“After becoming a computer programmer in 1989 following developing schizophrenia during college, Milt Greek volunteered extensively with individuals in psychosis and post-psychosis. He led a schizophrenic early recovery group and has conducted subject-participation studies and surveys on psychosis. He began presenting on schizophrenia and recovery in the late 1990s and has delivered talks to mental health professionals and at conferences and has been published on the web by the Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence. While he remains employed as a computer programmer, he devotes extensive time to sharing insights and concrete techniques for working with those in psychosis and post-psychosis” *
* Excerpt from https://www.createspace.com/3811064
Guest Blogger: Jen Padron, M.ED, CPS, a leader in Peer Support initiatives, writes on resiliency, hope, and peer support programs in Texas and the country. She also writes on cultural and political issues in mental health, and whole-health and wellness solutions. Jen is currently working as a volunteer at CooperRiis Asheville, giving a year of her time to serving in our community.
Jen shares her reflections on Milt Greek below:
Milt Greek is very often referred to as a visionary, thoughtful leader, respectful and articulate peer. He sat at the front of the Art Barn at CooperRiis’ Farm on Monday, March 25, 2013 to a packed room of staff, residents and volunteers. His presentation was astute and experienced wisdom on schizophrenia resounded unanimously. His brilliance and very sensitivity to translating the experience of psychosis into vision questing and spirituality made sense to me and it was riveting. I sat in silence and while I wanted to take random notes, I was frozen and sat watching this man speak eloquently from the heart for more than three hours to us quietly, making points with his hands. He took questions here and there, but nonetheless, Greek spoke so eloquently and kept the room rapt in attention, mesmerized to the experience and subject of psychosis, vision-quest, hallucinations, spiritual quests, themes symbolizing needs for personal change and combined therapy tools for aiding the individual in psychosis during his/her spiritual journey(s).
Greek spoke to common elements and sources of content to psychosis from his very personal experience in living with Schizophrenia. He explained that individuals living and experiencing psychosis are vision-quest prone recanting examples of physical exhaustion and hallucinations experienced by Army Ranges in Officer training (e.g., Case One of a Bipolar veteran male hallucinating in a machine gun nest; Case Two of a non-mentally ill male veteran experiencing hallucinations during a grueling five mile run in Georgia heat while surrounded by enemy troops). Interestingly, individuals who may be vision-quest prone may tend to experience hallucinations “with less physical, emotional or mental stress than others” (Theresa, Survey Respondent G-4).
According to Greek, stand-outs between vision-quests and psychosis are clearly that one is typically voluntary (e.g., spiritual journeying such as shamanism, native medicine) and sought after while the other typically may not be to the individual experiencing a psychosis (e.g., moments of experiential mental duress). He refers to “Emotional Sponge”as a term during the experience of psychosis that is used to reflect intuitive and instinctive parts of the mind which will attempt to resume analytic components of self-analysis. For example, a person may “… absorb emotions from others, amplify them, filter them through delusional framework(s) and vent them” (Greek, M., 2013). The eventual personal “unbearable dilemma” comes from the external contradictions resulting in very real trauma and the “double-bind” internalization of character flaws and perceived problems in a person’s life that s/he may be experiencing. This building of internalized pressure must be resolved often leading to magical solutions and spiritual quests of enormous personal meanings with intensive growth opportunity. Synchronicity, the Shadow and Personal Unconscious identified by Jung (Greek, M., 2013) creates a “coincidence of thought and event” (e.g., beware the Ides of March) hearkened very often by true examples reflected in “real” life events surrounding the person experiencing psychosis/visioning/accurate intuitions/symbolic beliefs for the inner self and environmental sources of content.
Families, individual disharmony and community bring to mind the question of complex dynamics, inner struggle and championing of trauma. Personal transformation opportunities offer growth via magical, iconic and mythic stories, scripts and perhaps wandering or what Greek refers to as personal micro/macro crisis serving as “web of life” changes (e.g., Example Survey G-5). His hypothesis of psychosis as a very real spiritual journey towards it being a tangible healing resolution where it heals internal/external contradictions in “sensitive” persons (e.g., individuals experiencing mental health issues such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder) is such that strong emotions… dreaminess, abstractness, the “proto-artist” create measurable contradictions of discord within a delusional framework in a very personal world built upon interpretive symbolism that may be literal and universal meanings. The eventual development and understanding gleans personal growth and is a case where psychosis allows the person to have spiritual faith, growth, exemplifying a refined therapeutic approach towards greater life meaning (Greek, M., 2013, Open Dialogue Case Study).
Tools used to support Greek’s work include Dr. Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) ®, Dr. Xavier Amador’s LEAP (modified), Dr. Jaakko Seikkula’s Open Dialogue which Dr. Daniel Fisher at the National Empowerment Center often espouses via E-CPR, Ronald Coeman’s “Working with Voices II Workbook; Hearing voices Group and Greek’s own, “Schizophrenia: A Blueprint for Recovery Handbook”.
Finding Purpose After Living With Delusion, NY Times article about Milt Greek, written by Benedict Carey, November 2011