Psychosis, Russia, Kashpirovsky and mass hypnosis

Before we launch fully into the phenomenon of what the psychiatrists define as ‘psychosis’, we need to set up a scene.

‘Psychosis’ as such as defined as ‘a loss of touch with reality’, but my aim (a humble one) is to demonstrate, eventually, that those who go into this state (naturally) often reach another reality, which is true, real, and magical.

To set the scene, we need to go back in time, and more specifically to Moscow in 1989. It was the time of ‘mass psychosis’, and my own ‘madness’ or rather questioning on my part but ‘what is really going on here?’ started exactly then.

In 1989 Kashpirovsky made his first appearance on a national Russian state TV. As I remember he would appear once a week, for a televised mass hypnosis. Yes, you read it correctly. The national TV (one of the two channels which existed at that time) would air a hypnotist for an hour or so, to hypnotize an entire nation. I am not making it up. Google ‘Kashpirovsky’ or check this article about him in The Guardian.

Kashpirovsky was a trained psychotherapist, a lecturer, and a self-proclaimed ‘psychic healer’. Provided you had a bottle of water in front of the TV (that was his requirement in his address to the nation), you would be healed of all your troubles, both physical and spiritual.

My engagement with Kashpirovsky happened at a very personal level, as I could see, with my proper eyes, that something was terribly wrong. Absolutely out of order.

I was reaching my years as a teenager at that time, and alternated between my dad’s family and my grandma, who lived on the same street, in the same house, but in a different apartment. I would often stay with her. She was an old, fragile lady, who had lost her beloved husband, and was struggling to adjust to the radical changes that my country was undergoing then. The regime and ideology were changing, and the majority of the population was at a loss about what was really going on.

Being still very young, I also didn’t know what was really happening, but one thing was clear: it was all wrong, and especially the appearance of mass hypnosis on the state TV. The word ‘psychic’ made me feel uneasy, and somehow suspicious. The whole nation was lost then on a spiritual level, and it seemed that all sorts of charlatans and fakes tried to feel the niche. This was taking place in parallel with the resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church, and therefore, it was all terribly confusing. But wasn’t the ‘hypnosis’ on such a mass scale in total contradiction to the Christian teachings, I was asking myself?

My uneasiness was also based in seeing what Kashpirovsky was doing to my late grandma. As most people she would wait for Kashpirovsky on TV the whole day (streets would empty during his ‘séance’), put a bottle in front, and stay glued during the whole hypnosis.

I couldn’t watch it and tried to argue in vain with her that maybe it was all too far-fetched, and even dangerous. I was an avid reader by then, I was extremely curious, and from the scarce knowledge I had by that time, I had a nasty gut feeling that by ‘saying’ things on the state TV, and by channelling some kind of ‘energy’, one could indeed hypnotize an entire nation to death.  I also didn’t like the look of Kashpirovsky, and he didn’t strike me as someone one could trust.

Kashpirovsky didn’t heal the nation, and subsequent reports demonstrated the harm he had inflicted on numerous people. I could see what happened to my grandma after following his sessions. She developed diabetes, and on a spiritual level got lost even more. The promises of Kashpirovsky were all lies, as nothing was ‘calm’ anymore or would ‘get better’.

It all got worse, for the nation, for Russian people, and also for my own family for a long while.

But why do I give you the example of Kashpirfovsky, you might ask, to set the scene?

Well, mainly for two reasons.

First of all, it is to demonstrate that once someone puts a ‘psychotherapist’ or ‘psychiatrist’ in front of you, on a national level, it is often in order to exercise the power, and authority which can be misplaced, wrong and even not ethical. The UK government (and many other governments) are doing it now on a scale similar to mass hypnosis, by waiving their term of ‘mental illness’ and putting it on the same level as ‘any other physical illness’. As discussed by many survivors (check the open letter to the UK government by National Survivor User Network), it is nothing but an attempt to get rid of dealing with people experiencing distress on an individual level, and is in cooperation with Big Pharma. It all comes from the psychiatry, which is no longer a domain reserved to medicine, but a fifth estate, with the enormous power to regulate the entire population.

Secondly, it is to show that the general population often doesn’t see the obvious, even if the obvious is in front of you. Kashpirovsky and his hypnosis was a very obvious, and quite dangerous scam, happening so openly in front of the eyes of the entire population, that very few questioned its legitimacy. Indeed, why should we, if it is promoted by the government itself?

The point I am trying to make, is that ‘psychosis’ is not a matter of an individual only. The ‘loss of touch’ with reality is happening to all of us in the Western society, and those who see it are often proclaimed as ‘mad’, because they threaten the status quo of our society based in greediness, profit accumulation, and loss of moral values, where everything goes into making money, more money, and even more. In the UK we have the ‘psychosis’ of Brexit, in Russia we had Kashpirovsky and oligarchs, in the US they had September Eleven, which was a turning point for the direction in which we are all going now. Right after it happened, the stock markets all fell, and hedge funds made billions in money. I was working as a financial analyst of banks in Amsterdam then, and watched in stupor that such a massive human disaster was nothing but a matter of buying stocks on the stock market.

It also led to increase in distress among the general population, because of incomprehension as to how to process something totally incomprehensible, but as in Moscow in 1989, it led to the rise of psychiatric admissions and of treating human malaise with the psychiatric drugs, making profit for Pharma.

And the cycle goes on.

Being ‘mad’ is a cry of sanity in the world gone mad.


11 thoughts on “Psychosis, Russia, Kashpirovsky and mass hypnosis

  1. Thanks for a very interesting essay.
    I was an English teacher for 5 weeks in a Russian city (Vladimir) in 1993 during the turbulent Jeltsin years. A Russian colleague of mine taught Russian in my Danish class. All an attempt to build bridges between former “enemies”. I feel in love with a Russian woman, eventually we got married, we had a daughter who is now 18. The marriage, though, did not last.
    My background, thus, for offering an opinion about Russian culture is a university degree and a personal relationship that lasted 12 years.
    I should like to stand up for your grandmother. Her most impressive years must have been under Stalin when a knock on the door might be a friend or the police. Living under constant and intense fear, being told that you live in the most progressive country in the world, must leave its mark in any human soul. I would – like her and a number of Russians I met i 1993 – believe in magic and reach out for either a psychopathic charlatan or the Orthodox Church and its promises of a brave new world. Her reaction made sense, I think. But, needless to say, it was a bad choice.
    This is one thing. Another thing is that for people in general “to see the obvious” it takes education, part of which must taken up by practising analyses on all levels. This – for obvious reasons – was not in vogue in the Soviet Union. Why analyse a society that is based on scientific truth? And consequently, why see Anton Chechov´s art as more than just a bourgeois left-over? Or see people who questioned socialism as anything but nut cases?
    Your grandmother and sensitive people like her had nothing to fall back upon when the Soviet Union collapsed except what was offered them by random “magical characters”, including American religious fanatics.
    In their extremely interesting book, “The Psychology of Post-Totalitarianism in Russia”, Gozman and Etkind argue that the structure of the totalitarian consciousness had as its basic components belief in a simple world, belief in an immutable world, belief in a just world , – and belief a miraculous world. Based on my limited experience, I would say that Gozman and Etkind are not far off the mark.
    But is (mass) psychosis the right word to use here, or in our western societies, except as a metaphor for disconnecting our common sense, letting ourselves be swallowed up by an excitement that will make people go to war?
    I respect mental illness too much to not want to make firm distinctions here. On the one hand, we have “quite ordinary madness” which you describe so well in your essay, and which we are free to expose, hoping for something better in the future. The greed of the western world is crazy and the wealth is acquired by evil, cynical, psychopathic people, but not people who have lost touch with reality. On the contrary. These are all political problems, and not problems that are mysteriously understood by people given various diagnoses by a cynical society.
    R.D. Laing was one of the first to see madness as a sane reaction to intolerable conditions in a mad community. He went as far as to see schizophrenia as a sign of normality. This is in keeping with a conviction saying that children and feeble minded people are sages who see things differently, and who unlike adults – cold, sterile, rational – have not lost touch with God.
    I disagree.
    But in doing so I should like to add that my personal sage is the Danish philosopher Soren Kirkegaard, a Christian existentialist. His understanding of anxiety is brilliant, I think. And based on rational analysis, hard uncompromising work, stamina – all the characteristics that have brought us close to the brink of ecological disaster.
    Complicated world!


    1. Yes, I agree with you about my grandma.
      I never blamed her really for watching the hypnosis. I just voiced my opinion.
      I agree with Laing.
      I also think that socialism as an idea is a better world than the current system of capitalism. Stalin was a dictator, and many people suffered under him, including my family. But the ‘soft’ years of socialism, especially at the end, right before it all collapsed, were the years that I witnessed and for me, it still remains the most beautiful and innocent time of my life.


  2. “I got mad there” (in Amsterdam). Any specific reason to trigger it off? You appeared to have had a prestigious job and Amsterdam is full of cats and coffee.


    1. Well,
      that’s exactly what I plan to discuss on the blog. Psychiatrists describe my experience as ‘psychosis’, and inflicted ‘bipolar disorder’ on me.
      However, having researched and processed it, I regard it as a spiritual seeking. Especially that my ‘psychosis’ was healing and liberating experience.
      Yes, I had a prestigious job, but wasn’t happy in the corporate world. And I wasn’t happy in general.
      I have a much better job now that I truly love, and am in better place overall, thanks to my ‘madness’.


  3. Hello, Ekaterina,
    I saw your recent post on MIA, and thought I’d check out your website, and then I saw this entry, and it was exactly a subject I have thought about writing on my little blog.

    I’ve been curious about this thing called ‘psychosis’ since I started frequenting MIA, and they talked about it all the time. My wife has d.i.d., and I never thought of her as psychotic, just traumatized and lots of dissociation, but that’s very different than psychosis. But everyone over there kept talking about psychosis, and so I’ve tried to figure out what this thing is that I just don’t see in my wife at all. Maybe I spent too much time learning to see things from her perspective, and so I wonder if psychosis is just a term the ignorant use to label others….

    Anyway, I hope you’ll keep developing this theme.


    1. Hello Sam,
      thank you so much for your comment.
      Your wife is lucky that she has support and understanding from you.
      And yes, Mad in America really helps for all those who look for explanations beyond the bio-medical model. It helped me.
      And yes, what they call ‘psychosis’ can be simply a spiritual experience, or ‘seeing things’ which are actually real, but not accepted by our society of reasoning. Sometimes though, such experience can be difficult to handle on one’s own, and it’s when that the psychiatrists can really ruin a person, so I hope that your wife is strong enough.
      Yes, the whole site is building up on the theme of ‘psychosis’


  4. Hi Ekaterina, i read your essay too on MIA and if you remember we exchanged comments but my experiences of psychosis are totally different to yours. My experiences and there have been many over the years have all been entirely different at the time they occurred some have been spiritual in nature and some have been fantasies which came about because of my life situation at the time and i feel are pure imagination and is a form of consciousness equivalent to dreaming whilst awake. It is a dream state of consciousness. These psychotic episodes can take the form of our subconscious selves and memories that go way back in our lives from childhood until the present when we are adults. We have in our brains stored every memory we have ever had and so it is like a kind of text book and diary of our lives hidden in our subconscious and when we become psychotic this is opened up and creates the nature of the experience. It is a phenomenon to us in this day and age and nobody really knows the true meaning of it but i don’t believe they have just one meaning i believe they are dream like states of consciousness and dreams come from within us and reflect our whole life experiences..


  5. After reading your above essay just a moment ago on which i commented without reading first i am inclined so much to agree with you about Brexit in the UK and how governments control their populations. We have TV and it was found years ago that this could be a factor in state control. In the UK we have state TV but people think and believe we are a free nation. They do not realize how much TV controls us all and.I have decided to actually rid myself of it and be TV free. So i am not brainwashed into buying more and more possessions i do not need. I am just basically going to focus on my garden in the Spring, Summer and Autumn and buy my books. My son doesn’t watch state TV but we have all spent our lives watching and being influenced by TV programs and i believe the people that are involved in creating them are just out to make money and names for themselves. There is even a program about people watching people on TV programs. It is crazy! No way i want to live this way and i will in fact be getting rid of my TV this Xmas.

    Thank you so much for that essay Eketarina! Best wishes Anne


    1. Hello Anne,
      thank you so much for all your comments! I am so glad you are reading my blog!
      Ah, yes, the debate on MIA can get heated often, but at the end of the day, each person has to decide for themselves what works best for them. We all need to survive somehow!
      I saw your comment for my other blog. I will reopen it soon!
      Yes, it is sad to see what is happening in the UK, especially after the austerity for so many years, where so many people can’t enjoy basic good life.
      best wishes!


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