Rhea A. White
We occasionally receive requests for information on counseling people with various kinds of EHEs, some of which can be very traumatic unless viewed within the proper context, which is one thing counseling can provide. I had intended to put together as complete a bibliography as possible and publish it as a separate item, but I have insufficient time to devote to it in the foreseeable future. I have decided, instead, to publish a partial list, with annotations, in EHE News, to be supplemented in later issues as sufficient items come to my attention. Although I plan to list any books or articles or chapters that are about counseling people who are undergoing various spiritual emergencies, knowledgeable counselors are difficult to locate. Along with each of these bibliographies, therefore, we are providing a brief list of organizations to contact to obtain counseling for distressing or perplexing experiences associated with various exceptional experiences. It is entitled "EHE Counseling Directory." However, many people may be geographically distant from competent counselors or they may not be able to afford a counselor, so we also aim this bibliography at persons who are trying to work their own way through their spiritual emergencies. We share the conviction, expressed by several scholars and practitioners, such as John Weir Perry, and before him, Carl Jung, that the psychospiritual problem from which one cannot escape also contains the seeds of healing and new growth.
This bibliography is slanted toward counseling for psychic and near-death experiences. However, in later supplements we plan to cover counseling for OBEs, UFO encounters, mystical experiences (a huge literature hereùwe will concentrate on current counseling methods in the U.S. from both a psychological and religious view), kundalini awakening, possession, night terrors, and in effect, any type of EHE that is accompanied by psychological disturbance.
If one looks hard enough, there is a wealth of relevant material in the literature. At the same time, it is relatively limited to brief outlines of the problems and prospects. What we need is firsthand accounts by counselors who describe the approach as they have tried, with cases, and giving their impressions and suggestions. Such books exist for parapsychological experiences and UFO encounters, but the full range of EHEs has not been represented. However, a review copy of a very important work has just been received, A Farther Shore? How Near-Death and Other Extraordinary Experiences Can Change Ordinary Lives (HarperCollins) by Yvonne Cason, M.D., and it will be reviewed extensively in the next issue. Dr. Cason is a physician and psychotherapist whose firsthand introduction to exceptional human experience was in the form of a near-death experience. She is associated with the Kundalini Research Network in Canada and founder/director of the Spiritual Emergence Research and Referral Clinic in Toronto. In effect, her book is about counseling for many different types of EHEs.
Our aim in this series is not to be exhaustive but to find articles, chapters, books, dissertations, and pamphlets that make genuine contributions likely to be helpful to counselor, client, or both. We also plan to cover as many types of EHEs as possible. We welcome suggestions, especially from clinically trained people who are also familiar with the psychological problems associated with one or more EHEs. If anyone with counseling experience in regard to EHEs would like to submit an article based on his or her own clinical experience, we would be happy to consider it for publication in EHE News or Exceptional Human Experience. In particular, we would welcome descriptions of different treatment modalities to quandaries raised by EHEs, such as Gestalt, Jungian, Rogerian, behaviorist, psychoanalytic, and so forth.
Assagioli, Roberto. (1986). Self-realization and psychological disturbances. ReVision, 8(2), 21-31.
The founder of psychosynthesis notes that the number of disturbances with a spiritual origin are increasing. He provides a general outline of the type of disturbances that can arise at the various levels of the spiritual path and offers some suggestions for how best to deal with them. Specifically, he covers crises preceding spiritual awakening, disturbances caused by spiritual awakening, reactions to spiritual awakening, the process of transmutation, and the role of the guide.
Borysenko, Joan. (1990). Spiritual revision: Moving from guilt to grace. New Age Journal, 7(2), 30, 32, 118, 120.
In her practice, Borysenko is "shocked at how many people have had early traumatic religious experiences that set them up for a lifetime of religious guilt, which is often an unexplored factor in physical disease and mental illness" (p. 32). She then observes that once one has an NDE, OBE, or other mystical experience, it replaces "concepts about God with an actual experience of God" (p. 118), which leads to spiritual revision, regeneration, and health.
Bryant, Alice, and Seebach, Linda. (1991). Healing Shattered Reality: Understanding Contactee Trauma. Tigard, OR: Wildflower Press.
This is a self-help guide for UFO contactees. The authors show how to determine if you have been contacted, and they describe ways of "regaining order and continuity in your chaotic life." Although the aim of the book is to understand contactee trauma and ways of dealing with it, it is aimed at the experiencer, not the therapist. It's aim is to teach people to grow from their contact experience and heal and empower themselves. The authors believe the ultimate purpose of UFO contact is benign and aims at furthering the evolution of earth.
Castillo, Richard J. (1991). Divided consciousness and enlightenment in Hindu yogis. Anthropology of Consciousness, 2(3-4), 1-6.
Points out that in both the Hindu yogis and the Western patients, the ideational construction of the experiences is couched in terms that are in line with the patient's own culture-based cognitive system. In the instance of the two cultures dealt with here, in the Hindu yogi culture a split in consciousness is experienced as a sacred event, whereas in Western patients it is experienced subjectively as an episode of mental illness. Castillo concludes that divided consciousness cannot be considered to be universally abnormal. Nor should the North American view of psychopathology be universalized.
Clark, Kimberly. (1987). Response to "Adjustment and the Near-Death Experience." Journal of Near-Death Studies, 6(1), 20-23.
Although she agrees with Furn (1987a) that cross-cultural counseling might be helpful to NDErs, she does not consider it the best approach. She points out it is inadequate in one important sense: NDErs do not come from a different culture but a different dimension, one in which there is no time or space.
Clinicians Diagnostic Survey: PTSD-Like Aftermaths of Unusual Experiences. (1992). In R.E. Laibow, R.N. Sollod, & J.P. Wilson (Eds.), Anomalous Experiences & Trauma: Current Theoretical, Research and Clinical Perspectives: Proceedings of TREAT II (pp. 205-229). Dobbs Ferry, NY: Center for Treatment and Research of Experienced Anomalous Trauma.
In an appendix to the Proceedings of TREAT II, a survey questionnaire is presented to be sent to mental health professionals to assess the interface between persons reporting anomalous experiences and their care-givers.
Field, Nathan. (1992). The therapeutic function of altered states. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 37(2), 211-233.
The author describes the therapeutic note played by altered states as well as how they enhance creativity. A phenomenology of altered states is presented and an outline of altered states in nonanalytic therapy.
Furn, Bette G. (1987a). Adjustment and the near-death experience: A conceptual and therapeutic model. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 6(1), 4-19.
Most counselors can help NDErs if they have a conceptual framework that is familiar to them and relates to the needs of NDErs. Furn proposes that cross-cultural counseling and taking worldviews into consideration are required. In a sense, NDErs are undergoing culture shock that contradicts their old sense of self, significant others, and the majority culture. (The same could be said for a person who has any type of EHE.)
Furn, Bette G. (1987b). Cross-cultural counseling and the near-death experience: Some elaborations. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 6(1), 37-40.
Responds to criticisms of her cross-cultural model for NDEs, holding that it can mediate between different worldviews of NDErs and non-NDErs and among NDErs themselves.
Geraci, Joseph B. (1987). Comments on Bette Furn's "Adjustment and the Near-Death Experience." Journal of Near-Death Studies, 6(1), 28-29.
Furn (1987a) would help NDErs to adjust to this world, but their need is to learn how to make this world better.
Greenwell, Bonnie. (1992). Traumatic correlates of profound spiritual awakening experienced in the Kundalini process. In R.E. Laibow, R.N. Sollod, & J.P. Wilson (Eds.), Anomalous Experiences & Trauma: Current Theoretical, Research and Clinical Perspectives: Proceedings of TREAT II (pp. 271-304). Dobbs Ferry, NY: Center for Treatment and Research of Experienced Anomalous Trauma.
Reports case histories of mild, moderate, and intense patterns of Kundalini awakening. Experiential categories are described as are principles differentiating Kundalini from other experiences and from psychosis. She presents approaches for helping patients who are having Kundalini experiences.
Greyson, Bruce, & Harris, Barbara. (1987). Clinical approaches to the near-death experiencer. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 6(1), 41-52.
Report on general guidelines and specific interventions used in assisting NDErs to cope with the psychological difficulties following their near-death experience. These suggestions were developed at an interdisciplinary conference on "Clinical Approaches to the Near-Death Experience." The emphasis is on difficulties and problems adjusting rather than the possibilities inherent in NDEs.
Grof, Christina, & Grof, Stanislav. (1986). Spiritual emergency: The understanding and treatment of transpersonal crises. ReVision, 8(2), 7-20.
Grof and Grof list six forms of spiritual emergency (Kundalini, shamanic journey, archetypal activation, psychic opening, emergence of a karmic pattern, and a possession state) and discuss therapeutic assistance in transpersonal crises and suggest background readings.
Harary, Stuart B. [Keith]. (1980). Practical approaches to coping with unusual experiences (roundtable abstract). In W.G. Roll (Ed.), Research in Parapsychology 1979 (pp. 41-42). Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
It is important for parapsychologists and counselors to view a client's presumed "psychic" experiences in their life context: Instead of trying to determine their authenticity, it is necessary to focus on helping the experient to "achieve a balanced relationship between internal realities and the existing demands of social living" (p. 42). It is important to provide them with an alternative to what they seek in joining cults.
Hastings, Arthur. (1983). A counseling approach to parapsychological experience. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 15, 143-166. Reprinted in ReVision, 1986, 8(2), 61-73.
If one were to read only one article on how to counsel people who are disturbed by psychic experiences, this would be my candidate. Hastings outlines specific procedures to follow, and in addition to general advice on counseling people who have had psi experiences, he offers specific suggestions for the following: poltergeist phenomena, out-of-body experiences, psychic readings, channeling, and precognition.
Johnson, David M. (1988). Counseling after an NDE. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 6(4), 264-265.
Provides an account of his NDE and tells how its therapeutic effects were assisted by a peer group relationship with fellow experiencers.
Jones, Fowler C. (1985). Metapsychological shifts and psychological characteristics of people claiming to have out-of-body experiences. Academy of Religion and Psychical Research 1985 Annual Conference Proceedings, pp. 20-33.
Presents a psychological profile of out-of-body experiencers. Jones compares and contrasts OBEs and NDEs and speculates briefly on the spiritual significance of OBEs.
Kason, Y. (1992). Spiritual emergence syndrome and Kundalini awakening: How are they related? Academy of Religion and Psychical Research 1992 Annual Conference Proceedings, 85-118.
Describes the Kundalini Research Network Questionnaire Project, which was designed to examine the relationship between Kundalini awakening experience. She presents some results of a pilot study of 30 completed questionnaires that suggest that Kundalini awakening may be the biological/psychological/spiritual link underlying all types of spiritual emergence syndrome experiences.
Kason, Y. (1993). Spiritual transformation, and Kundalini awakening: A clinical perspective. Academy of Religion and Psychical Research 1993 Annual Conference Proceedings, pp. 28-38.
Kason notes: "After 15 years of clinical and literary research, I have [concluded] that the Modern Kundalini Hypothesis provides a plausible model to explain the biological, psychological, and spiritual aspects of EHEs and the often associated transformation of consciousness" (p. 28). She describes the Modern Kundalini Hypothesis, EHEs and Kundalini activation, associated physical symptoms and psychological reactions. She discusses how to help persons who are experiencing EHEs and Kundalini and some ways in which the experiencers can help themselves.
Laibow, Rima E. (1992). Clinical discrepancies between expected and observed data in patients reporting UFO abductions: Implications for treatment. In R.E. Laibow, R.N. Sollod, & J.P. Wilson (Eds.), Anomalous Experiences & Trauma: Current Theoretical, Research and Clinical Perspectives: Proceedings of TREAT II (pp. 133-143). Dobbs Ferry, NY: Center for Treatment and Research of Experienced Anomalous Trauma.
Patients who report UFO abductions are a heterogeneous group that is widely dispersed demographically and culturally. There are four aspects of their abduction experience accounts that diverge from what the clinically trained personnel are taught to expect: These are absence of psychopathology, concordance of accounts, resistance to hypnotic suggestion, and post traumatic stress disorder in the absence of trauma. She discusses the implications for the treatment of patients who report UFO abductions.
Laibow, Rima E. (1992). Psychophysiological and psychodynamic components of EAT. In R.E. Laibow, R.N. Sollod, & J.P. Wilson (Eds.), Anomalous Experiences & Trauma: Current Theoretical, Research and Clinical Perspectives: Proceedings of TREAT II (pp. 205-229). Dobbs Ferry, NY: Center for Treatment and Research of Experienced Anomalous Trauma.
Laibow describes and elaborates on etiological factors and symptom patterns of patients who report Experienced Anomalous Trauma (EAT). She compares and contrasts the psychophysiological and psychodynamic components of these patterns with those associatedwith other kinds of mental disorders as indicated in DSM III-R. She presents some case histories of patients reporting EAT.
Lukoff, David. (1985a). The diagnosis of mystical experiences with psychotic features. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 17(2), 155-181.
Proposes a DSM-III style of diagnostic category, Mystical Experience With Psychotic Features (MEPF), for psychotic episodes which are intense religious experiences. It has long been recognized that some psychotic episodes are similar to mystical experiences. This paper presents operational criteria: OVERLAP WITH MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES, to identify such episodes. Additional diagnostic criteria: POSITIVE OUTCOME LIKELY, are based on outcome studies with psychotic individuals. Treatment should help the individual explore transpersonal contents of the psychotic episode, return to consensual reality, and integrate the experience.
Lukoff, David. (1985b). The myths on mental illness. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 17(2), 123-152.
An ex-psychiatric patient describes his entry into a reality characterized by magical and mystical occurrences which are similar to events from the Initiation stage of the Hero's Journey myth. Preoccupation with these experiences led to his being hospitalized and medicated for treatment of an Acute Schizophrenic Reaction. His Return to society is characterized by a deepening understanding of the relationship of symbolism to his own psyche. His improved adaptation to society 12 years later shows that exploration of the mythological themes and symbols which occur during a psychosis can lead to successful integration of that experience. Such accounts may be of special relevance to individuals who have undergone psychotic episodes.
McDonagh, John. (1987). Review of Bette Furn's "Adjustment and the Near-Death Experience." Journal of Near-Death Studies, 6(1), 24-27.
Furn's cross-cultural therapy is preferable to the standard medical model, but its primary limitation is that the therapist has not had an NDE.
Miller, Judith S. (1987). A counseling approach to assist near-death experiencers: A response to Bette Furn's paper. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 6(1), 30-36.
Shows why Furn's cross-cultural approach would be ineffective in treating NDErs. Miller advocates an existential/phenomenological client-centered approach.
Nelson, John E. (1994). Madness or transcendence? Looking to the ancient East for a modern transpersonal diagnostic system. ReVision, 17(1), 14-23.
Uses the ancient Tantric yoga chakra system as a means to determining a person's level of personal and spiritual growth so that transpersonal therapists may use it to "respond to their patient's stumbling blocks with techniques that are specific to that level" (p. 14).
Neppe, Vernon M. (1992). Anomalous experience and psychopathology. In Betty Shapin & Lisette Coly (Eds.), Spontaneous Psi, Depth Psychology and Parapsychology (pp. 163-180). New York: Parapsychology Foundation.
A psychiatrist, Neppe provides a broad as well as detailed phenomenological description of experiences dealt with by parapsychology, anomalous psychology, and psychiatry. In order to cut across these disciplines, he feels we must learn to classify and analyze them in great detail. He is of the opinion that such detail is a requirement of understanding the complexity of a specific experience or phenomenon, instead of viewing it as a single isolated phenomenon. He discusses normality and abnormality, symptom perspectives (hallucinations, subjective paranormal experience psychosis, the psychotic "psychic," delusions, and ego boundaries), and familiarity perspective. He calls for a new "classification system that can look at the experience in an appropriate context, but have sufficient detail such that people from several different disciplines could have the data available to interpret the experiences in their own framework" (p. 168). To answer these needs, he presents a Morality-Axial Schema for Evaluating Psi Experiences. The Axes are Anomaly Level, Base Level, Content, Dimensions, Ego Consciousness Level, Form (Special Characteristics), Gestalt Factors, Heuristic Perspective, Intention, Judgment, Prior Knowledge, Localization of the Focus, Mental Status/Examination, Neurophysiological Correlates, and the Organizing Environment. Each axis is defined and described in a paragraph or two.
Nolan, Megan. (1986). The Spiritual Emergency Network. ReVision, 8(2), 9.
Offers a brief description of the Spiritual Emergency Network (now the Spiritual Emergence Network). SEN is a not-for-profit organization founded to aid people who are in the process of spiritual emergence or emergency by facilitating understanding, both on the part of the individuals involved and the therapeutic community. SEN serves as a referral only for persons who are disturbed by or concerned with various EHEs.
Perry, John Weir. (1986). Spiritual emergence and renewal. ReVision, 8(2), 33-38.
A Jungian psychiatrist, Perry concentrates on the distress, upheaval, and turbulence that generally accompanies spiritual transformation, especially in the psychotic process. He discusses what spirit is, the themes of death and world destruction, and the renewal process (also disruptive) and how to handle it. He describes the work of Diabasis, a residence facility he set up in San Francisco in the 1970s to "receive people with the most disturbed forms of visionary experiences, the first episode of acute psychosis" (p. 37).
Perry, John Weir. (1977). Psychosis and the visionary mind. Journal of Altered States of Consciousness, 3(1), 5-13.
Perry observes that "the acute schizophrenic episode in young adults frequently presents in its mental content an image sequence that has close parallels in the program of renewal and re-enthronement rites of antiquity. The gist of the psychotic renewal process is characteristically moving from affect-images of enabled power to those of loving relatedness" (p. 5). Perry notes that it is "the attitude of the social milieu itself toward visionary states [that] is...apparently the decisive factor in the formation of the symptoms of psychopathology, and also crucial to the probability that persons caught in the 'psychotically' altered states of consciousness will be regarded as saints...or will be caged as beings regressed to the level of beasts. ... Schizophrenia psychosis then becomes more of a cultural problem than a medical one when seen in the perspective of history" (p. 12).
Pond, Paul. (1993). What is the purpose of exceptional human experience? Academy of Religion and Psychical Research 1993 Annual Conference Proceedings, pp. 73-85.
Although not clinically oriented, this paper should provide useful guidance for both experiencers and members of the helping professions who seek to help EHEers. In discussing the purpose of EHEs and how to discover it in individual cases, he points out the life-affirming and growth-producing effects EHEs can have on the individual consciousness and also global society.
Sannella, Lee. (1977). Kundalini-Psychosis of Transcendence. San Francisco, CA: H.S. Dakin.
This is the first modern Western book dealing with kundalini awakening experiences. It is by an ophthalmologist/psychiatrist who studied many Western cases on the basis of which he proposed that kundalini is an evolutionary process that occurs in the human nervous system. He uses kundalini as a model of a rebirth process. He presents several case histories he studied at first hand, discusses cross-cultural aspects, and summarizes the signs and symptoms of kundalini awakening. He presents criteria for distinguishing between the kundalini process and psychosis. He also describes kundalini as therapy from within, or the rebirth process. He writes: "It is a dynamic, self-directed, self-limited process of mental and physiological purification, leading to a healthier and more developed state than what we usually consider normal. It has many characteristic features which may be objectively demonstrated. ... [it] is essentially similar in a wide variety of spiritual traditions. Although it was rare in the West as recently as a few decades ago, it now appears with increasing frequency" (p. 64).
Sollod. Robert N. (1992). Psychotherapy with anomalous experience. In R.E. Laibow, R.N. Sollod, & J.P. Wilson (Eds.), Anomalous Experiences & Trauma: Current Theoretical, Research and Clinical Perspectives: Proceedings of TREAT II (pp. 247-260). Dobbs Ferry, NY: Center for Treatment and Research of Experienced Anomalous Trauma.
Sollod summarizes this important article as follows: "A psychotherapeutic approach to anomalous and paranormal experiences is presented. Such experiences are more common than usually thought and not necessarily associated with psychopathology. A sense of isolation, confusion and fear are typical responses of subjects reporting such experiences. The first therapeutic stage consists of the development of an accepting and non-judgmental therapeutic relationship. Phenomenological exploration of the experiences is the second stage. The third stage consists of assisting the client to re-evaluate his/her experiences in light of research findings, accounts by others of similar experiences and additional sources. Cognitive decentering is an important goal of this stage. The last stages involve helping the client decide how he/she would like to respond to such experiences and facilitating the realization of these chosen goals. The process of termination should include a review of how the client's view of self and of reality has been affected by the anomalous experiences and by their therapeutic exploration. Anomalous experiences may be traumatic and/or transformative. Implications for the development of the field of metapsychiatry or clinical parapsychology are considered" (p. 247).
Sprinkle, R. Leo. (1985). Psychological resonance: A holographic model of counseling. Journal of Counseling and Development, 64, 206-208.
"The concept of psychological resonance provides a counseling model for client and counselor that promotes the study of their shared experiences as co-observers and co-participants. The model provides an outline for mutual exploration of procedures for relaxing, focusing awareness on the inner states, practicing the activation of mental imagery toward desired goals, and shared evaluation of the effects or changes in attitudes and activities of participants. The holographic view of reality supports this model and provides a scientific paradigm that permits a fuller study of human consciousness" (p. 206).
Sprinkle, R.L. (1988). Psychotherapeutic services for persons who claim UFO experiences. Psychotherapy in Private Practice, 6(3), 151-157
Therapist Sprinkle concludes that "psychotherapeutic services can be helpful to persons who are confounded by their UFO encounters. Appropriate techniques are similar to those... used to assist persons to deal with paranormal experiences ...; hypnotic techniques for recalling repressed memories or 'loss of time' (amnesic) experiences ...; and mutual support in self-help groups who provide a sense of community for UFO experiences" (p. 154).
Ullman, Montague. (1980). Life history and psi events: Significance for counseling (roundtable abstract). In W.G. Roll (Ed.), Research in Parapsychology 1979 (pp. 44-45). Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
Calls for a life-history approach with people who have had psi experiences, whereas they are often treated by therapists as if they were exhibiting episodic psychotic symptoms. With this new longitudinal approach, every experiencer would become a coinvestigator, which would promote "interest, knowledgeability and realistic" expectations (p. 45).
Wilber, Ken. (1984a). The developmental spectrum and psychopathology: Part I, Stages and types of pathology. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 16(1), 75-125.
This is a theoretical rather than an empirical classification of psychopathology. Nine stages are described, the first five involving "normal" psychology, whereas the last four are based on extensive readings of the contemplative, meditative traditions. Wilber derives three subsets of contemplative-spiritual pathologies and he discusses differential diagnosis for all levels.
Wilber, Ken. (1984b). The developmental spectrum and psychopathology: Part II, Treatment modalities. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 16(2), 137-205.
This continuation of Wilber's nine-stage process (see Wilber, 1984a) emphasizes treatment. He recommends normal psychoanalytical and psychotherapeutic techniques, but he also recommends existential therapy and a combination of conventional and contemplative approaches geared to their special problems.
Wilson, John P. (1990). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and experienced anomalous trauma (EAT): Similarities in reported UFO abductions and exposure to invisible toxic contaminants. Journal of UFO Studies, n.s. 2, 1-17.
The etiology and nature of posttraumatic stress disorder is compared to the reported characteristics of experienced anomalous trauma, UFO abduction experiences in particular. The problems faced by those with abduction memories are considered, including nonverifiability of the precursor event(s), disbelief and denial of the experience, uncertainties in diagnosis and recommended treatment. Similarities between the experiences of those exposed to toxic invisible environmental contaminants and abductees are discussed, and a model is developed to explain adaptive and coping behavior of those with experienced anomalous trauma. Finally, some therapeutic implications are highlighted.
Rhea A. White, Director
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