As you probably know, the beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams, who suffered from depression, committed suicide on August 11, 2014.
In the weeks following Williams' suicide, residents of Fairfield, Iowa, USA, home to Maharishi University of Management and to several thousand TMers, have been inching suicide out of the closet. Researchers noticed that Iowa has a higher rate of suicide than the national average. And Fairfield has a higher rate of suicide than the average Iowa city.
Fairfield residents have been dragging their feet around suicide prevention for years. This is due not only to the American stigma around mental illness. It is also exacerbated by TM official and unofficial doctrine. Just a few of them are:
- Maharishi disapproved of Western psychotherapy.
- If you saw a psychotherapist, you could be disqualified from attending a TM course.
- TM is supposed to make you emotionally healthy, therefore if you report emotional problems, you are making TM look bad.
- People with emotional problems have been advised to do more asanas or learn the TM-Sidhis, rather than to seek professional help.
- People with emotional problems have been told they are "unstressing" rather than being advised to seek professional help.
- When people have had emotional problems (including hospitalizations and suicides), the TM organization has tended to hide the information or blame the person for being too emotionally unstable to begin with.
- People with emotional problems have been misdiagnosed by TMers as being in higher states of consciousness.
A fascinating report on the blossoming of open discussion on mental health problems in Fairfield is found here:
"Fairfield Cares," a grassroots organization helping to increase honest conversation about mental health problems of TMers holds meetings and lectures. And Maharishi University of Management, after 40 years of denying counseling to their students, are adding counseling to their health services. However, they state that it is offered as an "adjunct" to TM, since, according to TM doctrine, scientific research shows that TM improves mental health, making people happy and stable.
The TM organization (TMO) doesn't publicize any of the research which shows that sometimes TM causes or exacerbates mental illness. Until I discovered TM-Free Blog, I believed what the TMO taught - that every research study ever done on TM showed that TM produces only benefits. You can find many articles on TM-FreeBlog about emotional problems that some people have experienced due to T.M. You can find information on the suppressed research on the far-right column of TM-Free Blog's home page.
What have been your experiences with the TMO and mental health?