Madness, provided it comes as the gift of Heaven, is the channel by which we recieve the greatest blessings . . . the men of old who gave things their names saw no disgrace or reproach in madness; otherwise they would not have connected it with the name of the noblest of all arts, the art of discerning the future, and called it the manic art . . . So, according to the evidence provided by our ancestors, madness is a nobler thing than sober sense . . . madness comes from God, whereas sober sense is merely human. Socrates

When I took a trip to Paris and Berlin, I came back to all these friends asking me “how was it?” I never wanted to really talk about it much, being that my vaction was a largely solitary one of visiting historical sites and looking at historical art. When I took a trip to Crazyland, nobody really wanted to ask me how it was. I was a little disappointed by it actually, because for once I had seen things that I wanted to talk about. But very few people feel comfortable listening to stories of visionary moments, especially when the moments are connected to psychosis.

Can it be that our contemporary visionaries are being silenced? One must remember that even Louis Riel was a mental patient. People nowadays want proof, something solid and tangible which can be measured, catalogued, grouped and ordered. A photograph, a big hand waving from the sky Hello! A new Jesus among us to put needles in and see that he bleeds.

I don’t consider the apocalyptic visions I had to necessarily be a real prophecy, rather they were more some kind of spiritual educational film that I suppose I had to watch to be able to feel like I could go on to the next level of my life. And as destructive as the episode was, there were some very real emotional events happening that never got addressed by my p-doc, by my friends or family, they were just waved off as unreality.

How do we define the real? For instance, a broken heart is considered a real thing, even though our hearts do not actually break, they don’t bust out of our chests and lay bleeding on the floor (although it can feel like that).

I was reading an article about Margot Kidder and her very public manic episode, aftwerward she went to an acupuncturist on Vancouver Island and was telling her about her delusions. She didn’t know what to do with the feelings around her brain’s journey, people said it wasn’t real, but she was still feeling very traumatized by the whole events. The acupuncturist said “Well, if it felt real to you, let’s treat it as a real event and help you come to terms with it.”

Can you imagine how much more humane it would be if our psychiatric system had spiritual councellors who would come in and help patients assimilate their visionary experiences in with their regular lives? Would it help keep the relapse rate down? Would it make seeing and hearing other realities a less shameful thing?

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