Mental Illness Is Not What You Think, Says Shaman
In the United States and most of the Western world, mental health and mental illness can be controversial and complex subjects to discuss with others. So many different people have such profound beliefs about what counts as mental illness, how it should be treated, and even whether or not it actually exists, that it can lead to different parties being offended or angered with each other depending on the opinions that each person has.
There are so many different opinions on the matter that we need to make it clear on what the official definitions of mental health and mental illness are.
What Is The Definition Of Mental Health?
The American Psychiatric Association defines mental health as “Effective functioning in daily activities resulting in productive activities (work, school, caregiving), healthy relationships and the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity.” In other words, you are considered mentally healthy if you are able to function without getting down or depressed.
The definition of mental illness by The American Psychiatric Association is listed as: “Health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these).” This can reference anything from depression to schizophrenia. It’s a broad definition. It is also very common for adults to have a type of mental illness, with nearly one fifth (19%) of all American adults suffer from a mental illness.
What is the recommended treatment for mental illness? Usually, we go to a doctor and will have a prescription filled out for us that can help. Maybe we’ll go to therapy and have a professional talk to us about our problems and we will be taught how to cope or overcome the trials that we face. There are other options as well, but usually, the way we deal with mental illness involves medication or professional help in some shape or form. That is how we deal with mental illness in The United States and most of the Western world.
But what if there were another option to being treated for your mental illness? What if we don’t understand mental illness and it is something else entirely? Sounds crazy, right? It might not be as crazy as you think.
Mental Problems Are A Spiritual Illness
Dr. Malidoma Patrice Somé is a West African shaman who, along with the Dagara people, has said that what we call mental illness may actually be a spiritual awakening in progress. Somé has stated that mental disorders occur when your spirit is in crisis and that it signals that the person involved has begun the process of known as, “the birth of a healer.”
In fact, Somé and the Dagara people believe that mental illness is actually “good
news from the other world.”
The process occurs when there are two different, incompatible energies merging inside of the person, who is considered a medium. If the person who is hosting the two spirits does not get the proper guidance on how to deal with the presence of the energies, then they get sick which leads to all sorts of mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar and more.
In 1980, Dr. Somé came to The United States for the first time where he shockingly encountered how we treat and deal with our mentally sick. Talking about the experience, Dr. Somé is quoted to have said, “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.” After visiting with patients in a mental institute, Dr. Somé reflected, “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.”
Why Do People Suffer From Mental Illness?
While in the mental ward, Somé reported that he could see many entities that were hovering over those who were impaired. Normally, these beings are invisible, but Somé has had psychic training as a shaman to be able to see them. He had to leave the ward as the energy was overwhelming.
In the Western world, we medicate those who are suffering from mental troubles, but the Dagara form a community to help and surround those in need. With the help of the community, they are able to form a bridge that allows the conflicting spirits to safely pass and the process of healing will then begin by interpreting what the spirits have to say.
The spirits that surrounded the patients in the mental ward were trying to pass a message to their medium and the world, but without proper help, the patient falls into a mental sickness. “The Western culture has consistently ignored the birth of the healer. Consequently, there will be a tendency from the other world to keep trying as many people as possible in an attempt to get somebody’s attention. They have to try harder.” Dr. Somé said.
Dr. Somé and the Dagara people believe that we in the Western world have misinterpreted what mental illness is. Somé proposes that the answer to curing those in need is not medication, but love and community, along with the proper guidance from one who is authorized to help. Those are considered “sensitive” are more prone to being chosen as healers.
It’s a fascinating and wonderfully beautiful concept. Maybe someday, the Western world will embrace these ideals.