Depression & Grief
Depressive Disorders/Grief & the Consciousness Restructuring Process, by Iona Miller, 2000
by Iona Miller, Asklepia Foundation, ©2000
ABSTRACT: There are three main types of depressive disorders: major depressive disorder, dysthymia, and the depressive lows of bipolar disorder. While conventional treatment has been to freely dispense antidepressants (SSRIs), an integrative approach would include psychosocial therapy to focus on the personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal issues behind depression. For many individuals, SSRIs are contra-indicated due to a wide range of side effects, some quite severe.
CRP offers a comprehensive psychoimmunotherapy, which can alter mood in a positive direction, restore interest or pleasure in daily activities, promote healthy sleep patterns, restore energy reserves, transform feelings of worthlessness or guilt, foster pro-active decisions, calm restlessness, and ameliorate recurrent thoughts of death or morbidity. In CRP, the value of the depressive state and/or grief is acknowledged and honored.
Rather than medicating it away, CRP facilitates the depressive process and allows it to fully cycle through. Biological disturbances lead to a complex, dynamic interlocking group of psychophysical changes which depress the well-being and functionality of the individual until the call to restructure consciousness is heeded. By going deeper into the process and allowing imagery of death, for example, to play out to its natural conclusion in rebirth, CRP fosters restructuring at the genetic, cellular, biochemical, and psychoneuroimmunological levels.
KEYWORDS: Creative Consciousness Process, dreams, depression, creativity, healing, psychotherapy, SSRIs, complex dynamics, chaos theory, neurotransmitters, restructuring consciousness, psychosomatics, grief, flow, psychoneuroimmunology, depressive disorders, major depression, treatment protocols, dysthymic disorder, double depression, bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, seroton in, Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, antidepressants, sexual dysfunction, St. John's Wort, Asklepios, David Bohm.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Chronic depression is characterized by a profound and persistent feeling of sadness or despair and a loss of interest in things that were once pleasurable. The causes behind depression are complex and dynamic and not yet fully understood. The “initial conditions” that lead to either a major depressive episode or chronic dysthymia are generally situational rather than biologically-induced. Therefore, practitioners treating all depressions with SSRIs may neglect to address and heal the psychological and emotional wounds that led to the maladaptive changes in biochemistry.
While an imbalance of certain neurotransmitters, the chemicals in the brain that transmit messages between nerve cells, is believed to be the key to depression, external factors, such as upbringing (more so in dysthmyia than major depression) may be as important. For example, if an individual is abused and neglected throughout childhood and adolescence, a pattern of low self-esteem and negative thinking may emerge, initiating a lifelong pattern of depression. Or, perhaps, the death of a parent during childhood creates patterns of unresolved loss, grief, sadness, and guilt. Whenever emotions are deadened, we tend to identify with that state exclusively.
Heredity does seem to play a role in who develops depressive disorders. Individuals with major depression in their immediate family are up to three times more likely to have the disorder themselves. It is modeled by their caregivers. It has been theorized that biological and genetic factors may make certain individuals pre-disposed or prone to depressive disorders, but environmental circumstances may often trigger the disorder.
Transactional Analysis describes the Life Scripts which we adopt as children. It postulates that depression is a “No Love” script. According to Steiner, (1974):
“Large numbers of people in this country are in a constant unsuccessful quest for a successful, loving relationship. This is a difficulty that seems to affect women more often than men, probably because women are more sensitized to their needs for love and less capable of adapting to Lovelessness. Lack of adequate stroking, which leads to chronic stroke-hunger and various degrees of depression, culminating in either suicide or in the most extreme form of depression--catatonia--is one large strand of human suffering. The Lovelessness script is based on the Stroke Economy, a set of early childhood injunctions addressed to the stroking capacities of children. Those injunctions very effectively cripple the growing child’s normal tendencies and skills for getting strokes. The result is various degrees of depression with feelings of being unloved and/or unlovable.”
External stressors and significant life changes, such as chronic medical problems, death of a loved one, divorce or estrangement, miscarriage, or loss of a job can also result in a form of depression known as adjustment disorder with its lowered expectations. Although periods of adjustment disorder usually resolve themselves, occasionally they may evolve into a major depressive disorder.
In ancient times, depression was a recognized temperament, known as Melancholia. Depression was also seen as a characteristic part of the universal process of transformation. It was viewed as the starting point of the journey, recognition of the emptiness and sterility of the experience of those who are frustrated, isolated, and discontent. It was discovered to be the root of the spiritual quest for personal and universal meaning.
That transformative process necessarily begins in a forced breakdown which demands the time for introversion and recovery of energy reserves. In alchemy this melancholic state was known as the nigredo, a deep blackness of spirit, a dry empty void. In mythology and astrology, it was kindled by Father Time, Saturn (Roman) or Cronos (Greek), hence its inherently “chronic” nature. In depression, our fundamental psychobiological rhythms are disturbed--sleeping, eating, thinking, and activity. These biological disturbances lead to a complex interlocking group of psychophysical changes which depress the well-being and functionality of the individual until the call to restructure consciousness is heeded.
There is time-honored value and meaning in many types of depression, which can only be experienced by letting the process unfold, rather than chemically blocking or subverting it. It was always considered the beginning of a descent into darkness, a metaphorical trip to hell, or in modern terms, the unconscious. Psychologically, one experiences a chaotic state of conflict between hostile psychic elements. These complex dynamics need time to resolve and allow recovery from the intolerable strain of the environment. Then the characteristic melancholia, sleeplessness, and restless volatility begin to resolve.
Rather than a state to be overcome, the disorder is a call to adventure from the spirit to the soul, a call from dry literalism into the imagistically rich inner world. This allows one to break through into a fresh mode of perception. Typical manifestations of this stage of the mystery process include long dreams, confusions, numbing, and a drained or depressed mental attitude. Missing the point, we may keep looking for what is “wrong,” in organic or neurological problems. Then we get gross--rather than subtle--treatments, consisting of pills, body work, or dance therapy.
But it is the soul which is sick unto death, and ruminates on it morbidly. The cure will not come through vitamin therapy, or rejuvinating exercise, or prescription drugs. Life as you have known it is is falling apart. You are prematurely grieving the death of your old self, and may not yet even know it.
The élan vital, or life energy has been pulled into the unconscious, leaving the ego frustrated and discontent. It is the syndrome of a soul cut off from the well-springs of life. The feeling of being drained, or over-extended may become so powerful that it forces a breakdown. Life becomes a metaphorical journey through a wasteland. It brings skepticism, bitterness, sarcasm, the feeling of being damned. The depression and restlessness that result may lead to drugs or alcohol abuse. Conversely, substance abuse aggravates depression in a viscious cycle.
The ability to see through to a value in depression and experience the meaningfulness of the feeling of meaninglessness has a prognosticative purpose. Attaching meaning to depression allows an emotional participation which unblocks the flow of psychic energy. Depression is not a loss of meaning, but the feeling of loss of a sense of meaning. This is actually the beginning point of the quest, as illustrated by such stories as Dante’s Inferno, Rider Haggard’s SHE!, Fowles’ The Magus, and Melville’s Moby Dick.
If one can see that the world is beautiful, but has lost the ability to feel that beauty, mood swings can range from sullen inertia to active despair. There is a sense of fragmentation and alienation from one’s self. You may find yourself devoid of emotional response, except perhaps self-judgement and volcanic outbursts. Compassion fatigue and anhedonia are the result of “not caring anymore.” There may be a persistent belief that oneself or others would be better off dead. Suicidal ideation may occur with or without a specific plan or suicide attempts.
Commonly associated features include tearfulness, anxiety, irritability, brooding or obsessive rumination, excessive concern with physical health, panic attacks and phobias. A common delusion is that one is being persecuted. There may be nihilistic delusions of world or personal destruction, somatic delusions of cancer or other serious illness, or delusions of poverty.
Depressed children may develop Separation Anxiety Disorder, Overanxious Disorder and Avoidant Disorder, as well as sulkiness, inattentiveness, reluctance to cooperate, and inattention to personal appearance and hygeine. Those adults who are extremely depressed become unable to function socially or occupationally, or even to feed, bathe, and clothe himself or herself. Seniors are particularly vulnerable.
The smallest task seems difficult or impossible to accomplish. This is a major reason individuals seek psychotherapy, or a spiritual path of renewal. Participants find a new sense of inner unity and renewal, a glimpse of deeper values, of the Self, and self-reconciliation, spiritual connection, renewed zest. The wilderness is no longer barren and life blossoms and bears fruit.
One meaning of the experiences of depression is that our wholeness, or individuation, the Self, can no longer wait while we follow egotistic ways or even seek legitimate ego fulfillment. When current ego attitudes are outdated and lack adaptability, we feel stuck.
The subconscious begins to revolt, seeking a psychological revolution in attitudes. If we listen to the voice within our depression, we come to realize that we must willingly subject ourselves to change. Conscious and unconscious drives, what was previously rejected and suppressed, need to realign (Miller and Miller, 1994).
The Self brings us, drives us, into the wilderness of depression and from there we can attend to the vision within. This decision to subject ourselves to change may be considered a spiritual awakening, a willingness to look at our own unlived potential for both good and evil. Classically, the nigredo is a time of disappointment, divorce, soul-searching, and reorientation, and responsibility to self to fulfill unlived potential.
Your destiny begins to take form, or reform. You may be pressured into it even if you resist, and this is the black mood’s positive intent. The promise reported by the ancient alchemists, is that following this state of darkness, the light begins to dawn. Insights gained through paying attention to the unconscious, to dreams and so on, throw a light on our inner condition, and we regain relatedness through feeling.
The blackness is accepted and taken to oneself, instead of being blamed on outside situations and other people. We begin to see it is our own withdrawl and loss of feeling and contact with our shadow that is the true cause of the darkness. We can recognize we are not just suffering a personal ill, but participating in a universal process of creativity.
It is a natural part of human development, when the ego can no longer pursue only its selfish concerns and addictive demands Depression shakes up the stagnant order of things with its burning awareness of personal shortcomings and inadequacies. Old traumas, limiting core beliefs, and self-indulgent tendencies that severely limit one must be given a way to transform and free up energy for personal fulfillment.
Feeling and compassion return as light begins to shine in the darkness. The experience of restriction begins to transform into one of liberation as you re-own the lost part of yourself, and digest your new experiences. Psychosomatic symptoms may suddenly vanish. True, you will have to withstand a chaotic state of conflict among hostile psychic forces. But, in reconnecting with the well-spring of being, chaotic consciousness, we restructure our primal existential self-image.
Psychopharmacology rests on a “disease model” of psychiatric symptoms. This is the application of an extreme medical or biological model to psychological syndromes. Perhaps a few severe psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar, or psychotic depression have a strong biological componenet. But to treat all psychiatric symptoms as though they were exclusively biological is unacceptable reductionism.
Symptoms in and of themselves do not necessarily indicate a disease. All psychiatric diagnoses are merely syndromes, clusters of symptoms presumed to be related, disorders not diseases. There is no proof either of the cause or physiology for any psychiatric diagnosis.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
Depression affects an estimated 17 million people. The size of the subgenual prefrontal cortex of the brain (located behind the bridge of the nose) may be a determining factor in hereditary depressive disorders. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans reveals widespread changes in brain functioning for those clinically depressed. The hereditary and biochemical imbalance theories are still unproven and controversial models.
Researchers admit that they have many elegant models, but don’t really know the exact mechanism by which antidepressants work because they aren’t sure of the origin of depression itself. “Eventually, scientists may discover real proof that a small percentage of patients have genetically determined, biological symptoms. But we are a long way from any such knowledge. When patients are told otherwise, they are being seriously misled.” (Glenmullen, 2000).
The average age for a first depressive episode occurs in the mid-20s, although it can strike all age groups indiscriminately, from children to the elderly. Even infants can experience a major depressive episode, and certainly they are affected by the depressions of their caregivers. Depression is more likely in first-degree relations of the depressed. One in four women is likely to experience a severe episode, with a 10-20% lifetime prevalence, compared to 5-10% for men. Disturbances in sleep, appetite, and mental processes are a common accompaniment.
Major depressive disorder is a moderate or severe episode of depression lasting two or more weeks, and may include a preoccupation with death or suicide. In children, the major depression may appear as irritability. The person may deny feeling depressed, or try to mask or self-medicate the problem. Major markers of onset include the following:
* Significant change in weight.
* Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleep) nearly every day.
* Psychomotor agitation or retardation.
* Fatigue or loss of energy.
* Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.
* Diminished ability to think or to concentrate, or indecisiveness.
* Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal and/or suicide attempts.
* Excessive crying.
* Unexplained, chronic aches and pains that don’t respond to treatment.
Dysthymic Disorder (or Depressive Neurosis) is an ongoing, chronic depression that lasts two or more years (one or more years in children) and has an average duration of 16 years. Predisposing factors include an inadequate, disorganized, rejecting, and chaotic environment. The mild to moderate symptoms may rise and fall in intensity, with some periods of normal, non-depressed mood of up to two months in length. Its onset is gradual, and may not be pinpointed. Often there is coexisting personality disturbance, such as Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Avoidant, or Dependent Personality Disorders.
Dysthymia often occurs with other psychiatric and physical conditions. Up to 70% of patients have both dysthymic disorder and major depressive disorder, which is known as “double depression.” Substance abuse, panic disorders, personality disorders, and social phobias may compound the problem. Dysthymia is common in certain medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, AIDS, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and post-cardiac transplantation. It is possible that other pharmacological treatment affects neurotransmitters, and the depression may complicate recovery. Two or more of the following symptoms are experienced daily:
* Under or overeating.
* Insomnia or hypersomnia.
* Low energy or fatigue.
* Poor concentration or trouble making decisions.
* Feelings of hopelessness.
Bipolar disorder is an affective mental illness that causes radical emotional changes and alternating mood swings from manic highs to depressive lows. Cyclothymia is a mild form of Bipolar Disorder. Another temporary and little understood source of depression is post-partum depression, with its radical hormone shifts.
CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT PROTOCOLS AND HAZARDS
Untreated or improperly treated depression is the number one cause of suicide in the United States. Proper treatment relieves symptoms in 80-90%. After each major depressive episode, the risk of recurrence climbs significantly--50% after one episode, 70% after two episodes, and 90% after three episodes.
For this reason, patients need to be aware of the symptoms of recurring depression and may require long-term maintenance treatment of antidepressants and/or therapy. Early intervention with children with depression is effective in arresting development of more severe problems. Patient education in the form of therapy or self-help groups is crucial for taking an active part in the treatment program. Numerous independent studies have found that drugs are not significantly more effective than “talking cures” and process work at treating the most common adjustments of depression and grief.
Diagnosis includes interviews and several clinical inventories to assess mental status. Among them are the Hamilton Depression Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, Child Depression Inventory, Geriatric Depression Inventory, and the Zung Self-Rating Scale for Depression. Most scales reflect the biochemical imbalance theory, and reflect the problems inherent in subjective evaluation.
Typical conventional treatment begins with finding a compatible antidepressant, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), or Paxil, or Luvox. One class of drugs, SSRIs, increases levels of serotonin but have many unfortunate side effects, including allergic reaction, anxiety, diarrhea, drowsiness, headache, poor sexual functioning, sweating, nausea, and insomnia. There is emotional blunting, even apathy and indifference. An average dose of Zoloft, for example, is 50-100 milligrams; 200 milligrams is the maximal dose. Patients are frequently taken from 50-100-150 mgs. in quick succession.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or serotonin boosters have been implicated as catalysts for suicidal and violent impulses. Neurological disorders including disfiguring facial and whole body tics (TD, irreversible tardive-dyskinesia), indicating potential brain damage, are an increasing concern for those on the drugs.
Calling these drugs “antidepressants” is seriously misleading and virtually meaningless. They function like the stimulants amphetamine and cocaine and users develop a tolerance for the dosage and often psychological or chemical dependencies. These drugs are stimulants for people who would otherwise be fatigued, distracted by negative thoughts, or have difficulty concentrating. With their energizing, attention-focusing, mood-elevating, and calming effects, serotonin boosters would make almost anyone feel better so long as they did not experience distressing side effects.
There can be debilitating withdrawl symptoms for as many as half of all patients. Withdrawl symptoms include suicidality, rebound irritability, increased vulnerability to depressive relapse, weight gain, etc. Withdrawl mimics return to depressive symptoms with feelings of dread, dizzyness, sleeplessness, and inability to concentrate.
Side effects raise concern that patients may sustain silent brain damage that cannot be assessed. Withdrawl from Prozac-type drugs sometimes happens spontaneously when the drug “wears off” probably from having damaged its target axons beyond any ability to respond to the drug (permanent chemical lobotomy). This has led to dependency and patients increasing their own doses. When doctors prescribe up to and beyond the maximal doses there is nowhere left to go.
Related to dependence is a phenomenon called “supersensitivity” or sensitization of brain cells by psychiatric drugs, which implies that the drugs can actually worsen the progression of the illness which they are supposed to treat. After being treated for three years patients do poorly and show an inability to withdraw.
The core physical effects of withdrawl are outlined in the DSM-IV:
1. disequilibrium (e.g. dizzyness, spinning sensations, swaying, or difficulty walking)
2. gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting)
3. flu-like symptoms (e.g. fatigue, lethargy, muscle pains, chills)
4. sensory disturbances (e.g. tingling, electric shock sensations)
5. sleep disturbances (e.g. insomnia, vivid dreams)
Recent research on serotonin antidepressants has shown the adaptations of brain cells involve changes in the instructions given by the DNA of the cells--the master code regulating cellular function. The Director of the National Institute of Mental Health reports that chronic drug administration drives the production of adaptations, including regulation of neural gene [brain cell DNA] expression.
Perhaps as many as 75% of patients are needlessly on these drugs for mild, even trivial, conditions. When the immediate cause of their distress is gone, doctors often don’t check to see if prescription renewal is essential. Patients often fear to “rock the boat,” and fear the return of their distress if unmedicated. If a person is going to relapse into depression after meds are withdrawn, this typically does not occur until weeks or months after the drug is stopped.
Doctors rarely offer alternatives. By combining drugs with psychotherapy and other alternatives, one can usually minimize exposure to the drugs, keeping the dosage low and weaning off the medication within six months to a year. Reassessment should be done at least once a year. It is not an established scientific fact that those with mild to even severe depression have serotonin-deficiencies to begin with. The drugs are all-purpose psychoanalgesics, and would make virtually anyone feel better initially. Managed care providers don’t want to pay for safer, more effective treatment.
Big business discourages alternatives, and sales of Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil now exceed $4 billion a year. Virtually no studies have been done on long-term effect of the drugs on depressed children and their developing nervous systems, even though they are a specific target market, as are seniors. There is an unusually high incidence of three or more minor malformations in newborns exposed to Prozac in the first trimester, indicating it has a negative effect on embryonic development.
To promote psychopharmaceuticals, the marketing of psychiatric diagnoses is often redefined to include much milder forms to include many more people. This has been especially true for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social phobia and anxiety. Psychotherapy produces just as effective results, though antidepressants may jump-start those with moderate to severe depression on the road to recovery. While antidepressants take a month or so to become effective, conventional psychotherapy generally takes six to eight weeks for noticeable effects.
The TCAs (Tricyclic antidepressants, such as Elavil) have more severe side effects, which can include persistent dry mouth, sedation, dizziness, and cardiac arrhythmias. They are contraindicated for patients with suicidal tendencies since they can be lethal in even small overdoses.
Other drug classes used for depression include monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which block the action of an enzyme in the central nervous system. Heterocyclics, (which cannot be given to those with a seizure disorder), include bupropion (Wellbutrin/Zyban)) and trazodone (Desyrel), Serzone, Effexor, and Remeron. Side effects include agitation, anxiety, confusion, tremor, dry mouth, fast and irregular heartbeat, headache, low blood pressure, gastrointestinal distress and insomnia.
Sexual dysfunction affects 60% of those on antidepressants. Curiously, many of the drug treatments’ side effects seem to actually amplify or highlight the original symptoms of the distress and depression. Men report impotence, inabilityt to ejaculate, or retrograde ejaculation. Many complain most vociferously about the loss of sexual interest, claiming that they were depressed before, but since they now feel like eunuchs, they are really depressed. Women report an inability to orgasm, inhibited sexual arousal, loss of libido. Many would rather cope with their well-known symptoms again.
70% of all antidepressants are prescribed by primary-care physicians, rather than mental health specialists. There is duress from managed care insurers to treat quickly with this cheaper option, and physicians are paid or debited according to their quotas and compliance. There is little or no incentive to refer patients for psychotherapy.
In conventional treatment, psychotherapy is usually limited to weak options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy which simply don’t go deep enough to restructure the psychobiological sources of distress. Superficial therapies assume that faulty thinking is causing the current depression and focuses on changing the thought patterns and perceptions. The therapist helps the patient identify negative or distorted thought patterns and the emotions or behavior that accompany them, and then retrains the depressed individual to recognize the thinking and react differently to it.
The cornerstones of psychotherapy are insight and emotional growth. Becoming aware of previously unconscious emotions and finding patterns in one’s behavior effect recovery from acute depression and make one less vulnerable to depression in the future. The healing comes from inside not outside, adding to a sense of personal empowerment, rather than reliance or dependence on a pill. Lifestyle--caffeine, alcohol, diet and exercise also need to be considered as amplifiers of depressive disorder.
Sadness is a clarifying and relieving emotion that helps us move on after losses. On the other hand, depression is a paralyzing short-circuit of self-doubt and self-recrimination. Sometimes people become depressed because they are not appropriately angry or sad over the situation.
Good psychiatric care doesn’t stop when symptoms abate. Longer-term goals address the individual’s underlying vulnerability to depression--persistent negative views of self, the world, and the future. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is popular with managed care administrators, and is often the only modality offered, because it is easily standardized and can be done with groups, also.
ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) may be administered in extreme cases, when oral medication is refused, or psychotic and suicidal tendencies are present. Though now done under general anesthesia with a muscle relaxant to prevent convulsions, this therapy still sounds downright medieval and produces mixed results. Memory loss, headaches, muscle soreness, nausea and persistent confusion may result.
Integrative treatments include homeopathic treatment, good nutrition, exercise, and herbal treatments. St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is often tried, but effectiveness of nonregulated suppliments depends on the strength and freshness of the crops used to distill the effective ingredients. A 900 mgs. daily dose is roughly equivalent in action to 5-10 mgs daily of Prozac.
Many off-the-shelf products do not contain fresh enough active ingredients or the dosage is irregular. This herb can also negate the biological action of birth-control pills, resulting in unanticipated or unwanted pregnancies, which can lead to further depression and coping failure. Other side effects include high blood pressure, headaches, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. St. John’s wort increases the risk of transplant rejection, and has been implicated in immune suppression.
St. John’s wort is available in 300-milligram doses, which are taken three times a day, for a total daily dose of 900 mgs. It takes one or two months to achieve full effects. 64% respond to St. John’s wort while 59% respond to synthetic antidepressants.
TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS AND DEPRESSION
Transactional Analysis is a grammar of the internal dynamics of the personality, which is structured through pre- and post-natal imprinting, scripts, games, and rackets. Some individuals are structured around a depressive life script which has the following characteristics: (1) The person has decided upon a position of I’m not OK -- You’re OK. (2) The person occupies the Victim role in the drama triangle, but switches periodically into the Persecutor role, or through magical means into the Rescuer role. (3) The timing of the script is “Wait.” (4) The “wait” is for a magical occurrence that transforms the world without requiring the person to take an active part in causing changes to occur. (Cox, 1980).
The script injunctions are numerous and include “Don’t Succeed,” “Don’t Think,” “Don’t Be Close,” “Don’t Have Fun,” and “Don’t Judge Others.” The last is particularly devastating because they prevent the person from acknowledging that he is being set up. It is a reworded way of saying a “not OK” person shouldn’t pass judgement on persons who are “OK” (everybody else). Actually the person may be very accurately judging and selecting, based on that judgement, persons who will deceive him.
Depressive life scripts appear in American literature. Typical examples include Rip Van Winkle, Charlie Brown, and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. These are stories of those unfortunate souls who are defective from birth, don’t grow up, don’t succeed, get persecuted, and don’t have fun. The fear of individuation and the fear of attachment have both been found to be associated with depression.
Depressed individuals fear to get involved with others and differentiating themselves from others, suggesting that they prefer to remain dependently involved with familiar figures. People in the detached/deindividuated position are the most depressed. Primal fears are fear of getting involved and fear of establishing a clear identity. This implies they favor dependence, even over-dependence, or familiar figures, or an infantile pattern of attachment.
Stroke-starved infants grow up to become depressed adults. Because of a tendency toward isolation and blocking, they become stroke-deficient, lacking in allowable stimulation. Infant depression results from lack of stimulation coupled with the absence (emotional or physical) of the child’s mother during the first year of life, and can be responsible for nearly irremedial damage. Non-verbal and verbal stroking is a vital component in the alleviation of reactive depression in adults.
Self-reported distress includes the experience of headaches, faintness, loss of sexual appetite, trouble remembering things, uncontrolled temper outbursts, blaming oneself, pains in the lower back, feeling of inferiority to others, feeling hopeless and nausea.
Many people who come for therapy lead a relatively stroke-less existence (alienation) which has an influence of their experience of “dis-ease” and distress. They don’t know how to ask for strokes in a positive way without discounting or rejecting (“shielding”) their meaning. Positive strokes are defined as expressions of affection, closeness, and appreciation, as well as acknowledgement of one’s competence, skill, and resources from others. Positive strokes are units of emotional nourishment communicated at the interpersonal level. Emotional anemia comes from scarcity of acceptance and acknowledgement of affection and closeness from others.
Whether one accepts or discounts contact is a significant factor associated with the degree of experienced symptom distress. As people are educated to recognize that they have a part in creating “illness” through limiting thoughts, beliefs, and actions, they can become active and responsible participants in their healing process instead of passive victims of the disease process or drug treatment.
DEPRESSIVE DISORDERS AND CRP
In complex dynamic systems (CDS) the whole process unfolds with a “sensitivity to initial conditions.” Thus, particularly treating chronic, “heritary” depression, we can expect that CRP journeys will need to return participants to those conditions and events which gave form to their dis-ease, prior to birth, and prior to conception. Painful feelings often resurface when people have less structure in their lives, fewer activities to distract them.
Psychiatric syndromes have two parts: a psychological core and superficial physical symptoms. Unaware of the true source of our upsets, we may develop symptoms, becoming distressed and tearful. This is a kind of code or flag raised over the distress. Psychotherapy helps decipher the code and brings the flag, or symptoms, down in the process. By contrast, medications only suppress symptoms. By themselves, they are never a cure. As such, they should be used only as adjuncts to the real healing process.
“Healing” does not necessarily mean a cure nor total elimination of all symptoms. It has to do with a subjective process, difficult to describe because, by its very nature, it is irrational, totally individual, and yet linked to a timeless and universal experience. The therapist helps a person to understand what his unconscious is saying, and gives helpful encouragement to integrate this knowledge, or relate to the unintegratable, and accept it. This promotes growth according to that particular person’s own inner laws, allowing the unfolding of the total individual.
Many CRP participants know, confusedly, from the start, that there is something they are looking for. They don’t know what it is, but they do know that their discontent stems from within themselves and that they are yearning for an inner journey for which they need a guide.
“Healing is a dynamic happening related to a deep understanding of the role of suffering; an acceptance of what one is, totally: whole, rather than striving toward an image of perfection; an awareness of, and a relatedness to, a power greater than ourselves. In other words, healing is discovering the meaing of our own life, and our place in the universe, not as a philosophical concept, but as an existential experience of inestimable value--the pearl of great price, hidden in the dunghill of unconsciousness, and pride.” (Tuby, 1976).
Jung thought that no therapist could lead his patients further than he had gone himself. No therapist can help a participant on the inner journey unless he himself is continuously grappling with his own unconscious material. The theme of the wounded healer is universal, and eternally valid. It is archetypal. From the most primitive shaman, to the Greek god Asklepios, it is through some divine injury that healing takes place.
In the Asklepian healing temples, only those summoned by the god Asklepios were allowed to take part in the initiation rites. When the inner voice cannot be heard, a neurosis develops, forcing the individual to change course and be true to himself, true to his vocation. Healing begins through the call of the symptom. In ancient Greece, a sign such as a dream, or a vision, had to indicate to the sick person that he was called by the god of healing.
Those who dedicated their lives to the cult of the god were called therapeutea, and it is they who performed the preparatory ritual. Sacrifices were offered, and the therapeutea would bathe and purify the incubant, who would then be left to sleep, alone, in the sacred precinct of the temple. If Asklepios appeared to him, either in a dream or in ‘the waking state’, i.e. in a vision, he was cured.
These dreams were never interpreted, either by the priests or the physicians. They just happened. The right dream was the cure, and the role of the therapeutea was to assist, to help the dreamer be in the best possible situation to receive the healing dream...in other words to draw upon his or her own inner healing power.
The dynamic imagery of consciousness is a self-representation of the energic processes of the psyche. It is the vehicle by which one form of energy is transformed into another, and makes possible the transmutation, or true change, of psychological conditions--a means of recreating the original whole.
David Bohm has proposed a notion which supercedes the term psychosomatic. Soma-significance emphasizes the unity of body and significance or meaning.
“The notion of soma-significance implies that soma (or the physical) and its signficance (which is mental) are not separate in the sense that soma and psyche are generally considered to be; rather they are two aspects of one overall indivisible reality. By such an aspect, we mean a kind of view or a way of looking. That is to say, it is a form in which the whole of reality appears (i.e., displays or unfolds), either in our perception or in our thinking. Clearly, each aspect reflects and implies the other (so that the other shows in it). Although we describe these aspects by using different words, we imply that they are both revealing one unbroken whole of reality, as it were from different sides.” (Bohm, “Soma-Significance”).
This description is reminiscent of the nature of fractals (self-similar forms) in Chaos Theory--”a form in which the whole of reality appears.” It is commonly known in psychotherapy that, for example, a dream (especially the first dream presented) often contains the whole image of the client’s problem and its eventual cure. In this way our nightly dreams reiterate our existential situation over and over. The problem, distress, or disease is neither physical nor mental/emotional--it is indivisibly both.
Soma-significance regards the field of reality as a whole, as an unbroken flow:
“To bring out how soma and signficance are related, we first note that each particular kind of significance is carried by some somatic order, arrangement, connection, or organization of distinguishable elements...meanings are carried somatically by further physical, chemical, and electrical processes into the brain and the rest of the nervous system, where they are apprehended at higher and higher intellectual and emotional levels of meaning.”
“As this process takes place these meanings, along with their somatic concomitants, become ever more subtle. . .The meaning is rarefied, delicate, highly refined, elusive, indefinable, intangible. The subtle may be contrasted with the manifest. The next proposal is then that reality has two further key aspects, the subtle and the manifest, which are closely related to soma and significance. Thus, as has already been pointed out, each somatic form carries a meaning. This meaning is clearly more subtle than the form itself. But in turn, such a meaning can be grasped in yet another somatic form; electrical-chemical and other activity in the brain and the rest of the nervous system - which is evidently more subtle than the original somatic form that gave rise to it. This distinction of subtle and manifest is clearly only relative, since what is manifest in one level may be subtle on another.”
This is reflected in Chaos Theory as the notion of fractal reiteration, infinite nesting. In CRP, no matter at what level we perceive the dis-ease the form is self-similar and embedded in deeper or more subtle levels, each level holographically encoding the whole form with less detail (Swinney and Miller, 1992).
“This sort of action may in principle go on to indefinitely deep and subtle levels of significance. Meanings are thus seen to be capable of being organized into ever more subtle and comprehensive overall structures that imply, contain, and enfold each other, in ways that are capable of indefinite extension. In this whole process...a certain content is first met in a given level and later in a different level. The relationship between these levels is then seen to be part of the essential content of yet another level...this structure continues indefinitely...no ultimate reduction is possible. ...A level that is mainly somatic may have a significance, which is carried into the next more subtle level of soma, which has a further significance.” (Bohm).
“We have thus far emphasized the significance of soma, i.e. that each somatic configuration has a meaning, and that it is such a meaning that is grasped at more subtle levels of soma. This may be called the soma-significant relationship.” (Bohm).
Bohm makes it clear that it is necessary for both somatic and significant poles to be present in each concrete instance of experience. It is impossible, for example, to have all the content on the side of soma (or on that of signficance). In the inverse signa-somatic relationship, every meaning at a given level is seen actively to affect the soma at a more manifest level. The signa-somatic relationship is to be distinguished from the psychosomatic in that the latter is commonly regarded as between separate entities or substances. Soma-significance only implies abstracted aspects or poles of one whole flow in a field.
Bohm goes on to point out that “a similar approach may be made for diseases and disorders in the soma-significant flow,” and he speaks of runaway feedback loops between the soma-significant and the signa-somatic as being deeply involved in a wide range of neurotic disorders. It is the over-all structure of meaning that is grasped in every experience.
“As a given meaning is carried into the somatic side, whether in healthy or in disordered process, one can see that it still continues to be a kind of development of the original significance. . .One can regard this whole process as a further unfoldment of the original significance into forms that are suitable for instructing the body to carry out the implications of what is meant.”
Even relationships with Nature and with the Cosmos are evidently deeply affected by what these mean to us. Such meanings fundamentally affect our actions toward them, and thus indirectly their actions back on us are influenced in a similar way. Once we begin listening to the nature within us--our nature--and experience journeys through the inner cosmos, we can never feel truly lonely, disconnected, and hopeless again.
We can directly experience ourself as an intrinsic part of one subtle webwork of being. Meaning indicates not only the significance of something to us, but also, our intention toward it. Our choices thus depend on the total significance of the moment. It is this whole signficance that gives rise to the over-all intention, which we sense as a feeling of being ready to respond in a certain way.
All the factors of a given total situation, both external and internal, contribute to the determination of intention. In the process of somasignficance it is not possible to form and sustain intentions that do not grow out of this totality of significance, but most of the meaning in this process is implicit.
Recalling that meaning is an intrinsic part of reality, we see that perception of new meaning constitutes a creative act. As their implications are unfolded when people take them up, work with them, etc., the new meanings that have thus been created make their corresponding contributions to this reality. These contributions are not only in the aspect of significance, but also in the aspect of soma. Each perception of a new meaning by a human being actually changes the over-all reality in which they live and have their existence, sometimes in a far-reaching way.
Psychopharmacology rests on a “disease model” of psychiatric symptoms. This is the application of an extreme medical or biological model to psychological syndromes. Symptoms in and of themselves do not necessarily indicate a disease. All psychiatric diagnoses are merely syndromes, clusters of symptoms presumed to be related, disorders not diseases.
There is no proof either of the cause or physiology for any psychiatric diagnosis. This is a compelling argument for fostering and allowing the self-healing capacity to adjust biological parameters in an internally directed self-organizing way that is not separate from the psychological situation.
Psychological processes can be modeled as chaotic attractors, some on the edge of chaos, poised between chaotic and predictable regimens depending on small changes in their control parameters. The stability of patterns arises from the tendency to self-organize.
For example, Allan Combs (1996) gives an example,
“An ordinary episode of depression is usually accompanied by behaviors that actively feed that state of mind, or at least don’t rally against it. In the mean time, cognitive processes such as thought, perception, and memory become tilted toward discouraging outcomes. Research suggests, for example, that when we are depressed we tend to recall unpleasant episodes from our past (Bower, 1981). These recollections in turn feed the mood of depression, and so perpetuate a continuous cycle of memory and mood. To disrupt such a self-perpetuating circuit one needs to engage in activities that can up-end the dominant depressive attractor.”
“The essential notion is that the whole cloth of consciousness is woven of a tightly knit patchwork of subprocess, each made possible and supported on all sides by the totality of the cloth itself, while at the same time contributing its part to the creation of that totality. To take another example, consider two discrete states of consciousness, the ordinary waking state and dream sleep. Each is an entire world of experience. Each carries its own intrinsic styles of thinking, its own forms of memory, feelings, thought and perceptions--its own possibilities.”
“Now, dream thought arises from the total experience of the dream and cannot be sensibly separated from it. At the same time, it contributes its unique quality to the dream. Finally, what is possible to know in the dream may not make sense in waking life, and what is reasonable in waking life may not be sensible in a dream. Thus, knowledge is state specific (Tart,1985), as is the entire experienced world of each form of consciousness.”
Ben Goertzel describes the process of transformation of consciousness in a complex dynamical system--the mind:
“Psychological structures make no sense considered statically; they have to be considered dynamically, as “attractors” of systems that change over time. There are three kinds of attractors. There are fixed-point attractors, i.e. equilibrium system behaviors, in which a system does not change over time. There are periodic attractors, i.e. cyclic system behaviors. And there are strange attractors -- a grab-bag category covering everything that is neither unchanging nor periodic. Strange attractors are often chaotic, in that, once a system is locked into a strange attractor, its behavior cannot be predicted in any detail. But, nevertheless, strange attractors need not be “random,” they can be intricately structured.”
“In chaos theory terms, the transition between one state of consciousness and another is represented as a jolt which knocks the system out of its attractor, and leads it along a trajectory toward another attractor. This model predicts that transition between states of consciousness should be a sudden and dramatic process -- very much a discrete shift rather than a continuous gradation.”
In Persuasion and Healing, psychiatrist Jerome D. Frank argues that the theoretical framework within which therapists work has little or nothing to do with their ability to “heal” patients. That power stems, rather, from the therapist’s ability to make patients believe they will improve. Frank gives credit to the placebo effect as the primary active ingredient underlying all psychotherapies and even most drug treatments.
Science, of course, cannot pinpoint or measure the qualities that enable a particular therapist to induce the placebo effect in a given individual. Frank attributes it to more than creating a positive expectation: “People have been attacking Freud because he wasn’t a scientist, but that misses the point. He was a great mythmaker.” He carried the power of the archetypal healer and embodied it in himself and others.
Studies of antidepressants over the past 30 years show that two thirds of the patients placed on medication either showed no improvement or responded equally well to a placebo as to the antidepressant. Drugs only produce significantly different outcomes in one third of patients, but they never learn to solve their depression problems internally.
Walter A. Brown, a psychiatrist at Brown University and an authority on the placebo effect, has supported the assertion that the placebo effect might explain much of the effectiveness of medications for emotional disorders (SciAmer, Dec’96, p. 110). For the majority of patients there is little or no significant difference between any of the treatments, including the placebo-plus-clinical management approach. Patients self-report that they do as well with psychotherapy alone, as with therapy in conjunction with drugs.
Research has shown that traumatic experiences can change the way the brain works, as can talk therapy, and even more so, process-oriented therapy which creates flow experiences. The brain undergoes changes similar to those induced by medication. The new biological explanations of mental disorders make “good stories” but still lack empirical substantiation.
CRP AND GRIEF WORK
“Melancholy is at the bottom of everything, just as at the end of all rivers is the sea...Can it be otherwise in a world where nothing lasts, where all we have loved or shall love must die? Is death, then, the secret of life? The gloom of an eternal mourning enwraps, more or less closely, every serious and thoughtful soul, as night enwraps the universe.” (Amiel, 1893).
In grief, we are pulled down into the world of the dead. We continue to live, but with a foot in both worlds. However, there is no sweetness or savor in life. We mimic death, and exist in a dead world. We feel miserable and ill, moving through a world of ghosts, feeling like the shadow of a dream. In our isolation we are cut off from others, the world, and God. We seem to be in perpetual fog and darkness, plagued by indecision, inefficiency, and confusion.
Most of us have felt depressed in greater or lesser degree. Since everything changes as time flows, and change entails loss, this is not surprising. It is a truism that we grow sad and depressed when a person we love dies; it is a truism because grief is universal and normal. In fact, failure to grieve is evidence of psychological abnormality. Mourning is characteristically a state of mind, but it is accompanied by a host of painful somatic sensations that are remarkably uniform.
The following are commonly shown during acute grief: sensations of somatic distress occuring in waves lasting from twenty minutes to an hour at a time, a feeling of tightness in the throat, choking with shortness of breath, need for sighing, and an empty feeling in the abdomen, lack of muscular power, and intense subjective distress described as tension or mental pain.
Traumatic bereavements are a special case of mourning (see “PTSD and CRP”).
They results from shocking deaths which are sudden and perhaps horrific. They occur in a variety of settings including personal and community violence or catastrophe. Traumatic bereavement stands in contrast to experiences of quiet death at home, without mutilation, bodily distortion, shock, threat, horror, and helplessness. Reactions to the traumatic circumstances are different and predict more adverse health outcomes for bereaved spouses. There is interference in the grieving process from traumatic stress.
The striking features point up that the emotional aspect of grief is quite as painful as the somatic. Inner anguish, loss of interest in a dreary, empty world, isolation from other people, loneliness and feelings of inner emptiness. In this way grief mimics clinical depression.
The call to heal and the call to death are ultimately the same call to formlessness. Many disorders display symptoms and imagery which represent stalled stages in the natural consciousness restructuring process -- the organism’s attempt to heal itself gets stuck.
According to Freud, mourning is work and requires mental effort. That work consists of the courage extended over a period of time to face the pain of grieving and to combat the tendency of the living attachment to the lost person to persist. The fabric of memories and associations and feelings that permeate the image of the deceased in the mind of the bereaved survivor does not automatically disappear when the loved person dies.
In the process of grieving each of the memories and associations must be revived in the mind’s eye; as each is thought of, a fresh wave of grief occurs, which gradually fades. As each separate strand of the fabric of associations is thus worked over, it loses its power to evoke the pain of loss, and the loving attachment to the dead one gradually diminishes until the process is complete and the ghost is laid to rest. The mourner is once again free to live and love in the world of the living.
There are times, however, when grief does not flow so smoothly; it becomes blocked or distorted in ways that have to be considered pathological. These abnormal forms of mourning differ from major depression in one way: grief does not include the feelings of guilt nor the self-accusatory attitudes that characterize the depressed person. This holds true, unless, there were unresolved issues, and conflicts about choices in the caregiving process. Then the internal litany becomes one of, “Coulda, shoulda, woulda...” A certain degree of self-criticism is understandable as a consequence of the failure to live up to ideals set for one’s behavior. This can be felt as a lowering of self-esteem.
Unresolved grief can function within like a “strange attractor” through the process of identification. For example:
“Barbara” accepts the fact of her mother’s death. She knows she ‘can’t bring her back.’; there is no denial. She is aware of no feelings or conviction that her mother is still alive. And yet she does, in a way, ‘bring her back’ by psychologically making a part of her mother a part of herself. The image of her beloved mother at the time of her death was that of a person sick with heart disease. She does not relinquish this image nor allow it to die. She keeps it alive, but not as the image of a person external to herself; it become internalized and alters her own image of herself.
She no longer conceives of herself as a healthy person, able to be active. Rather, she thinks of herself as a person who is sick and in danger of dying of heart disease. She develops symptoms which are for her consistent with this diagnosis, and has to be admitted to the hospital for her illness. The image of herself is the image of her mother, which has entered the fabric of her ego and has radically altered that portion of the self-organization that constitutes her self-image. She has identified with her mother; she has made certain behavioral and personality attributes of her mother a part of herself.
In this way she keeps her mother alive. Her attention and mental energies are not directed toward the real fact of her mother’s death; she does not experience the pain of this loss. On the contrary, she concentrates on the image of her mother now living within her. She is preoccupied with her concern over having heart disease. The grief work is blocked, neurotic symptoms replace mourning, and she cannot free herself of her mother.
We do not yet fully understand the psychological process involved in the mechanism of identification, but it is as if it were “attractor-centered.” Faced with a loss, a person adopts certain behavioral and characterological traits of the lost one. This represents a change in self-organization, an internalization, but how this modification in the ego is brought about is not yet apparent. The sense of identity as a person, the feeling of oneness and unity is disturbed.
SUMMARY: THE EXPERIENCE OF HEALING AS FLOW
Whether we speak of normal experience, chronic depression or grief, it is a fact that frustration is deeply woven into the fabric of life. We are riddled with desires and programmed by ideals. Should some of our real or imagined needs be temporarily met, we immediately begin wishing for more. This chronic dissatisfaction stands in the way of our contentment. Depression has its roots in failure to adjust to lowered expectations of self, others, and world.
Faust was given power by the Devil on condition that he would never be satisfied with what he has. Happiness and satisfaction with life depend on how small a gap one perceives between what one wishes for what one possesses. Traditional social shields such as religion, ethnic traditions, patriotism, etc. no longer are effective for many who feel exposed to the harsh winds of chaos.
One of the main forces that affects consciousness adversely is psychic disorder--that is, information that conflicts with our existing intensions, or idstracts us from carrying them out. We give this condition many names, depending on how we experience it: pain, fear, rage, anxiety, depression, ennui, anomie, or jealousy. All these varieties of disorder force attention to be diverted in undesirable directions--toward other attractors.
Fear of chaos manifests as ontological anxiety or existential dread, a fear of being, a feeling there is no meaning in life; since nothing makes sense, why go on? Overcoming the anxiety and depressions of contemporary life requires a drastic change in attitude about what is important and what is not.
We can learn to enjoy and find meaning in the ongoing stream of experience, in the process of living itself. Experience depends on the way we invest psychic energy--on the structure of attention. This, in turn is related to goals and intentions. These processes are connected to each other by the self, or the dynamic mental representation we have of the entire system of our goals.
This process is complex, and the notion of complexity is related to the same concept as used by some evolutionary biologists and also described with poetic insights. Its essence in terms of the psychology of the self is that a complex person is one whose behavior and ideas cannot be easily explained, and whose development is not predictable, but is autopoetic, that is self-organizing emergent order.
Order in consciousness is experienced as flow, optimal experience, healing experience. Following a flow experience, the organization of the self is more complex than it had been before. It is by becoming increasingly complex that the self might be said to grow. The flow state facilitates both differentiation and integration. The old alchemists used to say, “Only that which has been properly separated can be rightfully joined.”
Complexity also facilitates the integration of autonomous parts. After each episode of flow a person becomes more of a unique individual, less predictable, possessed of rarer skills. The complex self is more likely to avoid both selfishness and conformity.
“The self becomes complex as a result of experiencing flow. Paradoxically, it is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. . .Flow is important both because it makes the present instant more enjoyable, and because it builds the self-confidence that allows us to develop skills and make significant contributions to humankind.” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).
Flow helps us to integrate the self because in that state of deep concentration consciousness is unusually well ordered. Thoughts, intentions, feelings, and all senses are focused on the same goal. Experience is in harmony. And when the flow episode is over, one feels more “together” than before, not only internally but also with respect to other people and the world and cosmos in general.
As a youth, the healer Asklepios received a special gift from Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. She gave him the blood of the terrible serpent-haired Medusa. The blood that flowed from the left side of Medusa brought death, and the blood that flowed from the right side brought healing. The paradoxical quality of this blood reflects the closeness between illness and health, and points to the equally paradoxical quality of the unconscious that both wounds and heals.
This metaphor of the mystically-charged flowing life-blood --the archetypal placebo-- is all part of the mysteries of illness and death, healing and life. As the archetype of the wounded healer shows, the healing power flows, not through those who have known only health, but through those who have been ill, who have been drawn near the dark land of death, and have then been healed. Only through illness or a journey to the underworld can the Wounded Healer come alive in a human being, either as “healer” or one who heals from within.
Ultimately, it matters little what complex mechanisms help us mobilize our own inner capacity for healing. The fact that we enter the healing process with commitment and intentionality is far more important. Taking the journey toward healing means we recreate the archetypal journey of the hero or heroine, who is neither helpless nor hopeless, but approaches fate with determinism and courage.
When we willingly submit to the universal process of death and renewal we activate transpersonal resources that transcend our own limited capacities for restructuring our consciousness and self-healing. Ultimately all healing is self-healing, and implies profound self-acceptance, and can lead to loving acceptance of others and the world as it is, rather than as we would like it to be.
It is impossible to feel isolated, lonely, and “dead” when one feels a sense of vivifying identification which stems from direct experience of the dynamic whole of reality. It restores our sense of personal wholeness. We are an indivisible part of a flow in the whole field of consciousness. The entire cosmos is contained holographically within us.
When we become “superconductors” of consciousness, we draw from the spiritual wellsprings of life and health, that which eternally makes the world bloom anew. The “dam” of depression which has blocked the dynamic flow of life and love cannot forever withstand this immense healing force. It breaks through the “dead void” and one is no longer bereft of the power of the dynamic ground-state of existence, or cosmic unity.
Restoration of the flow-state through process-oriented experiential therapy is the serpentine process of healing. It changes us at the quantum and psychobiological levels. Immersion in this healing state has the power to restructure our consciousness at the most fundamental level, and is an endless source of creativity, spiritual sustanance, and pleasure.
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