In a spiritual awakening, the old and antiquated structures of the psyche are breaking down, which can become a breakthrough, however, depending on how it is contained and related to by the surrounding community and unfolded. The dis-integration of the personality can be the beginning of a coming together at a more coherent, and unified level of consciousness. When someone is having a spiritual emergence, it is as if they have snapped out of a life-long spell and are beginning to see through the illusion of consensus reality which is woven all around us; because of this they are typically in an incredibly open, vulnerable, fluid and fragile state.
When the person who is spiritually emerging is being judged and pathologized by the world, their friends, their family and “the authorities,” i.e., psychiatry. However, this can literally evoke the pathological part of their process to manifest, which simply confirms to those who are pathologizing them the objective truth that the person is indeed in a pathological state, as they now have even further evidence to prove the rightness of their judgment, ad infinitum.
This process—a self-perpetuating feedback loop—can quickly become a nightmare for the person who was waking up, as it can literally make them sick. Before my awakening got violently shut down by psychiatry, my inner subjective feeling was that my prayers were being answered—the trauma from my father was being released and liberated.
In a spiritual awakening, an enormous amount of psychic energy and latent creativity is released, as if a beach-ball that was being held under water had been released to its natural buoyancy. Talking about the birth of the true personality and its “therapeutic effect,” Jung writes that it is “as if a stone lying on a germinating seed were lifted away so that the shoot could begin its natural growth.”
As is typical when something is long-held down and suppressed, there can be an over-compensation in one direction until “the shoot” sprouting out of the germinating seed of the personality naturally gets in balance over time. Typically, the person who is waking up can become quite “enthusiastic” (“en-theos” means to be filled with spirit) about the “good news” they are realizing which can easily be interpreted as being a form of “mania.”
In its initial stage, a spiritual awakening can, and often does look like and mimic a nervous breakdown, as the person’s habitual structures of holding themselves together fall apart, as their inner constitution is being rewritten. Indigenous cultures the world over are more aware than our modern, industrial society that when someone begins to act a little “weird,” it might be the beginning of their call to potentially become a shaman or healer, a role which would benefit everyone.
Once my spiritual awakening became ignited, I have no doubt whatsoever that all I needed was a number of months, maybe even a year, to have a safe container, supported by friends, family and mentors to help me to integrate what was being revealed to me. Instead of being pathologized, medicated and all the rest, which simply aborted a deeper process that was emerging, all I needed was to have my process held in a certain way so that it could creatively unfold itself and be naturally metabolized and assimilated.