Psychiatry deals with drugs. The alternative is a holistic approach that integrates them in processes of growth and personal transcendence.
Psychosis, depression, bipolarity, anxiety, hyperactivity ... Mental disorders or psychiatric diseases are already in Spain the second cause of sick leave and the third group of diseases in health expenditure after cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
In our country, 33 million units of antidepressants and 52 million tranquilizers were consumed in 2010. Everything indicates that, since then, the numbers will have increased.
The picture is similar in Europe and much worse in the United States, where half the population already has some kind of psychiatric diagnosis, especially children. An estimated twenty million children around the world use psychotropic drugs. In many cases, these treatments are given for life.
What are the reasons for this kind of biblical plague? Have we organized ourselves so badly as a society? What can we do to stop or reverse this situation that international health organizations present to us as alarming and irreversible?
The change in approach posed by the new psychiatry
The first step proposed by currents such as New Psychiatry in Spain is to see these disorders differently: perhaps we would discover that many should not be considered diseases but experiences integrated into vital processes and personal growth.
This more open and global vision can help us to understand that there are health factors that relate the physical, mental, emotions and spiritual concerns, all in a dynamic balance that implies moments of change, of imbalance, caused by the mere fact of living and relating.
But we also have mechanisms for returning to harmony without the need for dangerous interventions that lead to dependence for life on certain drugs.
Keys to achieving the necessary balance
We can learn to promote balance and manage its recovery considering the multiple aspects involved, such as adequate nutrition, better care — physical, mental and emotional-spiritual—, the rhythms of exercise and rest, or work and rest, and dosage. of the moments of solitude and of relations of couple, family and social.
They are not the only ones: recovery also depends on empowering the being versus having and paying attention to the spiritual aspects that help us connect with the transcendent dimension, practicing material and emotional detachment, intuition, liberation from dogmas and authoritarianisms , the cultivation of creativity and coherence between our thoughts, feelings and actions.
There are many approaches that go beyond the academic psychiatric gaze and that, we could say, go in two directions: downwards, changing the dominant simplistic vision on biological aspects, and upwards, opening up to the transcendent.
The gut brain
For more than 200 years, Phillipe Pinel, one of the fathers of psychiatry, wrote: "The main seat of madness is located between the stomach and the intestines."
It was not understood in all its implications until the enteric nervous system was discovered, located in the walls of the intestine and which has given birth to “neurogastroenterology”, as its promoter, Dr. Michael Gershon, calls this discipline.
This science connects with knowledge of Chinese medicine and other traditional sciences that considered the intestines as the key to control the body from the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual point of view.
Gershon called "second brain" consists of two networks formed by about 500 million neurons that extend through the interior of the walls of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon, and that are connected to the peripheral nervous system by the vagus nerve, through which it sends and receives nerve impulses from the brain located in the skull.
This intestinal brain produces neurotransmitters and psychoactive substances, such as serotonin - which intervenes in moods, emotions, heart rate, motor activities, appetite and the sleep-wake cycle -, nitric oxide, dopamine, norepinephrine or other neuropeptides that communicate between neurons. yes and with immune cells.
Other findings tell us about the presence of some 2,000 species of bacteria that live in a ratio of one hundred to one with intestinal cells, and that constitute a true non-human organ weighing 2 kg, with vital biological functions.
These bacteria are the bridge between the coexistence of microorganisms - in a symbiosis whose origins go back billions of years - and our emotions and thoughts.
Fear, anguish or depression influence the digestive and nutrient assimilation processes, as well as the breakdown of internal coexistence, causing disorders in the intestinal mucosa, poisoning, inflammation ...
An inadequate, industrialized diet, and the abuse of toxins (alcohol, drugs), together with inadequate breathing and little chewing of food, can promote depressive states, stress, anguish, anxiety, fear and other imbalances.
Beyond the individual, humanistic psychology
Since the middle of the 20th century, a series of psychological currents —influenced by authors such as Erich Fromm, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler or Wilhelm Reich— gave rise to the so-called “humanistic psychology”, a reaction against behaviorism and then prevailing mechanism.
This psychology provides a more global vision that pays attention to existential aspects, non-verbal experience and altered states of consciousness, and criticizes the obsession with quantification or the Freudian effort to focus on the negative and pathological aspects of the personality.
Within this vision are authors such as Carl Rogers and his trust in the person, who rejects the directive role of the therapist; or the Post-Chian authors, such as Edward Baker in the United States, Federico Navarro in Italy or Xavier Serrano in Spain, who have developed orgon therapy, an empathic and functional diagnostic system, and promoted prevention through ecological breeding.
Techniques such as Eric Berne's transactional analysis, Alexander Lowen's bioenergetics, psychodrama or transpersonal psychology are also part of humanistic psychotherapies.
These authors and techniques take up the idea present in all traditions of contemplating individuality as a limitation that can be transcended, identifying ourselves with a greater consciousness that can go beyond space and time, the physical and even the mental.
Non-ordinary states of consciousness —which biologic psychiatry considered delusions or hallucinations— are integrated into a more complex concept of human consciousness and offer the possibility of growing and integrating what historically have been called mystical experiences, despised by mechanistic science.
Experiences that were considered disorders are identified as "symptoms" of transcendent concerns, creative processes, synchronicities ... Or signs ofunusual states of consciousness that can be part of a process of growth, openness to nature or spiritual search.
Other good alternatives
Not all the suffering caused by fear, anguish, phobias or trauma are mystical experiences. But even in those cases, global, transcendent or spiritual conceptions provide healing elements that are being analyzed and validated from the strictest scientific rigor, since spiritual experiences can also be reflected in neuronal processes.
Other contributions to humanistic psychology are neurotheology and techniques such as sophrology, which combines relaxation and mind-body activation to overcome anxiety, phobias and psychosomatic ailments.
Other interesting disciplines are eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), highly recommended for post-traumatic stress disorder, and “post-death induced communication” for grief-related suffering.
The possibilities offered by medicinal plants and music therapy are added, among other strategies to favor the integration and development of the personality.