I’m often asked why I chose the topic of mental health for my first feature length documentary. My usual answer is ‘the topic chose me’. When I first met Adam, our main subject in the film, I was intending to do a film exploring the effects of meditation and mindfulness on well-being. During one of our first interviews with him he mentioned something that caught my attention. He said, “When it [his psychosis] first occurred it was very fun and exciting. It was just this total shattering, and my mind just opened and I started thinking of all these different things. In that sense it was beautiful. It was the first time I experienced a real connection to the universe, where I really felt a part of this—that I was this and this was me. It was incredible! Then I kept going and I went way too far, and then it got scary!” It sounded like what many sages and holy men have written about their spiritual experiences.
Over the past five years we have interviewed psychologists and psychiatrists that have told us what Adam described is common with someone experiencing a psychological crisis. Also, many people we interviewed who have successfully navigated a crisis are convinced the crisis initiated a spiritual awakening for them.
While our film concentrates on the obvious problems with the Bio-Medical Paradigm, which frames a psychotic experience as a disease of the brain that has no reliable cure, it’s the potential transformation that can lead to an expansion of consciousness and an increase in compassion and well-being that fascinates me. It’s why I believe it’s time to Rethink Madness. Is it just a breakdown or a can it be a breakthrough? So many have told us it can!