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The Shamanic View of Mental Illness

A long time ago, when I first awakened to my intuitive abilities, it kind of blew my mind. I no longer could hold onto the old, limited reality and buy into it. Everything changed. I could see more, know more, hear other people thoughts, and have awareness that went way beyond anything I’d previously understood.

It was not only weird, it literally shook my entire foundation of reality. But there was a “dirty little secret” about how it came about that I tried to hide for years…

I was all at once aware that:

  • I’m not separate from anything; I’m connected to everyone and everything around me
  • Everything is energy; it’s all responding to my own thoughts and emotions
  • Everything is possible; nothing is static
  • There is a whole world going on within each of us; I could hear and feel people’s thoughts and know what was going on inside

This was profoundly destabilizing. There were episodes of unthinkable fear and panic. Without spiritual guidance, or any context for what had happened, I thought I must be possessed by the devil.

I can’t describe how scary and dreadful it was to be so alone in my reality. There was no one in my world I could communicate with about this. The more I tried to, the more “trouble” I got into. My parents didn’t know what to do with me because of all my “crazy talk” so they brought me to the doctor and I was admitted to the mental ward.

Yes, I was in a mental hospital!

(WHEW! It’s been a lifetime of holding that in because of the fear and shame I had around it!)

It was decades later (after of course, figuring all of this out and finding amazing spiritual guides and mentors!) before I incorporated this into my life and medical practice in a purposeful and fulfilling way.

Around that time, I received an email from a friend about the way other cultures perceive mental illness.

It shared that shamanistic view of what we label as a disease. The actually see it as a sacred event.

In the shamanic culture, it is understood that great healers must go through a shift in consciousness in order to be able to receive and translate higher perspectives and possibilities. This destabilizing experience is called the “birth of a healer” and is necessary for a person to be able to anchor into higher realms and provide healing insight and energy. It would be impossible for them to remain in the conventional mindset and have the ability to access higher awareness

What happens in mental illness, as we call it, is that two incompatible energies collide. One being the limited world view of “I’m separate and powerless,” and the other being the higher awareness of “I’m infinite and connected with all things.”

We must let go of one before we can embrace the other. In the shamanic culture, a person is given profound support and nurturance through this process. It is seen as a Divine gift and is cherished by all in their society. They are aware that they would be lost without those who could bring through this guidance and insight from a higher realm.

What I had seen as the greatest shame in my life, suddenly became my greatest blessing.

I can’t tell you how many young people I’ve seen as a doctor in the Emergency Room labeled with “bipolar disorder,” “depression,” “psychosis,” and/or “schizophrenia” where I would look in their eyes and immediately see this transformation going on. When I would connect with them and “see” them, their entire system would immediately calm down and re-equilibrate. It was as though finally they were (albeit briefly) in a world where they could be seen.

It was in so many of those moments when I would silently vow to myself to get out of my career in the ER and create a platform where I could really make a difference.

It’s taken many years for me to release the shame and fear I felt around this experience and to know it was a Divine gift. I was mostly alone in that journey. I am so grateful for the insight I now have to celebrate this, shout it from the rooftops, be fully seen as the conduit for healing and awakening that I came here to be and share this with others who may be suffering.

Yay to me for finally dumping the shame that kept me hidden! Even when I stepped out of conventional medicine, I would never in a million years have shared about this mental breakdown! Being hospitalized! This would have been the greatest “discrediting” to everything I’d worked so hard to build!

In our medical world, credibility is of the utmost importance. We build our credentials so we can stand on this “I’ve-got-it-together-so-listen-to-me” platform, which is founded on ego, not Truth. When we look inside at what’s really there, we must release all the self-doubt and inadequacy before we can meet what we’re truly made of. We are all infinite. To embrace our deepest fears and shames is exactly what gives us the ability to stand in the light of the Divine self, and express all of who we truly are.

Then, all of life meets us there to celebrate us, resource us, cherish us, and bring everything that’s needed for us to shine and thrive. I know that as I fully shine my light and honor my truth, all of life can awaken more fully.

Are you also hiding in some way, in fear or shame of who you really are

Do you realize this is exactly the door behind which lies everything you’ve been asking for

Are you ready to be seen and shine?

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  1. WOW, Dr. Kim! First, this was so courageous of you. Thank you for modeling such authenticity! I could relate to what you said on so many levels. I had some of the same thoughts/fears about why I could see/know/feel all of the things I did growing up. I didn’t want to be a weirdo, so I denied, hid, pushed through, but that is exactly why I ended up in a chronic illness state. Denying who you truly are is unhealthy, plain and simple…but sometimes being yourself isn’t safe, either, depending on your situation. My hope is for everyone to get to a point in life where they can feel safe and supported in peeling back they layers they have literally plastered on over the years. To be able to take the things you thought were a “curse” (like being highly sensitive) and turn around and use them as the gifts they are to heal and eventually thrive is the greatest home-coming there is! XO, Sharon

    • Oh Kim…Love you more now than ever! Thank you for your courage and honesty. You are indeed very special and I’m very blessed for to call you my friend.
      With Great Love, Kate

    • Thank you Dr. Kim for sharing. This post and video together with the one you previously sent us regarding coming out of the closet have also liberated me. That’s what happens when we share. I’m a writer so I know this power. We share to give others courage and as one other commenter said, I’m now more willing to let my freak flags fly. I too went through a period of psychosis – 2 years ago when the energies were shifting and changing so much. I was doing another awakening your light body course and I think it was all too much. Also I had written a book in which I was sharing with the world some deeply transformative mystical experiences and well, I couldn’t come out of the closet. I was afraid of being burned at the stake. And so I cut off that flow (writing and sharing the beauty of that story was my passion) and it threw me down into the deepest abyss I have ever known. For all of us who are coming out of the closet we need to know that there is a mass of support out there, and that we are not alone. So bravo. I’m next in line. Thank you so much for all your work.

  2. I love you so much
    You have inspired me to trust and be so excited to come out of every closet I’ve locked myself into!
    Dr Kim D’Eramo you are a shinning star in this world and I can’t tell you how much every video you’ve made is changing my life !
    I finally feel I’ve found my true mentor that I trust with all my heart

  3. May we celebrate all melding of global wisdom – ancient indigenous to the newly recreated – & the naturally occuring alchemy to higher expression. Every instance of transmuted energy allows remembering of our individual & collective brilliant nature.

  4. Sosososooooo many parallels to my life. Thank you (!!) for opening up your divine self for the world to see and giving me another reason to stay the course and keep rising through the fog of illusion. Someday maybe I’ll bend your ear and it will all sound very familiar to you. Let’s all just let our freak flags fly, good doctor…

  5. Amazing! Thanks for sharing that. Many years ago, I had a smaller version of that. It happened spontaneously – I just felt this huge wave of love come over me and I felt connected to the Divine, all limitations lifted and all I wanted to do was pass this feeling on to people. It passed, unfortunately, but it was a stunning experience. My husband had a full-on experience in a meditation retreat and it took him weeks to get over. It’s a shame when we ‘snap back’ to our limited selves. Perhaps as more and more people have these experiences, it will tip the balance for humanity and pave the way for more compassion, understanding and peace.

  6. Thank you Dr Kim. I just re read your book recently and really truly feel that my “mental illness” and anxiety is no longer what’s “wrong” it’s a invitation to open me up to so much more. I feel more allowing of when fear and anxiety creep in and feel into it more and thank my body more for what it brings up. This post was exactly what I needed today too. I’m ready to allow my body to let go of the shame I have of my anxiety which is often a fight response and really tune in to it and love it and not make it wrong anymore. It’s helping me expand. And I know the more I pay attention to it the more it will dissipate when it is ready to.

    • Woohoo Amy! This is amazing. Yes, you can allow this all to move, after all, it is energy and our thoughts and beliefs are what keep it in place and it sounds like yours is ready to move.

  7. WE all have many shames and dirty little secrets that in hindsight are really part of our Earthschool individualized curriculum to get us into a great place of being.
    I am 64 years old and just now am willing to publicly and fearlessly share my journey and help others with theirs.
    I have always been a helper/healer/seeker but did not see this as Divine. There were too many paradoxes – shame and pride, accomplishment and failure, connectedness and complete disconnect.
    I have been following you and taking some of your on-line courses. I have been a student of the many great personal growth leaders of my time since I was in my teens.
    IT is really time to claim our own power and beauty and I thank you for being a conduit of exactly that. One of the many streams into Divinity is getting out of pain and you are a leader in helping us do that.
    Failure is only a portal to learning. Mental illness is hard. Coming off drugs (both recreational and prescription) is hard. Dealing with physical dis-ease and pain is hard! Coming through that on the other side of it is magical. There is beauty in the breakdown. In my case, it really seems like it is taking a lifetime for the butterfly to emerge and then fly.

  8. Oh my goodness I love this post, and I love you for it. Thank you for sharing so fully! You’re helping me IMMEASURABLY. Anxiety has been one my biggest teachers (and biggest challenges) for 2 and a half decades, and so few people have been able to support me in seeing it’s truly a teacher! I do so appreciate you.

  9. It is so inspiring to know that someone such as yourself that is so “together” has too been through dark times. I am also one that never shows my true self and all that I have been through mentally, because everyone looks to me as the “perfect being” It has to be so freeing to let your real self shine. Although we as perfectionists do not like others to see our flaws, it think when they do come out, it makes us become more relatable and closer to others.

  10. thank you Dr Kim, you are very brave!! I have suffered from anxiety and depression on and off for years: l’m very sensitive to other peoples’ thoughts but don’t know if l am just sick. l long to be well and help other people … Don’t know what to do any more.


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