I was planning to do a longer post on body and soul, but then had my own out-of-body experience in the early hours of this morning that captures my frustrations with the slow pace of the way things are going. I was drifting between sleeping and being awake, thinking about my conversation with Chris last night that left both him and me frustrated. From my perspective, nothing is happening with him, he is going absolutely nowhere, confining himself more and more to the apartment while eating everything in sight. A high school friend who is getting married this summer was in town and Chris didn’t feel up to meeting him. Perhaps even more frustratingly, if that is possible, Chris seems to look at paid employment or going back to university as an intellectual exercise, something best thought about but never actually achieved. He is stuck in his own mind.

Under scrutiny, he appears to think that Ian and I somehow need him to be with us, as if we would completely crumple up and die if he wasn’t there to support us in our declining years. The situation is becoming once more intolerable. What do we have a headshrinker and an occupational therapist for? The OT has been working with him for a year, and still he is shedding more and more activities.

So, I put it to Chris once again: Chris, maybe you are not so concerned about us as you profess, maybe you are angry with us and this is your best revenge. Do you think you are doing guard duty by hanging around the house to protect me from Ian or Ian from me? I posed the last question, because it is a time-honored tradition to be angry with one or both parents. People who mature beyond the anger move on, people who don’t are stuck. Chris mumbled something about maybe he was sticking around to make sure Ian and I don’t divorce. As if!

That line of reasoning was getting us nowhere, so we all went to bed. Eventually, after trying out several dreams, I saw my chance to end it all. Like some kind of manic cartoon character (a woodpecker or a buzzard with attitude), I was hovering in the air, getting a bead on a some acreage down below. I started to back up and take a run at it. At first I hesitated, because I thought I knew what was coming, then I thought “what the heck, go for it.” As the land came up and tilted towards me, I hit it full on — and immediately morphed into another dream.

There is never an end. There are only beginnings.

We’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden

God was the first schizophrenic. In India every god has a “terrible form” as well as a benevolent one. The Bulgarians say that Satan arose from God’s shadow and convinced God to divide the world between the two of them. The Finns say that God asked his reflection in the water how to make the world. Reflections and shadows are schizophrenic images; when they step out of their relation of dependence and seize their own autonomy, a split occurs (in Greek schizein means “to split”).

Prior to my reading very much about theories of schizophrenia, I had a crazy intuition that Chris and others like him had been there when our world was created. His sense of the dark forces of the universe while struggling with hallucinations was so profound that I found it incomprehensible that someone so young (19 or so) with so little life experience could be so aware of ancient forces. His struggle seemed Biblical, centering around the creation myth but also the quantum Big Bang. There is a Forrest Gump quality to Chris and others. They were there when it happened. I can’t explain it.

The key here is when they step out of their relation of dependence and seize their own autonomy, a split occurs. For most people this is the period of young adulthood.

If the action of “splitting” or the state of “being split” isn’t explicitly present in the concepts of God of most primitive peoples, it is virtually present in all their creation myths. Creation is always a “fall” from wholeness, a separation, a dividing. When divinity is pictured as an indivisible totality, the creation of the world becomes a breaking down of this totality……This kind of process, the movement from wholesness to splitting, is a universal one in the act of being human. Erich Neumann sees in it the birth of the ego and the origin of human consciousness

Modern science has labelled the sometimes violent and often frightening process of becoming human, a pathological illness. Is religious preocupation or seeing the world in shadows and light really an illness or is it a journey? Chris became extremely preocupied with the concept of sin, and that he had sinned. Later on, he began to make amends to his childhood friends, whom he felt he had sinned against. I have no idea how this idea entered his head. Childhood sins? When he had his first psychotic break, he was reading Karl Menninger’s book, Whatever Became of Sin? Religious preoccupations and androgeneity are just part of the territory of psychosis. Yet, people still persist in calling this a disease of the mind, where others might see it as the disease of the fall from Grace.

In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve live in a proximate, and fluid environment. There is an aspect of wholeness to this life, a naive and direct participation of all forms of life in each other, a synthetic function to all of experience…..The world after the Fall, outside the Garden, is essentially colorless, neutral, impersonal. It has been separated from the person. There is no longer a synthesis….The sense of the unity of the body in the Garden has found expression in the assertion that Adam is androgynous. One rabbinical commentary asserts that Adam “was a man on his right side, a woman on his left; but God split him into two halves.”

From The Garden and the Map: Schizophrenia in twentieth-century literature and culture, by John Vernon, University of Illinois Press, 1973

Celebrity molecules

From today’s New York Times

The drugs in his system also included the antidepressants fluoxetine and olanzapine; the tranquilizers diazepam and meprobamate, which are found in Valium and other medications; the cough-suppressant dextromethorphan; and the antihistamine diphenhydramine.

The actor Corey Haim died from pneumonia complicated by an enlarged heart and narrowed blood vessels, while drugs found in his system played no role in his death, the Los Angeles County coroner said Tuesday.

The coroner has made two calls: that he died of pneumonia unrelated to the drugs in his system and that olanzapine, otherwise known as Zyprexa, is an antidepressant.

Celebrity molecules are also making a name for themselves in the visual arts.

Lizzie Burns is a biochemist and artist affiliated with Oxford University who designs jewelry and men’s ties based on the chemical structure of celebrity molecules like testosterone or dopamine. “The designs of chemical structures can have an intrinsic natural beauty and balance,” she said. Not to mention a certain conceptual consistency: there’s caffeine with its three reactive “hands,” as she calls the little methyl groups, waving at you to wake up; the lightning-bolt zigzag of the capsaicin molecule that gives chili its fire; and the bicycle shape of Ritalin, inviting the aimless wanderer to hop aboard and ride.

The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF)

I urge you to read one psychiatrist’s opinion of the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation. Preying on Human Misery points out that the organization has had to distance itself from its reliance on funding from pharmaceutical companies due to the growing public outcry over the use of off-label drugs for children. To me, this organization is right up there with NAMI, with parents willing to label their children as brain diseased rather than to look into their own family dysfunction as a possible recourse.

I met another psychiatrist in the audience who told me about the existence of a website,, which is the homepage of an organization called the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF). He said the organization was primarily funded by the drug companies, and featured messageboards with advice from parents of allegedly bipolar children on what other parents should tell and not tell their doctors in order to get their child labeled with the disorder. The drug companies also used the website to recruit subjects for ongoing clinical trials of drugs for pediatric bipolar disorder, thereby assuring that the subjects in their clinical trials were only those whose parents were anxious to have their child so labeled.

Sound of mind

I sent Chris’s sound shaman the New York Times article on hallucinogens. It is very exciting to me that researchers are actively probing the ways in which consciousness can be heightened by chemical means (psilocybin). Though the results so far are encouraging they are also preliminary, and, according to the article researchers caution against reading too much into these small-scale studies. They do not want to repeat the mistakes of the 1960s, when some scientists-turned-evangelists exaggerated their understanding of the drugs’ risks and benefits. (Rossa’s comment: Now, if only they would use their findings for good and not evil!)

Chris’s sound shaman is mechanically inducing heightened consciousness through sound manipulation, which is a drugless way of going after the same results. Here is his reply to my e-mail.

Hello Rossa,

Thank you for the interesting link.

The key phrase here is experience in which the boundaries between the self and others disappear . This exceptional phenomenon is attributed to an ecstatic, spiritual, and out of body sensation, as it spans a vast realm of experience, method, and interpretation. These sensations can be brought upon by the use of external stimulants. In practically all cultures the practice of changing sensory state is achieved through a change in sensory perception functions via the energy exchange occurring between elements through chemical reaction, mechanical vibration, and motive force! Specific drugs, sound, and movement, are the primary interface methods for experiencing this phenomenon known as a changed state of perception.

Wishing you a good evening, and hope to speak with you soon.