Actualism and Mental Illness

I would like to know, @Srinath, if the following comment and question would be useful for you to elaborate a little more on your suggestion:

One of the most important tools in dealing with my fear caused by hallucinations and delusions related to schizophrenia, with my fear during panic attacks and with my fear related to not fulfilling obsessive compulsive rituals, was to avoid avoidance. That is, allowing the fear to grow without trying to diminish or weaken it by thoughts or behaviors that, at the same time and for that very reason, strengthen its pretended veracity/actual existence.

Of course it is very difficult to do and there are different levels of success, but it is effectively like doing a high risk sport where fear is mixed with the adrenaline/excitement of getting to know/check if something terrible will REALLY happen at the end, or if we will be victorious overcoming the real or imaginary threats.

Regardless of the sentimental/emotional similarities or differences that both cases may present, “riding that into extinction” would be procedurally something like that?

@Miguel fear isn’t all that helpful for self-immolation. When I try and recall what ‘my’ emotional state state was prior to self-immolation there was some trepidation sure, but as Richard said ‘its way beyond fear’. The imminence of my own death was so beyond it just took my breath away. Another thing to remember is there has to be a sufficient connection to pure intent, one foot has to be planted in actuality with another foot needing to join in a sense. Without that connection - which is rather like being in an EE but with a thrilly, destinal element - your ‘death’ is just another fever dream just like any thing else the self concocts. My advice to you is to focus on felicitousness and innocuousness, EE’s and PCE’s rather than thinking about self-immmolation. You seem to be putting the cart before the horse. The powerful fragrance of actuallity has to impel you, to evoke that desire in you to self-immolate. You can’t simply push or propel yourself to do it without this impelling. This will also diminish the fear.

I guess it would be good to talk about the psychosis also. It is unknown territory as no one with psychosis has as yet self-immolated - at least to my knowledge. Not that this is necessarily a barrier. The list of AF people reveals a number of ‘worlds firsts’ - myself included :grinning:. You are the one most knowledgeable about your condition and can best assess how to manage it and how your practise affects it. My above advice to you should still be applicable. I bet I’m telling you stuff you already know, but just putting it out there

Well there was that one guy.

Thank you.

Yes, it seems so important to me these tips and insights remain “out there”, that I wanted to share on my blog (due to the limited reach of Slack and the like) reflections and experiences (also my daughters’) related to AF and mental illness/diagnosed conditions. Now I can share them here and can be found via Google and perhaps be helpful to others.

For example, both of my daughters have been affected by depersonalization and derealization, but the older one has suffered them severely since 12, now part of a psychotic condition aggravated by drug abuse (she is 19). One of the differences between depersonalization and the absence/abeyance of self experienced in the PCEs is that in depersonalization instinctive emotions such as anxiety, fear and panic are also present. However, both also experienced several EE and PCE of varying intensity and duration.

During the last institutionalization of my eldest (where she still is), I remarked to her again the importance of neither express nor repress emotions in the face of the thoughts, hallucinations, delusions that we may experience, paying attention to the senses, etc. Although she had already known this need for years, it was (and still is) very difficult for her to achieve it, so I also read her the diagnoses made to Richard, which especially moved her.

A few months ago, in the middle of an episode of depersonalization and derealization with the typical associated emotions of anxiety and fear, she managed to “let herself go” without expressing or repressing, and paying attention to the senses. All of a sudden she had a half-hour PCE with all the characteristics we know, including heightened sense perception, magical/fairytale quality, etc., and the ineffable peace and happiness which seemed impossible to her in a state when one does not feel “someone”.

These testimonies seem important to me because they can serve others (ill, “ill”, healthy and “healthy” -labels which should be taken with caution as the self also uses them to fulfill a role, to aggrandize or to commiserate itself, etc.-) to help understand one of the most difficult things to accept for those approaching Actual Freedom: that not feeling a someone/somebody, and aspiring to not be a feeling being -besides being important “theoretically” because of what we as selves with good and bad feelings cause in the world- is experientially not only safe but highly good, desirable and pleasurable despite what imagination or even medicine may suggest…

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@Miguel Did you introduce your daughters to actualism and actual freedom? How did they take to it and what was their experience?

Unlike in the old days, I’m now actually quite circumspect about recommending the actualism method to one and all - let alone someone with a severe mental illness. I realise what I’ve done is in some ways quite extreme. The last thing most people would want to do, even those who are desperately unhappy, is ‘die’ before physical death.

Actual freedom is quite a loopy, intense journey at times and I would think about the potential for destabilising someone with a psychosis. Non-psychotic depersonalisation and derealisation would more commonly be diagnosed as dissociative or traumatic in origin here in Australia. Not that that is the right way to diagnose - just a different way. I would worry about the possibility of increasing dissociation and a challenging of the very defences that a person is using to hold himself together and prevent a psychotic break.

But if someone like yourself in whom symptoms are relatively stable (my assumption) and who had come to it himself and was willing to put in the hard yards and take on the risk - then of course that would not be a problem.

@rick you aren’t talking about Richard by any chance?


RESPONDENT: Richard; my hearing is you were in psychosis.
RICHARD: Yes … ‘Spiritual Enlightenment’ is a psychotic state of mind; a dissociated state of consciousness, replete with delusions of grandeur that are tempered only by it being a solipsistic state.
Mailing List 'AF' Respondent No. 12

Richard (2013): The first breakdown resulted in a severe psychotic disorder – so severe, in fact, as to entail massive delusions of grandeur (another diagnostic symptom) and megalomania such as being the ‘Parousia’ and the next ‘Maitreya’, for instance, with acute dissociative and solipsistic thought patterns plus major reality impairment (object estrangement, space dislocation and time distortion) – which persisted, night and day, for eleven years before culminating in the second breakdown, resulting in an official diagnosis as having become depersonalised, derealised, alexithymic and anhedonic (diagnosed as a chronic, thus incurable, psychotic disorder that began with a 30+ month period of a macabre and gruesome ‘mental anguish’ (yet another diagnostic symptom) that baffled both psychiatrists and psychologists) and which has persisted for all 20+ years through to the present day.
Mailing List 'D' Respondent No. 29

Richard (2013): I talked with you a lot about my war experiences (and how a psychologist and a psychiatrist were aghast – it was the psychiatrist who paled visibly – at the prospect of me choosing to go all the way into and through insanity, culminating in those 30+ months, to the other side)
Selected Correspondence: Sanity, Insanity & the Third Alternative

Thought it best to split this into a new topic and not crash @Kub933’s thread.

Yes, I’ve read this all before. But it helps to have all the references there so thanks @rick

I never did think that Richard’s enlightenment could be labelled a psychotic illness - at least not as it is understood by the usual clinical and diagnostic criteria. Nor do I think it now, reading all this stuff again.

…delusions of grandeur (another diagnostic symptom) and megalomania such as being the ‘Parousia’ and the next ‘Maitreya’, for instance, with acute dissociative and solipsistic thought patterns plus major reality impairment (object estrangement, space dislocation and time distortion)

Most of these are aren’t symptoms of psychosis. ‘Delusions of grandeur’ is the one possible exception. Even with that, it’s arguable whether it is a delusion as-such in phenomenological and psychiatric terms. Typically a belief, even a rather extreme one, that was situated within an organised spiritual and religious context, in the absence of a severe disturbance in functioning and not accompanied by symptoms such as hallucinations and thought disorder - would not be classed a delusion.

…culminating in the second breakdown, resulting in an official diagnosis as having become depersonalised, derealised, alexithymic and anhedonic (diagnosed as a chronic, thus incurable, psychotic disorder that began with a 30+ month period of a macabre and gruesome ‘mental anguish’ (yet another diagnostic symptom) that baffled both psychiatrists and psychologists) and which has persisted for all 20+ years through to the present day

Once again actual freedom doesn’t in any way resemble a psychosis. Not from my experience and not from Richards account here. To try and characterise actual freedom as being ‘depersonalised, derealised, alexithymic and anhedonic …’ is to do disservice both to actual freedom as well as to the intended usage of those terms. Depersonalisation, derealisation, alexithymia and anhedonia are not diagnoses but symptoms or phenomenological descriptors. Furthermore they can also occur in everyday life in someone with no mental illness. ‘Mental anguish’ isn’t a diagnostic symptom at all.

My guess is that if Richard was formally diagnosed as having a psychosis - which is no doubt what happened, its because his presentation was so weird and so out of the realm of what the psychiatrists were used to seeing that they just reached for the nearest approximation that their training allowed them to.

This is of course as long as we don’t take madness, psychosis or insanity as very broad and flexible categories e.g. ‘the madness of everyday life’, ‘the institutionalised insanity of society’ and so on. That’s a whole other discussion.

Yes, it was best to split this into a new topic.

Yes, although it was long after their contact with other disciplines/activities.
My wife practices one of the spiritualist disciplines that I also practiced for several years, my daughters also knew about my Buddhist background and my incursions into other spriritual and non-spiritual disciplines related with self-improvement, psychology, etc. So, in addition to talking a lot about all that in the family, I was reading with my daughters authors such as J. Krishnamurti, Bhante Gunaratana, Tolle, Kabat-Zinn, etc. We also practiced Mindfulness for quite some time.

They knew that each of these disciplines and authors contributed something at different times and in different ways to improve/change my life.

So my introduction to them to AF came kind of naturally by sharing with them my need to approach AF by understanding that those other disciplines/activities were not enough for me anymore to improve beyond a certain point. At that time they had a clear concept of the self, and obviously experiences with thoughts, good and bad feelings. Also glimpses in PCEs and EEs, and the concept and experiences of felicitous feelings.

So, the possibility of living in a “perpetual state of PCE” with only felicitous feelings did not seem far-fetched or uncomfortable to them. What I explain is that in my experience and some others (but I do not “campaign” about it) is that there is something even better than good feelings for me and for those who receive the effects of my good and bad feelings. They have seen (and we have talked about it) how my attempt to increase my good feelings and decrease the bad ones have not made me a better parent, have failed to avoid pretensions on my part, arguments, passionate emotional reactions, etc. Also, that this very same approach has not worked well for mankind for collective peace and happiness. Of course everyone (they, as my wife, too) can try other strategies, but that I am just trying this one.

Instead, they do see the difference when felicitous feelings are present in me, which we have all experienced for more or less prolonged periods of time, and that they themselves have experienced.

To avoid making this post too long, I’ll comment on the rest of yours in another one.


You’re welcome, Srinath.

That’s an interesting observation that the ‘diagnoses’ he provided are rather symptoms and descriptors of a formal diagnosis. It’s also possible that he has withheld publishing his official diagnosis.

The cocktail of phenothiazine drugs he was prescribed in a mental asylum setting in order to stabilize his symptoms (in conjunction with benzodiazepines) might, or might not, be suggestive as to what the doctors determined was his underlying condition.

Right. That was what motivated me, as I said in Supplementing actualism with conventional methods, to approach MBRS at a certain point in time, and my good experience with it. And that’s why I do support to try other ways to improve/get better, at least for those who cannot do it with AF alone or before doing it.

True. But this is why I referred to ill, “ill”, healthy and “healthy” people, meaning that we all live in a continuum where divisions are unclear and changing (DSM III, DSM IV, etc), frequently misdiagnosed, mistreated (a lot of drug interests involved, and at the same time a lot of disinterest) and many of whose symptoms are mixed with other causes you mentioned in other post:

I still think that stress and unhappiness is primarily a ‘self’ issue. The ‘self’ isn’t necessarily reducible to physiological processes.

So many of those who have even been well diagnosed and well treated can still do a lot to deal with the stress, fear, anxiety, unhappiness produced or interpreted by their self.

Notice that I did not recommended AF as a treatment or a practice to psychotics, but rather I wanted to exemplify what can be achieved even by people diagnosed as such with techniques such as neither expressing nor repressing, paying attention to the senses, Enjoy And Appreciate This Moment Of Being Alive, etc. This was my case also.

As you made it clear to @rick that Richard was referring to symptoms rather than diseases, I also referred to how certain symptoms can be dealt with (even harsh ones, such as those alluded) rather than how to deal with the diagnosed desease or label (although now I will comment a bit on this).

Indeed, but there is something else, always clarifying that what I refer to are individual cases experienced by specific people, the exposition of which could serve others, but without making universal assertions or recommendations:

Not only I think that the self uses the symptoms and diagnoses to act a role, to strengthen or feel self-pity, etc. In many cases I think that it can also be the main cause generating those very symptoms and those diagnosed mental illnesses. I have come to see a good deal of mental problems (including more common and less exotic ones such as depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive syndrome, etc. -which I have incidentally also suffered from on a severe level and been diagnosed with-), as another layer that the self constructs and superimposes on reality, similar to the way the self constructs and superimposes reality on actuality.

This is not to say that it does not build on physical predispositions or inclinations, DNA, etc.; on the contrary. But I say there’s a lot we can do in spite of it, often in spite of what medicine considers to be the only paths, and even of what often assumes is possible or impossible.


I have to say I’m not qualified at all in these matters but @Miguel What you write here and what you have done in dealing with these symptoms in yourself (from what I’ve read) is really quite impressive. I’ve been lucky to have a pretty stable mind even though I was as miserable as you can get so it’s not something I ever had to deal with but I have come across so many people dealing with different levels of psychological issues and it’s great that perhaps there is a different alternative for some of them to try, of course bearing in mind all those points that you and @Srinath mentioned.

My partner for example, she had some of those issues to deal with even before coming to Actualism and she made good headway in improving herself by taking matters into her own hands, then later on when she found out about Actualism she has taken this improvement even a step further and is doing really quite well.

So it does seem like a gradient from the most severe states which would not bode well with Actualism to ‘well adjusted’ individuals who might be able to apply the method from the get go. However it seems that for some individuals conventional methods can be applied to get to a certain level and from there a possibility of something more via Actualism becomes available, just like you did yourself.

This is far from a psychological disorder but I remember when I came into Actualism after years of spirituality and of essentially dissociating. I still remember the state of my mind that was like living in a nightmare, there were so many feelings that were repressed so deeply that I couldn’t even recognise them, never mind feeling happy and harmless.

I remember even writing about some of these when I first joined slack, there was an anxiety that expressed itself as physical tension that I lived night and day for so many years. From that place I specifically remember thinking that if I could just end this anxiety my life would be complete because living it was that bad. And it’s so great to write this as a fact that this anxiety is truly gone out of my life with not a trace left.

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Can you clarify? Are you talking about imagining dying, or are you talking about when you immolated?

@miguel I really like what you’ve written here and agree. I don’t think that the prevailing orthodoxy of psychiatry or even ‘mental health/illness’ is a good thing - although it has some good ideas in certain areas and is a good thing for certain people in certain stages of their lives.

People are ultimately individuals and quite complicated ones at that. The creativity and resilience of people in the face of existence is quite amazing. There are so many ways of approaching the problems of ones own existence and problems with ‘being’. Everyone approaches actualism a little differently.

If actualism is going to help those with a mental disorder (or whatever term that is acceptable) then it will be the experience and experimentation of people like yourself that will form the basis for an approach that can be more broadly generalised and recommended.

The cocktail of phenothiazine drugs he was prescribed in a mental asylum setting in order to stabilize his symptoms (in conjunction with benzodiazepines) might, or might not, be suggestive as to what the doctors determined was his underlying condition.

@rick Is this on the AFT? I couldn’t find it. When did it occur? Yes, he might have very well have been treated based on what they thought he was suffering from. Unless of course there was an actual psychotic episode in the midst of all of this.

@edzd Its hard to really describe this. It’s something that has to be experienced. Except to say that the contemplation of the end of ‘you’ with everything you stand for is so vast as to really defy easy comprehension. Have you watched the video where Vineeto is contemplating self-immolation? Richard talks about it there when he says ‘its way beyond fear’.

That clarifies the context for me. I was trying to ascertain if you were referring to how one feels when imagining death or how one feels upon immolation. Understood that it needs to be experienced.

Yes I have. His quote makes it sound more intense than fear. Sounds scary :slight_smile: is it?

On the AFT site Richard relays that an “extensive arsenal” of antipyschotic drugs failed to relieve his mental anguish. So circa '93?

Richard (2000): In psychiatric terms the neurons were agitated: energised and excited with an excess of dopamine in the post-synaptic receptors, described as being similar to the effect of amphetamines, cocaine or LSD … yet nothing could be done about it with psychiatry’s extensive arsenal of anti-psychotic drugs.
Mailing List 'AF' Respondent No. 60

Regarding your query about a reference to the specific drugs administered to him from that “extensive arsenal”, the classes of which I referred to earlier, that was detailed in what became known on the Yahoo Group as the ‘PTSD article’ which would be the same unpublished article that the AFT site refers to as the “VET-NET-AUSTRALIA” article, via their bracketed descriptive insertion that replaces Respondent No. 29’s reference to it, which subject material in said article, together with the discussions that erupted on the forum surrounding it, is what Richard was responding to and was referencing in the following correspondence:

(Jan 29 2013)
RESPONDENT No. 29: So in the website’s version… a normal guy puts into a method he devised to induce changes: first enlightement and then AF. And this [‘VET-NET-AUSTRALIA’] article suggests the outcome was a desperate strategy of a mentally disturbed guy trying to cope with all the manic psychic changes that PTSD was causing in him.
RESPONDENT: Spot on. To me, the second is an even more impressive tale. What a horrific and heart-wrenching process, and what an incredibly courageous and determined man he was to go through all that, and to come out the other side a happy man. I thoroughly admire much of what Richard has done. He’s a much greater man than I’ve ever been or ever will be. […].
RICHARD: G’day No. 25, No. 29, & No. 4, It is no secret that I had two major ‘nervous breakdowns’, and at least one minor one (where I became catatonic and was rushed to a local hospital’s EU), the first of which occurred ‘with sudden onset’ (one of the diagnostic symptoms) at sunrise on the 6th of September, 1981, and the second, also ‘with sudden onset’, in the late afternoon of the 30th of October, 1992, in an abandoned cow-pasture.
Mailing List 'D' Respondent No. 4

I won’t be linking to or providing the unpublished article here for obvious reasons but if you were subscribed to the Yahoo Group forum circa Jan 2013 you could presumably still review its contents in your Yahoo email, with the pinch of salt it deserves.

@rick I do have a vague recollection of this debate. I think it was slightly before my time and I don’t have any record of it.

From your links, it seems that there is no doubt that Richard did suffer from acute mental anguish (a very non-specific term) both in '81 and around '93. First associated with enlightenment and subsequently with the beginning of an actual freedom. Even if he was started on antipsychotics and other medications (which it appears didn’t really work) it doesn’t necessarily mean the diagnosis was kosher as treatment doesn’t always guarantee diagnostic certainty. But one would probably need to really look at the medical record to get a clear sense of what diagnosis was made and why to know for sure. PTSD doesn’t fit the bill either really it seems to me, unless there is other info. I do not have.

Richard (2000): In psychiatric terms the neurons were agitated: energised and excited with an excess of dopamine in the post-synaptic receptors, described as being similar to the effect of amphetamines, cocaine or LSD … yet nothing could be done about it with psychiatry’s extensive arsenal of anti-psychotic drugs.

I don’t know if I would be as confident in ascribing a neurochemical basis for the experience haha.
The really interesting thing though is that I experienced something similar when I first became actually free - except to a much milder degree. And also subsequently post AF whenever a significant bit of ‘guardian’ left me. There was a pleasurable excitation which crescendoed to a point where it was slightly unpleasant, but each time things just levelled off and became smooth. It’s amazing how the body and mind work to only give you what you can take. Like Richard caffeine could make things worse. I had to be watchful of my caffeine intake during those times. Even now I can’t tolerate the amount of caffeine that I used to. I think a big part of my not freaking out is that I wasn’t the first to blaze this trail. I knew Richard and others had done this before. I was speaking about it with Craig and Geoffrey at the time. But I can see how disturbing it would have been for someone who didn’t know what the hell this was and what was going on, as it would have been for Richard. Then of course there is the fact that I did it directly and didn’t go through enlightenment.


Miguel or anyone else, is this what we are suppose to do when we have intense negative feelings
, pay attention to the senses? and what is the etc.?

Haha its this topic again! At first I was going to write that in my experience I would say it is not helpful and maybe even detrimental to focus on the senses when in the grip of intense feelings but now I wonder wether there are some cases where this could work? What does everyone else think?

Firstly though my understanding is that @Miguel’s advice was specifically aimed at someone dealing with mental illness hence the mention of hallucinations and delusions, therefore it might not apply to an actualist who is not dealing with the same issues.

In my personal experience when I am in the grip of intense emotions attempting to focus on the senses becomes an escape. This means some form of suppression or dissociation. ‘I’ split ‘myself’ in 2, one part which is the intense emotions and the other part which is now focusing on the sensate experience. It never seems to lead to anything clean but rather feels forced and more often gets me in ‘weird’ territory, as in ASC weird.

I think allowing sensuosity might be useful to get one from neutral/good into great, excellent etc. However in this case one is already operating from a somewhat stable baseline and then sensuosity carries one further into something much better.

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It’s two different scenarios…

1 - Everything is ok, nothing 'crazy 'happening, but I am feeling bad. I want to feel good.
2 - The world is spinning, I can’t breathe, I’m extremely panicking, what is going on??

In scenario 1… ‘focusing’ on the senses won’t do anything beneficial. It will be a way of ignoring how you’re feeling and that will never lead to genuinely enjoying and appreciating being alive.

In scenario 2… … in order to get back to relative sanity, it can be helpful to “tune in” to the senses, be like ok, I am here, I see this wall over there, I am breathing, everything is ok, the ground is under me, these are my hands, etc… … this will be a way to stop yourself from going further into the panic/insanity and back to relative normality.

Then once you’re at relative normality you can do what you would normally do to get back to feeling good (which isn’t “focusing” on the senses).