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Voices Beyond the Threshold


Voices Beyond the Threshold Isabel Clarke Consultant Clinical Psychologist – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Date added: 3 January 2020
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Title: Voices Beyond the Threshold

Voices Beyond the Threshold
  • Isabel Clarke
  • Consultant Clinical Psychologist

The Talk
  • What threshold A psychological framework for
    understanding non ordinary experience
  • Managing the threshold - Therapeutic approaches
  • Understanding the transpersonal aspect
  • The transformative dimension.

Different types of experience psychosis and
spirituality revisited.
  • What is the connection between the journey of
    life the journey of therapy, and the spiritual
  • Why can some people manage to adust to difficult
  • Whereas other people find themselves in a
    different dimension?
  • How is it that for some people this experience is
    creative and transformative?
  • Whereas for others it is the opposite?
  • What can we learn about this other dimension
    and how can this help us to stand beside the

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  • O the mind, mind has mountains cliffs of fall
  • Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them
  • May who neer hung there.
  • Gerald Manley Hopkins (from No worst, there is
    none, pitched past pitch of grief)

Travel into the strange places of the mind
  • Not mind safely locked inside the skull
  • No! mind that envelopes us
  • Mind that is sea we swim in
  • Travel across the threshold the Transliminal
    but never to let go of Ariadnes thread!

Characteristics of the other way of experiencing
  • Metaphor come to life
  • Dissolution of boundaries

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  • Cosmic significance terrible or wonderful
  • Confusion about the self

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  • Coincidence rules OK
  • Threat (cosmic)
  • Link with trauma

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Two Views of the person
  • people are rational beings, with, needs, plans
    and aspirations, who function more or less well,
    unless they turn out to have an 'illness'
  • Static
  • people are perpetually seeking definition through
    dreams and symbols, and deeply dependent on
    important relationships easily knocked off
    course by loss of any of these props, and
    perpetually trying to balance the inner state.
  • Dynamic and in flux.

Getting a scientific grip on the transliminal
  • The split between realities comes from the
    split in us!
  • Interacting Cognitive Subsystems provides a way
    of making sense of this crack.(Teasdale
    Barnard 1993).
  • An information processing model of cognition
  • Developed through extensive research into memory
    and limitations on processing.
  • A way into understanding the Head/Heart split in

Interacting Cognitive Subsystems.
Body State subsystem

Relational subsystem
Auditory ss.
Implicational Memory
Visual ss.
Verbal ss.
Propositional subsystem
Propositional Memory
Linehans STATES OF MIND (from Dialectical
Behaviour Therapy) Maps onto Interacting
Cognitive Subsystems
  • MIND
  • (Implicational
  • subsystem)

REASONABLE MIND (Propositional Subsystem)
Using ICS to understand the Transliminal
  • Non-ordinary experience when Emotion
    Mind/Implicational does not mesh properly with
    Reasonable Mind/Propositional
  • This leads to a different quality of experience
    fine in the short term a problem when stuck
  • Normalising the difference as well as the
    continuity shared and unshared reality
  • Sensitivity and openness to anomalous experience
    continuum with normality
  • Understanding the role of emotion the feeling
    is real the story is improbable

Important Features of this model
  • Our subjective experience is the result of two
    higher order processing systems interacting
    neither is in overall control.
  • Each has a different character, corresponding to
    hot and cool cognition.
  • The Relational Subsystem manages emotion and
    therefore relationship.
  • The verbal, logical, propositional ss. gives us
    our sense of individual self.
  • This gives us the two ways of knowing
  • The Everyday or Shared Reality (when Relational
    and Propositional are in synchrony)
  • The Transliminal or Unshared Reality (when they
    are in desynchrony).
  • Both of these are available to all human beings.
  • Both are incomplete
  • The transliminal has always both fascinated and
    spelt potential danger!

Evidence for a new normalisation
  • Schizotypy a dimension of experience Gordon
  • Mike Jacksons research on the overlap between
    psychotic and spiritual experience.
  • Emmanuelle Peters research on New Religious
  • Caroline Bretts research having a context for
    anomalous experiences makes the difference
  • whether they result in diagnosable mental health
  • whether the anomalies/symptoms are short lived
    or persist.
  • Wider sources of evidence e.g.Cross cultural
    perspectives anthropology. Richard Warner
    Recovery from Schizophrenia.

Being Porous therapeutic approach
  • Some people are more open to this type of
    experience than others cf. Schizotypy
  • Sensitivity and openness to anomolous experience
    continuum with normality
  • Positive side as well as vulnerability
  • Validating the experience
  • Normalising the difference in quality of
    experience as well as the continuity
    understanding the transliminal so that it can be
    recognized give choice
  • Motivation to engage with shared reality
  • Manage the threshold mindfulness is key

Linehans STATES OF MIND (from Dialectical
Behaviour Therapy) Maps onto Interacting
Cognitive Subsystems
  • MIND
  • (Implicational
  • subsystem)

REASONABLE MIND (Propositional Subsystem)
Managing the threshold
  • Awareness of vulnerability of openness to
    transliminal experience
  • Grounding when the experience is overwhelming.
    Grounding activity. Grounding food.
  • Mindfulness to manage the threshold
  • Challenge of facing unshared reality mindfully
    both pleasant and unpleasant
  • Transliminal state of mind most accessible at
    high and low arousal
  • Managing arousal breathing control to reduce
    arousal mindful activity in the present to
    prevent it slipping.

Psychosis and the Transpersonal Dimension
  • ICS offers a challenging model of the mind
  • The human being is a balancing act as the two
    organising systems pass control back and forth
    there is no boss.
  • The mind is simultaneously individual, and
    reaches beyond the individual, when the
    implicational ss. is dominant.
  • This constant switch between logic and emotion
    gives us human fallibility
  • The self sufficient, billiard ball, mind is an
  • In our implicational/relational mode we are a
    part of the whole.

Thats How the Light gets in (and the dark)
  • The Relational part of our mind is embedded in
    relationship in the whole (the older part)
  • The newer, self conscious, part holds our
  • Temporary control passing backwards and forwards
    between the two organising ss is experienced as
  • When the relational takes over for any length
    of time, the character of experience changes
  • The person is no longer grounded in their
    individuality boundaries dissolve they are
    open to any influences positive and negative.

Web of Relationships
In Rel. with earth non humans etc.
In Rel. with wider group etc.
primary care-giver
Self as experienced in relationship with
primary caregiver
Sense of value comes from rel. with the spiritual
What does this say about the possible
transpersonal dimension of psychosis?
  • Taking experience seriously experience of
  • Experience of cross generational healing
  • On the other hand the transliminal is governed
    by a logic of both and

Psychosis Potential for Transformation
  • Traditions such as Psychosynthesis and Spiritual
    Emergence/Emergency recognize the
    transformational potential of the transliminal.
  • They tend to distinguish between psychosis and
    transformational crises
  • More and more this is seen as a false dichotomy
    Spiritual Crisis Network (.org.uk)
  • Mike Jacksons Problem Solving Paradigm
    Shifting model.
  • Click into another dimension for a wider
    perspective with the danger of a vicious circle
    getting set up getting stuck
  • Role of stigma in trapping people.

The What is Real and What is Not Programme
designed to combat stigma
  • First Form an Alliance.
  • Validate their reality
  • Introduce the idea that their reality is only one
    way of looking at it
  • shared and unshared reality (negotiate the
  • The individuals experience is taken seriously
    and valued at the same time as working on a
    better relationship to shared experience
  • It is possible to get away from illness language
    and arguments about diagnosis
  • Normalising openness to unshared reality idea
    of the schizotypy spectrum
  • Advantages and disadvantages of openness to
    unshared reality
  • e.g. of people who have used unshared reality

  • Characteristics of unshared reality.
  • Idea of the line/ the threshold.
  • Importance of being able to manage the line
  • Motivational aspect pros and cons.
  • Coping skills to manage the line
  • When is unshared reality most powerful in
  • Arousal as a means of being in control
  • Stress management
  • Being alert and concentrated watch out for
    drifting states
  • Grounding in the present
  • Wise mind and mindfulness
  • Focusing/mindfulness v. distraction

Session 2. The role of Arousal shaded area
anomalous experience/symptoms are more accessible.
Level of Arousal
Ordinary, alert, concentrated, state of arousal.
Low arousal hypnagogic attention drifting etc.
High Arousal - stress
Linehans STATES OF MIND applied to PSYCHOSIS

Ways of coping suggested by this approach
management of arousal and constructive activity.
Final SessionMaking sense of the experience
  • Why do people click into/get lost in unshared
    reality/the transliminal?
  • Discussion of Different meanings for the
  • Meaning for the individual
  • Place in their life what was happening in their
    life when it all started?
  • Address and validate the emotion that is
  • 'Problem Solving' idea Mike Jacksons research.

Contact details, References and Web addresses
  • Isabel.Clarke_at_hantspt-sw.nhs.uk
  • AMH Woodhaven, Calmore, Totton SO40 2TA.
  • Clarke, I. (Ed.) (2010 Forthcoming) Psychosis
    and Spirituality consolidating the new
    paradigm. Chichester Wiley
  • Clarke, I. ( 2008) Madness, Mystery and the
    Survival of God. Winchester'O'Books.
  • Clarke, I. Wilson, H.Eds. (2008) Cognitive
    Behaviour Therapy for Acute Inpatient Mental
    Health Units working with clients, staff and the
    milieu. London Routledge.
  • www.SpiritualCrisisNetwork.org.uk
  • www.isabelclarke.org
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