Is it a spiritual awakening or psychosis?

If you are on this page, I am assuming that you are not sure. While parts of a spiritual awakening are absolutely wonderful, and are filled with joy, love, peace and wonder, parts can be filled with pain and uncertainty.

Both of these experiences can be lonely and frightening. Sometimes it can be very hard to tell them apart. This is especially true in the early days, before you have figured everything out.

Sometimes of course you are experiencing both at once. The shock of an awakening can easily cause a psychotic episode, even for someone who is normally quite ‘sane’ and mentally well-orientated in reality.

If you are having thoughts of self-harm, please reach out to someone. Speak to someone you can trust. Find an ally in the health system that you can work with. Get help. Even lousy help is better than none, ok? You can always learn how to negotiate your way through the health system as you go along…

Actually, whatever your lived experience, the strategies for coping and managing what is happening for you may actually be the same.

What is a Psychotic episode?

Is it a spiritual awakening or a psychotic episode

Psychosis is when your brain does not process information correctly. So you see, hear and feel things that are not real. If this is what is happening to you, please find help, so that you can manage the problem, and master it. You will need a proper diagnosis, probably some medication, and a properly trained professional to help you get control of what is happening. This may be a temporary state that will pass, with proper treatment, diagnosis and care, or it may be a long term tendency that you will need to find a way to live with, if you have schizophrenia, for example.

What is a Spiritual Awakening?

A spiritual awakening is a change in your perception of reality and yourself. Although parts of it may be unpleasant, it is also revelatory and wondrous with feelings such as bliss, union, unconditional love, and renewal.

In the early stages of awakening, a lot of old trauma from childhood may emerge, causing strong feelings of anger, confusion, grief, sadness, loss, and confusion. There may also be confusing and unpleasant physical symptoms (as well as blissful ones like spontaneous healing). And sudden psychic awareness. It may be accompanied by a kundalini awakening for some people.

It is no wonder the two can be confusing! Perhaps, you may even be going through both at the same time.

Below is a table of questions you can ask yourself. I will go through each one and compare the answers for a psychotic episode with that of a spiritual awakening.

This is the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences Test – CAPE42 The number 42 means there are 42 questions.
The CAPE-42 was developed by Jim van Os, Hélène Verdoux and Manon Hanssen, and is based on the PDI-21 and PDI-40 developed by Emmanuelle Peters et al (2001)

Second Source:

There are many good questionnaires out there, but the advantage of this one is simply that I can see the scoresheet, which helps a lot since as far as all this goes, I am a layperson, and need something easy to understand.

If you click on the link above, it will take you to their website. If you decide that you might be having a psychotic episode, you can go there, print it out and take it to a health professional. Like any other health problem, knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you can work with your own health condition, and get good quality care.

I’m not going to write about all the symptoms listed – just a few that give you a general flavor of what may indicate psychosis and what may indicate a spiritual awakening. Either way, I hope this guide is helpful. I really hope it helps you no matter where you are at at the moment.

sadness, emptiness and depression as symptoms of spiritual awakening

1.             Do you ever feel sad?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

Psychotic episode

Many people with some kind of psychosis also suffer from depression which can case strong feelings of sadness that don’t go away.

This may be very difficult to distinguish from the dark night of the soul that is such an integral part of many people’s spiritual awakening. We can probably shelve this symptom as a maybe-this or maybe-that kind of thing… But please take care of yourself! This will pass, and there is a way through to the other side.

Spiritual awakening

A spiritual awakening can cause strong feelings of grief, heartache, mourning and sadness. There is a feeling that things should have been different and often a feeling of compassion and love. Often this sadness is related to an awareness of how things have been wrong or tragic in the past. Sometimes also, a person may go through a long period in which things that used to seem valuable seem hollow. Before all these changes are integrated, there may be quite severe depression, anhedonia (lack of pleasure in life) and general misery. We can help with this aspect of integration.

2.              Do you ever feel as if people seem to drop hints about you or say things with a double meaning?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always


Symptom of psychotic episode

This is a positive dimension, meaning, if you feel this way very strongly and uncomfortably it is a symptom of psychosis or some other psychological problem. Unless you have really unpleasant colleagues or social cliques – in which case you will notice the general toxicity in that very specific social circle and nowhere else. If everyone is doing this, it is definitely a symptom… See items 6 and 7 below.

Symptom of Awakening

This is not a symptom of a spiritual awakening. It may be symptom of an uncomfortable adolescence, in which most of the time at least someone is doing this somewhere along the line.

3. Do you ever feel that you are not a very animated person?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

Negative indicator for Psychosis

This is called reduced affect display. You may be unable to express your feelings. Your face and voice may not show much feeling. Or you may not know what you might be feeling. Wikipedia says: “Reduced affect can be symptomatic of autism, schizophrenia, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, depersonalization disorder, schizoid personality disorder or brain damage.”

Unlikely awakening indicator

This is not a symptom of spiritual awakening.

Lack of animation here means that you don’t show your feelings on your face, not that you may move slowly or calmly.

4. Do you ever feel that you are not much of a talker when you are conversing with other people?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

Potential symptom for mental disorder

This may be a symptom, or you may be socially withdraw for some other reason.

Not associated with mini-enlightenment

Some people may feel socially withdrawn, but it is not a common symptom of spiritual awakening.

spiritual awakening, destiny, and delusions of grandeur

 5. Do you ever feel as if things in magazines or on TV were written especially for you?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

Indication of psychotic-style disorder

Sometimes a person who is experiencing a psychotic episode may feel like there are hidden secret messages for them personally in magazines, films and TV. These messages are often in code. There may be a feeling of fear and suspicion, or of veiled information and meaning everywhere.

Indicator of peak experience

Sometimes during a peak experience, the world seems full of synchronicities, omens and signs – so it may feel as if you are being given a message in the events of the surrounding world. “Ah – A white feather! The angels are with me.” “This article really speaks to me. Perhaps God is sending me a message.” “Everything feels like destiny is at play.

Spiritual awakening and seeing past the surface of things

6.            Do you ever feel as if some people are not what they seem to be?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

Disordered perception

This is a symptom of psychosis. It often goes with feelings of paranoia or doppelgänger syndrome in which it feels like someone is pretending to be someone else – there is often a feeling of fear, betrayal, or danger.

Clear perception

This is not a symptom of spiritual awakening. In a spiritual awakening you may sometimes feel as if the true nature of living beings is being revealed to you as unspeakably precious, beautiful, sacred, or transcendent.

 7. Do you ever feel as if you are being persecuted in some way?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

Common and uncomfortable

The most common delusions that arise because of some sort of psychosis are these feelings of persecution. You may believe people want to harm you, or that they are harming you. It feels like they are plotting against you, poisoning you, spying on you, turning people against you, or mocking you. This is part of what makes psychosis such a horrible illness. It is really stressful to feel this way, and incredibly lonely and frightening, because of course, no-one believes you. Once fear is part of the picture, it is very hard to calm yourself or get any perspective.

Spiritual Awakening symptoms

This is not a symptom of spiritual awakening. During a spiritual awakening, before you ‘break through’ into the feeling of oneness, bliss and love, or interspersed with this feeling, you may find that you are super-sensitive to pain, wrongdoing, or the uglier aspects of human nature. But this is more of a hypersensitivity to darker human personality traits than a feeling of being persecuted personally.

Of course, if your social network has been characterised by dark spiritual behaviour, you may be newly aware of horrible energies such as curses, spells and negative entities. You may find that you are becoming more sensitive to the nasty shadows that really are there. This is something that we can help with.

8. Do you ever feel that you experience few or no emotions at important events?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

Lack of affect is a negative symptom of mental disorder

Yes it is normal to be bored at pompous social events where everyone is expected to feel a particular way, and you don’t. But if you lack strong feelings when you know that you really should be feeling them, this may be a negative symptom of a psychological condition such as schizophrenia etc. Negative means that the symptom is one of lack. These negative symptoms don’t get as much attention as positive symptoms, but they can make life very hard, and they can also make it hard to connect with other people. If you have this symptom, you can read more here.

Spiritual awakening

This is not a symptom of spiritual awakening.

9. Do you ever feel pessimistic about everything?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

This is not a symptom of spiritual awakening.

10. Do you ever feel as if there is a conspiracy against you?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

This is not a symptom of spiritual awakening. It is a classic and very uncomfortable symptom of a psychotic episode.

11. Do you ever feel as if you are destined to be someone very important?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

Delusions of Grandeur

This symptom is part of a feeling or delusion of grandiosity. It may also be a fleeting stage of a Spiritual Awakening, or an awakening may involve very similar feelings and thoughts.

It is a very very common symptom.

You can read a really good blog by Andrea Paquette: My Journey with Psychosis and Delusions of Grandeur

You may feel grandiose in all sorts of differing ways, including in the same way as people undergoing a spiritual awakening.

So how to handle such feelings?

Whether you are in the throes of a psychosis or spiritual awakening, the correct response to such a situation is the same.

  1. Cultivate humility – remember that your spiritual gifts belong to all beings.
  2. Retain an attitude of suspended disbelief. Wow – fairies! Could be real, or I could be crazy – I will live my life as if both are real possibilities. (I have spent many very happy hours marveling at the fairies. Could be real…)
  3. Read about the lives and thoughts of Saints and Mystics – whether you have psychosis or not, the journey is the same.
  4. The point is not to get lost in all the special effects, but to master being truly present whether the world is marvelous or dreadful. Luminescent or boring and bland.

Because this feeling can be so wonderful, it can lead to avoiding coming back to ordinary reality. Don’t skip town to prolong the high. Accept the loss of being normal again.

We are powerful beyond measure

Sometimes a spiritual awakening can involve the sudden development of all sorts of psychic gifts that weren’t there before.

As well as the sudden realization that your relationship with the Divine is intimate, personal and immediate. And that your true nature is vast, beautiful, glorious beyond measure etc etc. So although all this is actually true, it can feel and manifest as extreme grandiosity.

Especially when you feel like sharing the wonder of your newfound insights, experiences and abilities. These grandiose moments in a spiritual awakening are specifically around spirituality, psychic abilities and religion.

So while I recommend that you take full pleasure in them, remember that they are temporary. They will pass. Your job is to be the same person with or without spiritual ecstasy and magical abilities.

These highs along the path are natural, but like drugs, they are intoxicating. Don’t allow them to unbalance you or feed your ego. The advice is exactly the same as if you are psychotic.

  1. Be humble.
  2. Suspend disbelief.
  3. Read.
  4. Master being present.

And remember, sanity is not a job requirement to be a mystic.

Because this feeling can be so wonderful, it can lead to avoiding coming back to ordinary reality. Don’t skip town to prolong the high. Accept the loss of being normal again.

Spiritual awakening and depersonalization. Symptoms and how to cope

12. Do you ever feel that you don’t have control of your mind or body?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always


Feeling like you are not in control of your mind or body is a symptom of depersonalisation, which is actually a very common feeling with many different causes and triggers.

It often goes with feeling disconnected or detached from yourself, as if you are watching yourself from the outside. This may be caused by childhood trauma. If you have ever been in a very traumatic accident or other such experience, you may also have experienced this sensation.

In Psychoses and delusional disorders, you may also feel a bit like a robot – as if you are being controlled from the outside, or as if someone else has caused you to be outside your own body.

And this can also be caused by anxiety, epilepsy, stress, alcohol, fatigue, drug use, depression, schizophrenia, migraines or a brain injury.

You are not your body

Ok, so in energy healing and related fields, we recognize that people are often outside their own bodies, due to stress, anxiety, trauma, shock, pain, drug use or psychological problems.

Some people spend years learning to leave their bodies and astral travel.

During a spiritual awakening it is quite common to either notice that you are not properly in your body, or to pop in and out repeatedly.

So how do you tell which is the best explanation for this experience.

One way is through external validation – like if you leave your body, and spot some dirty laundry on top of the wardrobe.

Another is through context. If you are on a meditation retreat or doing big shifts spiritually, then this may be part of the process and the experience.

Another is through control. If you are able to get back into your own body, and manage what is happening to you (even if it is a struggle at times), this is a good sign.

spiritual awakening how to ground

Ways to get back into your body and mind

Whether it is your brain creating delusions, or whatever the cause of this strange feeling, do your best to stay calm – no real harm can come to you. It really is OK, and it is also temporary. So don’t rush anxiously to get to feel normal. Chill and try a few tricks. If they don’t work, don’t worry. You will be fine either way.

  • Press the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth and squeeze your perineum (the area between the anus and the genitals). This can help ground you.
  • Walk barefoot, especially on slightly uncomfortable or uneven surfaces with interesting textures.
  • Try lying down on the earth, or putting your head or hands on the earth.
  • Hug a tree
  • Have something to eat – red meat, lentils, chocolate
  • Hang with a calm person and talk about mundane things
  • Get a little bit physically uncomfortable (don’t hurt yourself!) Try a cold shower.
  • Work with your hands – clean the house, garden, fix things, make things, bake bread etc etc
  • Collect things to experience with all your senses – a few rocks, some incense or herbs, velvet, beautiful serene music, or musical instruments, pretty little knickknacks that you like to look at, and keep them on hand to help you calm and ground.
  • Go outside and walk (climate permitting)
  • Try rescue remedy – it is specifically made to bring you back into your body.
  • Grounding stones: Any ordinary stone is grounding. Jasper can be too. You can experiment with what you have on hand.
  • Tobacco is grounding if you are already an addict, otherwise avoid it.
  • Lavender tea is also very good. A teaspoon of lavender in hot water, sweetened to taste.
  • Breathe into your lower belly and meditate with all senses open – eyes, ears, nose, and continuous awareness of the physical space you are in – working on being 100% present in the here and now. Allowing thoughts to arise and pass without responding to them. This is in any case an excellent long term spiritual practice and very good for balancing during both an awakening or psychotic episode – whatever…
Spiritual awakenings and hearing voices. Am I psychotic?

13. Have you ever seen something that other people couldn’t?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always


You may have visual hallucinations. They may look 100% real, 3-dimensional and solid as if they are physical objects. Often just out of reach.

Some hallucinations will look like geometrical patterns or like colours or lights with or without form – this is a disturbance in the visual cortex of the brain.

Some hallucinations may have form. These may be clear and realistic, such as seeing faces. Sometimes they may be in miniature and amusing.

These hallucinations may be fleeting or they may last. In the case of a psychotic episode they tend to be scary.

You may also see visions of God, angels, devils, saints and fairies.

As far as I can discern, feelings of bliss, joy and euphoria alternate with feeling their opposites.

Usually you have no control over what you can see, or when.

Psychic phenomena

A spiritual awakening can make you intensely psychic, can give you mystical visions and generally open your senses to a much larger reality. This state is usually temporary, or it settles into a generally stable and predictable pattern of psychic abilities over time.

You may see angels, auras, fairies, ghosts, people in spirit, visions of great spiritual leaders, spirit animals, shadows, people’s essential natures written on their faces, lines of energy connecting things, animals or people, sparkles in the air, or symbolic messages from Spirit. And more is not unreasonable. All without being actually crazy. Of course you will at this point be seriously wondering…

So how do you tell the difference?


These visions are not completely solid (with the exception of the occasional ghost that can confuse very psychic people when glimpsed briefly.) You can definitely sense that they are not the same as normal reality.

Tuned in:

Usually you are in an altered and more sensitive state of consciousness when you see things that other people may not see.


When you see beautiful visions, you often also feel positive and transcendent emotions such as bliss, love, euphoria, gratitude, serenity or oneness with the world around you.


You can usually discern that what you are seeing has some congruence with reality or with what is going on for you. For example, you may be in a state of meditation, when you are more prone to seeing things. It could be that you may see angels when they are needed to help, and you perhaps might even see spirit animals when doing healing work. You might perceive people’s auras when they are having strong feelings, or unusually good or bad at that time.

If there is no congruence between the situation and what you perceive, it is more likely that the perceptions are being generated by your own brain, rather than a state of heightened spiritual awareness.

14. When you’re alone, do you ever hear voices that don’t have an explainable source?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

Hearing voices can be normal

This is one of those interesting phenomena that can affect a lot of people who are neither in a state of psychosis nor having a spiritual awakening.

What the voices say can reflect your insecurities and traumas. In psychosis they can sometimes be quite overpowering and unpleasant, but they may also simply reflect what you may be thinking at the time, or even be encouraging.

Messages from Spirit

Some very psychic people hear voices all the time. These people are psychic mediums, and have the ability to hear people who have died.

And it is not uncommon to hear the voice of someone you love who has died.

Sometimes a spiritual awakening may be accompanied by one or more messages which you may ‘hear’ in your mind – and which feel as if they come from outside you. But this is most likely to be a one-off experience or very occasional, because it will be purposeful – to give insight, information, clarity, support or help.

There is a lot you can do if voices are bothering you. Perhaps the most important step is to make it clear that you will make up your own mind. And that you don’t need to listen to them if they are not making you feel good. Just like you would handle another person who is intruding or giving you advice.

15. Do you have trouble staying on topic during conversations, often rambling or losing track of your original train of thought?

Never / Sometimes / Often / Nearly always

This is not a symptom of spiritual awakening.

I hope this has brought some insight into what the differences and commonalities are between a spiritual awakening and a psychotic episode.

Either way, it is a good idea to get support and understanding from others. This can make it much easier to deal with whatever is going on and save you a lot of struggle to integrate and manage whatever you are experiencing.

This is a huge topic, and it can really help to read and to listen to others’ experiences, and to research things for yourself. There is lots of help along the way, and many people have experienced these interesting phenoma, and come through to the other side just fine. Trust the process and enjoy the ride.

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