Posts in Psychiatry
What to do in a spiritual emergency

Last month I organized an event on ‘what to do in a spiritual emergency’ –you can see videos of the talks here. Three of my friends spoke bravely and lucidly about their own experiences – psychotherapist and film-maker Anna Beckmann, poet and transformational coach Louisa Tomlinson, and Tai-Chi teacher Anthony Fidler - and Dr Tim Read, a wonderfully wise and compassionate psychiatrist, gave us his perspective.

Read More
Integrating ayahuasca into western healthcare: an interview with Milan Scheidegger

Milan Scheidegger is one of the most interesting young researchers in psychedelics, because he integrates several different perspectives. He's a clinical psychiatrist at the University of Zurich, who's spent a decade studying the effect of psychedelics on subjects in a laboratory, and on a meditation retreat.

Read More
Translating therapy

Depression is the leading cause of ill-health worldwide, but therapy is little known or practiced outside the West. If psychotherapy is going to become more popular in the non-western world, it needs to build bridges and find cultural parallels in local spiritual traditions. This is totally doable. 

Read More
How to keep calm in Kolkata

Life can be stressful in Kolkata - the crowds, the poverty, the heat, the constant cacophony of car-horns. And that's just for me, a pampered western tourist. So how do the locals cope? More to the point, to what extent do locals seek therapy for mental health problems like depression, or for general life advice? To find out, I interviewed two Kolkata therapists, Mansi Poddar (left) and Charvi Jain (right), both of whom have successful local practices. 

Read More
Jean-Martin Charcot and the pathologisation of ecstasy

One of the things I want to argue in my next book is that ecstatic experiences have been pathologised in the secular west, to our detriment. People still experience ecstasy - by which I mean moments where we go beyond the self and feel connected to something bigger than us, usually a spirit but also sometimes another individual or group - but we lack the framework to make sense of such experiences.

Read More
Gods, voice-hearing and the bicameral mind

A few months back I was giving a philosophy workshop in a mental health charity. It was one of my less popular events - only one person turned up, a Romanian man who had recently moved to the UK and was finding it tough. We talked about Socratic philosophy, about the idea of engaging your inner voice in a rational dialogue, and the man (let’s call him Anghel) quietly told me that he heard voices.

Read More