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"Meditation can lead people into possible psychosis," according by Dr. Miguel Farias, author of "The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?"

meditation psychosis psychoses Oxford University Coventry University

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#1 zen-bear

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:05 AM

I came across this article interviewing this Oxford-educated researcher on meditation who has written a book titled, "The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?" that asserts that there is a "dark side" to meditation and that "severe difficulties" are experienced by 7% of all who practice (insight) meditation such (such as mindfulness meditation). To my amazement, he conflates these "severe difficulties" with "possible psychoses" and states that "meditation can lead people into possible psychosis"!

I had long hard laughs from reading this article, for it is a prime example of the pseudo-scientific horse shit that gets circulated on the internet. But a day after I wrote my excoriation of Dr. Miguel Farias' theory of meditation "leading people into psychoses," I was utterly amazed to discover (online) that he has degrees in psychology and psychotherapy from Univ. of Lisbon and Oxford University (a Ph.D.), did postdoctoral research at the Ian Ramsey Centre in Oxford, worked as a research associate at the Psychology of Religion Group in Cambridge, and lectured at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford. In 2014, he joined Coventry University to lead the Brain, Belief and Behaviour research group. Stupified that Oxford University could graduate a person so inane who would later posit a thesis so preposterous, I stand by my critique just the same and am all the more flabbergasted by his statements in this article.

Because Farias' brow-raising theory deals with the subject of meditation, which has everything to do with everything I do with students in Flying Phoenix Qigong, I first posted my comments on the Flying Phoenix Chi Kung discussion thread in order to get feedback from FPCK practitioners with years or decades of meditation experience and especially to get mental health professionals to share their thoughts about this Ph.D's book thesis!

This all started as a 2-liner short post on Facebook, but after I read the article more closely and found it to be a load of sloppy detritus, it turned into a scathing critique and condemnation.
Title of article and question for the day: "Can Mindfulness Meditation Have Negative Side Effects?"

http://www.cbc.ca/ra...fects-1.3109670

Answer: Yes, meditation has plenty of "negative" side effects. They collectively are called "grist for the mill". There is no such as meditation without tears.

But Dr. Miguel Farias of Univ. of Coventry believes that "meditation can lead people into possible psychosis":

"So one study suggests that these very severe bad experiences can happen in up to 7% of the people. However, most long-term meditators will have experienced at least one difficult experience - not a severe as this, but they will have experienced something like unexpected deep anger or anxiety."

My reaction: "SO WHAT!!"

As for his absurd "theory" that meditation can cause "possible psychoses" in up to 7% of those who meditate and report, that is a hilarious but very serious load of bunkum that he has propounded, I presume, solely for the purpose of getting attention, creating controversy, and upping sales of his book.

In my experience, undiagnosed psychosis can manifest during hypnotherapy and is indicated by a particular set of involuntary physical movements (that is eerie and quite creepy for most non-psychotics to observe in proximity). Obviously, deep meditation can bring hidden (already existing) psychoses to surface. But to actually cause psychosis?!!--what is this Dr. Farias on--acid laced with speed?

One paragraph reflecting Dr. Farias's expertise really caught my eye, so I decided to dissect it here and and comment on each sentence:


Q: What do you think is happening in the process of meditation that's leading people into a possible psychosis?

A: Meditation has always been a self-exploration technique. We need to have a holistic understanding of who we are. We have lots of hidden room within ourselves. So we have a great propensity towards being good and compassionate, but there's also within us the propensity for aggression and violence. And for a very good reason: survival. So when we start shaking up the deeper structures of who we are exploring ourselves, it's perfectly normal that we find out something unexpected about ourselves. And sometimes we're not at the stage at which we're ready to deal with this material, which is probably what is happening to the people who have suffered most severely from meditating. However, there are some psychiatrists who would claim that within this crisis there is the possibility of spiritual growth. I don't know. I sit on the fence here. What I'm dealing with right now is the necessity to address that there are these potentially very harmful psychological effects coming out of meditation techniques whether they are transcendental meditation or mindfulness. And we need to be aware of this.


MY COMMENTARY (in bold):

For starters, "Doctor" Farias's definition of meditation is New Age horseshit.


INTERVIEWER: What do you think is happening in the process of meditation that's leading people into a possible psychosis?
MF: Meditation has always been a self-exploration technique
• NO, IT IS NOT A SELF-EXPLORATION TECHNIQUE. MEDITATION HAS CERTAINLY HAS DEVOLVED INTO ITS PRESENTLY POPULAR, ILL-TAUGHT PRACTICE; BUT THE ANCIENTS NEVER USED IT FOR SELF-EXPLORATION. INSIGHT FOLLOWS CHANGE; NEVER PRECEDES IT. AND QUIET SITTING DOESN'T CAUSE CHANGE, EXCEPT WHEN DONE LONG ENOUGH, ONE MIGHT HAVE TO GET UP TO PEE.  IT IS UTTERLY ASTOUNDING THAT AN OXFORD PH.D. DOING RESEARCH ON THE EFFECTS OF MEDITATION DOESN'T KNOW WHAT MEDITATION IS.
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
(4) Meditation without sufficient preparation through having heard and pondered the Doctrine is apt to lead to the error of losing oneself in the darkness of unconsciousness. [1]
[1] This refers to that mental chaos or delusion which is the antithesis of the mental discipline acquired by right practice of yoga under a wise guru's guidance.
--The fourth of "Ten Errors", Section X. of "Precepts of the Gurus" in
"Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines", translated by W.Y. Evans-Wentz.


This passage, btw, spells out the whole problem since time immemorial with ill-taught insight meditation, which is more prone to happen as self-guided meditation techniques have been faddish for years and has become more and more popular in America and the west with derivative methods such as Mindfulness Meditation. Insight meditation/Mindfulness is fine and calming and great to teach kids in school in order to improve focus and concentration, but a good and wise instructor is absolutely essential for adolescents and adults, in order to prevent them from being fed perverse views, or getting stuck in any of the three major pitfalls on the path of spiritual growth: fear, clarity, and power. (I am not so much a proponent of insight meditation, because that modality is too easy to be manipulated by charlatans and I don't like to see people giving up their power to gurus, but am a very strong proponent of concentrative meditation [into which all the Chinese martial, yogic and healing arts generally fall] and the spiritual path of martial Zen that these arts facilitate.)
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••


We need to have a holistic understanding of who we are.
• AS IF YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON WHO HAS THIS HOLISTIC UNDERSTANDING.

We have lots of hidden room within ourselves.
• I THINK I'LL FURNISH MY HIDDEN ROOM WITH FLOOR-TO-CEILING TV, NHK SPEAKERS, LAVA LAMPS, HOOKA PIPE, A FEW BEAN BAG CHAIRS, NORDIC TRACK, AND A DANCER'S POLE.

So we have a great propensity towards being good and compassionate, but there's also within us the propensity for aggression and violence. And for a very good reason: survival.
• (pause)  OH, SO, LIKE, YOU'RE AN IDIOT, RIGHT? --TO HAVE TO SAY THINGS THAT INANE AND OBVIOUS?

So when we start shaking up the deeper structures of who we are exploring ourselves,
•MAYBE A HARI KRISHNA JAMBOREE WILL SHAKE UP "DEEPER STRUCTURES OF WHO WE ARE" WITH THEIR PATENTED JUMPING BEAN ENEMAS--IN THE WORDS OF BERKELEY/VENICE BEACH/GREENWICH VILLAGE COMEDIAN SWAMI-X, OR PERHAPS IN THE THIRD MONTH OF PRIMAL THERAPY WITH ART JANOV HIMSELF, ONE WILL BE ABLE TO FACE THE MOST DEEP-SEATED PAIN(S) THAT A PERSON HAS SPENT AN ENTIRE LIFETIME BUILDING NEUROTIC DEFENSES TO NOT EVER HAVE TO FEEL, BUT NOTHING AS PSYCHOTHERAPEUTICALLY INERT AS MINDFULNESS MEDITATION OR ANY TYPE OF INSIGHT MEDITATION CAN SHAKE UP SHIT--I.E., BRING INTO CONSCIOUSNESS ANYTHING THAT RISES ABOVE GRIST FOR THE MILL.

...it's perfectly normal that we find out something unexpected about ourselves.
•THIS DEFINITION OF "NORMALCY" IS SO PROFOUND, THAT I MUST READ IT MANY, MANY TIMES OVER, AND THEN LAMINATE IT AND PUT IT ON MY WALL, AND USE IT AS A DAILY MANTRA.

And sometimes we're not at the stage at which we're ready to deal with this material, which is probably what is happening to the people who have suffered most severely from meditating.
• THIS CONCLUSION IS PURE CONJECTURE AND SPECULATION PREMISED ON ONE HELL OF AN INANE ANTECEDENT.  BUT FOR DR. MIGUEL FARIAS, PURE CONJECTURE BASED ON AN INANITY = THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD. THE FACT THAT THIS IS ALL HE HAS TO SAY IN AN INTERVIEW ABOUT HIS BOOK INDICATES THAT THAT IS ALL HE HAS IN HIS BOOK TO JUSTIFY HIS COCKAMAMY ASSUMPTIONS AND PREPOSTEROUS CONCLUSIONS THAT HE IS WARNING THE PUBLIC ABOUT THROUGH HIS CONCERN FOR THEIR MENTAL HEALTH.


• YES, HE STATES THAT 7% OF ALL MEDITATORS WHO HAVE SUFFERED "MOST SEVERELY"--BY HIS UNEXPLAINED SCIENTIFIC METRICS OF SUFFERING--REPRESENT AN AT-RISK GROUP FOR "POSSIBLE PSYCHOSIS."

However, there are some psychiatrists who would claim that within this crisis there is the possibility of spiritual growth.
• THREE POINTS:
(1) WHY DO YOU, DR. FARIAS, DEFER TO "SOME PSYCHIATRISTS" AND NOT MAKE THIS PROFOUND CONCLUSION YOURSELF--THAT "WITHIN THIS CRISIS THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH"?
(2) SINCE WHEN DO PSYCHIATRISTS KNOW DIDDLY SHIT ABOUT SPIRITUAL GROWTH? UNLESS THEY ALL TRADED IN THEIR M.D.'S FOR DOCTORATES IN DIVINITY (AND EVEN THEN...), OR HAVE RECENTLY BEEN CALLED AND ANOINTED EN MASSE BY GOD, THE LAST I KNEW OF THEM, THEY ARE ONLY TRAINED TO DIAGNOSE MENTAL ILLNESS, PRESCRIBE DRUGS AND SURGERIES, AND TEACH THE LANGUAGE OF PSYCHOANALYSIS THAT ALLOWS PATIENTS TO TALK ABOUT THEIR PROBLEMS FOR 10 YEARS AT $300/HOUR AND NEVER SOLVE ONE PROBLEM.
(3) BUT I LOVE THIS GUY, FOR HIS CRAZY-ASS SEGUE ARRIVES AT THIS CONCLUSION: PSYCHOTICS CAN NOW ATTAIN SPIRITUAL GROWTH. WHY, HE'S JUST MADE A DISCOVERY THAT IS MIRACULOUS! ]


I don't know. I sit on the fence here. What I'm dealing with right now is the necessity to address that there are these potentially very harmful psychological effects coming out of meditation techniques whether they are transcendental meditation or mindfulness. And we need to be aware of this.
**NO, DOCTOR FARIAS, YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF THE FACT THAT YOU ARE SITTING NOT ON A FENCE, BUT ON YOUR BRAIN. BECAUSE YOU HAVE SHIT FOR BRAINS AND YOUR HEAD IS IN YOUR ASS. THEREFORE, YOU ARE SITTING ON YOUR BRAINS. Q.E.D.

I first posted this scree on the Flying Phoenix Chi Kung discussion thread in Group Studies that's followed by 440,000+ Qigong/meditation practitioners worldwide, because Dr. Farias' theory, created by piling alternating layers of bunkum and hokum, has attained new heights in the world of horse shit.
(Bunkum = nonsense; hokum = pretentious nonsense.)                                                                                 

 

 

(Sifu) Terry Dunn

www.taichimania.com/chikung_catalog.html

 


 


Edited by zen-bear, 19 February 2016 - 02:59 PM.

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#2 Earl Grey

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:48 AM

This reminds me of Zhuangzi saying that "a frog in a well can not conceive of the ocean". Poor Dr. Farias. Hope he works through his own issues before making his own psyche that which he projects onto us all.

 

Thanks for sharing this; gives me insight into possible future rhetoric from disinterested critics of the Way whom we may have to deal with soon. I will plan to prepare counterpoints, but hopefully, I can keep my patience and compassion because it irks me, but not as much as it saddens me to see this perpetuated through his authority.


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#3 Karl

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:53 AM

I'm an ex meditator so I woukd ask a few questions:

What is the premise behind whatever meditation is being embarked upon ?

It's here that there can be a split between simply meditating for some piece of mind/focus and doing so for a specific reason. Some of these reason are the deconstruction of identity. Doesn't take a genius to figure out that those prone to self flagellation might find oblivion of self an attractive proposition. It's not unlike and self abuse/addiction and can be a pathway to some pretty Nihlist thought.

All depends on the user doesn't it ? Many people enjoy alcohol, but for a few this is oblivion and not enjoyment. It is a place to run from and not too. So, perhaps, though not the direct cause of the psychosis it can be the lever for it. Much like alcohol isn't the destroyer of the liver, it is the person lifting the bottle to the mouth. So, cause and effect.

The problem for any bar tender/meditation tutor is knowing their own purpose in teaching meditation so that they can identify those who are at risk if possible and ensure that their own purpose is not to become the facilitator for the abuser by trying to become their saviour.

Edited by Karl, 19 February 2016 - 08:53 AM.

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#4 leth

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 09:00 AM

I don't see what is warranting this reaction. There are possible negative effects of meditation, this is a known phenomena in all cultures in which meditation has traditionally been part, in chinese it's known as zouhuorumo. Most traditions have an emphasis on the importance of correct practice and a good teacher atleast partly because things like this happens.

 

Secondly I would like to say that in many traditions Meditation is definitly a form of self exploration.

 

And I do agree that there is too little talk about this in the west apart from amongs psychologists who sadly have to deal with patients who have had this exprience. These psychologists are often not well versed in the practices and traditions of meditation which have extended knowledge of such phenomena.


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#5 Songtsan

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 10:02 AM

There is enough anecdotal evidence that meditation can result in psychosis out there (notice I don't say 'can cause'), but I highly doubt that it is upwards of 7%. Some individuals are prone to extreme imbalance, some people can get high on marijuana just a few times, and end up with permanent schizophrenia, not to mention more intense drugs. Thing is western psychology just barely peeps into the window of what is going on often, and then labels things under catch-all phrases, such as psychosis, when there are really various things going on, from energetic disturbances, to spirit possession.

I wouldn't say that he is absolutely wrong in his premise, just that he may be over-exagerating or feeding into the fear factor, most likely based on a small number of extreme examples. People in academia do this to write papers, sell books, etc.

Also, there is full blown psychosis and partial psychosis. Many a religious zealot can be said to have lost touch with reality, due to their practices. Belief is powerful. Unconscious energies are powerful.

The fact is meditation (as well as many other things such as sleep deprivation, fasting, interpersonal conflict, war, illness and more) can precipitate psychosis. Meditation is powerful. I doubt its 7% though.

That just sounds like numbers pulled out of the air, to make it seem significant. Its more likely around 1-2%. And only among those who really pass a certain threshold of training.
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I really have no idea what I am talking about...


#6 Zhongyongdaoist

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 11:44 AM

First of all "psychosis" needs to be looked at.  Within the reductionist materialist framework of most modern psychology, experiencing oneself as a being whose true nature is existence beyond life and death in a multidimensional hyper-space is probably going to be viewed as psychotic.  These people want to domesticate meditation as "the relaxation response" a pleasant non-drug way for hominids to become happy productive citizens, perfectly adapted to the reductionist social order, anything outside of that is an undesirable side effect which "good meditation teachers", that is those how practice it as a discipline of neurology, can and will avoid, or lose their license to teach and practice.  This is the danger faced by the spiritual traditions, that of being reduced to neurology and written off as an adjunct of modern psychology, with more and more restrictions on who can teach it and under what circumstances.


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'It is better for us that there should be difference of judgment, if we keep charity: but it is most unmanly to quarrel because we differ'

'Nothing spoils human Nature more, than false Zeal ... because I may be Mistaken, I must not be dogmatical and confident, peremptory and imperious. I will not break the certain Laws of Charity, for a doubtful Doctrine or of uncertain Truth'

'... I oppose not rational to spiritual; for spiritual is most rational: But I contradistinquish rational to conceited, impotent , affected CANTING ...'

All by Benjamin Whichcote, 17th Century English Theologian, quoted from Ernst Cassirer's The Platonic Renaissance in England, a much neglected book of Wisdom.

All of that said it remains true that:

Only the man of virtue knows whom to love and whom to hate. Confucius, Analects 4.3

#7 Michael Sternbach

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 12:26 PM

There is enough anecdotal evidence that meditation can result in psychosis out there (notice I don't say 'can cause'), but I highly doubt that it is upwards of 7%. Some individuals are prone to extreme imbalance, some people can get high on marijuana just a few times, and end up with permanent schizophrenia, not to mention more intense drugs. Thing is western psychology just barely peeps into the window of what is going on often, and then labels things under catch-all phrases, such as psychosis, when there are really various things going on, from energetic disturbances, to spirit possession.

I wouldn't say that he is absolutely wrong in his premise, just that he may be over-exagerating or feeding into the fear factor, most likely based on a small number of extreme examples. People in academia do this to write papers, sell books, etc.

Also, there is full blown psychosis and partial psychosis. Many a religious zealot can be said to have lost touch with reality, due to their practices. Belief is powerful. Unconscious energies are powerful.

The fact is meditation (as well as many other things such as sleep deprivation, fasting, interpersonal conflict, war, illness and more) can precipitate psychosis. Meditation is powerful. I doubt its 7% though.

That just sounds like numbers pulled out of the air, to make it seem significant. Its more likely around 1-2%. And only among those who really pass a certain threshold of training.

 

Hi Songtsan, nice to see you posting again!

 

I very much agree with your post and would add that some of these people may have developed a psychosis also if they wouldn't have started meditating - who knows, maybe even a worse one. In line with this, people interested in things like meditation are typically those with strong unconscious activity, psychic sensitivity and other traits that also make psychotic states more likely.

 

In this context, it should be borne in mind that in aboriginal societies, often the individuals that get educated as spiritual advisers and healers (shamans) are exactly those experiencing states that would without a doubt be diagnosed as psychotic by most psychiatrists.

 

It should also be considered that proper meditation can in fact help settle an unstable and confused mind. But where are the academic surveys showing that?

 

Well, at least I know this one which is about psychosis in relation to the meditation programme known as Silva Mind Control (of which I am an graduate).

 

In conclusion, and not least based on my own work with many psychiatric patients, I wouldn't discourage anybody from meditation, but I would emphasize that a suitable method and guide should be sought.


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#8 Wu Ming Jen

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 01:02 PM

In taoism altered states is not correct meditation. In meditation or busy at work one is the same maybe a bit more mindful and  aware.

 

Those who seek altered states using meditation as the vehicle are already on the wrong path. Those who seek images to be meaningful in meditation have lost their way. The great image is imageless.

 

 

Psychosis seems to be caused by a different mode of thinking then the mind of meditation when physically active or still .  Meditation is not seeking the illusion self, the conditioned mind, I am this, I am that, This mode of thinking  is the problem it is the opposite of true freedom The author is himself stuck in this mode of mind he mistakes his body and conditioned mind to be who he is and cant escape, we need to save him and have him stop meditating.

#9 zen-bear

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 02:52 PM

This reminds me of Zhuangzi saying that "a frog in a well can not conceive of the ocean". Poor Dr. Farias. Hope he works through his own issues before making his own psyche that which he projects onto us all.

Thanks for sharing this; gives me insight into possible future rhetoric from disinterested critics of the Way whom we may have to deal with soon. I will plan to prepare counterpoints, but hopefully, I can keep my patience and compassion because it irks me, but not as much as it saddens me to see this perpetuated through his authority.

Hello Earl Grey,
Similary, my father used to tell me when I was very young to not be that frog at the bottom of the well, who is able to see only this small round circle of the sky. I was utterly astounded that a person with such the academic credentials that Farias has could possibly publish a theory so unsubstantiated and talk so vacuously about it in the article.

Great screen name, by the way!


Edited by zen-bear, 21 February 2016 - 10:11 PM.

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#10 Aeran

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 10:39 PM

I think there are two factors here - the first is simple attention grabbing. As has been mentioned, calm, rational, measured statements don't make for headlines, and no headlines means no social profile and no name recognition and no book sales and no extra professional opportunities and so forth. As a result, academics and scientists (especially those in the softer sciences) tend to exaggerate their findings when it comes to pushing some new (or at least, new within the context of their culture and understanding) concept or theory. This happens when something new emerges which yields positive results, and then again when that thing, over time, is found to not be as effective as it was initially hailed as, or is found to have side effects which weren't initially given enough attention.

 

This leads to a bit of a pendulum effect, where mainstream scientific opinion can swing from one exaggerated view, then straight past a balanced viewpoint to another exaggerated view, over the course of a few decades. Which is why all sorts of medications, but especially psychiatric ones, tend to go from being hailed as a miracle breakthrough when they emerge to being derided as fraudulent/useless/dangerous a decade or two later - you'll notice this effect with basically every form of antidepressant, anti-psychotic and tranquilizer which has emerged on the market, if you look into their history.

 

The second problem is just that - that this concept, that meditation can worsen problems in certain situations if not performed properly, is a bit of a new one in the Western mainstream. In the last few decades meditation (especially in various watered down forms) has been increasingly pushed as a therapeutic modality in psychology and related fields until it reached the point of almost panacea status. It was also thrown around rather haphazardly in watered down form, treated as just another therapeutic modality in the "take 50mg of prozac and perform 15 minutes of mindfulness daily then come back and see me in a month" sense.

 

This attitude also seems to have slipped out of the psychological community and the meditation community and into the mainstream - a perfect example are those 10 day vipassana retreats, I've lost track of the number of people I've known with little or no meditation experience who've decided or been convinced that going on one of those retreats would somehow be a good idea, only to have a miserable experience and drop out (or, in one case, a friend of a friend, with bipolar disorder, went to one of these retreats, stopped taking his medication while there, and fell into an extreme manic state).

 

And so deprived of the structural teaching, lifestyle changes and philosophical education which tended to accompany traditional meditation training (having been developed over thousands of years to maximize the outcome), of course there's going to be a somewhat higher chance of meditation triggering underlying issues, and having watered down the practice and stripped it of it's traditional context, of course psychologists are going to be at first disbelieving, and then shocked and outraged, when they find out that meditation (or for that matter, any given psychiatric medication) isn't necessarily the panacea they were pushing it as. And of course, because people are people, some of them are going to exaggerate this "discovery" to increase their career profile.

 

As for the side effects themselves - well absolutely certain meditation practices can certainly trigger (although I'm not comfortable using the word "cause") certain health problems, I can attest to this myself (nothing so severe as psychosis, thank God, but two years on and I'm still working to figure out exactly what happened and how to work through it - partly because in the West, even in many meditation schools, we simply don't have the structure and teachings to help people with these issues when they occur).

 

But I don't think the problem is meditation itself (although nothing worth doing is perfectly comfortable and perfectly safe) so much as the way Western culture has taken a buffet attitude towards meditation, picking those parts which are convenient and which fit with our worldviews and lifestyles, and throwing away the rest. Unfortunately the parts we threw away were essential components of the metaphorical meal, and discarding them is coming back to bite us.

 

In short, I think this article and those like it (there have been a fair few popping up lately) say less about meditation than they do about Western psychology as a field and Western culture in general.

 

 

I think the title of his book is also very telling:

 

 

"The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?"


Edited by Aeran, 19 February 2016 - 11:46 PM.

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#11 blue eyed snake

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 10:35 AM

good topic,

 

feel not up to a long post, but want to add this

Even though I haven't read the DSMV yet. I do know that in the DSMIV  psychosis is defined something like:

 

hearing voices and/or seeing things that are not real (visible, hearable)  for other people. But diagnosis can follow only if the noise/voices/visions lead to fear/anxiety in the subject. Also no diagnosis  if the symptoms are fitting for the cultural background.

 

And in the culture I grew up hearing voices is generally equalled to being mad, ergo it inspires fear because of the cultural belief that it is a sure sign of going out of whack.

 

BES


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#12 silent thunder

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 12:04 PM

At one point I was testing the adults around me in the church I was brainwashed in as a child by telling them I had heard God speaking to me and their reactions were very telling about what I surmised to be the reality of their claimed faith, vs the functional illusion they projected.


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Everything I Love and Everything I Hate come from the Same Source.

I don't believe everything I think.

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#13 liminal_luke

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Posted 21 February 2016 - 06:49 PM

I don´t believe it´s possible to make any kind of spiritual progress in a constant state of complete comfort.  Most seekers experience their fair share of less-than-blissful experiences along the way, including less-than-blissful emotional states.  People come to meditation from all different backgrounds. Some can skillfully navigate the more difficult terrain within their own psyches; others, not so much.  

 

When someone with preexisting psychological vulnerabilites pursues a powerful path in an overly gungho manner, especially without the watchful supervision of a teacher, problems ensue. 


Edited by liminal_luke, 21 February 2016 - 06:57 PM.

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#14 thelerner

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 04:25 PM

Let's face it, anything with the power to do serious good can also cause harm if misused.


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Push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart. A creed from Pronoia

Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experience the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves. ~ Gabrielle Roth

#15 steve

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 08:31 AM

My Daoist meditation teacher used to caution his students about this very topic. 

My Bön teacher does as well.

 

I'll add that I don't practice simple mindfulness alone, it is certainly a part of my practice but not the sole focus. I see the OP is referring specifically to mindfulness. 

 

In my own experience, there is no question that suppressed and repressed psychological and emotional baggage have been un-roofed as my meditation practice has progressed. I believe it to be a natural and necessary part of the process of opening and releasing blockages of all types. The more quiet and tranquil we become, the more likely we will encounter painful memories and feelings and traces of everything we have encountered in our lives linger in us, often in subtle ways. And our lives are ever in motion so the subtle winds within periodically stir them.

 

The more traumatic memories and feelings are buried deeper and can fester there for many years, so that if (when) they are uncovered they can be every bit as traumatic, or worse, than when they were buried. For people who have a tendency towards mental illness or instability, there is a real risk of this sort of experience leading to acute psychosis. I think it's relatively rare but a very good reason to practice with a teacher or at least be aware of the potential for painful memories to arise and need to be addressed with appropriate support.

 

So my Daoist teacher used to say that meditation allows us to encounter and clear all of this baggage when we are young, healthy, and ready to face all of this stuff with clear intent and the support of our master.

 

Alternatively, in his view, we will end up facing these things towards the end of our lives when we are sick, frail, unprepared, and unsupported. His opinion is that we will all face these things sooner or later, at the time of our death if not before. He attributes the extremely high rate of depression and suicide in the elderly at least in part to this process. If you look at it from the perspective of reincarnation, for those who like to think about such things, these are the very things that will guide our rebirth in the bardo after death and the Buddhist methods of sutric and tantric practice work with these in an effort to liberate us from that burden. 


Edited by steve, 25 April 2016 - 08:41 AM.

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#16 Karl

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 09:42 AM

Does it clear out all the baggage, or only allow the baggage to come to the surface ?

If the conceptual hierarchy is blighted with falsity and error, then you must first know what that error is before it can be corrected, otherwise the result will be a reaffirmation of the previous error. It's also not always wise to bring deep trauma to the surface. Re-living trauma as a flashback can be very disturbing, often becoming a source of emotional over load in the present. A general desensitisation from the emotion is a better option, but in the case of severe trauma, it's best not to begin by trying to unearth it.

Meditation can dredge things up which are better remaining hidden. Maybe a good Master who is also a skilled psychiatric practitioner would help with these things, but I doubt there are many who fit that bill.

Also, being alone with thoughts has a tendency to magnify them greatly. If there is not an outlet, or the person is unwilling, or finds it difficult to talk it out with a confidant, these thoughts can become powerfully energised and that can certainly lead to psychosis if they become obsessive.

Edited by Karl, 25 April 2016 - 09:42 AM.

'Jive talkin'





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: meditation, psychosis, psychoses, Oxford University, Coventry University

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