Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
September 24,   2011
From the Inside Out

From the Inside Out

Shattering the Mental Illness Myth: A True Story



Lauren M. Prato, Atlantic University


Have you or someone in your life experienced a spiritual awakening? Are you a therapist, social worker, or clergyman working with individuals who believe they are undergoing a spiritual or mystical transformation?  As part of your wellness and healing groundwork-and to avoid negative or unfortunate labeling-you must read this book.  Lauren M. Prato has written a compelling and important work that exposes many of the myths that promote spiritual awakenings as mental illness.  From Prato's own transformation to the comprehensive and proactive appendix, From the Inside-Out is a self-help book that will both inspire and challenge both laypersons and professionals to holistically reconsider spiritual issues.

Whether you are an individual whose spiritual experiences are unsettling, confusing, or troubling, a relative of someone struggling with spiritual experiences, or a caregiver--therapist, social worker, mental health professional, member of the clergy--who have been contacted to provide support, From the Inside-Out will provide inspiration, information, and direction. In this compelling self-help book, wellness expert Lauren M. Prato reveals her own spiritual transformation, one that delivered her from chronic depression. In describing her spiritual awakening, Prato explores the importance of recognizing a spiritual awakening and the most effective approaches to integrate that spirituality into our lives. Society often reacts to these awakenings with confusion and even contempt. There is a tendency to label those who experience spiritual (and mystical) awakenings as abnormal or a sign of mental illness.  Yet, as the author reminds us, "Who is to say where our spiritual evolution takes us?"  The more pressing question is how to educate that segment of society that so quickly negates the importance of one's spiritual journey in whatever form it takes. Prato's own story will uplift and educate, as will the offerings of two prominent mental health professionals in transpersonal psychology. Add to this an appendix explaining the mental health ramifications, including frequent misdiagnoses, and readers will recognize this book as a must-read.

From the Inside-Out is Lauren M. Prato's own story told for everyone experiencing a spiritual awakening and transformation, their families and all caregivers (therapists, social workers, mental health professionals, and clergy) asked to provide guidance and support. Besides her own personal history, the forward and comprehensive appendix offered by two transpersonal psychologists (both Ph.D.s), are designed to elevate one's understanding of the mental health realities and misdiagnoses too often associated with individuals experiencing spiritual awakenings.  Ms. Prato reminds us that society is too-often ill-equipped to understand and accept those who undergo a broad spectrum of spiritual and sometimes mystical experiences. Rather than labeling them as abnormal or mentally ill, mental health professionals, and families will understand, with the support of this book, how to respond to such awakenings with the appropriate support, guidance, and acceptance.

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From the Inside-Out


Henry Grayson, Ph.D.*


Lauren Prato has brought important issues to light by sharing her mental hospital experiences with us in such an open way. While we have progressed from the era of straitjackets and routine electroshock therapy, she makes us vividly aware of so many weaknesses in our care for the mentally ill. We see the lack of knowledge that would enable mental health professionals to distinguish a spiritual awakening from a psychotic episode. At least we have advanced to the degree that we do not burn people at the stake for such experiences any more.


Hospitals provide so little therapy that is helpful and healing to patients, and often the environment is not itself a healing community, as Prato points out. Being largely custodial and using medication to subdue or control undesirable behaviors, the staff is not trained to create a therapeutic community. From Lauren's experience we see the need to train, not only the custodians, but the highest levels of psychiatric and psychological professionals to understand unusual forms of spiritual experiences, such as the rising of subtle energies as in Kundalini awakenings.


We might also raise questions about the usefulness, and sometimes harm, in operating from a strict diagnosis. When we put people in a diagnostic pigeonhole, do we box them in and therefore perpetuate their disturbance? While medication can certainly be of help to many people who are non-functioning or whose behaviors could result in harm to themselves or to others, it does not seem to bring about deeper psychological and spiritual healing, but just an abatement of some symptoms.


New brain scan studies and other developments in neuropsychology show us that traumas play a very significant role in the later development of serious illnesses, both mental and physical. Yet so much of our therapeutic intervention, whether in the hospital or not, does not attend to clearing the encodings of painful information stored in the limbic system, the survival brain. From our rapidly emerging clinical experience and research we find that there are a number of new approaches that actually work, much like deleting unwanted information from your computer. Some of these include, but are not limited to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy), Energy Psychology (Emotional Freedom Techniques, Tapas Acupressure Technique, Thought Field Therapy, and evolving adaptations of each), and body-based therapies. I believe there would be a significant increase in the success rate and a substantial decrease in the recidivism rate in mental hospitals, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, and correctional facilities if such knowledge and information were included in their treatment programs.


In spite of mounting research to the contrary, a common tendency in the mental health field is the failure to recognize the positive and strengthening effects of beliefs and spiritual and religious practices. Too often, religious beliefs and spiritual-awakening experiences are viewed only as an expression of pathology, as Lauren Prato experienced all too painfully. At the same time, we also need to be aware that there are often misuses of religious teachings that have helped create severe emotional problems as well. We must learn to distinguish between the healthy and unhealthy uses of spiritual and religious practices.


In our attempts to be scientific, we have lodged ourselves in a science that is more than 300 years old, that of Isaac Newton, and have not recognized the relevance of the newer sciences of the last century: quantum physics, holographic theory, field theory, brain studies, and many other related sciences such as molecular biology and botany. While these sciences have advanced in many areas of our culture, they have only slightly influenced the fields of medicine and mental health.


These studies and theories take us to an invisible but powerful realm of reality, beyond which we can study only with the five senses. We are now discovering that not only does what we think about each other have significant effects, but especially what we think about our patients and how we perceive them will profoundly influence the outcome of therapy. We are now finding that newer scientific discoveries have confirmed what many spiritual traditions have known for centuries--that everything and every person is interconnected in a profound, yet invisible way.


I am deeply grateful to Lauren Prato for helping to make us aware of the work we mental health professionals have in front of us. May we keep our minds open and not shirk our responsibility, for we are entering a time of great reform, perhaps greater than the Copernican Revolution where we learned that the Earth was not the center of the universe.



*Henry Grayson, Ph.D.

Founder and Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Institute for the Psychotherapies

Author of Mindful Loving: 10 Practices to Deepen Your Connections and The New Physics of Love: The Power of Mind and Spirit in Relationships


To order From the Inside-Out from Amazon.com, click here!



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