Emma Bragdon, acclaimed author, reivews 'In Case of Spiritual Emergency' in the current issue of Caduceus.
It’s hard to cope with the news of the crises we are facing on every front--environmental, political, financial, and social. Epidemic numbers of people are turning to psychiatric medications to stop feeling anxious and/or depressed. We need more heroes, people of vision, who are not afraid to go into the wild and scary places, confront the powerful issues that are threatening us, and bring back the wisdom we need to rebuild our world on a foundation that sustains life.
Catherine G Lucas, author of “In Case of Spiritual Emergency,” (Findhorn Press, 2011) believes we are in a global spiritual emergency, similar to a dark night of the soul. She says more individuals are being called to face inner demons, and align with the Higher Self in a different kind of life. Those that complete the journey have a greater connection to their soul purpose, and greater ability to live a life motivated by compassionate action.
Lucas’ book describes her own and others spiritual crises, and how each first wondered if he/she was crazy and then came through it. The bulk of the book revolves around the concept of “spiritual emergency,” an evolutionary crisis that can appear similar to symptoms of mental illness: with disorientation, dramatic mood swings, inability to concentrate, identification with perceptions that are not apparent to others. However, in spiritual emergency, the individual is following the trail through the dark underworld that leads to the Higher Self. They need encouragement and support.
Between 1994 and 2003 there was a 4000% increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder for people under age 21. Are we perhaps using the diagnosis too loosely—maybe applying it to those who are trying to make the hero’s journey? Are we putting them on a lifelong course of debilitating drug therapy that numbs feelings instead of providing more appropriate support? Lucas reflects on such questions.
Since Dr. Stan and Christina Grof’s seminal work describing spiritual emergency in the 1970s, others have followed with further research that Lucas documents. She also advises the experiencers how to care for themselves and whom to trust to give appropriate support. Lucas suggests learning and practicing mindfulness training and techniques for grounding, finding creative expression, and allowing caring people to create a safe environment, as needed.
It could be that ‘mental illness’ occurs when someone resists doing the inner work of facing his/her feelings, inner demons and aligning with the Higher Self. Lucas’ book is for those who are willing and able to do that work with some guidance. The message of this book will not be of use to those unable to commit to increasing self-awareness.
If you give the book to someone who is lost in a ‘dark night’ and looking for reference points this read could make the difference between that person being “mentally ill” or completing the most significant journey of life, the hero’s journey.
Fortunately, Lucas, based in the UK, has joined with others who are creating networks of support for those on the journey. Her book offers up to date references for further reading, websites, DVDs and CDs –all tools that shed light on the path, including contact information for support people in every English-speaking country.
Bio of reviewer: Emma Bragdon, PhD (psychology) is based in the USA. She is the author of two previous books on Spiritual Emergency as well as 4 books that bridge spirituality and health, following models developed in Brazil. www.EmmaBragdon.com