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***See below for a complete topic breakdown.***

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A Jungian approach to mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar, and various forms of persistent psychosis is that they are not rooted in the brain but rooted in meaning, rooted in our unconscious.

These illnesses emerge out of the activation of psychological complexes—or so-called COEX systems—rooted in the deepest recesses of our unconscious mind. This is where we carry our preverbal experiences, our birth experiences, and our pre-birth experiences; where the personal unconscious merges with the collective unconscious; where the personal mind merges with the archetypal transpersonal.

These areas of the mind are those that we all share and all periodically get triggered into. It’s just that some of us get stuck in process, and the meaning level of the archetypal invades and dominates the baseline mind, confusing us and, at times, debilitating us.

Furthermore, these same states of mind that we call psychosis arise from the same areas of the mind out of which we encounter states we call spiritual or mystical experiences or awakening—be they positive or negative such as spiritual crisis.

Although the skillful use of psychiatric medication and hospitalization is at times required to protect the individual or others from harm, the modern practice of biological psychiatry is often egregiously underinformed and ill-prepared to support people stuck in process.

Thankfully, however, there is a growing shift in both understanding and treatment practice for people stuck in process and our guest for this episode is one of the people on the leading edge of that shifting understanding and treatment practice.

Dr Tim Read is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and author based in London. After degrees in neuroscience and medicine, he was consultant liaison psychiatrist at the Royal London Hospital for 20 years also heading the crisis intervention service and developing psychological treatments for psychiatric emergencies. He has completed trainings in psychoanalytic psychotherapy (IGA) and transpersonal psychology with Stanislav Grof (GTT). He has been a certified facilitator of holotropic breathwork since 2007. Tim is extensively involved in clinical research of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and, with Maria Papaspyrou, is co-facilitating the Depth Relational Process IPT 2-year training.

Tim is the author of Walking Shadows: Archetype and Psyche in Crisis and Growth, co-editor with Jules Evans of Breaking Open: Finding a Way Through Spiritual Emergency and co-editor with Maria Papaspyrou of Psychedelics and Psychotherapy. [see our psychedelic cafe done with authors of this book]

He joins us on the show to discuss the deep unconscious, complexes, being triggered, and why we need a new way to treat mental illness. We talk about the difference between spiritual crisis and psychosis; how modern psychiatry is broken; and why psychiatrists should undergo psychedelic therapy.

Additionally, we explore the difference between being in process and processing; how our triggers are an opportunity to step into our healing journey; the role of relationships in our healing; how to help shift culture and community to better support people in crisis; how to support people in psychotic delusion (without colluding in their delusions); and the point at which we should involve psychiatric intervention.


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Episode Breakdown

  • (0:00) Opening
  • (1:51) Overture
  • (5:31) Patron Thanks
  • (6:46) Interview begins
  • (8:28) The deep unconscious, COEX/complexes, and being triggered
  • (12:45) Why we need a new way to treat mental illness 
  • (14:03) A bit more into COEX systems and processing being triggered
  • (21:16) Being triggered distorts our perception of reality
  • (22:40) Being triggered offers us an opportunity to heal (in process vs processing)
  • (24:48) Getting stuck in a trigger
  • (30:33) Triggers are an opportunity to step into our healing journey
  • (33:30) How to process being triggered
  • (36:30) The role of relationships in our healing process
  • (40:40) How do we help shift culture and community to better support people in crisis
  • (43:12) Why psychiatrists should undergo psychedelic therapy
  • (44:35) Modern psychiatry is broken
  • (48:10) A definition of Spiritual Emergency, Spiritual Crisis
  • (51:34) The difference between spiritual crisis and psychosis
  • (56:34) Mental illness is not biologically rooted (bipolar, psychosis, and schizophrenia)
  • (1:00:07) Exploring the root of mental illness from a Jungian perspective
  • (1:13:55) The deepest personal touches the transpersonal
  • (1:15:36) The challenge of touching the transpersonal 
  • (1:17:40) The point at which we should involve psychiatric intervention
  • (1:21:07) Psychiatric medication can be necessary at times | don’t let ideology get in the way of common sense
  • (1:26:04) How to support people in psychotic delusion (without colluding in their delusions)
  • (1:29:59) It’s all about love | Love is the key ingredient
  • (1:32:07) Follow-up links
  • (1:34:00) Outro

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