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Kendall killings and the misunderstanding and mistreatment of mental illness

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This week residents in a suburban Miami-Dade neighborhod in West Kendall were shocked by the seemingly senseless killings of a nurse and her young adult son by an acquaintance of the son. Gale Sikora, 62, a registered nurse, and her son Anthony Sikora, 23, a Miami Dade College student, were killed inside their townhouse. The assailant was identified as 21 year old Ronnie Candelaria. The killer's parents had alerted police that their son was schizophrenic, had failed to take his medication, and had stolen their car. Before he could be apprehended he went to the home of his acquaintance about 6 blocks away and fired numerous shots, killing both the mother and son. Not long after the shootings he was peacefully taken into custody, and told police that voices in his head had told him to carry out the killings.

Western medicine and psychiatry normally rely on powerful antipsychotic drugs to treat schizophrenia, a diagnosis marked by an apparent loss of touch with everyday reality. Those drugs suppress activity in parts of the brain that tend to be highly active in schizophrenics. The sedation of the brain may stifle some of the symptoms, however it also has a variety of debilitating effects. One's personality and thought processes may be blunted, energy and motivation may be diminished, and metabolic processes in the body can be disturbed by the medications. Those who are prescribed the medicines often become dismayed by the unpleasant and debilitating "side effects" and decide to stop using the medication. Unfortunately, rapid withdrawal from powerful medicines can sometimes lead to psychotic symptoms that are even more severe than symptoms that were present before medication was prescribed.

Practitioners of indigenous healing systems have a much different perspective on the symptoms labeled schizophrenia and ways of treating it. Those who work with spiritual and energetic healing methods often see schizophrenics as connecting with discarnate entities and non-physical levels of reality, in an imbalanced or uncontrolled way. Schizophrenics have lots of energetic activity in the upper chakras (the crown and 3rd eye areas) which are associated with tuning in to spiritual realm, channeling and mediumship, and abstract mental processes. Clairvoyant healers and shamans will often perceive spiritual entities attached to the energetic field of a person exhibiting schizophrenic symptoms. Those entities may be of varying levels or qualities of consciousness, and the person being affected must learn how to handle those energies and filter what they allow into their energy field. When people are not grounded or centered in themselves then those foreign entities can dominate them and overwhelm them. Often, those who are dissociating from the physical realm due to fear and anxiety or other low vibrational emotions will attract to themselves low vibrational entities from the astral (spiritual) plane of consciousness.

In the major religious traditions of the West there is a common concept of demonic spirit possession, where a person's consciousness appears to be taken over by one or more discarnate entities that have a spiritually dark quality. When people hear voices telling them to commit violent acts they might be considered to be possessed by an evil spirit, according to those traditions. A spiritual healer (exemplified by the character of Jesus in the Christian texts) might perform some spiritual healing activity or ritual to remove those negative energies or entities from the afflicted person. In the Catholic church this practice is called exorcism. While people in the Christian culture may be familiar with the Biblical tradition, shamanic healers in many different cultures around the world perform similar practices to help free people from negative spiritual influences and help them harmonize with positive spiritual influences. Unfortunately, modern psychiatry usually ignores the spiritual realm or pathologizes anyone who appears to be contacting that level of reality.

People who have experienced major trauma may have a tendency to dissociate from being grounded and physically present, and bring their energy and focus of consciousness up into the higher chakras. There is a strong correlation between stress and trauma and schizophrenic symptoms, which can even be understood in part on the physical, biochemical level. Stress causes the release of certain hormones, including adrenaline. One of the breakdown products of adrenaline is adrenochrome, which if not broken down further and cleared from the body can accumulate in the brain and trigger altered states of consciousness. Those with schizophrenia have been found to be inefficent at breaking down adrenochrome. Physicians who work with orthomolecular or functional medicine have used vitamin B3 megadoses to help compensate for that metabolic anomaly, and for a large percentage of patients the large doses of vitamin B3 lead to a major reduction in or disappearance of schizophrenic symptoms. Since the body is governed by energy fields and the subconscious mind, non-physical healing methods can lead to changes in metabolic patterns, making a biochemical treatment unnecessary when the metaphysical levels have been adequately addressed.

In the bioenergetic healing model presented by Barbara Brennan, founder of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, the schizoid personality type is one which tends to respond to the world with certain defense mechanisms designed to protect oneself from experiencing emotional or physical pain. This type of person is afraid of the physical world, especially of other human beings and social stress, and they will retreat into their inner mental world and spiritual realms rather than becoming fully present and confronting the challenges of life that they fear. The person presenting clinically as schizophrenic or schizotypical is an extreme form of this personality type. Helping them heal involves helping them feel more safe in the physical world and bringing their energy toward a more grounded and balanced state. They can then be a receiver for spiritual input without becoming overwhelmed, and can enable their skill for tuning in to higher consciousness to become something productive rather than something out of control and disturbing to them. If they are reactively dissociating from the physical to avoid pain or stress then they need help with healing trauma and integrating their expanded states into their self-concept and understanding of life.

As reported by author Stephanie Marohn, in the shamanic view mental illness signals "the birth of a healer," which is described by African shaman Malidoma Patrice Somé in Marohn's book The Natural Medicine Guide To Schizophrenia. Thus, in this tradition, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born. What those in the West view as mental illness, the Dagara people in West Africa regard as "good news from the other world." The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm. "Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field," says Dr. Somé. These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm. In Western metaphysical traditions there is a similar concept of the wounded healer archetype. This archetype involves a person experiencing some type of wound or illness that leads to them entering their path of spiritual development and opening up of healing abilities. By going through this experience the person is being prepared to help others in their healing process or to be of great service to the community.

In cultures that have this more positive and empowering view of psychological symptoms there is no need for mass prescribing of psychiatric drugs, and no epidemics of people going on shooting sprees while under the influence of psychiatric drugs or psychiatric drug withdrawal. When the true nature of a person's distress is recognized that person can receive proper support and guidance in handling the challenges that have arisen. This offers an opportunity to become a bearer of healing gifts and to share something positive with the community rather than becoming a lifelong burden to the community.

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