Shamanic Perspectives on Schizophrenia and Voice Hearing

Indigenous populations developed a variety of medicinal practices over millenia. These are often referred to as shamanic practices. While there are many variations within these traditions, it seems clear that some at least developed an understanding of the phenomenon we know as hearing voices. In their terminology, what is referred to as "soul stealing", "soul loss", and "soul pieces", can be seen as analogous to aspects of schizophrenia and mental illness. While shamans were probably unaware of the role of prenatal trauma, they did develop an array of empirical methods to address the problem. Although some anthropologists argue that schizophrenia was venerated in shamanic tradition, this is probably a confusion between shamanic experiences of altered mental states and the voice hearing problem itself. However, it's fascinating to note that shamanic traditions managed to develop non-drug treatments for voice hearing centuries before the developed world managed to do so. Indeed many of the clues which lead ISPS to discover the successful treatment for voice hearing came out of an in-depth study of shamanic teachings. We are therefore indebted to those indigenous peoples who managed to explore the frontiers of consciousness and health well before the current scientific model was formulated.

Shamanic artwork
"Shaman Supernova" by artist Ceder Hope

Revision History
1.0 Sept 29, 2009: First draft.