Physiological Bases of Shamanistic Therapies
This chapter addresses the principal physiological processes that underlie the therapeutic bases for universal aspects of shamanistic healing-the use of a variety of procedures to induce altered states of consciousness (ASC) in community healing rituals and in interaction with a symbolically constituted spirit world. The universally distributed utilization of ASC in both the training of shamanistic healers and in the treatment of their patients derives from psychobiological potentials. The psychobiological changes caused by ASC produce a common alteration in human functioning, from neurophysiological through cognitive levels, which permits the emergence of a holotropic healing response and other integrative potentials. Chapter 3 illustrated that a wide variety of ASC-induction procedures create similar changes in brain functioning, inducing a parasympathetic dominant state characterized by slow wave discharges that synchronize the frontal cortex. This chapter extends this psychophysiological model of ASC, reviewing physiological and clinical literature that corroborates the therapeutic effectiveness of a variety of shamanistic healing techniques. The therapeutic aspects of ASC are addressed in the context of a general model of the psychophysiological effects of ASC in inducing the relaxation response and other physiological changes. The use of
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Publication information: Book title: Shamanism:The Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing. Contributors: Michael Winkelman - Author. Publisher: Bergin & Garvey. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 191.
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