The Gift of Mental Illness | Documentary Idea
by Maurice Edward J
(Hobbs, NM, USA)
Most documentaries I have seen regarding mental illness (at least in the Western world) have either been very negative or purely academic. Many doctors like to dope their patients up with a cocktail of prescription medications ranging from anti-depressant to psychotropic drugs. This often fixes the symptoms and not the problem. In many cases, medications will add more symptoms. Most importantly, many patients are told they will have to be on medications for the rest of their lives since there is no "cure" to disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and etc.
But there is another part of the world that looks at mental illness much differently than what I described above. There is a tribe in Burkina Faso and Ghana, Dagara people, that believe that mental illness is more so of a gift. In fact, they believe that it is the birthing of a healer.
They also believe that people suffering from mental illnesses are conduits between two world. Sufferers may hear or see things that no one else can because they are merely conduits between two worlds. This is gift.
The problem is in many nations like the United States, Canada and the UK, incorporating this kind of belief system may seem more like quackery than alleviation. A shaman or healer by the name of Malidoma Patrice Somé is an African healer from the Dagara tribe. His first visit to the psychiatric ward in the United States alarmed him. To learn more about Somé and the Dagara people's customs and beliefs system(s) visit http://disinfo.com/2014/06/shaman-sees-mental-hospital/
The basis of this documentary is to show that mental illness is not necessarily viewed as a bad thing. In fact, I've met many people in various religious groups who believe that people suffering from mental illness are possessed and/or have "the devil" in them. Not that I am discounting anyone's belief system, but I want to show a more positive aspect of mental illness and correlate it with a spiritual understanding that most people have never heard of or even thought about.
I thought about doing a cross-comparison to the treatment that most Western doctors follow (medication management and therapy), but that may be a lot to slam into one documentary.