Spiritual Experiences and Mental Illness
Written by M.T.B.
One of my concerns before taking this job was that people with spiritual experiences were mentally ill, and because I am insistent on providing the truth in my writings, this put me on edge. I emailed several people regarding Near Death Experiences, and the topic of mental health. My question was— “Are these people mentally ill?” I received overwhelming responses from professionals with, the answer, “No!” However, I remained hesitant. There is one doctor whom I respect above all others, and he is an acquaintance of mine— Dr. David Healy, MD. I sent him an email, stating my concerns, and presented a simple question— “Do you believe that mental illness is a factor in Near Death Experiences, OR plays any part in them?” His response was brief, but indicated that there was no correlation between mental illness and Near Death Experiences.
I was still skeptical, and before I accepted this project, I began to read journals. In all the time I have invested in the academic literature, I have discovered no correlation between people who have spiritual experiences and an increased rate of mental illness, that is beyond the standard of society. I decided to accept the job.
I am discussing this topic because I have met many individuals who are under the impression that Near Dear Experiences are a symptom of mental illness. People like to cast judgment, without knowing about the topic they are belittling.
Within the Near Death Experience(NDE) community, there exists a lot of hate mail. I have a hard time understanding why an individual would go to the trouble of writing a cruel email to those expressing their religious experiences— it is malicious.
Yes, some individuals might have a different perception of life. They might be religious. Perhaps they share stories of their NDE(s), but I find it not only in bad taste, but also ignorant, to bully them. I believe that a scientific approach and an open mind will bring you further in life than malice ever will.