that I suffer, for his perfect judgment is above the Law while still supporting the Law.  But, rather, my pain is inflicted by my fellow man with his incontestable interpretations of the law. There is no bloodier battlefield than amongst the different Christian sects of the world. Everyone believes they have the correct and only understanding of Jesus’ words and therefore are the sole inheritors of Jesus’ promised kingdom of heaven. Many Christians believe that they alone, over other ill-informed Christian brothers and sisters, are inferring the exact truth of what God said, meant and intended. Most of all, those who do have the best biblical understanding are by far the haughtiest boasters and the most condemning finger-pointers at sinners.


Pharisee arms bw

Spittin’ images of the Pharisees are they. With fervor they uphold the law but forget that it is through faith that we are saved through grace. They cannot see that the story repeats itself continually in every age until finally learned once and for all by humanity itself. These lawful but judgmental Christians are not singled out by God as better. They forget that they are part of this human race and we are all God’s creation. They act as if they have transcended the human state somehow. As if the hierarchy begins with God, then his angels, then his chosen elect. The rest of us poor, unclean bastards who didn’t quite get the complex subtleties of the bible or hear in time Jesus’ calling to follow him, are damned to eternal hell. But where is the love?

While I always saw God as a personal God, I wasn’t sure that he indeed offered a sacrificial lamb, Jesus his Son. I am realizing why. Because although I believed it was truly possible, for God could do anything, I simply could not be who I was, flaws and all, in the world of Christianity. “The rules” were always so hurtful to me and forced me to suppress every part of myself that would unleash my potential and free me from my chains. If I honored my father and mother to the letter of the law, for instance, I would never have chosen to wander outside my front lawn. They were so overprotective that I had to fight every battle with ferociousness to claim my right to move forward into the world and follow God’s voice beyond the boundaries of the church’s pews.




But while these restrictions could be located in the bible text itself, the ways in which others attempted to enforce these rules were the most debilitating to me. Not like Christ at all–so aggressive and disdainful they were spoken, scornfully reminding me of my worthlessness. While Jesus reminded us of God’s merciful forgiveness, I heard from TV preachers repeatedly how we were all going to hell if we did not repent, repent, repent! I was unsure that I had the strength to do so, nor even the know-how. What exactly was I repenting for? Was it breaking a few rules or guidelines in the bible, or something much deeper than that?

A soft-hearted artist, I saw the blessed soul of humanity and the spark of light in everyone; always able to see the good over the bad, I felt this was a virtue of mine. I believed that God spoke to me through many people who crossed my path, and definitely the lowliest—from homeless beggars I walked by on the New York City streets, to low-income, agitated commuters on the buses and trains I rode, to the sad and bitter loners in my art classes who had given up on the cruel world—the real wretched and depressed. I knew that since Jesus loved them, I was ok with associating with this pathetic crowd. And I knew that Jesus would love me also if I should stumble. I had a choice: either I could venture forth into the world amongst the sinners with whom I had compassion, not worrying too much about their influence on me and judging not their acts. Or, I could stay and hang around those who judged me with stabbing, righteous indignation. If I hated myself when I was around other Christians who interpreted the word of God for me, then I would reject Christians and the Word, for it held very little meaning or truth for me if it hated me so much. My rejection was not an act of betrayal of God in as much as an act of self-preservation of my own heart. I might have been lacking in faith, but I had a passion to seek and find the truth. What I knew for sure was that there was a God. I was just unsure about his nature.

My spiritual journey understandably took me into the all-accepting arms of the New Age. I embraced the shared understanding how many of us, so hurt and stomped on by the Judeo-Christian religion, were in need of great healing and self-forgiveness. Through this journey to self-acceptance and self-love, some many beautiful things happened. I learned that I was good enough to be me. I learned that others around me could be good too, even if they had not reached their higher potential yet of their healed and whole self. Therefore I learned to love the judgers. I learned that God was guiding my steps, and that I should listen for his voice, and that in every place I found myself there was a lesson needed to be learned to bring me closer to him. I learned to trust God.




I learned that if I remained still enough in nature, I could hear the whispers of the wind and the calmness of my heart, which was in direct connection to the Great Spirit, or the Holy Spirit. I learned to recognize God’s orchestration in the beautiful synchronicity of all things, his magnificent masterpiece of life’s parts working together. I learned to notice the depth of his divine mind in patterns of his exquisite creation, from the smallest Fibonacci sequence in the most modest seashell to the most grandiose expression of God’s imagination in his infinite expansive universe of the stars in their galaxies. I learned all these things all the while forgetting who Christ was.

And then on one good day, when I was communing with my inner spirit—a spirit that always guided me in safety through dark alleys of drug users, through the Hindi idol-worshipping lost souls of India, through the critical and godless psychoanalysis of Western medicine—I realized that it was the Holy Spirit that was guiding me the whole time. And I believe this is the voice that all those who are pure in heart hear. “For they shall see God,” Jesus said, as I always had—seeing God in everything and everyone.  On that fateful day I heard the words, “Jesus is Lord.” What? I said. How could that really be true? I finally had found the nature of what God really is—the Divine force, the Highest Source, the Sacred Expression of the Universe, the One, the Great Spirit, the personal guiding hand to love. How was there room for a “Son of God?”



“Jesus is Lord,” I kept hearing. I pulled out a special Time magazine I happened to pick up at the grocery store, “Mysteries of the Bible,” along with a copy of a dusty old bible off my shelf, (one that some born-again Christian gave me in the hopes that I would be saved one day). I asked questions of God all the time and would flip open random books I had nearby to receive just the right answers, and it always worked. I was always fed the spiritual food I had needed. But when I lived with my parents a decade ago and tried to do this with the bible, I was always at a loss. It seemed so sterile and dead, spirit-less and uninspiring. But on this day, all my questions were answered in those biblical words, and through these answers loud and clear was pronounced God’s glory. And then I fell to my knees finally in true repentance.

From that point onward, I vowed to never deny Christ as Lord rejecting all that could not fit in that framework, but allowing to remain all the beautiful things I had gained so far along my personal journey that did not take away from Christ. Many truths I had learned gave life to his words and substance to his message as it added to the grace of his Father in heaven. I realized that no, I should not worship God’s creation, but to honor and respect it with utmost humility and thankfulness, just as the Native Americans had, is God’s wish. Through this sacred appreciation, the awe of God is nurtured and infused into our hearts with gratefulness for his manna of life. God’s true nature is not found in explaining him away in esoteric literature, reading between the lines into oblivion and infinite gnosis, but rather, in the heart. In compassion over judgment, with understanding over close-minded certainty, with love over persecution, with acceptance over exclusion, with humility over self-righteousness. This is how I personally choose to live in Christ. I accept myself in Christ as I know he accepts me, flaws and all. I will each day attempt to grow in sanctification for him, but I won’t imitate the spirit of the righteous, but the humility of the sinners. With appreciation and love, I will come to know many wherever they may be along the road back to Christ.




I didn’t decide one day to repent. God showed me how. And he allowed me to be ready and see what I needed to see. This is God’s ability. He finds us, not the other way around. God will attempt to reach every single one of us in his own way before Christ’s return, and in a way that each person can hear him. It is not by one way alone that we hear God’s voice, and I don’t mean to say that there are many paths to God, no. But there are many paths that God takes to reach US to lead us to Christ. He uses tongues, he uses law, he uses grace, he uses our brothers and sisters, nature, and a variety of circumstances and divinely orchestrated synchronicities so that we may finally notice him and accept him into our lives. Who are we to judge how he reaches all his children? As long as we unite under the one umbrella of Jesus Christ, his Son, who are we to walk in pride and judgment, wishing people to hell, warning them of their certain damnation as if only we can save them from God’s wrath? If there is one thing the New Agers can agree on, it’s that God above all else is love.

The Pharisees were equal to the godless Romans for they both had a hand in crucifying the Lord. And now they continue to do so, for as Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40, ESV). So continue to crucify him my fellow exemplary Christians, for just as Jesus had to reinterpret the Law for the Pharisees, he shall be reinterpreting it for all of us upon his second coming. For it is not because we are perfect in the law that we are promised his grace, but rather it is because of our faith, however weak it may be: “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Galatians: 2:23-26, ESV).



Be guided by your understanding but don’t be too certain that you know the glory of God’s full plan of salvation. I expect that Jesus Christ and his Father have yet another card to pull for bringing the whole lot of us to our knees in absolute amazement of their glory. For when his true magnificence and exaltation is revealed, when we discover the true might of his forgiveness and depth of his love for all his children, it will not be just those who read the KJV or who adhere perfectly to the law who will be saved. Instead, we will not only shout in repentance for our sins, but we will also collapse in united and dumbfounded humility for our arrogance in thinking that God’s love for us was as little as we imagined. And we will thank the heavens that it was greater than the love we give to one another.






Apr 04

Vanity or Expression? Catholic Style

 My Joys in Gazing Upon…


My mother’s only wish when I had my son Jack was, “Please, just let him make his First Holy Communion so I can see him walk down the aisle in a little white suit.” I had long since relinquished any allegiance to Catholicism, the religion I was born into. And because of the numbness I experienced throughout years of monotonous, sacramental and ritualistic jargon inside the church, much seeming utterly irrelevant to my own life, I had even put the importance of Christ aside. I had accepted him as a good man, an extraordinarily holy one, a social revolutionary. I had no certainty on whether or not he had resurrected; it didn’t seem to really make a difference to me because I had heard of so many ascended masters in India. I even contemplated that he might have been an alien who was sent here on a special mission to improve our human race, to help us wake up into love.

I thought the true path to God was realizing the God within. In my pursuit of many different meditative and mystical experiences, coming to know the “force” of the goodness of the universe, feeling it, sensing it, becoming it, I have come to see that this experience of God-energy is a sad copy of what true understanding of God really is. To my own surprise, within this last year I have relinquished my pantheistic ideologies, because as I continued to study further into New Age texts, I came across some very dark secrets in its foundations, (which I will get into in another article). So I walked away from the spiritual path I had followed devotedly for decades, which sadly in the end, revealed itself to me as a road to nowhere.

Upon coming back home to Christ, I did not come home to Catholicism. I am absolutely aware of the flaws of this massively organized and too often covertly political religion. But here I am 8 years after I scoffed at my mother’s comment when Jack was born, (and an exact 20 years after I ran off to India in the hopes of finding a holy guru), sitting in a Catholic Church pew. I have been attending and even enjoying weekly mass– something only a few months ago I swore I would never ever do again, even if I had returned to Christianity in some fashion. So now that I am a renewed Christian, I want to hear the Word and praise his name. Then why return to the Catholic mass and not attend a bible based church instead? Well because I have a whole internet community of Charismatic video makers, church history and prophecy scholars, and Born-Again bloggers I can learn from. I have the bible I can read myself, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me through it. But to get a fancy feel for Christ? Only a Catholic mass can provide that.

Sitting through the mass can be woefully painful, but when it is done correctly, it can be most humbling and heart-warming. It doesn’t have the jazzy feel of a mega-church, nor the folksy grit as some friendly Protestant sects might. It lacks the spirited heart of Charismatic movers and impassioned Baptist sermonizers. Rather, it is plain and routine. But it has a sort of calm, reverential approach to spending time with God. There’s just the correct balance between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It feels simple and right. But what I truly love most is its beauty and sensory appeal. There is nothing more lovely than Catholic hymns. Smells of burning incense, the sharing of the body and blood of Christ, the exquisitely carved relief storytelling of the Passion of Christ upon the Stations of the Cross all provide for me the bridge between heaven and earth, between God and his creation.

Nothing compares to the awe I feel when gazing upon the massive radiance of beautifully painted stained-glass windows; perhaps akin to watching a visually brilliant movie upon an IMAX screen. Emblazoned on the raised ceiling at my church are masterfully painted details depicting Christ’s heroic tale of betrayal, suffering, risen glory and final kingship on the right hand of the Father. Is this idol worship? Not in the slightest. It is adoration for the epic story of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. And oh yeah, I am also an artist. It’s called appreciation for beauty. Are we artists, even in the name of Jesus Christ, ever going to be allowed to express ourselves without guilt and retribution?

I feel sorry for the rigid Protestant who is afraid to enter the Sistine Chapel for fear of going to hell if his heart should stir when contemplating such artistic talent, a gift that is given by God with the expectation to be used. In witnessing in person the imagery of the angels and demons in Michelangelo’s painting of The Last Judgment, I wept like a baby. For the first time in my life, the Book of Revelations came alive with the breath of God’s imagination and suddenly held meaning for me. Should we not enjoy expressing ideas about God, bringing them into form and sharing these with one another? If the work is truly inspired by the Lord, should we not trust in its sanctity? Michelangelo’s Pieta is far removed from the Illuminati entertainment industry’s idea of art, and yet we invite that into our lives without a second thought. Manmade ideas of heroes and villains in cartoons and movies move us into excitement, but Christians shun compelling works of art that make us think about God because we are associating it with Old Testament references to pagan idols?


Don’t get me wrong. When I used to take a peek into my great grandmother’s tiny bedroom off the side of the kitchen and see all those pictures and statuettes of the saints of the church, I found it to be revolting. I always sensed a strange spirit essence in the air, like we were all being watched by something enshrouding us in ignorance and deception. Amidst all this weird imagery of holy haloed people, I found none of it to make sense. Praying to them meant praying to one who prays. Why was I honoring someone else for connecting to Jesus? Shouldn’t I be connecting to Jesus myself? Catholic imagery can border on the peculiar and mythical, almost in the same vein as Hindu god worship. But the difference is substantially clear. The saints serve one God, Jesus Christ. And Catholics just dig them for it. Sadly, Catholics often don’t think themselves as “good enough to be a saint,” (a phrase I often heard from my mother), so therefore, they cannot get close enough to hear God’s personal voice.

When I went to India and was befallen with a serious, life-threatening illness, I heard God give me instructions on how to get home. I followed his voice one step at a time, all the while completely scared out of my wits not knowing if the voice I was following was either a devil or an angel, and I prayed to the heavens it was an angel. I got home. I was saved. But it took me years to remember what that voice sounded like again because all around me I was bombarded with strange sensory input. Not only was there the standard old-fashioned imagery of robed and sandaled saints in Catholicism, but now the Eastern fever had moved in. I needed to sort through a whole new pantheon of icons and motifs. Stories of heroes and gods shown through Hindu art, and a whole slew of hocus-pocus paraphernalia that helped you space out into no-man’s land offering you nothing more than drums, trances and yoga stances. It took me decades to recover my connection to the Holy Spirit. Let’s not blame my betrayal of Jesus entirely on pictures of the Virgin Mary. At least that gives you an “idea” of the holiness of God’s Kingdom. (By the way, Catholics do not worship the Virgin Mary as a Queen of Heaven, that’s more of a term of endearment.)

If anything the Catholic Church can be credited with, it’s bringing Christ to community and cultural communities to Christ. Many Catholic countries have been traditionally poor and peasant, many have been from the Mediterranean and Hispanic cultures. So Italians like to get cross tattoos? So what? Jesus loves them. And Hispanic princesses like to wear gaudy crucifixes? Ok, so a white middle-class Jane Shmo from Kentucky might not, but she is no way any better than Lucia. The lifestyle and flair in many of these people’s customs sync well with that Catholic style; not really mine, but that’s fine.


But as it is my Italian heritage, I can understand the strangeness and not revere it. Just as Jesus sat alongside the prostitutes, I can pray alongside it but not be affected by it or get lost within it. I feel I can actually do more to help them find a true relationship with Christ in communion with them rather than in judgment over them. For Jesus commands us: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)

Fundamentalists, keep to what you do best, teach the Catholics a thing or two about the Word of the bible, (something the Catholic Church has failed to do for many of her people). But don’t judge the Catholics for being preoccupied with imagery. They are by no means confusing the “thing” for the amazingly awesome thing it represents.

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