Crazy…or wise? The traditional wisdom of indigenous cultures often contradicts modern views about a mental health crisis. Is it a ‘calling’ to grow or just a ‘broken brain’? The documentary CRAZYWISE explores what can be learned from people around the world who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience. Click here to see the extended trailer..  Emma Bragdon, PhD, Executive Director of IMHU, has been given a license to screen the full feature film, Crazywise, followed by live Q&A.


“Phil Borges’ and Kevin Tomlinson’s new documentary CRAZYWISE is a game changer. It’s going to be an important step forward in starting the long overdue conversation on how we define and treat mental illness in America.”– Rick Steves (left), Travel Writer & PBS TV, NPR Radio Host.


“If I had seen Crazywise or heard it’s transformative message 25 years ago I may not have felt condemned to a life of suffering when I was given a psychiatric diagnosis.  Instead, I may have felt a sense of hope that I could find an accepting community that would help me grow and find meaning in my experiences.”                                                                                                                              —Kathleen Murphy Community Psychiatric Clinic, counselor


What can we learn from those who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience?

CrazywiseDuring a quarter-century documenting indigenous cultures, human-rights photographer and filmmaker Phil Borges (left) often saw these cultures identify “psychotic” symptoms as an indicator of shamanic potential. He was intrigued by how differently psychosis is defined and treated in the West.

Through interviews with renowned mental health professionals including Gabor Mate, MD, Robert Whitaker, and Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, Phil explores the growing severity of the mental health crisis in America dominated by biomedical psychiatry. He discovers a growing movement of professionals and psychiatric survivors who demand alternative treatments that focus on recovery, nurturing social connections, and finding meaning.

CRAZYWISE follows two young Americans diagnosed with “mental illness.” Adam, 27, suffers devastating side effects from medications before embracing meditation in hopes of recovery. Ekhaya, 32, survives childhood molestation and several suicide attempts before spiritual training to become a traditional South African healer gives her suffering meaning and brings a deeper purpose to her life.

CRAZYWISE doesn’t aim to over-romanticize indigenous wisdom, or completely condemn Western treatment. Not every indigenous person who has a crisis becomes a shaman. And many individuals benefit from Western medications.

However, indigenous peoples’ acceptance of non-ordinary states of consciousness, along with rituals and metaphors that form deep connections to nature, to each other, and to ancestors, is something we can learn from.

CRAZYWISE adds a voice to the growing conversation that believes a psychological crisis can be an opportunity for growth and potentially transformational, not a disease with no cure.