Psychology of Shamanism   [Archived Catalog]
2016-2017 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook

CSIH 3080 - Psychology of Shamanism

During most of the 20th century, the study of shamanism was virtually ignored by psychologists as a topic of investigation despite the fact that shamans were the world's first "psychologists." In recent years, however, a variety of perceptive books and articles on the psychology of shamanism has begun to find its way into the academic curriculum. Humanistic and transpersonal psychologists have taken an interest in the study of shamanism for several reasons. They do not subscribe to the notion that psychology has little to learn from "primitive" people (who are more appropriately referred to as "native," "traditional," or "indigenous" people). On the contrary, humanistic and transpersonal psychologists find sophistication in the shaman's cultivation and use of certain procedures for altering conscious experience that go beyond what is currently available in more industrialized societies. In addition, the shaman's use of language and art is extremely instructive with regard to the efficacy of metaphors and symbols in social interactions. Moreover, humanistic and transpersonal psychology's interface with holistic health practitioners has benefited from a study of shamanic healing. The question of mental health and social context is at the heart of the controversy between humanistic and transpersonal psychologists on the one hand and, on the other hand, the many psychoanalytically-oriented writers, regarding whether the behavior of shamans should be considered symptomatic of psychosis or neurosis. 3 credit(s)