How does the legacy of colonialism affect mental health in India? Are women’s rights, spiritual freedom, and ant-colonialism intertwined? Do women who choose a path of spiritual renunciation have the same freedom as men? Where are human rights more respected: in traditional temples, or in hospital locked wards?
Bhargavi Davar’s mother Bapu was a psychiatric abuse survivor persecuted for her religious devotion. Bapu’s struggle inspired Bhargavi to found the Bapu Trust, where she leads advocacy for mental health reform and community development throughout Asia.
What if psychotic experiences express historical and intergenerational trauma? Does one person’s emotional crisis reach beyond their own individual mind? Could synchronicities and meaningful coincidences guide recovery instead of just being “symptoms”?
Naas Siddiqui, a psychiatric survivor and therapist in training who founded the Spiritual Emergence and other Unusual Experiences student group, descended into altered states after withdrawing from psychiatric medications. She discovered how her Bangladeshi heritage shaped her madness, and found a unique pathway to use her visionary states to heal personal and family trauma.
What if psychiatry recognized that schizophrenia does not exist? How might diagnostic categories (left over from the asylum era) be replaced by spectrums of experience? What if services were oriented around individuals, not the statistical groups of “evidence based” research? And could a new definition of health as empowerment, not the absence of disease symptoms, replace the mental health system as we know it?
Jim van Os, professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at Maastricht University and member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Science with more than 700 publications, is one of the top one percent highly cited scientists in the world. His research combines with the experiential knowledge of people with lived experience of psychosis to envision a radically new direction for the mental health system.