site search by freefind

Spiritual Emergencies
Dec 4, 2017

One of the most interesting applications of our work in developmental and subcellular psychobiology is in the area of 'spiritual emergencies'.

At one time 'spiritual' experiences were considered outside the socially accepted norm, but in the last twenty years or so have become much more familiar to the general public via movies and books. This area covers such things as experiencing a past life; having an out-of-body experience (OBE); a near death experience (NDE); unusual emotional feelings like extreme joy or feelings of connection to God or the living earth; physical experiences like having your body suddenly feel like it is partly or completely gone; and many more. These experiences are usually triggered by mediation, psychological work, or sometimes for no apparent reason at all.

For some people, these normally positive, life-changing experiences can instead throw them into a temporary or long-term crisis. This may be because of conflicts with deeply head beliefs ("I felt my dead husband's presence after he died, and I didn't think this was possible"); unfamiliar sensations and feelings that disrupt or interfere with one's work or home life; the sudden intense need to withdraw from society for various reasons; and other problems. When this happens, it is called a 'spiritual emergency'.

Conventional treatment
In the past, treatment involved going to a religious authority, be it priest or shaman. In the last number of years, more often people go to see a therapist, or someone in the talk or book circuit who appears to know what might be going on. There are also conferences in this field, and one can often reach out to other people who have had similar experiences. Just knowing that this is something other people have experienced and gone through successfully can be a huge relief to many - often, it is the unknown that is the problem, not the experience itself.

Sadly, treatment is very hit or miss. In this field, typically the best treatment is to 1) stop all meditation; and 2) eat more 'grounding' food (food that is harder to digest, like cheese or meat). This tends to calm the person down so that the experience moves from a crisis to something easier to handle.

Often, therapists have to decide if their client is actually having a spiritual experience or symptoms of mental illness, or some mixture of both. These two often have similar or overlapping symptoms, and so can be hard to tell apart. However, people with experience in this field can usually tell which is which, both from experience and from the attitude that the person has about their experience. If they retain their ability to question their experience ("boy, something really weird happened to me today"), then this is usually a sign that it is a spiritual experience and not a short or long-term psychotic episode.

Subcellular psychobiology treatments
Fortunately, there is now another, faster and easier way to treat many different types of spiritual emergencies. It turns out that our work in subcellular psychobiology has found the causes - and rapid treatments - for many of the problems that come under the label 'spiritual emergency'. This is because they are often symptoms of subcellular issues. If you are interested in understanding these experiences and phenomena from a biological viewpoint, we suggest you read our textbooks on Peak States of Consciousness or our Subcellular Psychobiology Diagnosis Handbook. We hope to have a book written specifically on this topic available sometime in 2018.

Peak States therapy treatments include the following experiences:

  • Alien 'implants'
  • Archetypal experiences
  • Channelling or 'hearing voices'
  • Kundalini awakening
  • Possession
  • Mystical experiences
  • Near-death experiences
  • Overwhelming or uncomfortable peak states
  • Past lives
  • Racial and collective experiences
  • Shamanic crisis
  • and more.
For treatment, we recommend contacting certified therapist who has been trained by the Institute in these problems.

  • Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis (1989) by Christina and Stanislav Grof. This was the book that first defined the entire field.
  • Subcellular Psychobiology Diagnosis Handbook: Subcellular Causes of Psychological Symptoms (2014) by Grant McFetridge.
  • A Sourcebook for Helping People With Spiritual Problems, 3rd ed (2006) by Emma Bragdon PhD. Very practical for therapists and clients in spiritual emergency. Highly recommended.
  • The Whole-Hearted Healing Workbook (2013) by Paula Courteau.
  • Peak States of Consciousness: Theory and Applications, Volume 1 (2004) by Grant McFetridge.
  • The Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher (2011) by Mariana Caplan; and Do You Need a Guru?: Understanding the Student-Teacher Relationship in an Era of False Prophets (2002) by Mariana Caplan.
  • A Farther Shore: How near-death and other extraordinary experiences can change ordinary lives (1994) by Yvonne Kason MD.
  • Spiritual Emergence Services at

...or visit our Forum

RSS icon PeakStates news (RSS)