Schizophrenia, Psychiatry and Mysticism

by Richard Gosden


Schizophrenia is to mystical experience as drowning is to swimming. Psychiatry in this analogy is like an over zealous lifeguard who can't tell the difference between drowning and swimming. Everybody he sees in the water is run over by his rescue boat, knocked unconscious and hauled out with a boat hook. Most of the people rescued, swimmers and drowners alike, are crippled in the process.

The lifeguard, who can't swim himself, denies that swimming is possible and claims that the crippling is actually caused by the drowning experience rather than the rescue. This is confirmed by raucous praise for the lifeguard from many of the crippled drowners and their relatives.

The crowd of spectators on the beach are divided. A few of them can tell the difference between swimming and drowning, but most can't. The crowd is persuaded by the drowners and their relatives to support the lifeguard's tactics.

Swimmers who aren't too badly crippled and who want to go back into the water have to learn how to swim without splashing so as not to attract attention. It's important for those who know how to swim to maintain the skill so it can be passed on. Eventually everyone will have to learn to swim so we can cross to the other side.

Common sense would indicate that an ability to swim should be a prerequisite for appointment as a lifeguard. Perhaps this will happen one day.


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