Psychology and Shamanism

Written by Frédéric Cherri

Therapist, shaman, teacher, coach. Frédéric is a long serving clinician & tutor of Craniosacral Therapy, retreat & workshop leader, ceremonialist and speaker. He also runs an online personal practice for deep transformation. He is available for private consultations.

PSYCHOLOGY AND SHAMANISM

‘…we cannot be studied or cured apart from the planet’ — James Hillman, American Psychologist

I was recently talking to a few established professionals in the field of psychology and the new fields of psycho-energetic practices.

By chance, all were professionals with a long standing experience in various disciplines, clinical, cognitive, counseling, developmental, educational, forensic and health. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few.

My question was simple:

Why is there a strong interest in the field of psychology for shamanism and the ancestral medicinal approach to healing?

And there is a very clear emerging interest from psychology for this age-old human way of re-establishing balance in the world: the variety of media articles on the subject, publications, movies, documentaries, the plethora of training, workshops in that field are all attesting to that. And psychology professionals are training in shamanic perspectives, traveling the world to indigenous remote locations to try and understand and experience different ancestral shamanic medicines.

I was baffled by the answer to my question:
[I rounded up the answers as they were essentially saying the same thing.

“Because we are aware of the shortcomings of psychology to address pain and suffering for our patients”

It meant a lot to me.

First, I really valued the curiosity of people intent on finding viable solutions to their client’s despair to get better. The people who genuinely care for the suffering of others are ‘my’ people, my tribe. I resonate with them, there is this intangible bond that makes me identify and respond to their quest, curiosity, aspiration and well-meaning intents.

Also, because it acknowledged a simple fact: the mission of psychology to understand the human mind and establish a cure for mental disorders has somewhat fallen short.
The search for a ‘cure’ faded rapidly to the benefit of trying to ‘control symptoms’.
As a result, most of the evolution of Psychology is directly linked to the rise of pharmacology in the last 100yrs. It’s just a fact.

And, it makes sense as pharmacology saves lives, period.

We can’t discard that fact either. But whilst pharmacology helps, it also comes with a heavy price on our modern societies.

Strange parallel, shamans of most world traditions, ‘druids’, ‘lamas’, ‘vegetalistas’ or ‘herbolarios’, have also had an interest in plants and their effects on all aspects of healing. They however, never synthesise the plants, fungi or moss they use, a relevant difference with the pharmaceutical industry.

And that leads me to an important thing:

As the American psychologist James Hillman says ‘ Psychology, so dedicated to awakening human consciousness, needs to wake itself up to one of the most ancient human truths: we cannot be studied or cured apart from the planet’.

There is an evolutionary version of Psychology, some call it eco-psychology — I personally will stay away from anything that leads to another specialty in that field, there are enough of them already.
This evolution is inviting us to find the overlapping domains between the two disciplines and
Traditionally, psychology occupies itself with understanding how humans function, mostly how our behaviour, our emotions and thoughts are linked. Different forms of psychotherapy emphasise different aspects.

The shamanic approach adds an extra dimension to this approach, in that it takes into account the energetic dimensions that flow through our bodies and how these energetic fields that are the basis of all creation influence our beings. By focusing on energies, the intangible part of ourselves, the shaman has the possibility to reach all dimensions of a human being.

My aim, as I practice shamanism, and as I offer bridging programs for therapeutic and wellbeing practitioners, is to support individuals, groups and communities to find and reconnect to their balance through rediscovering their ‘natural’ relationship with Nature and the world of Spirit.

I’m inviting you to share and contribute to this conversation.
Read you soon.

P.S: For more info on the bridging programs offered here visit THE SHAMAN’S VISION page.

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