PHIL BORGES: "CRAZYWISE" new documentary

by Phil Borges & Kevin Tomlinson

Crazy...or wise? The traditional wisdom of indigenous cultures often contradicts modern views about a mental health crisis. Is it a ‘calling’ to grow or just a ‘broken brain’? The documentary CRAZYWISE explores what can be learned from people around the world who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience.


What can we learn from those who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience?
What if a psychological crisis was seen as having the potential to be a positive transformative experience, instead of a “broken brain”?

In this new documentary the human-rights photographer Phil Borges witnessed how indigenous cultures around the world often identify “psychotic” symptoms as an indicator of shamanic potential.

Back in the US, Phil follows two young Americans diagnosed with “mental illness.” Adam, 27, suffers devastating side effects from medications before embracing meditation. Ekhaya, 32, survives several suicide attempts before spiritual training to become a traditional South African healer.

CRAZYWISE introduces mental health professionals and psychiatric survivors who see a psychological crisis as a potential growth experience, not a disease: it doesn't aim to over-romanticize indigenous wisdom, or completely condemn Western treatment. Not every indigenous person who has a crisis becomes a shaman. And many individuals benefit from Western medications.

However, indigenous peoples’ acceptance of non-ordinary states of consciousness, along with rituals and metaphors that form deep connections to nature, to each other, and to ancestors, is something we can learn from.

CRAZYWISE adds a voice to the growing conversation that believes a psychological crisis can be an opportunity for growth and potentially transformational, not a disease without a cure. 

To watch the documentary trailer: