Popular Film Exploring Indigenous Approaches to Mental Health Crises Comes to San Jose Campus
Following the sold-out screening at JFK University’s Pleasant Hill Campus in July, the documentary feature CRAZYWISE will be returning to JFK University for an encore showing this September. Don’t miss this rare second opportunity to see the film that compels audiences to reconsider the entire Western notion of mental “illness.”
Hosted by the JFK University Holistic Research Center, CRAZYWISE follows the journey of two young Americans suffering from mental illness, as they turn to indigenous societies in search of answers that Western medicine could not provide. The encore screening will be held Thursday, September 7, 2017 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at JFK University’s San Jose Campus , 3031 Tisch Way, San Jose, CA 95128.
The film is directed by human-rights filmmaker and photographer Phil Borges, who has spent the past quarter century studying and living among indigenous cultures around the world. During that time, Borges began to take note of the ways in which these cultures viewed issues of mental illness, finding their approaches far different from the methodologies widely adopted by Western medicine. For many indigenous cultures, Borges found, symptoms of psychosis and other forms of mental illness often are viewed as signs of shamanic potential rather than of a problem in need of fixing.
Through the stories of Adam, 27, and Ekhaya, 32, the film explores the western fixation with biomedical approaches to “solving” mental health issues and the possible benefits of non-traditional approaches. Adam, for example, experienced devastating side effects from his medication before discovering meditation as a potential path to recovery. Ekhaya survived childhood molestation and multiple suicide attempts before finally finding solace by undergoing spiritual training to become a traditional South African healer.
“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,” the film’s website states. “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.”
The themes explored in the film resonate strongly with Dr. Zvi Bellin, core faculty member and holistic counselor at JFK University’s Holistic Institute. “The perspective that psychological crises can present opportunities for growth guides the learning and research in the Holistic Institute,” Dr. Bellin explained. “From the student experience in the classroom to the guiding principles of our clinical work, the narrative of transforming a roadblock into a challenge and opportunity is at our core.”
Housed within the College of Psychology, JFK University’s Holistic Institute offers five programs dedicated to promoting, as Dr. Bellin puts it, “wellness beyond the scope of western psychology, taking into account the spiritual and eco-aware wisdom of indigenous traditions.”
“Students in our programs learn the value of helping clients connect to their root rituals and to communities that have their own historic systems of health and healing,” he said. “Beyond the normative awareness of diversity, the Holistic Counseling programs at JFK University honor the necessity of deep cultural humility and congruence in clinical work.”
Whether for practitioners or students of holistic counseling or simply curious individuals interested in exploring non-Western approaches to diagnosis and treatment, CRAZYWISE is certain to offer a unique, new perspective on mental health that may challenge one’s preconceived notions about mental illness and its treatment.