Thursday, November 5, 2009

Going where nobody else is headed has its drawbacks

Yesterday evening, Ian and I had our quarterly meeting with Dr. Stern, Chris's psychiatrist. We hadn't had a chance to meet since Chris was released from the hospital in May. We spoke about his overall good progress, how Ian and I were pleased to have him home with us and how we are content to let things unfold at the pace Chris was setting. Then Dr. Stern dropped the bombshell. She leaned forward, and in a clearly worried voice, said "what's this about Chris having an out-of-body experience? Chris's occupational therapist told me about this and she also told me about a lucid dream."

It has been my policy all along not to tell Chris's psychiatrists about what outwardly kooky looking things he is undertaking in the world of holistic healing. I have learned, as this experience shows, that it only worries them and they want to put a stop to it.

Most, if not all, psychiatrists would not want their schizophrenia patients having an OBE, because to them, it is exactly what you don't want them to have. Dr. Stern said she wanted Chris "in" his body and grounded, not out-of-his body and floating in space looking down at himself. It is exactly the sensible sort of thing a cautious psychiatrist should say, except that what has changed is that energy medicine has opened up a whole other realm of healing possibilities. I tried to handle this as best I could, knowing that Chris and I were headed to the sound shaman the next day for another go at it.

I tried to reassure Dr. Stern that actually, the meditative state that he achieved was a grounding state, not an excitatory state. I told her that an OBE for someone with a history of psychosis was actually a good thing, but it was counter-intuitive, because most people would think an out-of-body experience can lead to the person becoming destabilized and this was not in fact what was happening. Please note that this way of thinking is not only not widely shared, but not widely known. There's me, and there's the sound shaman, and beyond the two of us, who else knows about this counter-intuitive way of looking at schizophrenia? There must be a secret society somewhere, or maybe this is well-known in Eastern mysticism, but with Chris's Western diagnosis of schizophrenia I was treading on very thin ice with Dr. Stern. Come to think of it, Western medical diagnoses are not included in Eastern mysticism texts.

Do you do yoga, Dr. Stern? I enquired brightly. "Keep in mind that yoga is used in many programs for schizophrenia patients." Dr. Stern was more inclined to feel that yoga was more of a physical workout than a mental one, and that deep meditation is not something recommended for someone like Chris. Dr. Stern is a good psychiatrist and an excellent Family Constellation psychiatrist, but she is not a yoga person, nor all that familiar with energy medicine. Dr. Stern doesn't "do" energy medicine, and this is where it gets tricky with a psychiatrist. What I am doing with Chris is clearly out of most traditional psychiatrists' comfort zones. I only later thought about Chris's former holistic psychiatrist, who taught us about energy medicine and got Chris to practice visualizations. Where is the line drawn between lucid dreaming and say, visualizing you are a shining ball of light in space with giant meteorites bouncing off you?

The out-of-body experience and the lucid dreaming were all news to Ian, who thankfully didn't jump in and punch the air with "let's put a stop to all this nonsense now!" I told Dr. Stern that lucid dreaming was something Chris does and it didn't start recently. I was praying hard that the session would soon be over. I needed more information from the shaman to bolster my weak case in Dr. Stern's eyes. "I understand your concerns, Dr. Stern, and if I were you I would feel the same way. I will look into this some more and share further information with you." Inside me, I am really just hoping that all this will not be raised again.

When it was time to leave, I excused myself to make a phone call from Dr. Stern's inner office. As I entered, I noticed a large jagged quartz crystal on top of the table near the door. Now, what was that there for if she is not a proponent of energy medicine and the healing power of gemstones and vibrations? Is this just a decoration that psychiatrists put in their offices now to show solidarity with the holistic crowd in the same way all companies claim they are eco-friendly? Or, is it just a nice decoration with no other meaning? All of this I ponder.


  1. Lucid dreaming is where you're conscious and in control while you are asleep.

    Wikibooks has a great book about it, which is where I learnt more about it.

  2.  I'm just about to read "The Master of Lucid Dreams" by Russian psychiatrist Olga Kharitidi/Yahontova (today living in the U.S.), where she describes her journey to Siberia to study Shamanism. I've only read the intro so far, but it looks very interesting. You may want to check it out (if you haven't yet, that is).

  3. I am always looking for Christmas gift ideas, so thanks for the tips!


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