Hard to Stay "Sane"top
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000
Dear Al Siebert,
I just spent the morning reading your stuff on Successful Schizophrenia.
I thank you for sharing your inspiring story of Molly. ("How Non-Diagnostic Listening Led to a Rapid 'Recovery' from Paranoid Schizophrenia.") I am a licensed psychologist who is not practicing at this time. In 1996, I came to a point that I could no longer function and stay sane in this profession because of all the things you talk about in your articles. I have listened to a lot of people's stories about their experiences of God and am writing a lot about it. I no longer have much money but my soul is in tact. I have been reading all morning your articles and have many stories I could tell you from the stories I have listened to. I have had one publication. Perhaps I will send it to you.
I had a very similar experience to what you describe with Molly ten years ago when I was doing my clinical internship. Essentially, I had therapy with a young man, aged 24 at the time, diagnosed with both mental retardation and paranoid schizophrenia. He was from India. During therapy sessions, we had chats in which he would talk to me about India and describe places and people - it was enjoyable and "normal" conversation. I was working as a waitress at night and one night his mother brought him in where I was working. I could not believe what I witnessed. He could not eat and spilled food all over the place. His conversation was that of a person with retardation. I never forgot the experience. I tried to tell my supervisor. He didn't believe me. I taped the conversations and he was astounded. I finished my internship and my supervisor became this person's therapist. I don't know what happened to the patient.
In 1992, I began having intense experiences of God. In the process of trying to understand what was happening, I feared psychosis but knew it was not. I talked to a psychologist and he assured me it was not a psychotic break because I was working as a psychologist, teaching at the university, and was president of my state school psychologist's association. By 1996, I left my job because the reality I had been opened to was just too different from what I was trained in as a psychologist. I studied Quakerism for two years and collected people's stories of mystical experiences. I don't feel I can be a psychologist again until I can do so in a way that does not harm people. I cannot accept the psychiatric treatment of people having experiences of God. I pray there is a way to open professional eyes to the harm that is being done to people.
Thank you for your web page. Got any ideas of how I could be of help???
Jennifer Elam has published the pamphlet Dancing with God: Mysticism and Mental Illness. Ordering information is available at our bookstore.
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