Mental disease as a blessing. [OR: How healers are born]


In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer”, explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

‘What those in the West view as mental illness, the Dagara people regard as “good news from the other world.” The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm. “Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field”, says Dr. Somé. These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm.

One of the things Dr. Somé encountered when he first came to the United States in 1980 for graduate study was how this country deals with mental illness. When a fellow student was sent to a mental institute due to “nervous depression”, Dr. Somé went to visit him.

“I was so shocked. That was the first time I was brought face to face with what is done here to people exhibiting the same symptoms I’ve seen in my village.” What struck Dr. Somé was that the attention given to such symptoms was based on pathology, on the idea that the condition is something that needs to stop. This was in complete opposition to the way his culture views such a situation. As he looked around the stark ward at the patients, some in straitjackets, some zoned out on medications, others screaming, he observed to himself, “So this is how the healers who are attempting to be born are treated in this culture. What a loss! What a loss that a person who is finally being aligned with a power from the other world is just being wasted”.

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Another way to say this, which may make more sense to the Western mind, is that we in the West are not trained in how to deal or even taught to acknowledge the existence of psychic phenomena, the spiritual world. In fact, psychic abilities are denigrated. When energies from the spiritual world emerge in a Western psyche, that individual is completely unequipped to integrate them or even recognize what is happening. The result can be terrifying. (1)

See the disease as your friend.
Imbalance must be treated harsly.
Only through war can you reach balance.

Take a look at that crazy person.
Listen to insanity in a cosmos which is nothing but sane.
How can the spirits affect the body peacefully?

Shout out.
Let the pain run through your body.
You are not a peaceful creature destined to find happiness.
You are here to suffer.
You are here to die.

So that you can be reborn.

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Comments (


  1. patternsofsouldevelopment

    I keep on wondering why there is never a mention of Jung’s metanoia (μετάνοια, “changing one’s mind”): “a spontaneous attempt of the psyche to heal itself of unbearable conflict by melting down and then being reborn in a more adaptive form – a form of self healing often associated with the mid-life crisis and psychotic breakdown, which can be viewed as a potentially productive process” But Jung is not the first to mention such a capability of the human mind, as it has been used in psychology since at least the time of American thinker William James to describe a process of fundamental change in the human personality. However, I find very little mention of this perspective on the mental breakdown; any idea why??

    1. skakos

      Well, metanoia is something closely related to Christianism. Maybe this is the reason… People do not want to refer to things related to religion some times…

  2. alphachamber

    “In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer”

    Well, seems we got a lot of “healers” among our politicians 🙂

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