Rethinking Madness: Psychosis and Spiritual Awakening




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Over the past 30 years, the broken brain and chemical imbalance theory of “mental illness” has had mixed results at best.   While sales of psychoactive pharmaceuticals have increased 8000%, suicide and mental health disability rates in the US have also shot up.

It’s time we rethink madness. Are there spiritual aspects to mental illness? Is psychosis related to spiritual enlightenment or shamanism? Is there a relationship between shamanism, spiritual enlightenment and psychosis? Are these just breakdowns, or can they be breakthroughs?

CRAZYWISE film in collaboration with Shades of Awakening invites you to a live discussion about how we can bring change to the current paradigm that governs the diagnosis and treatment of severe mental emotional distress.

It’s time to shift the conversation, in our homes, in our hospitals and in our communities. 

A live conversation with Dabney Alix of Shades of Awakening  and Q&A with panelists Gabor Mate, Robert Whitaker, Will Hall, Ekhaya Esima and CRAZYWISE director Phil Borges.

Let’s come together to reframe the experience called ‘mental illness’

  • Discover ways you can use your influence, passion and voice to make real change.
  • Engage in live discussions with our panelists and Ekhaya Esima, a main subject in the film.



Panelists joining us include:

MODERATOR: DABNEY ALIX is the creator of Shades of Awakening, a online speaker series and global community that brings together both peers and professionals in rich discussion of how to integrate and claim the gifts from spiritual emergency. After her own profound spiritual crisis in 2003 she went on to train as a shamanic practitioner and energy healer and later as a spiritual business & purpose coach. /

Robert Whitaker, Pulitzer Prize nominated Journalist & Author: His most recent book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, challenges the chemical imbalance theory of ‘mental illness’ and takes a critical look at the effectiveness of our pharmaceutical approach that currently dominates our mental health care system.

Gabor Mate, MD, Author: Dr. Mate is a physician who specializes in neurology, psychiatry, and psychology, as well as the study and treatment of addiction. A renowned lecturer and best-selling author, Dr. Mate believes mental distress and pathology are largely a result of a materialist culture that “idealizes individualism and ignores our emotional needs”.


Will Hall, MA, DIPL.PW: Therapist & Mental Health Advocate: Will hosts the FM radio program Madness Radio and is author of the Harm Reduction Guide To Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions Of Madness. Will has recovered from a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and as a leader in the psychiatric survivor he works for new community responses and treatments for what is called “psychosis.”


Ekhaya Esima, Survivor, & Mental Health Counselor: Ekhaya’s story is highlighted in the film. After severe suicidal depression, her first ray of hope for recovery came when she found the peer-led mental health organization, Baltic Street, in New York. The second profound moment in her healing came when a South African healer, known as a Sangoma, redefined her ‘mental illness’, and began her initiation and training in an age-old Shamanic tradition.

Phil Borges, CRAZYWISE Director & Producer: Phil Borges has been documenting indigenous cultures and the human rights issues they face for over 25 years. His award winning books and exhibitions are known worldwide. He has produced several films in collaboration with organizations like Amnesty International, UN Women and CARE. Phil has given several TED talks; including TED in 2007, TEDxRainier in 2012 and TEDxUMKC in 2013 and hosted television documentaries for Discovery and National Geographic.


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