How to deal with psychosis?

(bell) Dear Thay, Dear Sangha Our son has been with us in
the Summer Opening in Plum Village
over the last 8 years since he was 11 years old,
he’s 19 now. He’s very intelligent, creative,
peaceful and loving. He is a child of the Sangha. Half a year ago
he had his first psychotic episode. After some recovery
from the the traditional psychiatric treatment we came for the 21 day retreat. He found himself again
in the practice of mindfulness. He was feeling secure and stable. Feeling his practice solid,
he decided to drop the medicine and to look into his mind directly. At a point, he wasn’t able
to control his mind. He slipped off into another episode. We were afraid for his sanity
and decided to help the brothers to take him to the hospital of Bergerac. Doctors say he has a disorder. Nobody really know where it comes from
and how to treat it, other than making him sleepy
and dull with drugs. We feel very touched and thankful. We don’t trust much in the team
that is taking care of him, nor in the way of oppressing
his mind with drugs. We are searching for
a way of truth in his problem, more loving and respectful
with regards to his spiritual growth. Can you help us get some spiritual
insight and understanding? I think we need more mindfulness. We need to pay more attention because mindfulness helps us to be there to be more concentrated and we have a better chance to understand the cause of the illness. The cause might have come from
very far away in time and in space. And with the Sangha, especially those who are close to us we should look together in order
to find out. We should be in the process of learning because we have not understood…we do
not know exactly what has been happening So with members of the Sangha,
young and less young and with members of the medical corps we have to look together and try our best to understand and to be open in order to look for better ways
to deal with the situation. The fact is that in our society every one of us is a little bit too busy We are preoccupied with so many things. We don’t have enough time
to be with ourselves and to be with our beloved ones. We may underestimate the situation. So let us as a Sangha become aware of that and produce that collective energy
of mindfulness and compassion to help embrace him and
send him that energy so that he can recover more quickly. This morning we also sent energy to a monastic member of the Upper Hamlet who was hospitalised in
Bordeaux last night and went through a surgery. During the time of chanting this morning Thay and the Sangha focused our attention. We sent the collective energy to him who is now in the hospital. Hoping that the collective energy of
compassion and mindfulness and peace can help him recover
quickly from the accident. His name is Phap Nhac, the Music of the Dharma. He just came from Vietnam 2 days ago. We accept the situation. We should accept the situation and try our best from there. And we shall do it as a Sangha. (bell) Subtitles by the community


  1. With all due respects, to deal with psychosis you should bring the patient to a psychiatrist and start anti-psychotic medicine. For people who think they can treat psychosis with meditation, I should explain psychosis is characterized by distortion in the thinking process. As a result, patient has no insight and cannot have mindfulness.Today we know that  is a problem with chemicals in the brain and we should correct it. They are scientific facts and we cannot fight it or try to resort to tradition to deal with things for which we have modern and effective treatments. Human knowledge is developing over the time and even our imperfect scientific knowledge is much better than what we knew hundreds year ago.   

  2. 'Accident'? This vid isn't about psychosis…. It surprises me. A friend of mine went into psychosis from doing concentrative meditation and got little support. I find it odd that spiritual leaders such as this have so little advice on it having explored the mind so deeply….?

  3. Psychosis is a healing process, not a disorder. When you bottle up feelings too long, your mind will shed a light on it forcing you to look inside by making the inside visible. Drugs supress emotions and block the healing process (however never quit these anti psychotics cold turkey, its dangerous stuff). People in psychosis need love and care untill they feel safe enough to cry it all out. Then the psychosis will melt away like the snow melts from the sun. This is from my own life experience. The psychologist Jung and one of his students did see this simple truth aswell and wrote extensively about the common themes. Psychosis comes untill you learned to love and cry.

  4. Regarding Chandra's and other's comments, each case of psychosis is unique, and the particular psychosis is very important as well. Schizophrenia and Bi-polar disorder can have varying degrees, and even depression can develop into a very destructive phase and make the person non-functional. Anxiety and some drugs, even marijuana with some people, can cause psychotic episodes. Since Thich Nhat Hanh lived through a violent war and put himself in harms way on many, many occasions to help others, I imagine he has seen his fair share of psychosis-probably more than most of us. For several people I've known, anti-psychotic medications can be a miracle. However Thich Nhat Hanh is wise to suggest mindfulness on the part of those around the mentally ill person. He also makes it clear that the role of the Sangha, or community, is very important, as is very helpful for the family and loved ones, some of whom are going through a living hell. I was just thinking today that the ancient Greeks had the right cure, putting sick people near the ocean with a spiritual program to help them heal. It seems far nicer than noisy, impersonal, cash-driven, and greedy mental hospitals which only seems to make the patient more sick. It's unfortunate that politicians do not recognize the importance that the medical facility plays in helping the sick. If the hospital was too ideal, they would say it is Club Med and insist it closes. Mental illness is an illness, just like cancer, arthritis, heart disease or maybe a broken leg. It's time for people to treat the disease as a disease and acting like they know so much when they no so little.

  5. I can speak from my own personal experience of using antidepressants. When you achieve a level of wellness, you need to be extremely careful when reducing these medications. Many people are not aware of the very debilitating effects withdrawal has and they mistake it for a return of depression or anxiety or even psychosis. If you are stable and wishing to withdraw from the medication it is hugely important to be mindful of how difficult it can be. Withdraw very very slowly. Even the doctor who prescribed my medication had no clue how dangerous withdrawal was. I am off medication now after withdrawing very slowly. And with hindsight I can see that my episodes of mania were actually caused by the ssri which is something there is not enough awareness about. For more information on psychiatric drugs and how to take care of yourself on them i recommend looking up Dr Peter breggin on YouTube he has very good information.

  6. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you mom and dad of this boy for being humble and sharing your sons situation looking for advise of Thay's wisdom. Your question is really usefull for a lot of people, of course including me because I have a person very close whom is suffering like your son. I undesrtand Thay recommend mindfulness in you as much as possible in order to begin strong to help your son. BLESSINGS in your no easy time. I hope your son now is ok. Evangelina Cortes.

  7. I hope that the questioner and any viewers dealing with psychosis will look into Abram Hoffer's work. He had a 90% recovery rate with thousands of schizophrenic patients. Natural treatment does exist and patients come off their meds slowly and completely recover.

  8. I have a lot of respect for this man but to be honnest he just gives such a vague answer might as well not bother asking him. Not a clue why it is caused, how etc. If the constant answer is give love well no need for any spiritual guru we all know that. I genuinely believe no soul on earth know exactly what is going on, about God, mind, soul, ego and so on, so they should stop pretending they do

  9. After watching this I watched the Eleanor Longden TED Talk which (to me anyway) verfies Thay's answer that mental illness could be from a time or space far away or inherited from our ancestors or in the case of Eleanor from her own past and the trauma she suffered from others and taking onboard their suffering.

  10. The human mind is a delicate lump of meat encased in a framework made of bone and marinated by its own bodily fluids. Sometimes these fluids can become afflicted with genetic memories of past lives of ancestors and cellular memories from the spacetime continuum and cause great distortions of mental processes in the present moment. A great caring community of Buddhist health care professionals with an understanding that consciousness is a continuum and affected by karmic activity can get a person through these difficult times. The Buddha taught that all phenomena are impermanent and speaking from personal observations psychoses can be treated with mindfulness and love and compassion but as with anything out of the ordinary it takes extraordinary people and skills.

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