Trials of the Visionary Mind

Spiritual Emergency and the Renewal Process

By John Weir Perry

Subjects: Jung
Series: SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
Paperback : 9780791439883, 216 pages, November 1998
Hardcover : 9780791439876, 216 pages, November 1998

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Table of contents



Part I

1. Treatment or Therapy?

2. Thoughts on Thought Disorder

3. Psychosis or Visionary State?

4. Alternative Ways

5. Transitions in Outlook

6. Psychological Methods

Part II

7. Jung's Approach

8. Relationship as Healing

9. Love and Power in Myth and Ritual

10. Individuality in Myth and Ritual

11. Healing in Myth and Ritual

12. Visionary Experience in Myth and Ritual

Part III

Summary in Respect to Spiritual Emergency


A. Addendum Queries on Chapter 8

B. Setting Up a Residence Facility

C. Alternatives to Hospitalization: A Report on Diabasis




A comprehensive summary of the author's revolutionary approach to psychosis.


Stress may cause highly activated mythic images to erupt from the psyche's deepest levels in the form of turbulent visionary experience. Depending on whether the interactions between the individual and the immediate surroundings lean toward affirmation or invalidation, comprehension of these visions can turn the visionary experience into a step in growth or into a disorder, as an acute psychosis. Based on his clinical and scholarly investigations, John Weir Perry has found and formulated a mental syndrome which, though customarily regarded as acute psychosis, is in actuality a more natural effort of the psyche to mend its imbalances. If the upset is received in the spirit of empathy and understanding, and allowed to run its course, an acute episode can be found to reveal a self-organizing process that has self-healing potential.

This book examines what the acute "psychotic" experience stirs up in the psyche and how to empathetically respond. Understanding the function of mythic themes is reached through the author's investigation into myth and ritual of antiquity and also the visionary experience undergone by prophets and social reformers in various ages and parts of the world.

John Weir Perry is Former Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of The Heart of History: Individuality in Evolution, published by SUNY Press; The Self in Psychotic Process: Its Symbolization in Schizophrenia; Lord of the Four Quarters: Myths of the Royal Father; The Far Side of Madness; and Roots of Renewal in Myth and Madness.


"This is an excellent and comprehensive summary of John Weir Perry's ground-breaking work in the area of alternative approaches to psychosis that represents a theoretical and practical breakthrough. John Weir Perry is a true pioneer in this very important area. His ideas, when accepted, could revolutionize the approach to psychosis. The book is a very useful guide for therapists, clients, and lay persons in the lives of psychotic patients. " — Stanislav Grof, author of The Cosmic Game: Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness