The (r)Evolution in Mental Healthcare: Brazil-Style

 (Discount available for November 4-11 Brazil Trip–see below)

There is currently an epidemic of mental health disorders in the U.S. One in five Americans is estimated to be taking one or more prescribed psychiatric medications, despite their many side effects. However, optimizing wellbeing without psych meds is possible, something many Brazilians have been doing for more than 100 years—using spiritual therapies.

My Time in Brazil

From 2001-2012 I spent 6 months of every year in Brazil exploring Brazilian Spiritism, an offshoot of Spiritualism that specializes in healing. During that time I served as a guide bringing groups to John of God’s spiritual healing hospital in Abadiania, Brazil.

While John of God — whom the indigenous people of Brazil consider a gifted shaman — is a healing phenomenon unto himself, more conventional Spiritists operate over 12,000 community centers and fifty psychiatric hospitals in Brazil. These hospitals combine conventional psychiatry, including the cautious use of psych meds, psychotherapy, art therapy, etc., with various paths of spiritual healing, such as energy work to clear subtle bodies, compassionate fellowship with peer counselors, spiritual healing, blessed water, the assistance of medical intuitives and mediums for diagnostics and treatment.

A person who enters the hospital for care first meets with an MD for a physical check up, then a social worker to consider psychological stress (loss of a job, death in the family, marital problems, addiction, etc)—just like our regular hospitals. An authorization to receive Spiritist treatment must be signed in order to receive it. After being admitted, the person is ushered into a ward in the secure compound that is specific to their problem, e.g. addiction, schizophrenia, etc.

Goiania’s Spiritist Psychiatric Hospital grounds used to be a farm. Patients enjoy 100 year old mango and other trees with fruit free for the picking, a large permaculture garden where patients can work if they wish, a pond with ducks to feed—even some friendly dogs and a large pet turtle roam freely! Cows graze in a nearby field and amble, mooing, into the compound barns to be milked twice a day. The rhythms of nature are ever present, the food is wholesome, companionship and support of other patients and peer support workers are close-by, nurses are there as needed. This is not like our typical hospital settings in the USA. I could imagine wanting to stay at this hospital on vacation!

A typical residential stay is 28 days; but some patients stay longer—depending on the care needed. Private patients, not subsidized by the government, may elect to stay much longer than 28 days. Most Spiritist hospitals also provide out-patient services for those who don’t need residential care.

Over the years, many generous Brazilians who work in these hospitals have taught me about the spiritual side of maintaining wellness and healing from emotional disturbances.


 A Closer Look at the Impact of Spiritual Growth on Mental Health

You don’t have to be religious to find healing, but you do need to align with what brings meaning and purpose to you individually. Many people find that meditation and prayer assist in finding meaning and purpose, which are universal practices found in nearly every culture to induce peace and reduce anxiety and depression. An ongoing community that is personally meaningful might involve making music or art together with others, being in nature, joining a church or a myriad of other interests that bring people into close, authentic connection, which also contribute to feelings of wellbeing.

Brazilian Spiritism offers a way of life that supports spiritual growth in the context of a healthy, balanced lifestyle based on the golden rule. Spiritist mediums, medical intuitives, and healers offer their services for free through community centers and psychiatric hospitals to individuals of any age, culture and philosophy. (The hospitals charge for hospital services such as nursing, professional assessments, and residential care.  Patients on government support pay nothing; private patients pay at a more normal rate for Brazil which is well below USA prices.)     Mediums and medical intuitives are sensitive people gifted with heightened psychic abilities, who have been trained over many years at Spiritist centers to perceive the root cause of mental disturbances in those who are suffering. They generally work in groups to perform spiritual healing supervised by their more experiences teachers. Spiritists have a system of mentoring the gifts of sensitives so they can harness their abilities to lead balanced lives and assist others.

Energy healing, blessed water to enhance healing, study groups, mediumistic meetings, lectures, compassionate fellowship, and training as an energy healer, medical intuitive or medium are services that are also available at community centers. Some centers offer pre-natal care, consultation with MDs and homeopaths, herbal and vitamin/mineral supplements, a soup kitchen and food boxes and clothing for those who are financially challenged. There are many opportunities for volunteer work to benefit others.

Can you imagine what it might be like to receive this kind of care? I was profoundly touched by the compassion and sensitivity in the community centers and hospitals for those suffering with mental illness. My local hospital in VT uses Reiki in palliative care; why not bring it into mental health care as well? Medical intuitives would be very beneficial to help with diagnosis and treatment.

In Brazil, Spiritist community care has been available for more than 120 years. It has both stood the test of time and continues to grow in popularity. They call their approach “integrative” because it brings spirituality into mental healthcare, while recognizing the effective role bio-chemistry can play when monitored carefully. In the U.S., the Spiritual Emergence Network and Spiritual Competency Resource Center recognize a category of experience called “spiritual emergency,” which assists individuals experiencing a psycho-spiritual crisis, similar to the Brazilian focus.

An evolution in mental healthcare is taking place where we have become aware of the dangers in leaning too heavily on psychiatric medications. Spiritist centers and hospitals in Brazil offer one model that can facilitate our re-evaluation and exploration of options.


Author: Emma Bragdon has a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology, is an author, and the founder and executive director of Integrative Mental Health for You (, a not for profit organization delivering online classes to the public to optimize mental health. Dr. Bragdon takes groups of healthcare providers to an annual weeklong tour in Brazil to learn more about Spiritist healing from the psychiatrists, spiritual healers and psychologists who collaborate in the hospitals. Visit to learn more. See trailers of a 30 minute documentary on Spiritism co-produced by Dr. Bragdon by clicking here.

 Discount information: If you want to register for the November 4-11, 2017 trip to learn more about the Spiritist paradigm of care you may receive a $100 discount by using the discount coupon “BRAZILBLOG” on registration. Be sure to include it in your registration application!  Also let us know if you want Continuing Ed credits or CME.

This article is an abbreviated version of a longer article that was published in “Spirit of Change” in Fall, 2016. Energy Magazine published an article on this topic in May/June 2017 which emphasizes how a version of healing touch is being used in Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals.


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Posted in alternatives to psych meds, Bipolar, Depression, diagnosis, Energy, Healing Touch, Integrative, medication, mental health, Psychiatry, psychosis, psychotherapy, Spiritism, Spiritual Healing, spirituality

Guest Blog: Kelly Brogan, MD

An Open Letter to the Spiritual Community About Psychiatry

By Kelly Brogan, MD

 There’s life with the experience of mental illness and then there’s life as a mental patient. I’ve been told that both entail a large serving of unfathomable suffering. Suffering that brings you to the brink of something you can’t imagine tolerating one more second of, and then it asks you how you’d like to stay there for infinity. The kind of existential fear that comes with not knowing what is real and what is illusion. A depth of pain that feels so endless it’s like a black hole inside your core. Others describe feeling on fire, electrified by worry. Or maybe you’ve just been told that your behavior is concerning, scary, or dangerous.

If you are reading this, it’s possible that you were brought to your edge, and like any one of us, you begged for mercy. It’s possible you tried alternative medicine, but ultimately surrendered to medication, battling a daily inner conflict as you opened that prescription bottle again and again. You had no choice, or at least it felt that way. When we get dragged by our hair through this human experience, we need to know that it’s going to be ok. And medication can offer us just that reassurance. But perhaps we are asking for help in the wrong places? In places designed to ensnare us, disempower us, and keep us arrested in our spiritual growth. Perhaps we need to come together around a new story for mental illness. But first we have to ask some important questions and open our minds to the possibility that there is meaning in struggle and there is meaning in how we respond to it.

If the goal of spirituality is integration – persistently examining where we are still asleep, where we are still defended, where we are still inauthentically manifested – then we must explore what the meaning of a pharmaceutical product is to us. To my mind, a pharmaceutical – whether it’s birth control pills, antibiotics, vaccines, acid blockers, or psychiatric meds – a pharmaceutical says, “No, you’re not enough. You’re not ok. What you’re feeling is a problem. It scares me, it bothers me, it’s unacceptable to friends, family, and society. This body, this felt experience needs management from more powerful agents.”  When we say no to our felt experience, to our bodies, we are maintaining the tension of the war. It’s exhausting and at best results in a stalemate.

But are there really other options? How does a spiritually-oriented person relate to mental illness and needed treatment? I’d like to speak to that. But first, some context…

I am new to spirituality. As a conventionally trained physician and former science-worshiping atheist, the notion of spirituality was, for the better part of my adult life, something like a gold star board you might set up for a 6 year old – a cute strategy to encourage good behavior that quickly becomes irrelevant when there are pressing questions or real behavioral issues at hand. I used to think that spirituality was the land of rainbows and unicorns and sentimental tropes about gratitude. I used to think spirituality was a conveniently draped window dressing to the real stuff of life – science, and by extension medicine. I used to think spirituality was for the softies on the sidelines of the action.

Then I changed. I had a felt experience that turned the lights on and revealed to me that I was only in one room of a house that was in a neighborhood that was in a village that was in a region of a country on a planet in a solar system in a galaxy in the universe. I awoke. And as I spiraled outward, the whorls and patterns and beauty and designed chaos left me confused about what was true, what was real, and who I was. I would later learn that this confusion is the first sign of growth and change.


In Greek it means shift of the heart. That’s what happens to those who awaken to spirituality. Their heart undergoes a transformation. Because no one has ever touched their soul through their mind and because information has never by itself led anyone to their truth. Experience has. I know this but I have also come to know, on the level of an akashic remembrance, that I have an important message to deliver, and a good part of it is the experiences of those who have traveled beyond the pale and moved beyond their psychiatric labels. I have no intention of making anyone reading this feel that they have made a mistake, not tried hard enough, or that they have been duped. I believe passionately in the Maya Angelou principle of when you know better, do better. And I feel compelled beyond what I can contain to share some truths with the spiritual community in case it helps you to know better – or to confirm what you already know.

I have been saddened by the recent death of Michael Stone. A beloved teacher of Buddhist lineage, my office may seem a surprising place for his grief-stricken supporters to reach out to in the wake of his tragic death. While not intimately acquainted with his work, over the years I have received many a text message from my best friend sharing his wisdom. I witnessed the impact that his words had on her life, and know, through my own posthumous relationship with Zen philosopher Alan Watts that these words, disembodied as they might be, can feel like a rope ladder from the deepest, wettest, dankest well, out into the golden light of a meadow. They feel that way when they give voice to a truth that you already possess within. One that has become obscured.

And isn’t that what awakening is? A commitment to opening, to working with, to acceptance, to surrender, to peeling back the layers of gauze wrapped comfortably over our eyes?

Michael gave many souls a place to rest – created a container for them. But, as is the case with most teachers, myself perhaps included, there is the message and then there is the medium. And we are learning that Michael was wrestling with his own energies in a way that ultimately led him down a path many may be shocked to learn about.

When I read about his experience of surrender to conventional psychopharmacology, I felt a deep sense of heaviness – perhaps the weight of all that I want to share that perhaps can never be shared with this man.

Here’s what I would have wanted to share, and what I will share with you in service of growth and expansion, alignment and perhaps confirmation of what you already know to be true:

1. Psychiatric medications are not what we are told they are.  I used to be a card-carrying pharmaceutical dispenser. I thought that I was helping people when I wrote prescription after prescription throughout years of my medical training. It wasn’t until I had a lived experience of radical healing that flew in the face of all of the medicine I had been taught, that I went back to the books to see what other scientific narratives existed that I had not been exposed to. What I found out was shocking! I learned that in an effort to help, doctors prescribe medications that move symptoms around like a whack a mole game. Because when you suppress or distort a symptom, it doesn’t actually resolve, and that disturbed energy manifests elsewhere. So as our patients are falling off of cliffs, we are offering them knives to grab onto – we are offering them help that ends up making them sicker, or at best arresting an emergent and self-limiting process.

This is the perspective of several renegade psychiatrists and of Robert Whitaker, whistleblower and investigative journalist whose work led me to put down my prescription pad. For good. Through non-industry published literature, I learned that psychiatric medication can perpetuate the very disability that it purports to resolve. In other words, you are worse off taking it than not. Hard to believe, I know. Because we feel like we have to do something, and that medication is what we do in urgent and serious situations, right? Or what if your situation is neither urgent, nor serious, but is just really taking a toll? You’d be reckless or stupid not to avail yourself of the safe and effective tools Western medicine has to offer – perhaps even combine it with some Eastern methodologies for the best of both worlds?

That would have made sense to me too, before I spent a decade reviewing a very different tale – a much suppressed one – about these medications. If I had to use my credentialed expertise in analysis of primary literature to come to these inconvenient conclusions, then how could the non-clinician ever be expected to know?

Unfortunately, most of those who now know, know because of their experience being injured, harmed, or disabled by these medications. And what they would tell you corroborates what the science has to say, namely, that –

But for those costs, we would expect a sizeable benefit, of course. And these medications underwhelm at all objective analysis of their efficacy. In fact, they repeatedly perform only as well as placebo.

2. Belief is the key to healing, so know what you believe. We are in an interesting time, one in which research science is catching up with spirituality – namely in exploration of energetics, interconnectedness, complexity, and the power of faith. An area of exploding data is that of the placebo effect. Formerly dismissed like some fly-like nuisance, we are learning that belief is arguably the most powerful determinant of medical outcomes ranging from surgery, to bone healing, to even the effects of drugs like stimulants. Given this, it is a critical exercise to look at what your beliefs are around the body.

We are steeped in many centuries of conditioning, largely thanks to denominational religion, that has led us to separate the material and the sacred. There’s the spirit, the soul, and God, and then there’s the sins of the flesh that need to be managed and oppressed. Perhaps, for this reason, it is not common in spiritual circles to explore our relationships to our bodies and to the external authority that controls them – the medical system.

It may not be obvious that orthodox medicine is itself, a belief system. As my mentor, Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez told me – medicine is an unacknowledged religion complete with its own language, costumes, and places of worship. But through many interesting twists and turns in history including the Flexner report commission by Rockefeller that sought to single-handedly dismiss all and every non-pharmaceutical form of medicine, we have been told a story about the objective dominance of conventional medicine relative to all others. It’s important to know that it is a story so that you can be aware you are tethered to a religion, perhaps unwittingly. A religion that says – your body is broken and dangerous, that you cannot spontaneously heal, that you require the help of medications and surgeries to get by and survive, and that genes and bad luck are behind your health struggles. That this isn’t personal, it’s not meaningful, and you just need to manage the situation. Odds are, this is not what you believe. Odds are, if you’re reading this, you believe in the sacred design of your bodily vessel. You believe that everything has meaning. You believe that struggle and suffering lead to breakthroughs – that you must plumb the depths of your personal hell in order to transform it into heaven.

3. We need to make room for falling apart.With my patients and in my online community, there’s a lot of struggle. Suicidality, hopelessness, and distorted thinking. And it doesn’t scare me. That’s because I know that, if I can provide a solid container for it to all fall apart, then the alchemy of the wound takes place. And everything transforms. I never prescribe. EVER. And my patients know that I could prescribe…but I don’t. So they know that they have only one choice – let the energy move through and look for the teaching. No conditions, no negotiations. And it does transform, every time. But if you have never been told that this kind of struggle is ok – and you don’t recognize that you still believe in the religion of medicine – then how could you possibly move through this space? That’s like a woman in labor at home, wearing headphones that say “you can’t do this, you’re going to kill your baby, what are you doing, you reckless moron!”

We have to expose these influences, and also acknowledge that it is our responsibility as a community to begin to hold space for it to all fall apart. Hold space for non-functionality. Because one of the greatest ironies is that medication is often justified on the grounds that patients are “not able to function” otherwise. But what of the fact that medication is the ultimate cause of long-term disability? We, as a culture are terrified of grief, pain, suffering, and struggle. Tears, in fact, are a diagnosable symptom in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatry. We must make room, real room for the ugly in order to allow these rites of initiation to take effect. It takes the tribe to hold space for that. One man cannot do it alone.

4. There is a way to work with the energy, from a more solid foundation.While I have come to believe that all illness involves a personal teaching and a psychospiritual origin, co-created by the patient, I believe in multiple narratives, and that the body has its own story to tell. Those who struggle with their mental well-being, also struggle with their physical well-being, whether they know it or not. Even the literature suggests that they are not discrete in the way that we have been led to believe – that in fact 5 million people with Bipolar Disorder may actually have physical imbalances at the root of their uncontrolled experiences – and I don’t mean chemical imbalances in their brains. They are the canaries in the coalmine whose bodily mechanisms are sensitive to toxicant exposure, processed foods, and otherwise industrial lifestyles as much as they are sensitive to the many layers of wrongness unfolding on our planet today.

I have found that physical healing – remember that body we were told to transcend? – must be the foundation of a powerful spiritual process. That’s why I lead with (controversial) dietary self-exploration (and believe that nutrition dogma can be a tremendous handicap), and I recommend daily detox methodologies in addition to community and meditation. Because it may be that your body says no to an exposure through so-called mania, psychosis, or suicidal depression. Here’s a 37 year old woman whose delusional psychosis resolved after she eliminated wheat, another whose thyroid imbalance lead to suicidality, and another whose hormonal imbalance bought her a pile of dangerous and ineffective meds. Heal naturally first, then the real work can begin. You wouldn’t embark on an Everest hike after an all-nighter, with a couple of Snickers bars, so understand that honoring your vessel is saying yes to your process, and it will unfold all the more gently.

5. In order to choose, you have to know what’s possible. Perhaps the most important truth I am here to share is predicated on the one of the principal tenets of ethical medicine – informed consent. Informed consent implies the exploration and confirmed awareness of all known risks, benefits, and alternatives. In addition to peeking behind the curtain of medication efficacy and safety to see the small man pulling the strings, you need to know what is really possible in order to make a choice that feels empowering to you. Did you know that you could put schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, OCD, panic attacks, chronic fatigue, ADHD, Major Depression with suicidality, eating disorders, and generalized anxiety into total remission without medication, and even in spite of it? Watch what these people have to say about their experience doing just that. Did you know that you could shed these labels and walk into the wilderness of your life only to encounter the real you? I’ve come to believe, from the hundreds of patients and online participants who tell me the same thing after they come off of medication – that they finally feel like themselves – that psychiatric medication makes the deepest spiritual work largely impossible. It’s almost like cutting the chrysalis to free the struggling caterpillar before it has metamorphosed into a winged creature ready to set aloft.

But if you didn’t know what awaited you on the other end of your dance with psychiatry, you might imagine that euthanasia or suicide is the only option, as one mother of a schizophrenic son disabled by medication thought one month before completing a program of comprehensive healing that gave her son’s life back and then some. My mission is to make sure that as many people on this planet know that the presumed ‘incurability’ of chronic disease is a myth and that healing is eminently possible, because only then can you truly make an informed choice.

Perhaps this is triggering and you feel anger (maybe towards me!), indignation, or a sense of defeat. The reason I want to bring this message to you and your tribe is because I know you aren’t daunted by uncertainty and confusion. I know that you can sit with this reaction and let it transform. I know you are fundamentally curious. I know that you say yes to what life sets before you in so many arenas. But I also know that no one should be walking this path alone.

It may be our job, as a community to begin, one by one, to say yes to ourselves, fully, in all ways. Yes to a high level of self-care, to devotion, to the messages our body is attempting to send, to our felt wrongness, to our wild energies, to our very souls slamming the walls of the small boxes we have stuffed them into. But we have to do this together. We have to lock eyes and say – if you do it, I’ll do it.

Please help me to divine the means and method of re-looming the frayed fabric of a tribe that already knows the beauty of this life and that has the power to hold space for radical transformational healing from the messiness, bigness, and scariness of illness. We already know that the universe moves through us, each of us, and all of us with as fierce a grace as it knows we can handle.

For more information and data (if you love science that confirms spiritual tenets!), I’ve collected my findings/beliefs in my book, A Mind of Your Own.

© Kelly Brogan MD. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Kelly Brogan MD. For more articles, sign up for the newsletter at

spiritual psychiatry Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the New York Times bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own, and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. View full bio. Want to share this article on your own blog? View our reposting guidelines.


Note to Reader from IMHU:

If you see the wisdom in Dr. Brogan’s article, we encourage you to explore effective alternatives to medication in presentations at  These include practical ways to overcome symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar conditions, psychosis, ADHD, and Autism.  IMHU also shares information about new ways of perceiving extreme states of consciousness–to include spiritual growth and spiritual emergency.

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Posted in alternatives to psych meds, Bipolar, drugs, medication, Meditation, mental health, nutrition, Psychiatry, spirituality, suicide

Healing Touch and Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil


First published in the May/June, 2017 issue of

There are about 50 Spiritist psychiatric hospitals in Brazil, utilizing an integrative approach to recovery, stressing the spiritual alongside physical and emotional therapies that address the true causes of imbalance. Energy passes, similar to healing touch, are central to the healing and health maintenance. This article briefly describes the Spiritist philosophy, its successes, as well as the treatments. Few people outside Brazil know of these hospitals or the 13,000+ community centers that also offer Spiritist therapies in Brazil. Brazilian Spiritists have practiced combining psychotherapy with energy therapies to hasten recovery for more than 100 years. Perhaps it’s time to export some Spiritist wisdom and practical knowledge to help our ailing mental healthcare system in the U.S.


Photo left–Health Providers Visiting Spiritist Psychiatric Hospital in Brazil

 How Did I Learn?

 I am a psychologist by academic training but began my career as a bodyworker and Neo-Reichian therapist. I now direct the Foundation for Energy Therapies, Inc, a charitable organization dedicated to education and research. Energy therapies have been central to my training and my private practice, as well.

 From 2001 until 2012 I spent six months of each year in Brazil learning about Spiritist healing protocols by participating in the activities of a Spiritist Center in Abadiania, a village in central Brazil, as well as visiting other Spiritist Centers and Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in many major cities of Brazil as the guest of their professional staff. I was awed and fascinated by the phenomena I witnessed. I saw many people healing from serious physical and mental issues, including cancer and schizophrenia, without the use of conventional medicine’s typical tools– physical surgery and drugs— which are risky. I saw a dramatic display of the positive potentials of healing through the use of meditation, prayer, herbal remedies, peer support, study, and receiving personal “energy passes” from highly trained healers who perform a version of “laying on of hands”, akin to Healing Touch. I wanted to transmit what I learned to others outside Brazil.

Philanthropic donations supported both my travel and documenting what I learned into four books and two documentary films. Throughout this time I’ve often wondered, “Are Spiritist therapies a missing piece in our own healthcare system?” So, I continue to try to build bridges between Western medicine and the unique Spiritist way of healing. Integrative Mental Health for You,, is a division of the Foundation for Energy Therapies created in 2013. It offers online courses for the public and health care providers who want to learn more about an integrative approach to optimal wellness, similar to what Spiritists offer. I also now lead groups of healthcare providers to visit Spiritist centers in Brazil and learn about the effectiveness of the protocols from the practitioners themselves—who are also associate instructors for the week-long seminar. We are able to offer continuing education credits to medical doctors, nurses, psychotherapists and counselors.

Participants love to meet psychiatrists and medical doctors who are also working as healers and sensitives in community centers and hospitals—not fettered by the limitations of being academically trained scientists.

My personal interest is not to proselytize Spiritism—instead, to facilitate observations and experiences that may inspire making positive changes in healthcare delivery in communities outside Brazil.

Spiritism in a Nutshell

 Spiritism is a branch of Spiritualism. The word, Spiritism, was created by Allan Kardec, a French academic, who lived in the mid-19 century. Spiritism refers to a philosophy, really a way of life that includes knowledge of how the world of spirits is in meaningful communication with the world of human beings. Most importantly, it stands for a lively and well-organized path of supporting personal and spiritual evolution.

Spiritists take Christ as an ideal model of being, but, unlike conventional Christians, Spiritists also believe in reincarnation and the impact of karma. They also have no priesthood, no churches nor other accoutrements of conventional religion. Early Spiritualists were simply fascinated with the phenomena of séances and spirit communication and weren’t invested in personal evolution; Spiritism formalized a more serious, disciplined path of life dedicated to becoming more infused with a consciousness like that of Christ—loving and wise, trustworthy and moral.

The numbers of people attending Spiritist activities in Brazil is growing rapidly right now. It’s estimated that up to 40 million people there use the services of Spiritist Centers in Brazil—about a fifth of the population. The activities include training to become healers, as well as classroom study, receiving energy passes, giving and receiving peer counseling, diagnosis by medical intuitives, and an unusual treatment that we can liken to exorcism, called “disobsession”. All of these benefits are given for free in the Spiritist Centers and people of all ages, sexual orientations, cultural and religious backgrounds are welcomed.

The charge? The centers offer what we would call free complementary healthcare. Even the hospitals are in a position to offer free services to the financially disadvantaged for a period of almost a month, but otherwise must charge fees.

Results of Spiritist Healing

“If the spirit is not acknowledged as existing and real, psychiatrists will only pay attention to effect. They will be impeded from divining the root causes and will never cure effectively… New theories—with solid experimental foundation—point at illuminating and unveiling the spirit. But, we need courage, not only to acknowledge these theories, but also to examine them”. —J.L. Azevedo, MD. [i]

Even though contemporary research studies are few, unusual successes in healing at the Spiritist centers and hospitals are reported through stories and some academic studies. In April, 2004, the President of the Federation for Spiritism in San Paulo (FEESP), Avildo Fioravanti, told me in an interview that FEESP has more than a 90% success rate in helping addicts and the suicidally-depressed to recover normal functioning, without dependence on drug therapy. Social psychologist Canhadas[ii] reported in 2001 that 70% experience great improvement and a definite cure of their problems, including all manner of physical and mental illnesses, at Grupo Noel, a Spiritist center in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ivan Herve, MD[iii], a psychiatrist, completed a 20-year study in another Spiritist Center in Porto Alegre. He reported extraordinary success helping those with profound mental health issues to recover. His study aligns with initial results of 30+% cure rate documented in the 1930s by Dr Ferreira[iv][1]in the first Spiritist psychiatric hospital in Uberaba, Brazil[v].

Spiritist Treatments and Where to Find Them

 There are more than 13,000 Spiritist Centers within Brazil and 160 Spiritist community centers in 34 countries outside of Brazil (including 70 in the USA). Few in the USA offer services in English, as most were created by Spanish and Portuguese speakers who immigrated to the USA and wanted to create extensions of their home countries. Whereas 50 Spiritist psychiatric hospitals exist in Brazil, none exist outside the country.

SpiritismPatients in Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil can elect to have Spiritist treatments in addition to conventional psychiatric care. Psychiatric medication may be used within the hospital but is not relied on as much as it is in the USA and Europe. Psychotherapy and addiction counseling, various therapies (art, music, gardening, and occupational) and outdoor sports are also available. A few of the key practices used for all patients who elect to have Spiritist treatments are laying-on of hands (passé in Portuguese), blessed water, prayer, and peer support.

Patients with severe problems who are not responding to the above treatments can also have sessions with a medical intuitive (a sensitive person who can see into the subtle and physical bodies through their 6th sense and can articulate perceived problems to benefit the patient and the team of healthcare practitioners attending the patient).   These patients may also become the focus of a group of well-trained and gifted sensitives (trained by supervisors to collaborate over decades) who practice “disobsession”. There is no English translation for this word. It involves sensitives who can first perceive if a person has a spirit attached to them that is generating negative thought forms that the patient believes are his/or her own. Such thoughts might include “Kill yourself” or “Kill so and so” or “You are a terrible person”. These trained sensitives can perceive the spiritual and the psychological relationship that attracted the spirit to connect energetically to the patient—the true cause of imbalances. The sensitives in the group are also trained to assist the patient to be freed of the negative “attachments”, aka “obsessors,” and the obsessive thoughts they transmit.

Each of the Spiritist practitioners donates his/her time at no charge. This can amount to a few hours to more than 40 hours per week—depending on how much each practitioner wants to donate time. They believe that donating their time and attention to help others also benefits their own spiritual evolution as it enhances their communion with our divine source.

Spiritist Laying-on of Hands

The Spiritist healers who practice the passes are trained at the community centers and then either work at these centers or go as a group to the Spiritist hospitals at an agreed on time, usually twice each week.

The group serving the hospitals will enter into a ward of patients at the psychiatric hospital and those patients who choose to participate sit in rows on chairs, or in a circle. The healers know the healing protocol and have been taught to interact minimally with patients who might be highly sensitized or in altered states or extreme states of consciousness. The practitioners are asked to have next to no verbal communication or physical contact with patients within the treatment or outside of treatment. Their interaction is focused simply on the healing work and saying an uplifting prayer before the healing begins and after it is concluded within the whole group setting. Blessed water (also energized by laying on of hands) is made available to patients to drink as part of their healing between sessions.

The actual energy work typically involves circumscribed gestures where the healer passes his or her hands 3 to 6 inches above the body of the patient starting above the head and passing down the body to below the knees. Treatments last only a few minutes per person, during which time each patient remains seated, eyes closed, if possible. One at a time, the practitioners of the healing work stand in back or in front of each patient, giving each recipient about 3-5 minutes of concentrated attention.

Each healer focuses on transmitting Divine energy (e.g., the Holy Spirit, or Christ’s Love, or the energies coming from highly evolved disembodied spirits or angels) to the patient. To begin, the healer becomes focused, which involves shifting to an inspired state of consciousness whereby the healer perceives himself as a channel through which God’s healing energy can flow to the patient. After a prayer to invoke a stream of Divine Energy for healing, the dynamic healing then takes place through a continuum of transmission of energy: from the Divine source to the spirit of the incarnate healer, and from the healer to the subtle and physical body of the patient. An observer would see a series of strokes above the body to disperse energies that can lead to imbalance followed by a series of long strokes above the body to enhance the body’s self-healing systems. The practitioner sending the pure vibration of compassion and care is considered essential to success. In order to transmit that vibration the “pass-giver” is continuously involved in “reforma intima” (Portuguese for inner transformation so as to become more loving and wise)

SpiritismOn site nurses say that patients find peace with the treatments and the calming influence usually lasts for days after the treatment.

Are We Ready for This?

 About eight years ago I went to the largest psychiatric hospital in my state of Vermont in Brattleboro, VT to offer my services for free and spoke to two administrators in leadership positions. I wanted to bring the Spiritist style of “laying on of hands” to the patients who were suffering on the locked “addictions ward”. I had collected a team of trained healthcare providers and ministers who would come with me to offer the kind of treatment we had seen given in the Spiritist Psychiatric Hospital in Porto Alegre, Brazil. We promised to do the healing work in a group for patients who wanted it, under the watchful gaze of the hospital nurses. We promised not to have physical contact with the patients or engage them in conversation or exchange contact information. The hospital turned the offer down. No explanation was given other than “it’s too unusual”.

In Brazil the culture is more receptive to the philosophy and practices of Spiritism. Not so long ago, Brazil was populated with indigenous cultures that believed in the spiritual realms, were well acquainted with subtle forces of energy. When slaves were brought in from Africa they, too, had similar beliefs. The colonists from Europe intermarried with these cultures. Thus the cultures acknowledging subtle bodies and interacting in powerful ways with the spirits began to blend with the more Christian culture of the Europeans. As a result, healthcare practices in Brazil to this day often intermix conventional biomedical care with homeopathy, energy work, use of herbs, and accessing the wisdom and love of spirits in a more integrative approach to health maintenance.

The Vermont hospital’s response to me might be an indication of how far distant our conventional care systems are from bridging to a more integrative approach to mental health care. Despite recent research findings regarding the positive impact of prayer, meditation and laying on of hands, it appears as if there are still very few ways of bringing energy medicine practices into psychiatric care in most of our US-based institutions. Hopefully, we will continue to build bridges and construct a practical application of spirituality and energy work in mental health care in the future.


Author: Emma Bragdon, PhD, is well-known for her two classic books contributing to the field of Spiritual Emergency (1988 & 1990). She has also published 4 books and co-produced 2 documentary films on Brazilian Spiritism. The 30 minute film “Spiritism: Bridging Spirituality and Health” documents the work of Spiritist Centers and Hospitals in Brazil and the USA. Online store at Amazon:; Website for courses at IMHU: Information on trips to Brazil:

Key words: mental health, Spiritism, Spiritist, psychiatric hospital, laying-on of hands, spiritual healing, energy passes, recovery, healers, sensitives


 [i] Azevedo, JL. MD. (1997) Spirit and Matter: New Horizons for Medicine. Tempe, AZ: New Falcon. p.66)

[ii] Canhadas, C, (1999) Cura Espiritual, Uma Visao Integradora Corpo-Mente-Espirito. Masters Dissertation for Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo.

[iii] Herve, I. et al. (2003) Apometria: A Conexao Entre a Ciencia e O Espiritismo. Porto Alegre, Brasil: Dacasa Editora.

[iv] Moreira-Almeida, A & Moreira, A. (2008) “Inacio Ferreira: the institutionalization of the integration between medicine and paranormal phenomena.” A presentation at the Convention of the Parapsychoogical Association and the Society for Psychical Research. Note: Dr Moreira Almeida has been prolific in writing articles and creating youtube videos that describe Spiritism and the value of spirituality in healthcare.

[v] Bragdon, E. (editor) (2011) Spiritism and Mental Health, London, UK: Singing Dragon.


Posted in alternatives to psych meds, anomalous experience, Healing Touch, Integrative, Meditation, mental health, non-ordinary states of consciousness, Psychiatry, Spiritism, Spiritual Healing, Spiritually Transformative Experiences

TSA Airport Scanners

airport scanners



…[When] the backscatter radiation levels the old airport scanners were putting off began showing an increased incidence of cancer in TSA agents (along with the lawsuits that quickly followed),  the devices were finally yanked. The TSA quickly scrambled for another solution.

Now they also want us to believe that the replacement technology, millimeter wave “digital strip search” scanners, are also “perfectly safe”.

Don’t believe it for a second.

The TSA failed to adequately test these devices for health and safety factors as well. Unfortunately, in today’s world, security trumps human safety. These millimeter wave technologies are designed to bombard innocent travelers with high frequency energy particles known as terahertz photons.

A study conducted by Boian S. Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, revealed that these terahertz waves could “…unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.”

airport scanners

In other words, this study is the smoking gun that raises serious concerns about the impact of terahertz radiation upon fertility, fetal development, and cancer.

Now think about the thousands of people who are subjected to these levels of untested energy particles every day in the name of “National Security”. The military’s Active Denial weapon uses millimeter wave technology to create an intense burning sensation on the skin’s surface using a 95 GHz (3.2mm wavelength) beam.

But the TSA tells us not to worry about their millimeter waves [in airport scanners] because:“Millimeter wave technology bounces harmless electromagnetic waves off the body to create the same generic image for all passengers.”  This is completely inaccurate because the nature of millimeter waves is that our bodies and water are excellent absorbers of these waves. Millimeter waves do penetrate and absorb into our skin.

At the microwave technology center in Malaysia, health subjects were exposed to microwave radiation between 20 — 38 GHz, the range in which the TSA scanners operate. They found that millimeter waves penetrated the subject’s skin at depths of between 1.05 mm at 20 GHz to 0.78 mm at 38 GHz. This is enough to penetrate below the epidermal layer of the skin.

Millimeter waves have been reported to produce a variety of bioeffects, many of which are quite unexpected from radiation penetrated less than 1 mm into biological tissues.

Of particular concern is the citing of studies that show there is an irreversible water memory effect by millimeter waves operating in the 36GHz frequency, and that the millimeter wave effects on blood plasma vary greatly from one person to the next.

Does this information make you extremely uncomfortable? Well, it should. And it should also make every one of us mad as hell.

…Alternation of DNA can be subtle and deadly down the line. Who would ever make the connection that a TSA scanning machine might have contributed to any negative health effects you eventually experience?

If you are a frequent air traveler, like myself, you should be concerned about your levels of exposure. If you’re a TSA agent, you should find another job.

…[Want to avoid the scanners?] Go to a medical supply store and buy a cheap inexpensive arm sling and put it on before going through TSA. If you can’t hold both arms up over your head while in their scanner, it renders the results totally unusable. They know this and have to let you opt out for medical reasons…

Author Bio:

Dr. Kathy Forti  is a clinical psychologist and author of the book, Fractals of God.

Above are excerpts from her article that can be read in full on

IMHU usually only publishes posts about mental health and this article is more broadly about health in general.  If you would like to explore the online and live presentations IMHU offers, please go to  Enjoy!  In May we are launching an exciting 4 week course, “Nutrition, Micronutrients and Mental Health” with Dr. Pam Shervanick…an extraordinary expose of the power of nutrition on recovery from mental disturbances.




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Posted in Energy, health, research, Uncategorized

Pharmaceuticals & The Sedated Society

The Sedated Society: The Causes and Harms of our Psychiatric Prescribing Epidemic‘ (Palgrave Macmillan 2017).

Edited by Dr James Davies (co-founder of Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry in UK), the book contains chapter contributions from a team of global experts, including Joanna Moncrieff, Peter Kinderman, Peter Breggin, Sami Timimi, Peter Gøtzsche and Robert Whitaker.

Over 15% of the UK and 20% of the US adult population take a psychiatric medication on any given day, and the numbers are only set to increase. When these figures are set against data exposing the poor outcomes and harms these medications often cause, it becomes apparent that their commercial success is not due to their therapeutic efficacy.

The book reveals how pharmaceutical sponsorship and marketing, diagnostic inflation, the manipulation and burying of negative clinical trials, lax medication regulation, and neoliberal public health policies have all been implicated in ever-rising psycho-pharmaceutical consumption. As increasing sedation of society may be leading to a more disabled society, this book closes by calling for total reform.

“’The Sedated Society’ is a provocative critique of the over-prescription psychiatric drugs, their minimal effectiveness, and the dangers they pose. The authors are eminent experts and their conclusions are important and troubling. It should be required reading for all medical students.”
—Prof Irving Kirsch, Associate Director at the Harvard Medical School

Copies can be ordered from Amazon US here:

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Posted in Depression, drugs, health, medication, mental health, Psychiatry, research, Uncategorized
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The Newest DSM*: Deliberately Seeking Mental Health, (a satire)

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