I’m beginning today’s article with a little disclaimer: I am in no way, shape or form making light of what schizophrenic people, nor the family members of schizophrenic people go through. Neither am I romanticizing the condition. I am merely exploring a potential idea and seeing where it leads. If you or someone you know has been officially diagnosed with the condition, you should seek professional help because schizophrenia can negatively impact a person’s functioning in society, or cause a person to hurt himself or herself.
Good. Now let’s get started.
For a long time I have been tossing around in my head the idea that those with schizophrenia are more attuned to the supernatural, or perhaps are experiencing some form of extrasensory perception. The reason for my disclaimer (and the reason I hesitated in writing this) is if a person with schizophrenia accepts these beliefs, it may actually impede their progress in attempting to reconnect with reality. However, if we are to be diligent and not dismissive, we still need to explore the possibility, and there’s actually a decent amount of evidence supporting that claim.
To begin with, what differentiates a person with psychic abilities and a person with schizophrenic beliefs and hallucinations? Both claim (or can claim) to witness things that seem incredible, whether you call them hallucinations or spiritual experiences. I think the main thing that differentiates the two is the ability of the professed psychic to shut off the extrasensory perception in question.
I’m going to use lucid dreaming to establish a baseline here. When you lucid dream, you become aware of your dreams and are thus able to take command of them and do as you wish. Once you have that awareness, you are able to bend the rules and manifest all kinds of bizarre things in dream reality. Psychics, in my mind, are kind of like the lucid dreamers of the dream world we call “reality”. It is their increased awareness of the world around them that enables them to bend the rules, kind of like how being aware of our breathing enables us to control it.
Now imagine that you were experiencing all the bizarre occurrences of a lucid dream only without the awareness that you are dreaming. What would you call that roller coaster of an experience? I would call it either a regular dream, or if it was bizarre enough, a nightmare, and in the same comparison to psychics, I think of schizophrenic sufferers as perhaps those experiencing a nightmare in the dream world of reality. It is the inability to take command of the dream that hinders them. If this model is correct, their problem isn’t the ability to see the depths of the universe, it’s the ability to stop seeing.
So to summarize, in the dream of “reality” you have three kinds of people:
1) Those who don’t “pierce the veil” so to speak. They don’t really develop their awareness and never really realize they are dreaming, so to speak. (Regular dreamers)
2) Spiritual people, psychics, and other people who have some level of awareness that they might be dreaming (lucid dreamers).
3) People who are seeing bizarre things that shouldn’t be a part of reality like schizophrenics, but who have no control over what they see and what they shut out (Those having nightmares)
Since the idea that the world we live is some kind of shared dream is basically unprovable (although if we were in a dream proof wouldn’t matter) I can’t really say this idea is “the truth.” However, there are some related links to the puzzle I can prove.
For example, what if I told you I could establish a strong link between schizophrenia and spiritual/psychic experiences?
The temporal lobe
Canadian neuroscientist Michael Persinger has invented what people are commonly calling a “God helmet.” The device works by generating a weak magnetic field over brain’s temporal lobe, causing it to have “microseizures”, which are smaller and more focused solely on the temporal lobe than regular seizures.
According to the book Entangled Minds by Dean Radin, up to 80 percent of test participants who wear these helmets experience some form of psychic or spiritual phenomena, including experiences of “vibrations, tingling sensations, odd touches, inability or reluctance to move, odd smells, odd tastes, fear or terror, intense dream-like images and the presence of another (sentient) being.”
Those of you who have experienced similar events may see a stunning amount of parallels between both astral projection and sleep paralysis, as well as telepathy and other spiritual experiences. My hypothesis is that we often experience sleep paralysis when we are close to astral projection.
While medical professionals seem to think temporal lobe seizures are different than schizophrenia, there does seem to be some kind of link. Here’s a site that compares the two. And this site suggests a common susceptibility between the two. Things like meditation and psychotic drugs can have an affect on the temporal lobe as well.
I believe that while temporal lobe seizures are correlated to spiritual experiences, I don’t think they cause them, just in case you wanted to dismiss the spiritual as the brain messing up. Here’s why: Radin said “Persinger’s team conducted a thorough neurological investigation of renowned psychic and artist Ingo Swann. Swann is the developer of a method of training remote viewing (in earlier times this was called “traveling clairvoyance”) as used in the U.S. government’s STARGATE progam of psychic spying. Swann has repeatedly demonstrated verifiable remote viewing expertise under controlled conditions, and evidence for Swann’s accurate remote viewing ability was also found in Persinger’s study. So the story of psi is not as simple as a misfiring brain.”
Another topic Radin touches on is a little psychological phenomena called latent inhibition. Basically latent inhibition is when the brain is biased in a way that it ignores stimuli that have already happened in the past. If, for example, somebody rings a bell outside your door every day, it becomes harder to notice after a while, unless you really are aware and really pay attention. If you want a good example of how this phenomena works, watch this 1 and a half minute video.
People who are considered “healthy” actually have a high latent inhibition, because it allows us to do everyday tasks like driving a car. If we didn’t have that, we would be so focused on every element that driving requires that we wouldn’t be able to drive. Radin says that “low latent inhibition has been studied extensively in schizophrenic patients because a key symptom of that disease is perceiving meaningful relationships everywhere, even where there aren’t any.”
Aha! So right there, if we turn that idea on its head, what if schizophrenics have such a low latent inhibition that they are just more perceptive of us, and able to see meaningful relationships that we just are unable to see? Perceiving meaningful relationships everywhere, from a spiritual perspective, could be the same experience as oneness, or synchronicities. If we are all one or connected, perhaps schizophrenics are blessed with the ability to see that oneness. What is the purpose of meditation? Is it not to increase our awareness?
Dr. Shelly Carson, a researcher on creativity and psychopathology suggested that “some psychological phenomena might be pathogenic in the presence of decreased intelligence…but normative and even abnormally useful in the presence of increased intelligence. That is to say, perhaps intelligence enables us to expand our awareness more without causing us to go mad. Or perhaps schizophrenics are super aware but just not ready for what that awareness means for them yet.
That’s a tough claim to make though. As I said in my disclaimer, I don’t want to encourage a schizophrenic person in a potential delusion. Even if the experience of a “hallucination” is real, it doesn’t mean that “hallucination” is looking out for your best interests. To me, I think delusions are the more dangerous part of schizophrenia, especially if the person in question is experiencing “command” hallucinations. Perhaps the voice commanding is a real spirit, but that doesn’t mean listen to the damn thing! As usual, this is me toying with ideas, so if you don’t believe it, it doesn’t bruise my ego, and just because I posted all this doesn’t make it true. Please do your own research and let me know what you think.
Until next time, stay eccentric but “sane” (or not) :)