Vom dämonischen Scharlatan zum psychisch Gestörten zum fachkundigen Therapeuten und post-modernen Seelenführer: Westliche Vorstellungen vom Schamanen und deren Hintergrund

Curare 26.2003:57-66

##From daemoniac charlatan to mentally deranged person to skilled therapist and post-modern psycho-guide: western notions of the shaman and their background
Documented are the drastic changes which took place during the 19th and 20th centuries in the Western notions of shamanic healing and in the Western attitudes to the shamanic healer. In previous centuries, according to the theologically influenced world view, generally depicted and condemned as pagan charlatan in league with daemons ("daemonization" of the shaman), the shamanic practitioner was from the middle of the 19th until after the middle of the 20th century considered by many authors in medicine, psychiatry and anthropology as a psychopathological case enjoying a privileged status in so-called "primitive" societies, allegedly because of his mental abnormality ("psychiatrization" of the shaman). Some well-known scientists extended the pathology labeling of shamanic practitioners to so-called "primitive" cultures in general. Such a judgement of the shaman and his social role was based on the misinterpretation of altered states of consciousness (ASC), induced in therapeutic, religious, and social rituals of many non-Western cultures, and incorrectly classified as psychopathological phenomena by Western observers. Later in the 20th century the ASC were recognized as under certain conditions universal potential function of the central nervous system. At the same time an increasing number of ethnomedical and transcultural-psychiatric reports paid tribute to the therapeutic abilities of shamanic practitioners and emphasized the psychotherapeutic efficacy of shamanic healing rituals. The psychopathology labeling of rituals institutionalized in non-Western cultures became less faschionable and is today widely recognized as eurocentric and positivistic fallacy. While the psychotherapeutically effective methods of shamanic practitioners, defined in this article, are hardly even considered by school psychiatry, we can at present observe the popularization of shamanism and the idealization of the shaman in "post-modern" Western society. The historically significant changes of the Western zeitgeist, which underlie these processes, are pointed out.##

Keywords: shamanism, altered states of consciousness, daemonization, psychiatry and shamanism, western culture, positivism, pathologizing shamanism