The hallucination of separateness

A message from Eric Allen Bell, founder, Global One TV – Online Spiritual Television for a New Age

A message to all members of Global One TV

I want to thank everyone who participated in the live chat with Deepak Chopra on Sunday. The topic was “Oneness” and he had quite a bit to say on the subject.

What I found particularly interesting was this notion that the internet has become the modern Akashic Records. And that if you wanted to know the state of humankind, look at what’s popular online. Of course this has been a fascination of mine for some time and is much of the reason for my decision to launch Global One TV in the first place.

I asked Dr. Chopra a couple of questions and I wanted to share with you the answers that he gave…

The first question I asked was a rather general one, but perhaps a classic when it comes to one of the obstacles so many people have in believing in a Divine intelligence. I asked Deepak, “Why is there suffering in the world” and he answered..”All suffering comes from the hallucination of separateness”.

There was a lot of talk about non-duality. Although I don’t personally have a religion, if I did it would be that of Advaita Vedanta – the Vedic mystic tradition of non-duality. Separateness is clearly an illusion. It causes us to perceive ourselves as being separate from God. That and the idea that we are separate from one another has been the source of most wars. The concept of us and them exists only in the mind, which leads me to the second question I asked Deepak:

I asked,”Does the mind exist in time or does time exist in the mind?” to which he answered…”Neither. Time and mind exist in non-local consciousness.”

Someone asked where we go when we die and he answered, “You do not go anywhere as there is no time and space.”

On the subject of oneness and non-duality Dr. Chopra went on to say that “You are the ocean and the drop of water” meaning that we are not one or the other. There is a beautiful saying I heard once at a Science of Mind conference that says, “God in me, as me, is me.” Chopra put it differently referring to a quote by Franz Kafka which says, “All of our problems are the result of an inability to sit quietly and do nothing.”

But of all the insight that Deepak Chopra had to share with us, what stuck with me the most was this quote: “I am that, you are that, all of this is that and that is all there is.”

More Br. J. Med. Psychol.

The 1971 edition of the British Journal of Medical Psychology (BJMP) was also interesting. A quick review by me turned up still no mention of medications to treat schizophrenia. True, it a psychology journal, but, as psychiatrists contribute many of the articles, the lack of reference to medication is noted in passing. There are fewer articles about schizophrenia than in the 1961 edition and there is an article about cigarette smoking as a dependence disorder. Shades of the proliferation of medical diagnoses for human habits are beginning to creep in.

What the 1971 BJMP continues to do is to look at the environmental underpinnings of schizophrenia, including the pre-birth environment. This is commendable, and seems to have become a lost art, if my experience with psychiatrists and institutions is any indicator. When Chris was first diagnosed, I expressed my concerns to the doctors about Chris’s gestation period, his not being responsive to touch as an infant, and other things that I thought were possibly relevant to his present state. The doctors discounted my questions as irrelevant. It is a brain disease and has to be treated with medications, was the response.

Not so with the BJMP. In an article entitled “Aspects of the object relationship and developing skills of a ‘mechanical boy’ the authors relate the story of a mentally ill young boy and follow him through several years of therapy to emerge at 19 as a social success. The boy’s pre-birth environment was considered, his confusion at having multiple mothers (grandmother, aunt and mother) until the age of ten, and his seeing himself as a machine. His movements were robot-like and he was fascinated by machinery, even drawing complex machines that uncannily ressembled the functioning of the human brain. The authors see his problems not in terms of genetics or brain dysfunctions, but as a human coping mechanism, a child trying to make sense of his environment: “Apparently, at age 19 he is a sociable young man . . . far different from the mechanistic boring youth he had been before.” No longer clumsy and uncoordinated, he had both a job and a girlfriend.*

The 1992 BJMP is less focused on case studies of schizophrenia than the 1961 and 1971 journal. A small reference to medication appears in an article entitled “Mysticism: The fate of Ben Zoma.” The authors note that hallucinations persisted after receiving low doses of neuroleptic medication, and they wonder “if increased medication would make the hallucinations disappear.”

The March 2003 edition presents research on past-life experiences of young children. Children reporting past life experiences tend to have both high intelligence quotients and verbal skills. It notes that the behavior problems (agression, traumatizing fears and hallucinations, etc.) seen in some of the research subjects increased if the past-life experience centered around a violent death. It also puzzled over how birthmarks are sometimes seen to be in the exact place where an ancestor or person associated with the past-life had suffered a trauma.

Interesting that the results of this kind of research find their way into respected journals of psychology but seem to have no place in today’s hospital setting.

* Br. J. Med. Psychology, 44-45, 1972-72

Fleetingly improvised men

Despite the benefits that I had observed in Chris from the assemblage point shift, Chris continued to present a poor clinical image at his day program. In early June 2006 at our monthly meeting, I argued the never-ending medication point once again with Dr. ‘L’ in the presence of Ian and Chris. I was getting that “please, dear” look from Ian, but I persisted.

Suddenly, in the midst of our discussion, Dr. ‘L’ did exactly as I expected he would that day. He was determined to demonstrate to us why Chris’s medication needed to be raised. He focused his gaze on a point near the window where Chris’s gaze was wandering, and asked quietly and with evident dramatic flourish, “Chris, what do you see?”

“Uh, someone over there near the window.”

“Surprise, surprise,” I thought sarcastically. Chris was seeing people in the room who weren’t us. He was hallucinating. Instead of the term “hallucination” I like the term that Daniel Paul Schreber used to describe people populating the corners of his gaze. He called them “fleetingly improvised men.” To Schreber, these were “souls, temporarily given human shape by divine miracle”.

Dr. ‘L’ had caught Chris in the act, and waved this around as proof positive that he needed to have his medication increased. I knew Dr ‘L’ would pull this trick and I was prepared, sort of. Chris had warned us before our meeting that Dr. ‘L’ wanted to raise the medication. I would have preferred to ignore Chris’s wandering eye, but it was rather obvious. So, instead, I said, “Yes, Dr. ‘L’, but in the bi-weekly meetings with the other families involved in the program, it has been said that we shouldn’t pay undue attention to voices. Therefore we haven’t. Of course he hears voices and sees things. Isn’t that what schizophrenia is all about? It’s not for academic interest that we talk about voices in the bi-weekly meetings in the first place. The drugs haven’t prevented the voices, have they, so what good are they in Chris’s case?” What I would have loved to add, but did not, was that two years in Dr ‘L’s day program hadn’t fixed the voices either.

Alas, as I also predicted, we allowed Dr. ‘L’ to raise one of his two medications from 200 mg to 300 mg. Chris, after all, was acting more skittish than we had usually seen him in Dr. ‘L’s presence. It was hard to deny it, but the medications wouldn’t fix it. We were stuck in this clinical program for better or worse and it was now a question of humoring Dr. ‘L’ until we could execute a graceful exit strategy from the program and the stupid medications.

Daniel Paul Schreber, “Memoirs of My Nervous Illness,” New York Review Books Classics (January 31, 2000)

Why it is an honor to pay income tax

In the 1950s, Dr. Abram Hoffer, together with Dr. Humphrey Osmond, successfully treated hundreds of schizophrenic patients at the Saskatchewan Hospital, with supplements aimed at correcting the body’s biochemical imbalances, a treatment approach later termed “orthomolecular medicine.”

Dr. Osmond and his student Dr. John Smythies noticed that schizophrenic hallucinations are like hallucinations suffered by otherwise normal people who have taken a bad mescaline trip. Mescaline belongs to a family of psychedelic compounds known as phenethylamines. It is present in several cactus species of the American Southwest and the Andes mountain range of South America and used by native American tribes in certain religious and mystical practices. Adrenaline, which is naturally produced in the body, is similar in its properties to mescaline.

Drs. Hoffer and Osmond hypothesized that schizophrenics produce an excess amount of an amino acid similar to adrenaline (which they called “adrenochrome”); this amino acid is also produced naturally in the body. Dr. Hoffer determined that adrenochrome belongs to a different family of psychedelic compounds known as “indoles.” (LSD is an indole.) Dr Hoffer prescribed niacin in high doses to reduce adrenochrome levels. It works.

Dr. Hoffer defines recovery from schizophrenia as threefold: The person is able to function well with friends and family, is free of signs and symptoms, and is able to pay income tax.

Dr Hoffer is still in the minority of doctors and institutions who think so optimistically about schizophrenia. The standard medical opinion is that the most one can expect is managed recovery, quality of life, and part time work if any. Dr Hoffer expects more. Why are most so-called experts setting the bar so low? It surely has something to do with the word “cure”. Many people shudder at the use of the word cure” in the context of schizophrenia. A cure simply means that someone with an illness has become healthy again or it can be the solution to a problem. If you rely solely on pharmaceutical solutions, curing schizophrenia is difficult, if not impossible.

Be wary of institutions that talk about ending discrimination of the mentally ill, e.g. the problem with mental illness is “stigma”. No, the problem with mental illness is that people are not getting well in sufficiently large numbers. The mentally ill have been discriminated against because they haven’t been seriously helped to get well. Most institutions promote mental illness as chronic and hopeless. Let’s not set the bar so low. Why, for heaven’s sake, instead of celebrating people whom they seem to regard as chronically disabled, don’t these organizations say that they are dedicated to helping people with serious mental illness get over it and get on with their lives? Why not, indeed?