Mysticism and Mental Illness

I wanted to discuss this topic because in a recent article, I wrote about how to make intuitive development feel less scary or ‘spooky’. I received a comment from a reader who felt that some people might have angry Spirit Guides who influence them into committing violent acts. And as a result of this, connecting with your guides could carry risks.

If you’ve heard about possessions, negative entities, and spirits telling you to do destructive things, you may have asked yourself questions like:

Where is the line between mentally ill and psychic?

Can your Spirit Guides tell you to do crazy things?

Does opening up psychically make you mentally unstable?

In this article, I aim to address these questions.

(Before I begin, I just wanted to say that I am not a medical doctor. I am not professionally qualified to give advice about mental illness. Seek the advice of your doctor. What is written below is my personal opinion and as usual with all of my blog articles, whatever you do with the information is totally up to you.)

Psychic or Mental Illness?

So, what is The REAL difference between these two?

Joseph Campbell said that “the schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.”

Positive vs. Negative – that’s the first distinction (delight rather than suffocation.)

Controlled vs. Uncontrolled – that’s the second key distinction (swimming rather than drowning.)

Psychic input from your spirit and your guides and angels is positive, empowering, and is shown to be helpful in hindsight. You can also control it. Spiritual guidance does not interfere with anyone’s free will or attempt to control a situation.

The input that comes through mental illness is not controlled and it’s not input from benevolent spiritual sources like Spirit Guides or your own spirit. That kind of input could be abusive, damaging, destructive and if acted upon, might have very negative consequences.

Therein lies the difference, in my view.

So in my view, if you have heard voices, had visions, or strong hunches, it does not mean you have a mental illness…as long as it’s not abusive, negative AND uncontrolled.

If you want to be psychic and remain balanced, I recommend learning how to turn it off, so that you’re not going around switched on all the time.

Meet Anna

Hi, I’m Anna Sayce! My purpose here on this website is to provide practical techniques and information to help empaths to understand, and fix the root of their energetic overwhelm & also to help sensitives to embrace and develop their intuitive gifts. I believe that developing our spiritual & intuitive side is very powerful and allows us to improve our own lives, and if we wish, even make the world a better place for others. Discover more >


  1. Kate

    Very good article. Working in close contact with people with dementia and other various mental illnesses I have often wondered the same thing. Many times I have thought that the person I was watching was not really crazy as the hospital would have labeled them but just an overwhelmed empath without guidance or a closet psychic that had no support from family, friends, or society just from what they said and how they acted. Now I have also seen patients who do think they are psychic and it is obvious that they are not in any way a psychic, again by the things they say and they way they act. Having been exposed to both sides, the psychic and psychotic, on a regular basis I would totally agree that there is a thin line, but that line is in fact a very clear one if you know what to look for. Also I am not a doctor stating medical facts, just a health care worker looking to improve her own psychic empathic abilities. Thanks for the article, I really enjoyed it.

  2. Anna

    Kate – Thanks for commenting on this. It must be sad to see those who are confused, overwhelmed empaths to be suspected of craziness. I guess that is why a lot of psychics do not tell anyone what they experience.

  3. Sonya Bruyette

    Hello Anna,

    I’m glad to meet you, and its interesting that I came across your article today 🙂
    This morning I awoke with a gnawing feeling that certain people I know may be judging me in a negative, unkind way, due to my belief system, and way of life. These people have never made negative comments to me personally, but I just sense their fundamental thinking and discomfort when I bring up a topic they are unfamiliar with. I ‘never’ expect that my thoughts or information will resonate with everyone, no matter how pristine and pure I feel an idea may be, due to the vast array of unique Souls on this planet. But the more I thought about it, I started thinking about the general tone of our world’s mental healthcare professionals and how they view “Sensitive”, “Intuitive”, and “Clairvoyant” people. It’s one thing for people to not resonate or understand people with psychic abilities, but it’s extremely ignorant and arrogant for anyone to label a person pathological just because the healthcare professional doesn’t understand or resonate with the client’s ‘unusual’ abilities. I was then prompted to go online to see if there are other like-minded people who share my frustrations, and who may offer supportive information to distinguish the difference between psychic and psychotic. This is the point at which I found your article. Thank you. I enjoyed reading it, and it was very helpful.

    Unlike most people I know, I rely on my heart’s intuition to determine what is right and wrong, or what is damaging and unethical VS what is healthy and moral. I have never felt “ill” due to my strong intuition and connection to the spirit world. For example, my website consists of information “downloaded” from my heart’s intuition. The ideas are not taken from a book or from someone else’s words (the way most people get their information), but instead from my personal insights which resonate within me. However, I am always upgrading or revising my pages when new information becomes available. In other words, as I evolve and grow just like every other being on this planet, so too does my knowledge about how things “work”.

    My intuition is as natural and flowing to my existence as my own breath which keeps me alive. However, I have noticed that people who insult or shun others with intuitive or psychic abilities are often those who don’t have access to those abilities within themselves. Reacting with fear to something we don’t understand is a common and typical human-nature reaction.

    I appreciate Kate’s comments regarding “empaths with out guidance”, who were possibly misdiagnosed, in the hospital setting she works in. Kate, your comment helps the mental health care profession move one step closer to letting go of outdated methods when treating and caring for “Sensitive” people. Thank you.

    I also appreciate Joseph Campbell’s quote: “Joseph Campbell said that the schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic delights in swimming. The difference, as you point out to an extent, is whether the swimming is being done intentionally or accidentally.” How true it is. Well said.

    My final comment is a word of advice to mental healthcare professionals or people in general who make negative, blanket statements about sensitive or psychic people. It is important to remember that there are all types of people with varying levels of consciousness in the world regardless of one’s title, position or belief system. For example, it would be a false, blanket statement to say that All homeless people are lazy, unethical and lack spiritual morals, and All people with high religious and academic status are the most motivated, spiritually aware and ethical people. Such conclusions are biased, inaccurate stereotypes. This same conclusion is drawn when people make blanket statements about individuals with psychic abilities. The truth is, many psychics are grounded, loving, ethical, wise old Souls who have purposely incarnated to offer healing Light and guidance to those who ask. However, it is true that some psychics are less than integral, ungrounded and prey on insecure, weak minded people. It is up to you to go within your heart to decide if any person, psychic or not, is helpful or harmful. When you judge ‘All’ psychics to be delusional, fake, or ‘out to get you’ your behavior is just as dysfunctional and ignorant as the non-integral psychics.

    When you meet a psychic who resides in truth and honor, your heart-force will recognize her or him to be a true Lightworker of the Creator. These are the true guides of Light who can help you get back on track, and continue your spiritual mission.

  4. Anna

    Hi Sonya,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Nice to ‘meet’ you.

    I too look forward to a medical system where they accept sixth sensory and intuitive ability as a natural part of life. Until then, I guess I’ll be writing articles like these 😀

  5. whistles

    I came into this website because I am wondering if I’m a pshychic myself.

    I’m extremely intuitive and sensitive to my surroundings. The other day I got a deep premonition something great happening. My cousin gave birth later that day.

    By sensing all of these emotions constantly around me it becomes difficult to focus on my work at times. I feel peoples vibes all around me. I see what the eyes and ears cannot hear or see.

    If I sense someone at work is in pain or struggling, it affects me. I am affected by strong vibes.That’s why my work environment is very important to remain balanced and stable.

    Sometimes I feel too much around me and live in the future, predicting what’s going to happen w-o actually living it.
    Its hard for me to live in the present, bc I’m living in the future. I may seem very wise for my age and never made mistakes.

    Once I predicted some type of unstable, shaky ground at my office. I quit bc it was such an uncomfortable feeling. My office shut down months later.

    I keep my thoughts to myself bc ppl will think I’m crazy. I wonder if anyone experiences what I have.

  6. Birdie

    Cool article

    I am a person in the mental health system currently on medications. What’s sad is I can’t tell what’s happening to me or what I think is happening to me. I don’t hear voices, but I “know” things, but when I first became “ill” I felt as if so much knowledge and ideas were forming, either stuff I learned in the past making more sense or stuff from nowhere, I became confused. Also I was having wild mood swings and panic attacks and my sense of hearing went way up.

    My experience was positive rather than negative except for the panic attacks and the mood swings. I even had two episodes where I felt so spiritually “high” I could not believe it. But it all went away with the meds.

    Last week, I’ve been seeing the 11:11 and 12:12 prompts and also saw a blue winged figure in my room. But my emotions were going nuts again and these things ended up scaring me. Soon I’m going to get my medication adjusted again.

    If these things are supernatural, how can medication stop them? I am guessing that the supernatural stuff has to be sensed through the brain somehow and that’s blocked, but what’s your theory?

  7. Alexander

    Hi Anna, thanks for this article. It really put a big issue of mine into perspective. I trained as a researcher in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, a skeptic materialistic atheist, interested in finding new drugs for brain disorders. After dealing with big live changes I had a spiritual awakening in 2007. My empathy opened up wide and I started to experience energetic presences, also when no people where near. Synchronicity led me to Steve and Erin Pavlina which helped to give it context. I chanced career and started working as a coach, employing my new found intuition and energetic help. Yet my family was deeply worried about my story and radiant enthusiasm and urged me to see a psychiatrist. I ended up talking to a professor of the psychiatry department of my old research institute. He deemed my empathy as a mood congruency illusion and other experiences as manic psychotic. This brought a deep clash within myself, seeing his side after 15 years of science. My reaction was to not face it and stop talking about it with my skeptic science friends. I know I will never convince them, as long as they themselves don’t have similar experiences. But the effect was that I now have a medical dossier branding me manic depressive, and no way to fight it. I went in to a depression. Within a year I lost my work, my marriage and my house. The big UP side is that I now have enough time to really get to know me and solve issues about how I react to people and their opinions. On your site I discovered cord cutting and I bought a book to learn to cut them all myself. After 5 cords, it already deepened and broadened the scope of my intuition. Your take on psychosis in this context is the first positive and clarifying I’ve read. Thank you. It will not change the minds of people who deem psychic phenomena as psychotic, but it helps to settle the restless mind for whom they are very real. At least it did for me!

  8. Anna

    Alexander – glad you found this article helpful. I think that when you go through a spiritual experience, it can stimulate the upper chakras and create a temporary imbalance that looks a bit worrying to other people who have never experienced it before. The imbalance is that of having your lower chakra energy shift into the upper chakras temporarily. That creates a feeling of being intensely connected to spirit, a sense of oneness, overactive (unskilled) empathy and you might radiate spirituality too. I wonder if that happened to you. I’ve seen it a lot after a spiritual awakening.

    What usually happens after a while is that balance gradually returns and the person integrates their new found spirituality into their life.

  9. Annie

    Hi Anna,
    I am thrilled to read this article! I also taught I was a psychotic when early signs of psychic started to embraced my being when I was in college. I thought I was crazy and went to see a medical doctor.The doctor ran several tests on me and later told me that I am not psychotic. Some say, I was cursed and for more than ten years, I spend so much money to find a cure of my “illness” as they (spiritual healers) call it. None of them worked.
    Until I found your site early November 2010, things started to make more sense to me! I guess being a meteorologist, it takes a very long long time for me to accept this low level psychic abilities I have.
    Once again, thank you Anna for a very helpful and interesting blog! I am hooked!

  10. Relieved

    Oh, you have no idea how much this article has helped me!! I think I stumbled into clairaudience. I felt it coming on me around 16. The idea of hearing voices sort of materialized in my head just before I fell from a height, and knocked myself unconcious. Then, verbally abusive voices came for a long time and scared me. That was when I was treated for schizophrenia, but I started meditating and focusing on chakras for the purpose of dreamwork, and the voices weren’t scary anymore so I stopped taking meds. But I have still walked around with that stigma my entire life. Now that I know, I think I will make more effort to get to know my guide. At least to the point so that I can find the ‘off-switch’. Thanks so much for posting this.

  11. karen

    I have been on the revolving door of mental health since adolescence and have recently been diagnosed as adhd and dysthymia I have had so many bad life experiences and traumas I’m surprised im still here. Recently ive been debating whether to disclose my hunch that I’m mixed up cause I know things and dont know how I do but just do – my friends think I’m spooky but love me deeply. I have had my knowing things confirmed time and time again but because there’s nothing tangible I doubt it and wonder if I’m insane…at the point now where im thinking of telling my cpn but scared they will think I’m psychotic. I’m also a reiki master and people think that’s weird enough. Don’t know what to do – any suggestions anyone?

  12. Victoria

    Psychics are gifted people and are unique. Understanding them with such capablitlies, intelligence and awareness that goes way beyond what we percieve as normal can be hard and daunting at times.

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