Yes! -- the long awaited letter is finally done.
Well it's partly thanks to my move and other life-changes that this has taken so long to complete. And as you may have guessed, I vastly underestimated the task of writing what turned out to be as long as a book... this has sure been more difficult and time consuming than I expected. As I mentioned when I began this, it's partly your work as a counselor that inspired me to put this together -- as well as my own need to tell someone the whole story, of course. I mean the whole story, no matter how crazy it makes me sound, no matter how this or that event might support (or deny) anybody's theories. It's not a treatise on psychology, though it sure did end up sounding like one. It's not about aliens either, or the dozen other "things" I also have no answer for, which seem to make up the cast of characters in my life. (Truth is stranger than fiction. Mine is, anyway.)
As time goes on, I find "my" reality to be more a matter of perception than test tubes, and these subjects are simply not in black and white. I feel there is much the psychology world could learn from examining the lives of individuals in the midst of these experiences. Not just at the "experience" points but the whole developmental cycle involved. Having written things down as they happened, having remembered them "normally" (non-hypnotically), I'm providing my original account at face value, no matter what I may think about it now. To be honest, at this point I find much of it simply embarrassing.
The experiences recounted here cover a wide variety of bizarre symptoms and events. The imagery includes everything from religious figures to aliens, from inexplicable horror-filled dreams of dread to angelic encounters that changed my entire point of view overnight. From standard psychology to experiences reminiscent of deep Zen; from fully physical, wide-awake events, to "out of body" experiences and "bi-location," from intense "visions" to dreams, and even hallucinations.
The symptoms resulting from the experiences are also varied. There are probably things here well known by the abnormal psychology field, and physical side effects as well. It might be interesting to see what other therapists think of this. Well, maybe. I do hope the odd and metaphysical nature of much of this doesn't put people off, or make them categorize everything into some neatly labeled field of psychosis. I'm not too concerned with what folks think of me personally, but I don't like my data to be skewed by people's personal problems with the subjects involved. I've seen enough of that in my attempt to talk about these things already.
I figured I'd "gone a bit schizo" and "accidentally animated the archetypal world" for myself. But my confusion kept me from trying to fit each experience into some pre-defined paradigm, which in the long run turns out to have been a great advantage.
One thing is clear, though: things get stranger as time goes on, yet I get more accepting. My personal changes have obviously taken me outside the scope of "normal" thinking. The belief systems that seemed "rational" a few years ago now seem childish, simplistic and ridiculous.
This casual case-study letter-book is composed of excerpts from my writings, mostly journal notes. That makes it sound like I have a real journal, which is hardly the case. I have years of letters to friends (including to you, so some of this will be familiar) and some journals on the computer. I gathered them together, integrated the multiple accounts of the same event, put everything in date order, and then using those as examples, outlined my story. I've fit the progression of the last few years of my evolution (or devolution) into one fairly linear piece.
As for the "excerpts," some are dreams, and some I called that, even when they happened when I was wide awake, in the middle of something during the day. So, maybe some are something else. How do I know? Assume it's a dream when you see one unless it says, or seems, otherwise. I initially attempted to specify what each excerpt was, but that only left me with the unhappy task of deciding, was a given event a dream, or "astral," or physical, or one covering for the other, or a hallucination, or...? Well that's the big question altogether, isn't it?! It was impossible for me to make an objective decision about them, so I've simply included them as they happened. Make of them whatever you will.
A couple of major psychological events related to "identity" took place in the midst of all this; they seem related. I've included notes on obsession and paranoia, as they also seem related. There are a number of other symptoms that I included as well, because I think any anomaly from the time frame of these events is relevant to an overall study.
You don't have to believe it Lynn. Considering how far out some of these accounts are, I won't mind if you don't believe me, or if you assume it's "only in my head." What you used to know as my logical personality and credibility will not be improved by these stories, I warn you ahead of time. If nothing else will be clear to you from reading this in bulk, it's the obvious change in my style of thinking that all of this has inspired... I'm certainly not quite the same as the person you met years ago. This former medical-model skeptic sounds more like someone who "wants to believe" every day. I used to make jokes about people with belief systems like the one I now hold. (There's some irony for you!) But as a favor to me, please, take this at face value if you can. Leave any decision about whether it's true, or possible, to the future. Allow some time, so that further evidence explaining at least some of this might become available.
I must say, it's been pretty fascinating going back over all this. There are so many repeating elements that I hadn't noticed before. There are so many "links" between things that weren't obvious until now. It's quite clear, looking at it from the present, that these experiences are related. How they're related -- of that, I'm not certain. I wish I had an answer -- that would make a good book for sure, eh?! What I would give for an answer, some days.
This was difficult to write. Since I have no real conclusions about how, why, where, etc., I had no "framework" to put my experience into. And you can't write a good plot development for a story when the story is from real life, without making it fictional, which would defeat the whole purpose of this. I'm not trying to entertain you, I'm trying to be honest. I hope this is made up for by the usefulness of a contextual account.
A few friends suggested I let them annotate this with notes from their own years of studies, existing accounts, etc. I refused. I didn't want this to get any longer, and didn't want to have to wait yet another year to send it to you. But also, I believe in doing things well. If I wanted to do a scholarly study on this, I would do one, and it would be a different book. Perhaps in the future that would be interesting. For now, this work is simply a "first hand account." What you wish to make of my account, or my credibility, is entirely up to you. I don't have the objectivity, or the study in this subject, to write anything scholarly at this point.
What I do have is a down-to-earth example that provides first-hand notes about personal experience. In a way, this makes it easier for me. This is just my story. It's not about getting you to believe anything. It's simply presenting things the way I encountered and interpreted them, so that when you work with people who may have similar experiences, you might have some additional insight into the psychology of people in these fields.
I haven't figured myself out yet, or whoever else may be involved. But you're so damned insightful, I've put a huge amount of work and time into making this, thinking that maybe somebody smarter than I am in the psyche field -- and, of course, far more objective than myself! -- will see something I don't, and hand an explanation back to me like some neatly wrapped little origami box that will explain how reality gets twisted into such impossible shapes.
In the meantime, whatever this all may be, whether physics or metaphysics, real events or just creative psychology, it's all pretty much the same to me. The label doesn't change the experience. When you get right down to it, the talking about things is just philosophy. The living them eventually seems normal.
As I like to say, it's just another day.
November 1, 1995
Bewilderness is copyright © 1993 to present to Palyne "PJ" Gaenir (palyne.com). See bewilderness.com.