crazywise (doc)


phil (Phil Borges): studying indigenous.. found many had these shaman.. and shaman came to be by some pyschotic breakdown

1 min – adam: happy kid growing up.. 4 days after 20th birthday. .. i went nuts.. this total shattering.. first time i’d ever experienced a real connection to the universe.. where i really felt like a part of this.. incredible.. then i kept going.. and i went way too far.. and then it got scary

2 min – it’s a mythology to think that .. there’s the normal and the abnormal… these traits exist in everybody – Gabor

4 min – we’re so locked into our mind and the rational world and the scientific world..that when we have a spiritual experience.. it can literally blow somebody’s mind..  – sandra ingerman

joan halifax (@jhalifax) – somebody is in this delicate state.. in a process.. they’re sent to prison/jail/psyche-ward/homeless

phil: watching adam over 2 yrs.. cleaning him out.. sounded like a great story.. but that wasn’t the end of the story..

5 min – adam: i experience screaming voices.. people don’t understand how insane i am.. people see me acting quiet.. but in that quiet is completely.. it’s just chaos… i feel like i’m working and fighting every single day and i’m viewed as a complete bum


will hall ( – what i’d like to see is that everyone.. who goes thru the kind of crisis i went thru.. is given an opportunity to explore what it might mean… maybe it’s not just a broken brain.. maybe it’s not just an illness.. maybe this is not just something to hide.. and be ashamed of.. maybe it’s something to explore and learn from

6 min – daniel siegel ( – meds are sometimes essential.. but if you don’t first start with communities of support.. then of course the brain is going to stop functioning so well.. because the brain is a social organ

gabor: adam.. had he had this same experience in an eastern culture.. where there’s mentors/shamans.. where there’s acceptance.. where people make room for your differentness.. where you’re not excluded and ostracized.. but where welcomed.. he might have had his experience formulated in a completely diff way..

adam.. embraced in local coffee shop community

will: we have lost touch in our med system from some of the simple needs that people have for connection/community.. and because mental health system isn’t providing it.. people who’ve been in the system are starting to provide it for ourselves.. 100s of groups around.. common expectation is that people can get better

7 min – adam: i hope that this film ends up showing people that they are ok

this less than perfect life is exactly what i need (song)


actual doc (good till march 28):

the wound is the place where the light enters you – rumi

adam: i feel like i’m working and fighting every single day and i’m viewed as a complete bum..

but that is my problem.. i cannot tell anyone what is going on with me.. people will see me act quiet and that’s it.. but what is happening in that quiet is completely.. it’s just chaos.. i experience screaming voices.. i go into almost a paralysis from fear.. just being absolutely frustrated and tired of.. everything.. and just not wanting to fight every single day

1 min – people don’t believe how insane i am

film by Phil Borges and Kevin Tomlinson

2 min – phil: at first it was human rights issues that took me to tribal and indigenous cultures around the world.. as a photographer i wanted to bring viewers face to face with the people who were struggling to hold onto their unique way of life and their traditional beliefs.. i became fascinated with the remaining cultures that commune with the sprits of rivers/mtns/animals and their ancestors

indigenous ness

3 min – while working in n kenya i met – sekula (?) a 37 yr old mother of 5.. when she was 13 she started hearing voices.. having visions..feeling terrified.. but her grandmother took her aside and told her she had a very special


and then helped guide her thru her crisis.. today she’s a highly respected healer/predictor in her tribe..

over the years i’ve met many people like secula..

who could be labeled as crazy in our culture.. but were seen as gifted in their own

people who transform their mental/emotional crises to become healers/visionaries for their communities.. in the west we often call them shaman.. and i began to wonder..

could there be something more to these experiences we call crazy

when in seattle .. met adam

4 min – adam gentry: it was 4 days after my 20th bday.. i went nuts

rob gentry (father): very compassionate.. be it animals.. be it people.. at an early age.. just a really happy baby

jodi gentry (mother): absolutely.. he’s the funniest guy you would ever know.. hysterical.. totally gifted athletically..

hs friend: very popular.. outgoing.. always challenging the status quo..

hs girlfriend: he just knew what i was thinking a lot.. and i’ve heard that from multiple people.. other friends of his..

5 min – adam: moved to florida to pursue wakeboarding.. and that’s when experience first depression

mom: july 20 2004 – started telling us a simple math equation that would solve all our family problems..

adam: when it first occurred is was very fun and enlightening.. my mind just opened.. and i started thinking of all these diff things.. and in that sense it was beautiful.. the first time i’d ever experienced a real connection to the universe.. (1+1=1).. where i really felt like a part of this.. i was this.. this was me.. it was incredible.. then i kept going.. and i went way too far.. and then it got scary

6 min – mom: it was terrifying.. totally manic or totally depressed..

adam: the rage that will occur in a manic episode is so scary

mom: not who we knew .. as happy/funny adam.. it was this adam.. just like that

phil: 1 in 5 americans will suffer a psychological crisis in their lifetime..

like many of shaman i met.. episodes happen mostly in their youth..

phil: i met Ekhaya.. who also had an episode in her 20s

7 min – Ekhaya: i didn’t know what was happening to me.. i felt like my whole world was just exploding.. i was going into a whole diff reality that i knew nothing about.. i was afraid to walk down the street.. thought all people were focused on me.. judging me.. i thought everybody knew ..i had voices that would tell me to cut myself.. it was like the voices/visions were taking control over me..

i was very sensitive to music to sounds..

i started to have very clear visions of dead people.. just appearing and watching me.. so i felt like i had eyes watching me all the time.. my deceased father would show up in my room.. it was the scariest thing i’ve ever experienced… i literally locked myself in a room for months.. and took the light bulb out of the light fixture..

and i became completely enclosed..

8 min – adam: there was about a 3 day period of writing equations in my room and finding god in my notebook.. and then my parents were finally like.. what ya doing..

and then i checked myself into a mental institution.. that is not the place to get sane..

they put me in this holding room.. and there was no door.. camera on the ceiling.. and i was just laying on this bed.. and this little girl walked into my room and she was just staring at me.. this blank bizarre stare.. and i kept asking her to leave.. and she wouldn’t.. and there were crazy people.. everywhere.. able to just come into my room.. i immediately felt in danger and scared.. so i just decided.. no. . and we went back to my parents house.. and just kind of .. tried to figure out what to do..

9 min – the put me on (depicoat?) and that just started the whole process of .. oh.. now he’s crying all day.. let’s feed him this one.. now barfing all day..

dad: we went from one dr/prescription to another to another

mom: he was on every medication .. i think made.. for bipolar

adam: and they say.. well every brain is diff.. sorry if this makes you crap your pants.. maybe it’ll work.. maybe it’ll make you kill yourself.. disclaimer on these pills.. usually first side effect: suicidal thoughts… and that’s what the dr is giving you to feel better.. i mean.. it’s crazy..

phil: hearing of the struggles adam and ekhaya were going thru made me want to learn more.. so i started interviewing experts in the field of mental health

10 min – robert whitaker ( in us we’ve come to believe in the chemical imbalance theory of mental disorder.. so we believe you have some known deficiency with a neurotransmitter and the drugs fix insulin for diabetes.. it was a valid hypothesis that arose out of an understanding of how the drugs acted on the brain.. and then it was investigated and found out basically.. not to be so.. i believe it and when i was a reporter i wrote about it (pulitzer)..  so i called up .. and asked researchers.. i want to see where you found that.. ie: schizo from too much seratonin.. et al.. and answer: well.. we never found’s just a metaphor.. not really true

11 min – allen frances (@AllenFrancesMD) ( i was very much against the casual/careless use of medication that characterizes american society today.. these meds are very very powerful in helping but can be powerful in harming.. often the withdrawal problems will be worse than the original condition..

dwayne stone (counselor): i can look at any clinic i’ve worked at.. and if they’ve been in the clinic for 15-20 yrs.. they’ve been on every category of anti psychotic in the process.. and the truth is .. is that they still have same symptoms/side-effects/operating at same level..

11 min – robert: we’ve been trying to believe that with medical research we can find the causes.. and create these magic bullets *(psychopharma).. that fix these problems.. so it fit that larger story of medical progress that we believe in.. we’ve embracing this now for almost 30 yrs and we’ve seen the burden go up and up and up.. now if you have an effective med treatment for a disease.. at the very least see burden stay stable.. or go down.. and we’re seeing exactly the opposite..

*psychopharma ..1988: 500 mn dollars ..1.25 mn people; 2008: 40 bn dollars.. 4 mn people; … suicides up 24% 1999-2014

12 min – ekhaya: i didn’t know why i was here.. no purpose.. didn’t feel deserving of love.. of anything.. 2 suicide attempts.. i felt like i was the problem and if i could get rid of the problem.. everyone else would be ok.. decided to get help.. hospital for several weeks.. heavy drugs.. changed who i was completely.. gained 70 lbs.. i just felt drugged up

13 min – adam spent 4 yrs on various meds taking up to 15 pills per day

adam: i felt like a lab rat.. and the side effects were just awful.. vomiting all day.. i couldn’t leave my house for so long just from these awful anxiety attacks.. and the thought of being around people made me sick to my stomach

mom: i was the only one who he could be around.. quit job.. took 5-6 yrs to get him where he could go to work

dad: go thru whole gauntlet.. was i a bad father.. and the inability to do anything to help.. the toughest thing

14 min – adam: i had no idea who i was.. i lost myself.. my id.. my friends/family.. i lost everything..

phil: after 4 yrs of terrible side effects.. adam quit all his meds at once.. which i’ve learned is a dangerous thing to do.. and then he did a 10 day silent meditation retreat

adam: i went there.. a drug addict/alcoholic that hated everyone and came back a sober.. life loving.. vegan.. complete health nut.. no one knew who i was

dad: there was an obvious major change .. in his serenity and his peace of mind

mom: he quit everything..cold turkey

adam: looking back now i really wish i would have known these things .. and tried the homeopathic meditative approach first.. but it was just kind of like a panic.. i don’t know.. put some meds in this kid and just hope for the best

15 min – phil: dharamsala india – while doing a human rights story on tibet..had rare opp to witness a young monk (thupten ngodrup).. go into trance and channel the state oracle of tibet.. older monks recognized his (crazy)

17 min – sandra ingerman ( we’re so locked into our mind and the rational world.. scientific world.. that when we have spiritual experience.. it can literally blow somebody’s mind.. and they don’t know what to do with it..

and what’s needed .. instead of *stigmatizing people.. and giving them labels.. is to give people tools .. to learn how to ground and work with these expanded states of consciousness..

*lucas – stigmatizing human mind

roger walsh ( for some people.. they can be an opening to a deeper self-understanding.. psycho analysis.. spritual realms..

gabor maté ( according to the research.. the best place to be a schizophrenic in the world.. is not n america with all its pharmocopia.. it’s actually a village in africa or india where there’s acceptance.. where people make room for your different ness.. where connection is not broken but is maintained.. where you’re not excluded and ostercized but where you are welcomed..

and when there’s room for you you act out whatever you need to act out.. or you express whatever you express..

and the whole community might even sing/change with you.. or hold ceremony with you.. maybe find some meaning in your ‘craziness’

18 min – phil: began hearing from people who identified themselves as survivors.. meaning survivors of our mental healthcare system.. many had come out from the shadows of their diagnosis/labels.. by meeting each other online to share their experiences .. and to form support groups.. will hall is on the forefront of what is called the recovery movement..

19 min – will hall (@willhall) ( ( when i first was hospitalized.. i was feeling so desparate that i wanted to die.. heard voices.. went on golden gate bridge.. really bad shape.. and the mental health system only made that worse.. i went to the clinic in sanfran.. i was buzzed in and the door locked behind me.. like there was this wild animal they had captured… and they were evaluating it.. i was put in restraints.. and i was not resisting/arguing/being-hostile.. finally after doing all these tests.. the resident psychiatrist came in and sat down.. we have your results/diagnosis.. very solemn.. said.. you have a severe mental illness.. you have a kind of schizophrenia/bipolar.. so this catch all diagnosis.. and they said.. there’s no cure.. you will be maintaining yourself on meds to manage your symptoms.. we recommend you rethink some of your goals in life.. that moment was really like casting a spell..

they were in the process of transforming me.. from an ordinary full human being.. into this second class citizen of being a mental patient..

21 min – phil: i interviewed a group of people that had been diagnosed for their mental/emotional distress.. and asked each.. what was your diagnosis… i learned that all these diagnoses come from a book called the dsm (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders) published by the american psychiatric association.. over the years.. the number of disorders has increased dramatically with each new addition

(1952: 106 reactions; 1968: 182 reactions/disorders; 1980: 265 disorders; 1994: 300 disorders; 2013: 365 disorders..)

22 min – allen: problem with these .. took a number of normal aspects of life and pathologized them.. normal grief becomes major depressive disorder.. overeating becomes binge eating disorder.. temper tantrums become disruptive mood disregulations (allen led 1994 team that published dsm 4.. he is now a vocal critic of dsm 5).. taking the experiences of everyday life that are unavoidable.. part of the human condition.. turning it into medical disorders..

will: the diagnostic/statistical manual is basically a sophisticated way of not listening to people..

you interview just so you’ve heard certain key words.. fit it into your framework.. and then you’ve got a whole algorithm of treatments that you offer people.. so that when your colleagues/supervisors ask you how/what are you doing to this person.. you’re following the protocol

23 min – peter gotszche (@pgtzsche1)( if we used all these psychiatric tests on the healthy population.. i doubt that anyone would avoid to get at least one diagnosis..

gabor: we think that there are people who are normal over here.. and then there’s the pathological ones who have depression/anxiety/addiction/schizo/bipolar/adhd.. or any number of other conditions.. (gabor renowned for work on addiction/trauma/childhood-development) .. what i see is a continuum .. these traits to one degree or another are present in almost everybody.. and

it’s a mythology to think that there’s the normal and then there’s the abnormal..

3 months into filming.. adam asked to be interviewed.. he had just started his fourth 10 day meditation retreat.. and painful childhood memories began coming up.. when he went to the retreat leaders and revealed his mental health history.. they decided it was best for him to leave (showing letter to adam)

24 min – adam: first time i went to the center had a memory of when i was really young.. molested in bathroom .. involving a relative.. once i realized my grandfather had molested me .. i went to speak to my parents.. and they didn’t believe me (isolated from family.. adam became homeless and started living in his car)..  leaving house/job.. walking into this abyss.. that’s when i started believing that my mother/father molested mind just couldn’t handle it anymore

25 min – daniel j siegel (@drdansiegel)( so if i have an unusual way of feeling and my emotions are really big and i’m having a hard time.. and the culture and my family doesn’t support that..i can go off into a really isolated way and become very very disturbed.. alienated/isolated.. more chaotic/rigid.. and you’d give me a label.. and then we look at someone who’s mind (feelings, thoughts, behavior) is off.. then we so.. oh.. they have a bad brain.. and then either you isolate them because you’re afraid of them.. or you give them pills or whatever you do.. and medications are sometimes essential..

but if you don’t first start with communities of support.. then of course the brain is going to stop functioning so well.. because the brain is a social organ..

(daniel is author of mind and brainstorm and exec director of mindsight institute)

relationships are just as important as brain processes.. and i feel very deeply that if we could make that clear to everyone.. we could have a shift in how we actually take care of each other..

26 min – ekhaya: best friend..someone i could trust.. lived together .. moved to ny together

friend mia: we wrote together.. sung together.. managed an art gallery.. created a business..

dkhaya: during one of my lowest points.. she didn’t quite understand what was happening..

mia: when i look at her.. this is not the person that i originally met.. then she was on meds.. it was completely changing her.. by my analysis.. and i may be clearly wrong..  i feel like she was being very manipulative.. i’d give her cash et al.. and she’d attempt suicide again.. i couldn’t be a crutch for her anymore.. and for a year.. i didn’t speak to her.. and that was one of the hardest things i’ve ever done as a friend.. i think it broke her heart too

27 min – ekhaya: i called her.. i was experiencing some issues.. really depressed..  i said i don’t feel like i can live anymore.. and she told me to get over myself.. we’ve reconciled.. healed.. but .. that is the worst thing you can say to someone

another friend (tren) understood what i was going thru

28 min – tren: i remember talking to her and smiling and saying.. this is not a breakdown it’s a break through.. breaking down a wall and going down another path to be that person you are going to be.. and to accept that some people are going to reject you on some level.. your own family.. friends.. i connected with that.. i myself had attempted suicide probably 4-5 times in my life.. and it took me a while to figure out that that feeling inside was about..

not wanting to be here the way that i was here.. not not wanting to be here..

ekhaya: we don’t have enough people in our lives to look at it differently.. from a peer perspective.. to say.. you know what i’ve been thru this .. i know where you are.. .. someone who hasn’t experienced this.. it’s very very hard for them to see thru it..

i know you ness

29 min – adam: i’ve been living in my car for over 3 months.. i have incredible people…right as i lost my family i found a brand new one.. soul food family.. an open minded family of loving people

sara pelfrey (soul food coffee house founder): i think a lot of people would say that adam is broken.. i think our culture is broken .. not adam.. we say .. something is wrong with you as opposed to.. as a society.. we don’t have the skills to support somebody like that..

kosta et al

30 min – makia oakes (soul food coffee house co owner) ( he seems to tune right into what people are feeling.. i don’t think he knows how not to feel it for them.. i think he’d be a great psychologist maybe someday. . or work with kids.. he doesn’t need to end up in the back of a car

adam: being here.. and finding that love and comfort.. and just the acceptance.. saved me

without that.. with just being in your head.. having nothing other than rejection to what you’re experiencing going on.. is absolutely maddening..

31 min – robert thurman (@BobThurman)(father to uma) ( one of the problems in this industrial society.. is that the so called normal people.. they don’t want to admit that they’re psychotic.. actually.. this is.. we live in a psychotic society..i’m sorry..we do ..and what is meant by psychotic.. out of touch with reality..

roshi joan halifax ( somebody in this delicate state.. they’re in a process.. they’re sent to prison..jail.. psych ward.. chemically incarcerated.. or they’re homeless

will: i’m not against meds.. i’m not against hospitals/drs.. i know many people who are benefited by meds.. but we have a one size fits all framework.. we think that the issue is biological.. the solution is medical and pharmaceutical.. and we see it as objective science…it’s not objective science..

john read (@readreadj)( most non western cultures.. it’s assumed that.. if people hear voices.. or they have very unusual beliefs.. there’s meaning to those experiences.. only in the western world have we developed this bizarre idea that.. hearing voices and having strange ideas.. has no all..  it’s just a symptom of these imagined illnesses that biological psychiatry has actually created

32 min – phil: while mentoring young photographers on the navajo nation.. i met morgan yasi.. had been having dizzy spells and hallucinations in his 20s but tried to ignore them.. more frequently until he had what he called a stroke.. his friend sam bagay.. a medicine man.. did a ceremony for him.. and told morgan he was ignoring a calling..a calling to be a medicine man.. and i’ve heard this several times before.. if you ignore the calling.. there’s a good chance that you could get sick and possibly die..many say it’s a transformation waiting to happen.. that has to be dealt with

33 min – after spending 6 weeks in the hospital.. ekhaya was referred to a homeless shelter

ekhaya: i couldn’t go into the shower.. because people were smoking crack.. nurses station said to come back.. er dr accepting didn’t believe me.. and sent me back home.. i walked out er door and took all meds.. woke up in hospital bed and thought.. why am i here.. why am i still here.. i couldn’t believe it..but i’m thankful for that moment.. because that’s the moment i knew that there was a purpose for my life.. there was a reason.. i didn’t know it.. but i knew that there was some higher being/force.. that wanted me to be alive.. and i knew that i had to find it

35 min – adams hs friend: remembering how people loved to be around him because of his confidence.. he was free to be him

people saying he’s crazy.. and i thought.. well he’s still my friend and we’re going to talk thru this.. in that going along process of feeling that i was helping him.. i realized that he was actually helping me..

36 min – alberto villoldo ( in the shamanic traditions you’re not ever completely healed until you become a healer yourself..the way of the wounded healer.. and as you heal yourself.. what has been before a great source of pain and becomes a source of compassion..

37 min – james baraz ( people who’ve gone thru psychotic episodes can come out the other end and say that changed my life

angeles arrien ( those openings or those things that we call.. psychotic breaks.. you know..i think.. why can’t it be seen as a great blessing..that i opened to something far greater.. that was a holy blessed moment that released either the angels or the demons .. so that i could access the deeper essence.. of who i really am

joan: the buddha wouldn’t have been enlightened.. jesus wouldn’t have been jesus.. w/o .. going into the dessert for 40 days.. there’s a kind of arch or narrative that wants to unfold in the psyche and if an individual is given proper support.. a person can actually reconstruct their life at a higher level..

38 min – ekhaya: i saw a flyer about baltic street ( said it was for people who had experienced emotional struggle.. had mental health issues.. i went there. . met a beautiful beautiful group of people.. and these people were telling me their story ..asking mine.. i was able to get back into studio..

i really got in touch w myself again.. it was like..the first time i was able to feel myself thru the cloud of the meds

39 min – john: for people ‘diagnosed’ w schizophrenia.. if we take the west construct for a second.. the average recovery rate in the western world.. with all our sophisticate diagnoses and meds and highly paid experts.. is about 1/3..

the recovery rate in the developing world.. is about 2/3 on average..

i find that kind of interesting..

carroll dunham ( how mental illness is constructed in diff places in the world is very very diff.. i believe..myself.. if i hadn’t chosen to live in nepal.. i probably would have been medicated or institutionalized.. (expert in himalayan cultures.. filmmaker for national geographic, bbc and pbs).. i knew for myself that i couldn’t be in a society/culture that was high paced.. i needed to move down slower.. so it was easier for me.. by being an anthropologist.. creating lifestyle where i could be out in villages.. on agricultural time.. not on industrial time.. i met a lot of people that would maybe seem crazy by our concepts of mental health.. there’s something over there that’s called.. crazy wisdom..

40 min – carroll: in tibeten medical tradition.. illness is not just individual.. it’s something larger.. and it’s related to he environment.. so

when we start to lose that connection w the environment in a very deep way.. i think other illnesses start to manifest..

holmgren indigenous law..

phil: powerful shaman/leader of tribe in ecuadorian amazon.. as hunter gatherers.. an intimate connection to nature is critical to their survival

41 min – phil: ie: fruit of tree for respiratory problems.. how they came upon this.. over trial and error.. over the centuries i guess.. it’s quite amazing.. every 5-7 days.. mangatuic goes into trance and takes on the spirit essence of the jaguar.. a process called shape shifting.. that he uses to guide his people.. at the time i looked at this with curiosity and skepticism.. now i wonder if these rituals could be a metaphor that helps the tribe connect to nature in a very deep/spiritual way.. i don’t want to over romaticize indigenous.. they’re not free of mental health issues.. and not everyone who has a crisis becomes a shaman.. but they often believe that non ordinary states.. like hearing voices.. or having visions.. indicate the person in crisis has a special


a sensitivity that can actually be a gift to the community…

42 min – phil: then they give that person guidance.. meaning.. and purpose.. i believ that’s something we can learn from

adam asked to house sit in maui.. but fell thru.. found himself homeless again ..sleeping on beach… got jumped.. found out his mom has cancer

43 min – phil: adam flew back to seattle the next day and ron offered to let him live in his garage

44 min – adam: (describing when/how the jump happened).. we had a fire – weren’t supposed to – on the beach.. it was a magical place for a minute.. and everyone just went in the circle of sharing.. how they ended up being homeless right next to me..

it was amazing to hear how broken all of these people were and i how broken i was.. and that that was what brought us together.. and what was making us all stronger.. it was incredible.. these people who had absolutely nothing were the people that were helping me..

45 min – adam: day after assault mom calls and tells me she has cancer and is going to die so.. so that was terrible.. i can’t be there for her..i wish that i could .. and i want to love her the best way that i know how.. but w/o my family’s acceptance.. i have nothing to give them.. because i literally can’t..  there is so much about me that is not accepted in my family.. the majority of what makes me who i am is not accepted.. take meds.. you’re crazy.. that’s all they will say to me

46 min – krista mckinnon ( often families would come and they would know the symptoms of bipolar/schizo.. but they weren’t educated on seeing the strengths in their relative.. and noticing the things that their relative is really great at and pointing those things out.. they weren’t educated on how to have hope for recovery.. (psychiatric survivor..krista created an online community that provide support for families..familieshealingtogether.. with loved ones in crisis).. there’s sort of a continuum of involved.. there’s like .. neglect.. and .. over protect.. on other end.. and sometimes families kind of oscillate between the two.. drugging them to kicking them out

robert: they want to fix that person they love.. but they don’t know how.. because in fact.. it’s not easy.. and there is no obvious answer..

47 min – joan: we don’t do this in isolation we do this in relationship.. healing is about relationship.. with our psyche and with each other.. with the natural world.. being socially marginalized.. and psychologically vulnerable.. is usually characterized in the west by lots of suffering..

ekhaya: (pic of her in kindergarten).. smiling.. but in my eyes i see sadness.. because this was around the time that my father started molesting me.. so a bittersweet picture.. i was really confused about the whole world.. about adults.. there was a time my mother took me to presinct.. but my father denied everything.. and it was just swept under the rug.. my mother let me go back to him after he molested me.. she even married him later in their life.. again.. so i felt.. really betrayed..

48 min – ekhaya: i was always wearing a mask.. smiling.. just pretending .. to be happy.. to be what everybody expected me to be..

gabor: it begins with the denial of childhood trauma in our whole culture.. which then shows up in the medical profession

more from gabor on this in ie: human nature

not even just sexual/physical abuse.. any kid put expected to please others.. supposed to’s such as: school.. whatever..

will: when i was in the hospital i was asked about my family history of mental illness.. but what i was asked about was the presumed genetic origins..i was never asked about the violence and abuse and history of trauma that i had been thru and that my family has been thru

49 min – stanislav grof ( when i was a psychiatrist there was a kind of a two schools.. there was the uncovering and the covering.. covering was used just to suppress.. symptoms.. the uncovering was.. you do something.. some process.. some psychotherapeutic process.. psychology and so on.. trying to go to the core.. to the underlying reason.. and now what we see more and more.. for a variety of reasons… not the least of which is the influence of the pharma co’s..  you see more and more shift towards the trying to solve everything with the suppression of symptoms..

gabor: what becomes suppressed is our authenticity

dang.. make this bigger..

maté trump law

maté basic needs law

our emotions.. and then.. we become 25 and 30 or 35 and 40 .. and we don’t know who we are.. somebody asks you what do you feel and you say.. i have no idea..

so then it becomes .. not our first nature.. but our second nature: to suppress our feelings.. to lose touch with ourselves.. and suppress our gut feelings.. and then we pay the cost later on in the form of addictions/mental-illness or any range of physical illnesses..

human nature and wilde not us law.. et al..

perpetuateing  not-us ness.. via broken feedback loop

50 min – ekhaya: (pic of her holding her newborn).. beautiful time.. has just given birth.. married.. just so happy.. (after discovering husband unfaithful began raising 3 children on own).. lost of pressure.. now being single.. became really depressed again.. started to treat my children when found myself yelling/lashing-out.. it wasn’t right and i became depressed.. and i said.. i have to leave.. i have to get away .. because they don’t deserve this

51 min – adam: living in the car.. i mean it’s nice.. i have my own little meditation pod.. i think a lot of people would imagine this to be miserable.. but it’s.. it’s not that bad.. this (?) was given to me.. this car.. was given to me.. it’s so hard to figure out if i should complain or celebrate.. i wake up and meditate and try and get over whatever nightmare i woke up into..  the voice in my head that tells me to kill myself.. to kill other people.. it’s just chaos..

52 min – adam: i walk to town and hopefully sell weed.. it’s about 3 miles to soulfood (coffee shop) i guess and that helps me ground and get my heart up.. go and try and get what i need to survive.. and then come back.. i’m amazed that i am alive.. for how close i was to jumping off of a balcony.. 3 yrs ago i was completely sober.. vegan..didn’t smoke.. and active.. and now.. just a shit shell.. alcoholic/addict/malnourished/crazy..

53 min – phil: adam is not alone.. many of our homeless suffer from mental disorders and it seems our jails have become our new asylums.. (25% homeless and 56% prisoners in us suffer from mental disorders..)

allen: a prison bed can be 50-100 000 a year.. it’s more expensive to put someone in prison than harvard tuition..much less expensive to provide housing.. and adequate treatment.. the best place to handle psychiatric problems is in the community.. and *the problem was .. the funding for all this has just disappeared..

your own song ness

*that’s not the problem.. making up money is the problem.. (aka: selling us out.. putting us on hold) .. because it perpetuates the loss of our two basic needs.. money can be a temp placebo solution.. to rat park ness.. but it’s not the solution we seek/crave.. toward eudaimoniative surplus

dwayne: this is the one business where we’re supposed to be spending time with people.. the kingpen is talking and understanding and learning and listening..

peter: if you talk to a patient for ie w schizo.. and although they might tell you many strange things.. that they might think they are napolean or jesus.. is you show them respect and talk to them.. it has an effect.. they need less meds/force-treatment

54 min – robert: the solution that is offered by our society is a bandaid.. it really isn’t a lasting solution

phil: during time filming adam he was applying for housing thru local/state agencies.. but up to this point.. he’d been unsuccessful… gal in office: have you had thoughts of hurting others.. adam: yes.. rage.. et al

no strings apartments et al

55 min – will: just because there’s a violent image/words.. doesn’t mean necessarily that the person is actually going to do something .. that the behavior is going to result.. that’s a conclusion that we jump to..  (3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to mental disorders.. people w mental disorders are 10x more likely to be victim of a violent crime)

dwayne: the truth is that somebody with schizo is far more likely to be a victim of a violence than perpetrate it

adam: i have had a serial killer in my head.. i feel like what i’m experiencing is the integration of a fragmented personality that i’ve had my entire life.. it’s like i’m waking up the forgotten me.. and it’s the scariest thing in the world..

whoa.. the it is me.. let’s do it together.. 1 yr to be 5 ness..

56 min – adam: i rarely express .. even to myself.. when these thoughts occur.. i suppress them

phil: and this side over here is the happy adam.. that everyone likes..

adam: he lives here (pounding on heart)..

phil: and then there’s shadows up here (pointing to head)

adam: by the time my heart gets over here (pointing to head) it says some crazy things..

phil: and they scare you

adam: yeah.. i actually force myself to listen to it and write it.. and i would like to read that.. (reading): wake the f up c sucker..  i wish you…. etc.. i don’t want to read anymore of this.. (burns it)

57 min – gabor: adam.. had he had the same experience in an eastern culture.. where there’s mentors/shamans.. he might have had his experience formulated in a completely diff way.. he might have been told that he was gifted with sight.. but that sight needs to be employed and deployed w/in a certain tradition.. where there’s teaching/guidance.. because it’s too much for the individual ego to handle.. now .. in the western world.. there’s no such framework for that..

58 min – n mongola.. phil: i met namad.. in the valley.. at 70 .. she had an active healing practice.. day and night.. seeing people one after the other during the time i stayed with her… one night.. she collapsed.. then got up and kept going.. when she was about 12-13.. she started having intense dreams.. hearing voices.. and feeling confused/frightened.. she would often go into the forest alone… be gone for days.. her parents were extremely worried.. her grandfather.. who was a shaman.. recognized these traits in her and began mentoring her..

59 min – phil: while making namad’s portrait the next morning and looking into her face.. i thought of her devotion to her patients.. and how much time/energy she gave as a healer.. i was reminded how important our relationships are to the healing process

ekhaya: peers are taught to meet other peers where they’re at.. and a lot of time .. in other med/clinical settings.. you have this hierarchy.. but in peer work.. it’s almost like talking to a friend.. like saying.. i’ve been thru this.. what have you been thru.. share your story with me… i really truly value my life now and i have a focus/awareness that i didn’t have before..

1:00 – will: what we’re seeing happen in the us and internationally .. is a grass roots democratization of mental health.. we have lost touch in our medical system.. from some of the simple needs that people have for connection.. simple needs people have for community.. and because the mental health system isn’t providing it.. people who’ve been in the system are starting to provide it for ourselves..

simple needs: 2 convos..

let’s try this for grass roots.. ness.. we can’t wait..

hosting-life-bits via self-talk as data.. as the day [aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]

ekhaya: today’s session is about finding strength after trauma.. as a survivor of childhood trauma.. as someone who was sexually abused by a family member.. i can say that i’m a survivor.. of trauma.. and i know that i’m not alone..

will: it’s very very important that we have story telling from people who have lived through psychosis and have discovered alternatives to meds/diagnosis.. because that’s really the expertise

1:01 – ekhaya: your story is important.. you are unique.. own your title.. trauma survivor.. find your strength

adam: my mother.. now she’s facing death.. me sharing my spiritual side with her.. it will.. she was open to it.. and it was amazing.. and she really did listen to me.. and it was one of the first times in so long that i had been able to share my heart with someone in my family (adam’s mom died 6 months after he returned from hawaii)…it’s been really intense on my family.. really intense on me.. i see the death of my mother being a catalyst to bring a whole lot of necessary love/appreciation into my family.. and .. that was what she was about..

1:02 – (adam’s car was towed away and he moved into a local campground) adam: the first time i was diagnosed insane i had something to say.. and i look back at the things i had to say.. and i don’t think any of it’s insane..

it’s a very damaging thing to not be able to trust your own perspective..

what we do to 5 yr olds when they enter ie: school

when you can’t do that .. that really f s you up .. written: if this world isn’t crazy than i must be nuts..

joan: what we do in the west is.. to constrain individuals.. people start to manage your experience at a level which takes your agency away.. robs you of your autonomy.. makes you feel like they don’t trust you.. that’s not what you want to do..

1:03 – laura delano (ex patient and activist.. community organizer) (@lauradelano): once i internalized a mentally ill id.. once i came to see myself as having this inside of me.. i stopped trusting in my intuition.. because ‘it was sick’ (diagnosed at 14 w bipolar .. took meds till 27)..  the only way to find myself again and get back to an authentic sense of self.. is to feel all of this.. and to listen to it and to explore it and to not be afraid of it.. so that’s what i started to do

siberia, russia phil: i traveled to the yamar river in eastern siberia .. where the word shaman originated.. there i met lindsa.. a very respected healer for over 60 years.. she was forced to practice in secret for decades.. until the soviet union collapsed in 1989 and was just one of two remaining shaman in her .. culture..

1:04 – phil: 9 yr old sasha is lindsa’s neighbor in their village.. her grandmother told us that sasha has fainting spells and hears voices.. both considered signs of shamanic potential.. unfortunately.. just 3 wks after my visit.. lindsa passed away.. leaving sasha w/o a mentor . . at the time it seemed i was witnessing the disappearance of an age old tradition in this corner of siberia.. however.. as a later discovered.. shamanism is re emerging in very unexpected places.. ekhaya met a s african shaman.. living in baltimore.. and began working with her

ekhaya: she told me that i was called to be a healer… a shaman.. i had been filling that .. inside of me.. and a lot of times we need confirmation.. and so that was my absolute.. as soon as she said that.. i was in tears.. she said: you should be doing what i’m doing.. you have priest hood responsibilities.. you should be doing what i’m doing..

if we listened deep enough.. that’d be all of us.. no..?

1:05 – ekhaya: i get on a packed bus for a 4 hr trip to baltimore where my baba is.. my teacher.. and during that time.. i’m just really meditating.. just preparing myself for everything.. because it is a lot of intense work.. beautiful work.. but very intense work.. the training involves.. humbling yourself completely..  to your teacher/ancestors..

yeye gogo nana (s african sangoma) ( what you have to do as a twaza.. is submit yourself.. your ego.. all of your beliefs.. you have to sit on the floor.. surrender to your ancestors..

ekhaya: a twaza is an initiate to become a traditional s african healer

1:06 – yeye: during slavery we lost a lot of who we were .. but what you can’t take from a person is what’s in their blood.. so if it’s in your blood.. it’s going to be in you… the *only way that she received the calling is because someone in her family is a traditional s african healer.. her ancestors that are in her blood.. they’re saying.. wake up wake up.. they’re waking her up.. to them.. to say.. you are our child and this is how we want you to live..


ekhaya: at the start of my initiation .. i experienced all of the problems i was having.. all the anxieties/depression.. and i was being pushed.. and i hurt/cried.. and my body ached.. the meds drown you out.. they mask you.. put a fog over your problems.. and you really aren’t in touch w yourself.. you don’t feel things.. i’ve had to face.. all my fears.. all the things that made me upset/angry.. all the people that i’ve hurt.. i’ve had to face/be with it.. before i was able to release it and let it go

1:07 – phil: adam started turning a corner and moved into an apt w a friend.. it had been 3 yrs since he was turned away from the meditation center and alienated from his family

1:08: adam: i had an opp for about a year to be an artistic counselor.. and that was really powerful.. i know music therapy is a practice that more and more people are looking into.. maybe i should be one of those people.. (adam came to realize that his parents had not molested him.. began to reconcile w his father)

musicophilia.. the music instinct.. instrumental..

adam: my mind was just interpreting everything as hate/rape.. that’s all it knew at that point.. and that’s what became this evil personality.. in my head.. that has gotten a lot better.. actually.. my dad just called me before this interview and was saying.. he originally wanted to be by himself.. and now he wants to come hang out.. he’s coming over here.. we’re going to have beers.. merry christmas.. that makes me so happy..that’s magic.. now he’s coming over to my place.. i have a place.. for my dad to come over to.. and he’s down.. and he’s actually down to talk to me

1:09 – (yr and a half after initiation.. ekhaya completed her sangoma training).. yeye: ekhaya has come a long way.. when came to me.. was not clear about who she was..

ekhaya:  but like finally.. i know why i’m on this earth.. i know why

i’m so sensitive

to all these things/energies.. i understand why i have visions now.. i understand.. and i had to go find it.. you tell your therapist/psychiatrist.. and they say you’re ill.. and these are the drugs you need to take.. this is what’s going to help you.. but nobody told me .. this is a spiritual matter.. and you are gifted.. and now it’s time for you to hone these gifts.. and it was just so amazing.. i’m so grateful .. because it has changed my life.. i know who i am w/o a doubt 100%.. i know who i am .. and it is the best feeling ever.. i have a purpose and a reason to live.. and the reason is the best reason.. that god could every give.. to help humanity.. help other people.. that have experienced the things that i have.. to connect w earth/universe.. it is magical.. and i am so grateful

1:10 – will: it’s part of being human to discover meaning in our tragedies.. in the pain we go thru.. and to look beyond the specific suffering and fit it into the larger story.. that’s just human.. if you ask anybody how they survived an extreme tragedy in their life.. most people are going to put spirituality in the center.. what helped them.. there’s no diff for mental health problems.. we have to recognize that people’s spiritual beliefs/resources/religion.. are often central to what give them the strength.. to make it thru

1:11 – gabor: the paths are many.. some find it thru religion.. sometimes religion is an obstacle to that.. in fact often it is.. but it may be a conduit to it as well.. depending on who/how/where.. there’s this spiritual nature.. that if we ignore it.. we’re actually ignoring an essential part of ourselves.. human beings have certain needs.. for meaning/contact/community/acceptance.. for authenticity.. which is the capacity to feel what we in touch with the bodies.. and to express what we feel.. when we need to

1:12 – alberto: and the shamanic traditions.. there are maps and there are compasses that you can use to guide you thru your dark night of the soul.. so you’re encouraged to explore the depths of the psyche with all of the despair/suffering.. and .. to not get stuck there.. to use that as a point of initiation.. to open you up to lucidity and a sense of personal destiny..

angeles: there is something so magnificently touching/moving to see how people handle trauma.. because you see the splendor of the human spirit.. for those who don’t allow themselves to be *victimized.. but become stronger.. and more committed to making sure it doesn’t happen to someone else..

instrumental – james saying *victimhood is our trap

1:13 – will: what i would like to see is that *everyone who goes thru the kind of crisis that i went thru.. is given **an opp to explore what it might mean.. to present them with the possibility.. that maybe it’s not just a broken brain.. not just an illness.. maybe this is not just something to hide and be ashamed of.. maybe it’s something to explore.. and learn from..

*has to be everyone.. as in all 7 bn plus of us..

**this is why it has to be all.. only way to make sure everyone has the opp – everyone getting a go .. everyday..

adam: the film process has been a perfect storm of everything that scares me.. the interactions with an older male (phil) and also the experience of cameras.. of invasion.. of allowing/sharing every aspect of this has been like a perfect thing for me to .. get over trauma.. this has been terrifying .. but it’s been also.. healing..

1:14 – adam: phil has helped me so much..

someone coming to me with an honest curiosity about my situation..instead of an opinion.. i hope that this film ends up showing people that.. they are ok..

robert: what helps all of us stay well.. well it’s shelter and exercise.. good food.. meaning in life.. socialization.. and that immediately brings a sense of optimism.. that you can recover from that.. with the right sort of environmental care..

*how do we as a society provide those things to people.. how do we build up that foundation and not just put a bandaid over it .. but to really build a healthier society for ourselves..

(mind: agency/mindfulness/purpose/meaning;  body: housing/exercise/nutrition/sleep/hope; spirit: community/connection-to-nature/spirituality;)

*like this.. let’s try it.. let’s just see..

1:15 – sandra: it’s really important for people to find some spiritual path.. doesn’t have to be shamanism.. it could be yoga .. meditation… some spiritual path that opens people up to their own creative impulse/spiritual-power..

krista: there are millions of variety of therapy and alt holistic treatments .. but in the mental health system.. really all we offer is traditional psychotherapy kind of stuff and drugs

will: now is the time for us to be pressing for alt’s .. for new ways of looking at things.. for funding peer support groups.. for getting options out there.. for bringing the holistic med framework into mental healthcare.. out of the closet.. and that will help fuel a movement that says.. look .. we’re out here.. we’re not alone.. and we can build a movement that can make change happen..

ekhaya: i want to apologize to my children.. because of my depression.. being w/o shelter..i abandoned them for months.. i’m so blessed that their stepmother even called me one day.. and said.. hey.. we have space for you.. how about you come out to calif (moved to san diego to reunite w children).. it’s a miracle to be in a space where i can come and co parent with my children.. and that all 3 parents in the household can get along and agree to do our best for our children.. i’ve been away from my children for 10 yrs.. the suffering that they’ve been thru.. i have to have complete compassion for that..

1:17 – (adam’s voices finally stopped .. he’s seeing a counselor and living with his father).. the fact that i falsely accused my father of molesting me and the fact that he was able to forgive me.. and still have love for me.. it’s just incredible to me.. i spent a lot of time .. just screaming/punching things.. letting out pent up emotions.. praying/crying.. the whole spectrum.. and the more that i would do that.. the less intense those voices were becoming.. i really just had to let it all out.. and not judge myself for it..

1:18 – adam: if my mom were here right now.. she would be so happy.. the garden was something that was her focus.. when she passed away.. our family was in shambles.. and if she’s somewhere right now.. she’s smiling

phil: while following adam and ekhaya’s stories.. i often thought of the transformational process that takes place in indigenous and shamanic cultures.. and i wondered..

what if a mental health crisis was a potential growth experience.. instead of a disease with no cure.. what if everyone was supported/guided to seek meaning/purpose in their suffering..

or.. bypass suffering as much as possible by.. listening to w/o agenda.. to 7 bn curiosities ..everyday.. facil that..

if we took more time to be with and listen to those considered to be mentally ill.. we might find we’re all on a path between crazy and wise…

indeed.. why the day.. the two needs/convos.. has to be for all of us..


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What if a psychological crisis was seen as a positive transformative experience?Documentary film by directors & Kevin Tomlinson

their site:

sometime in 2017 ..full length documentary release Phil Borges 

jan 2015 – psychology today – crazywize – rethinking madness

has a clip of Ekhaya (other person doc is about)



Maté fb share:

Dr. Maté will participate in an Online Town Hall Discussion on March 22, 2017 @ 11am PST. The panel discussion is titled Rethinking Madness: Psychosis and Spiritual Awakening. For more information view


To hear about our latest events, including the online town hall on March 22, read the latest CRAZYWISE newsletter:

tweets from town mtg:

‘childhood trauma at basis of mental disorder’ – @DrMate

‘myth that there’s a normal and an abnormal’ – @DrMate

‘we’ve org’d ourselves around a false narrative.. so what paradigm should we take’ – Robert Whitaker

‘when it’s said it’s science and backed by figures of authority we don’t question it’ – Robert Whitaker

‘we’ve pathologized difference..putting into categories is a powerful way of not listening.. listening is key’ – @willhall

‘it’s not an either/or ie: w/meds..a framework spacious enough for each individual ‘ – @DabneyAlix

‘to change paradigm make it safe for people w/lived experience to come out/tell stories’- @phil_borges

‘people respond when you are listening .. a space for convo’ – @willhall

‘these past traumas are hard to deal/be with.. but that’s what we need to do/support’ – @phil_borges

‘if you don’t have tools to deal with what you find.. that can be dangerous’ – @DabneyAlix

‘on children picking up on vibes that they can’t articulate.. on manifesting symptoms but not originator’ – @DrMate

‘irony..if you trace science it’s completely collapsed..& researchers are looking for new bio explanations’- Robert Whitaker

‘everything we call psychosis can be induced in ‘normal’ people w systems of stress’ – @willhall


healing (roots of)

mental health

crazywise (doc) – (Gabor Maté –maté basic needs lawWill Hall, Phil Borges, Robert Thurman, al)

not normal


hari rat park law via ..

a nother way


Christopher Knight


Will Hall (@willhall) tweeted at 10:08 PM on Tue, Jun 13, 2017:
“Shamans and Acute Schizophrenia” Julian Silverman, NIMH, 1967

The essential difference between the two lies in the degree of cultural acceptance of the individual’s psychological resolution of a life crisis.