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DSM-IV Religious and Spiritual Problems

LESSON 7.1 Online Resources

Sacred TextsCase Example: Psychotherapy with a Muslim ImmigrantCase Example: Spiritual Crisis

Sacred Texts

When patients present with religious issues, finding out more about their religion is essential. Information on religions and spiritual traditions around the globe and throughout history is readily available on the Internet. Almost all sacred texts are available online, often with commentary, for example,

rare Buddhist texts

the Bible (in many languages with commentary)

Even the Dead Sea Scrolls, which have not been fully translated, are available online for viewing.

The Internet Sacred Text Archive contains links to other texts.

Sacred Texts

A sacred text for followers of Taosim is

a) The Talmud b) Bhagavad Gita c) Qur'an d) Tao-te Ching

Record your answer for later insertion into the Quiz.

Media historians compare the online dissemination of sacred texts to the creation of the printing press. The first documents circulated were religious works, beginning with the Bible. This had a profound effect on religion that lead to the Protestant Revolution and the ongoing development of many new religious movements. Many theorists believe "the Internet, with its boxes, cables, wires, and satellites, is a materialization of the spiritual connection that we already share with our fellow humans but have been given little cultural permission to notice and celebrate" (Hawes, 1995, p. 35). By making learning about others faiths , the Internet helps people form diverse religions and spiritual paths understand the common ideas that bind them together. The Internet could play a major role in increasing religious tolerance, an effect that could have profound implications for world peace, since most conflicts seem to revolve around religious differences.

There are also many clinical resources online.

Psychiatric Case Conference:  When Religion and Therapy Interface (Video) Jennifer Cyr, MD University of Nebraska Medical Center

Grand rounds presentation on therapy with a pregnant Catholic woman who believed God would punish her if she had an abortion, but went ahead with the abortion.

National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing
Researchers and psychotherapeutic professionals providing post-abortion support services within secular and religious settings including Project Rachel.

Case Example: Psychotherapy with a Muslim immigrant

Preparing to Counsel Clients of Different Backgrounds
Excerpted from: Counseling: The Spiritual Dimension 
Edited by Mary Thomas Burke, PhD and Judith G. Miranti, EdD Article author: Robert T. Georgia 

Mohammed is a recent immigrant from Iraq. College-educated and employed as a computer analyst, he is torn between his adherence to Islam and a desire to "fit in" in his adapted society. He has conflicted feelings about sex, family responsibilities, career ambitions, and his sense of personal identity. He is experiencing a tremendous strain between his religion and his new social milieu. For a long time, he hesitated to see a counselor for fear of being misunderstood because of cultural differences. He is not yet convinced that he has made the right decision in doing so.

Dr. Georgia poses three questions for the therapist who is trying to be culturally sensitive, including:

Have I adequately explored and evaluated my own religious values and beliefs so that I can identify possible biases, presuppositions, limitations, doubts, and still open questions? What kinds of resistance or maneuvering might I bring to a relationship with such a client?
How can I familiarize myself with Islam? Which literature should I review to gain a comprehensive, open-minded, nonjudgmental understanding of the religion, particularly its influence on human functioning?
How can I experience Islam in practice so that I can develop a personal sense of the familial, social, and cultural dimensions and expressions of the religion?

The Internet can be used to address these questions.

Online Resources on Islamic Religious Beliefs and Values

An educational site on Islam, its way of life, civilization and culture. It includes an introductory course on Islam and presents Islamic views on contemporary issues.

Online Course on Islam
Covers beliefs about God and death, worship practices, and the Prophet Mohammed.

Yahoo directory of sites on Islamic Beliefs and Practices

Muslim Youth
A site on growing up in America--stories, poems, personal accounts, and message board for Muslim youth.

Collection beautiful Islamic architecture
A site to appreciate Islamic sensibilities

Case Example: Spiritual Crisis
An Internet Guided tour of web sites that provide resources for a person undergoing a spiritual crisis, which has elements of visionary, shamanic, and mystical experience types. Begin by reading the case history on which the tour is based. It describes my own experience which occurred in 1971.

Resources on Spiritual Crises
Religious and Spiritual Issues
LSD and Religious Experiences
Online and Self-Help Resources

Resources on Spiritual Crises
The Internet contains many resources on spiritual emergencies. Below are some interviews with experts on spiritual emergencies that provide clinical perspectives on the growthful potential of such crises.

Visionary Experience or Psychosis?
Mental breakdown as a Healing Process
John Perry, MD worked extensively with individuals in the midst of acute psychotic episodes at Diabysis, the residential treatment center he founded. These are two links to interviews where he presents a Jungian growth model for acute psychotic episodes.

Spiritual Crisis
Christina Grof, author of books on spiritual emergency and co-founder of the Spiritual Emergency Network, describes her own transformative spiritual crisis.

Religious and Spiritual Issues
Since in my personal experience, I had identified so strongly with Buddha and Christ, I selected sites to learn more about who these figures were, their life stories, their messages. Raised in a Jewish family, I knew little about them at the time of my experience. During my Jungian analysis, I learned to view Buddha and Christ as ideal models of my own inner self. Buddhism Basics 
An introduction to Buddhism, including the life of the Buddha.

Frequently asked questions about the life and death of Jesus Christ
The answers are given from a traditional Christian perspective: Who was Jesus? What did he say about himself? What evidence is there to support what he said? How and why did Jesus actually die? Did he really rise from the dead?

C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology, and Culture
Jung observed that patients in a psychotic state experience mythological and religious symbols. In my Jungian analysis, I learned to see the symbolic value of my own "hallucinations" and "delusions." This well-developed web site on Jungian Analytical Psychology includes full text articles by Jungian analysts, a glossary of Jungian terms, dissertation abstracts, links to other Jungian web sites, listings of programs in Jungian training, and Jungian publishers.

Working with shamans, reading about shamanism (particularly shamanic initiatory crises), and participating in neoshamanic groups played a key role in integrating my spiritual emergency. Below are some of the resources on shamanism that I found relevant to my own experience.

The Soul of Shamanism: Western Fantasies, Imaginal Realities
This interview with Daniel C. Noel, PhD, Professor of Religious Studies, explores the meaning and value of neoshamanic experiences. Shamanic practices provide a controlled way to access the ecstatic states of consciousness that I had first encountered in my spiritual emergency.

The Way of the Shaman
Interview with Michael Harner, PhD, author of several books, including The Jivaro, Hallucinogens and Shamanism, and The Way of the Shaman. Dr. Harner is a former professor of anthropology and is currently the director of the Center for Shamanic Studies, which teaches Westerners how to live and practice as shamanic healers.

WWW Library on Shamanism
This section of the library contains many online resources on shamanism.

LSD and Religious Experiences
My spiritual emergency was also an intense and disorienting mystical experience that served as my spiritual awakening. It was triggered by taking LSD for the first time. Huston Smith, PhD, Professor Emertus of Philosophy at MIT and author of numerous books on comparative religion, maintains that LSD-related religious experiences occur and are valid.

. . . given the right set and setting, the drugs can induce religious experiences indistinguishable from ones that occur spontaneously. Nor need set and setting be exceptional. The way the statistics are currently running, it looks as if from one-fourth to one-third of the general population will have religious experiences if they take the drugs under naturalistic conditions, meaning by this conditions in which the researcher supports the subject but doesn't try to influence the direction his experience will take. Among subjects who have strong religious inclinations to begin with, the proportion of those having religious experiences jumps to three-quarters. If they take them in settings which are religious, too, the ratio soars to nine out of ten.
Do Drugs Have Religious Import? by Huston Smith, Ph.D., The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. LXI, No. 18, September 17, 1964

The Psychedelic Library
The Internet has a number of web sites that address the relationship between LSD and religious experience. This site has several articles on psychedelic drugs and religious experience by Alan Watts, Walter Houston Clark, and others.

Yet adverse reactions to psychedelic drugs do occur. A literature review concluded that broadly speaking, there are two types of outcome:

Acute, short-lived reactions are often fairly benign, whereas chronic, unremitting courses carry a poor prognosis. Delayed, intermittent phenomena ("flashbacks") and LSD-precipitated functional disorders that usually respond to treatment appropriate for the non-psychedelic-precipitated illnesses they resemble, round out this temporal means of classification.
— Strassman RJ. Adverse reactions to psychedelic drugs. A review of the literature. J Nerv Ment Dis 1984 Oct;172(10):577-95.

A Critical Review of Theories and Research Concerning Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) and Mental Health, Chapter 2: Psychosis 
by David Abrahart. LSD has also been linked to triggering psychotic episodes which don't always have a positive outcome, as this MA thesis shows in summaries of studies on this issue.

Online and Self-Help Resources
Most people who have experienced a spiritual emergency want to find out more about the nature of these experiences and to learn about other people's spiritual emergencies. Below are web sites where anyone can post their experience, read about others, or request a referral for a therapist.

Spiritual Emergency Resource Center
A guide for clinicians and a self-help resource for people integrating a spiritual crisis. Several personal experiences are online, and people can post theirs in an online discussion forum.

Sacred Transformations
Personal stories of spiritual emergencies, visions, awakenings, and their effects.

Center for Psychological & Spiritual Health (CPSH)

Formerly The Spiritual Emergence Network (which began as the Spiritual Emergency Network). Now with a clinic and also an Information and Referral Service that offers support and resources for individuals experiencing difficulties with their spiritual growth (415) 575-6299.

Spiritual Emergence Service
A nonprofit Canadian society staffed by volunteers that offers information and referrals for people in psychospiritual crisis.

Online Clinical Resources

Marelene is a 21 year old woman who has been meditating intensively for the past 6 months 6-8 hours a day and doing yoga as well. She went on a 10-day water fast with the intention of reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Five days into the fast, she became convinced that she has been selected to be the mother of the next Dali Lama. She is hardly sleeping and is very grandiose. She is not a risk to herself or others. Her uncle, a physician in another state, has told her and her parents that she's in a manic episode and should be put on lithium. A psychologist they consulted said it sounded like a type of spiritual emergency known as a kundalini awakening which is associated with intensive meditative and spiritual practices. He suggested it should resolve on its own with proper support and guidance.

33 Find an online article on spiritual emergency

34 Find a site with diagnostic criteria for spiritual emergency

35 Find a site with online support (Search for kundalini)

36 Find a site with information on the Tibetan Book of the Dead

37 Find a site where Marelene could post an account of her experiences and interact with others who have had similar experiences.

Record the name of the site or paste in the URL address for later insertion into the Quiz.




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