There is no denying that shamans see things differently than most other people. If you’ve ever looked into this, then you understand where I am coming from. However, if this concept is new to you, continue reading because you are in for a treat.
I recently came across some stories of one West African shaman named Dr. Malidoma Patrice Some. He views mental illness as something much more than just a condition that we have to live with. He believes that many of the mental illnesses people face can be part of the signaling of the birth of a healer.
The stories I read were excerpts from a book called The Natural Medicine Guide to Schizophrenia. This book was written by Stephanie Marohn, who spoke with some people on the subject of mental illness and shamanism. She really dug deep to get the core of his sense of meaning brought forth. While I am going to include part of that excerpt I am going to break down most of it even further.
She says Dr. Some told her as follows in regards to one of his first encounters with visiting a mental hospital:
I was so shocked. That was the first time I was brought face to face with what is done here to people exhibiting the same symptoms I’ve seen in my village.” What struck Dr. Somé was that the attention given to such symptoms was based on pathology, on the idea that the condition is something that needs to stop. This was in complete opposition to the way his culture views such a situation. As he looked around the stark ward at the patients, some in straitjackets, some zoned out on medications, others screaming, he observed to himself, “So this is how the healers who are attempting to be born are treated in this culture. What a loss! What a loss that a person who is finally being aligned with a power from the other world is just being wasted.”
Basically, he saw the potential in all the people there and was shocked at how damned they were in this place. He was at a loss because people were not even considering the potential for psychic phenomena. According to him, he saw beings within the facility, or spirits that most of us cannot see.
You see, once these entities are removed, along with their energies, the person experiencing them can go entirely back to normal. The shaman wanted to work with some of these people to help them, but he knew that doing that here in the US would not go over well. He needed to bring these people back to his village to heal. After requesting to take an 18-year-old mentally ill patient back to his village he got approval and was ready to embark on quite a journey.
This boy’s parents had no idea what else they could do so this was one of their last options. The boy according to Some had been hospitalized for four years and was suffering from severe hallucinations as well as depression. After being in Some’s village for a mere 8 months he became normal again.
He had spent his time participating in shamanic rituals and learning his true nature as a healer. Some continued to tell Marohn that without balancing the relationship between both the living and the dead chaos will always follow. Some says ritualistic approaches to mental illness can really change lives.
Shamans see mental illness as the bringing of a healer, it is a spiritual process that can be quite hard to get through. Beings will attach themselves to these healers and cause turmoil and lots of different symptoms. While this may seem crazy to those of us who have never considered it, viewing this opinion with an open mind could explain so much!