front cover

Just published (November 2014)

David Yau Fai Ho

Enlightened or Mad?

A Psychologist Glimpses into Mystical Magnanimity

19.00 USD
355 pages, paperback, english language
published: November 2014
ISBN 978-1-937570-51-4

About the book

I had no history of psychiatric disturbance prior to age fifty-eight. Then I experienced episodes of “madness” that profoundly changed my life—all of exuberance, none of depression. Manic symptoms were manifest. Yet, my mind retained its logicality and self-reflectiveness. I had glimpses of  magnanimity, tranquility, and freedom from inner turmoil. I became a more colorful person, more sensitive, generous, and loving during the episodes. I was forced to ask myself, “Am I enlightened or mad?” The response to this question is a self-study of my life as a spiritual journey.

Table of Contents

Foreword    9
Preface    11

Chapter 1:
Tales from My Two Worlds    17

Psychohistory: Mammalia and Mother Worship     18
Family Background: Two Girls for One Boy    22
From Childhood to Grandparenthood: What is Filial Piety?    28
The Age of Turbulence: Adolescence and Early Adulthood     34
Education in and out of the Classroom    41
Across the Pacific on My Way to Discover a New World    49
Reverse Culture Shock in an Anachronistic University    57
The Golden Age of My Life    61
Confucianism, Shame, and Thought Liberation    69
From Marginality to World Citizenship: The Will to Master    72
My Spiritual Journey Is Incomplete    80

Chapter 2: 
Episodes of Madness: All of Exuberance, None of Depression    83

Glimpses into the Mystical-Transcendental    88
Loneliness and Anguish amid Exuberance    98
Aesthetic Sensibilities: Music, Art, Creative Writing    103
Extraordinary Experiences: Audacity or the
Courage-to-Be?    110
The Empty Mind: Gone with Repression and Overcontrol    114
Now Get Physical: I Could Have Danced All Night    121
Body-Mind-Spirit Health: Interconnectedness    127
Unanswered Questions     131

Chapter 3:
From Psychiatry to Spirituality     135

An Early Self Case Study    136
A Self-Diagnostic Exercise in Psychiatry    146
Being Atypical in Madness as in Normality    150
Sequential Learning and Coping: Practical Suggestions    156
Spiritual Fulfillment versus Spiritual Emptiness:
A Dynamic Process    162
Spirituality: Relational and Ecumenical     171
Witnessing My Ineptitude and Decline: Acceptance    176
Dialogic Action Therapy    181
Dynamic Relaxation and Meditation    184

Chapter 4:
Glimpses of Enlightenment in the Midst of Madness    193

Fleeting Experiences of Enlightenment    194
Dialectics between Spirituality and Madness    199
Madness, Creativity, and Religiosity    204
Forbearance, Forgiveness, Hope, and Meaning
Reconstruction    212
In Love with Madness    221
Poetry and Spirituality Drive Each Other    226

Chapter 5:
In Search of Spirituality-in-Communion:
Transcultural and Playful    231

Life as a Playful Journey: Intercultural Encounters     231
Insights from the East: Psychological Decentering     239
Spirituality-in-Communion or Spirituality-in-
Isolation?     249
Christianity: Ambivalence    251
Quakers and Unitarian Universalists    257
A Religious Experience    262

I’m Getting There    265

Madness in China    266
A Laowantong (Aged-Naughty-Childlike) Professor    269
The Dark Side of Life:
Alienation on an Unprecedented Scale    273
A Living Buddha in a Schizophrenic City    277
This May Not Be the Last Episode    279
Back to the Original Question    282
Sharing My Karma with Fellow Travelers  284
The Art of Loving for All Seasons    286

Appendix A: 
Guide to Spiritual Self-Evaluation    289

1. Reflectiveness-Decentering versus Dogmatism-Egocentricity    290
2. Heightened Sensibilities versus Psychic
Numbing/Turmoil    295
3. Acceptance versus Denial    304
4. Humility versus Arrogance    308
5. Existential Quest versus Hedonistic-Materialistic
Pursuits    311
6. Transcendence versus Self-Encapsulation    316
7. Self-Actualization versus Alienation    321

Appendix B:
Strategies of Coping    325

1. Forbearance versus Intolerance    326
2. Forgiveness versus Vengefulness    333
3. Hope versus Despair    341
4. Meaning Reconstruction versus Entrenchment     349


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About the author

Professor David Yau Fai Ho has authored numerous scholarly contributions in psychology, psychiatry, and education. He has held professorial appointments in Asia and North America. He was the first Asian to serve as President of the International Council of Psychologists (1988–1989). In separation, being a psychologist steeped in a bilingual-bicultural background, experiencing glimpses of enlightenment, or having episodes of madness may not be that uncommon. But the confluence of all these is rare, if not unique.


This is an extraordinary book. It transforms the reader into a new and more dignified person. The book has the potential to unite the reader‘s body, mind, and spirit. It harnesses destructive forces to serve creative purposes. It manifests the Buddhist notion of impermanence—nothing is, everything becomes—as sublimely as the notion of universal love.

Evelin Lindner, Dr. med., Dr. psychol.,
Founding President of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies

Ho is a relentless bridge-builder. Actually, he doesn’t only build bridges; Ho is a bridge himself. David/YF are literal bridges between East and West, between psychiatry and spirituality, between poetry and prose, between internal struggle and cultural evolution.

Rev. Dr. Tom Owen-Towle