Jung, spirits and madness: lessons for cultural psychiatry.Transcult Psychiatry. 2003 Jun; 40(2):164-80.TP
An understanding of the nature and meaning of 'dissociative,' 'altered' or unusual states ultimately turns on the meaning and definition of consciousness. The view of consciousness from the discipline of psychiatry is largely based on a biomedically endorsed, culturally specific perspective of 'normal' consciousness as an integrated pattern of quotidian relationships with the 'observable' physical world. This perspective underlies the nosology for mental disorders, particularly psychoses, suggesting irreconcilable difference in cognition and affect of persons with these diagnostic labels. This article reviews some theories of Carl Gustav Jung regarding the structure and content of human consciousness and their relationship to aspects of 'dementia praecox' or 'schizophrenia.' It traces the origin and development of these ideas in part to Jung's early contact with, and intense interest in spiritualists and spirits, to later influences comprised of his own altered states (dreams and fantasies) and his involvement with patients diagnosed as schizophrenic. Data on current Spiritist beliefs and healing practices focused on 'madness' (i.e. most often diagnosed as schizophrenia in mental health settings), are described to explore parallels with Jung's ideas on the structure and dynamics of the psyche. These parallels are of special interest because the experience of spirits is ubiquitous, not well explained and often rejected as meaningful by psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. Jung, however, offers a cogent explanation of spirit phenomena as manifestations of the unconscious. A concluding section suggests contributions to cultural psychiatry by Jung.