During this religious period of time known as Easter, I thought it would be interesting to look at the diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ and the connotations attached to it within Western culture.
Opinion: This is a well-written article by a former cop and current therapist who shares ideas forwarded by thinkers like Mircea Eliade, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Ram Dass, Alan Watts, R. D. Laing, and Thomas Szasz. Michel Foucault could arguably be added to the list because he unpacked the whole notion of the ‘medical gaze’ in works like Madness and Civilization and Power/Knowledge.
I wrote on this very topic in grad studies but it seemed the professor was incompetent in anything but his extremely narrow, ancient specialty and didn’t really understand what I was saying. He was the type of guy who would spend countless hours volunteering in the mail room but never show up for scholarly colloquia—this prof apparently liked to monitor the flow of information – who was applying for what scholarships, etc. – but couldn’t be bothered to have meaningful talks with students at the appropriate setting.
Anyhow, in my paper for this dodgy professor, I noted that we should not romanticize the idea of mental illness. Some with the label of schizophrenia, for instance, commit murderously violent acts. And this complicates the “anything goes” perspective where all of the deceived, possessed or insane are taken as potential holy men and women.
However, as the Olive Press author rightly points out, in some instances non-violent persons with psychiatric labels could be important spiritual innovators.
If they are treated with care, that is.