Dealing with Mental Illness and Subud Crisis
By Rosalind Priestley
Subud members and helpers don’t really understand how to prevent, diagnose or treat a Subud crisis, and the same is true for mental illness.
Ask Subud psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to form a committee to study the subject of crisis and mental illness in Subud, with the aim of publishing an informative booklet containing guidelines for the use of helpers, members and applicants.
Falling into a ‘crisis’ or becoming mentally ill has long been a recognized risk with religions and many spiritual practices, including Subud. Medical studies have been made, and there are books and websites devoted to this topic; yet Subud helpers and members are largely ignorant about crisis and other forms of mental illness or instability. Here are some of questions that need answering: Who is most at risk? What sort of experience can trigger a crisis? What is the difference between crisis and mental illness? How can you recognize a crisis, different kinds of mental illness, or a vulnerability? How do you treat each one? When should a person suffering from mental illness of any kind be referred to a mental health professional? What should applicants be told about this risk before they are opened?
A committee of Subud mental health professionals could consult the available literature and talk to specialists in this area; they could also research cases of Subud crisis and mental illness in order to identify common patterns and better understand the particular nature and causes of mental problems in Subud. (See Hassanah Briedis’s, Subud Vision article ‘The Latihan of Subud, Dissociation and the Neurology of Spiritual Experience’.)
It is irresponsible for our organization not to be informed about a risk that could have a seriously damaging affect on the lives of members. Whatever information we gain should not be in the keeping of the helpers alone. We all have a responsibility to ourselves and our families to keep ourselves in good health mentally as well as physically. Dealing with this problem in a straightforward way will help Subud members have more confidence in their organization.