Healing Paradigm of South and Central American Shamans

Aug 3, 2020 in Medicine Essay

Free Medicine Essay Sample


The research paper tries to answer the question concerning the healing model and suggests whether alternative healing could be integrated into the healing model that is evident within the dominant culture. The concepts of shamanism that makes it is more useful in the therapeutic process and healing practices, the diversification of this spiritual healing practices are also pointed out. The paper also tries to understand the shamanism through its cultural practices, provides a feeling of relaxation and healing to the individual and why it should be used as an alternative healing design in the modern world.

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Healing Paradigm of South and Central American Shamans


The main role of a shaman in a general tribal society is to act as an intermediary. In this case, he intercedes between the human realm and the spirits living in the area. The shamans understand that there is the sustenance of life existing due to the intrinsic interdependence they create during their interactions with the spirits. Shamanism has become a global phenomenon, though forms a part of great history. Therefore, it forms a great part of a collective human kind history. The sham terms vary due to the existing variety of ideas being associated with it. With time, there has been a notable change in the referent ideas of the shamanism shifting from an eroticized foreign to modern wide range spiritual healing practices.

In the modern world, shamanism is viewed differently. It is seen as a spiritual practice that has transcended time and cultures into diverse areas of art, music, politics, spirituality and many other phenomena. Such perception contends that there are many biological bases for a global manifestation of shamanism as well as manifestation of the consequence of sociocultural evolution. The rituals and the socio-cultural changes that had an effect on the human potential are associated with these perspectives. Such approach places Shamanism across time of spiritual healing practices that exist in both social evolutionary and biological contexts. It also shows the transformation of such potentials into other healing forms that are displayed in Shamanistic healers. Today, many Shamanists base their factors from most ancient tools used in rituals as a basic tool for communication and social planning and coordination (Wong, 2005).

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Shamanism Integration into Alternative Healing

Although the use of shamanism has been undermined by many people because of its use in referent to a wide range of phenomena, the shamanism effect reflects something real in life. Shamans unite the community in a nocturnal activity to perform a ritual. During this activity, dancing in the middle of the group while hitting drums, rattling and chanting they could exhort spirits so that they could come to help the community members. The Shamans use language that only few can comprehend and they recount on the myths to engage themselves with the spirits. These ritualistic practices by the Shamans often exhort the spirits so that they can stop causing a serious problem.

The Shamans also used this opportunity to communicate with the spirits to seek their assistance in the healing of the sick community members and making community plans. The key element in these practices by the shamans is the ability to enter into ecstasy. It is achieved through various techniques. The physiological feelings resulting from the effects of drumming, singing and dancing are the key factors to the induction. Induction is also performed using other procedures like fasting, dream incubation and psychoactive substance ingestion. Such ecstatic experience is believed to enable the Shamans to meet with the spirits, acquire varieties of extreme powers that they use to offer services and help the community. The state helped the Shamans to be able to make a diagnosis and the causes of many diseases and heal the community. They were also able to prophesy on important events in the community (VanPool, 2009).

The validity of Shamanism exists in different cultures worldwide and it reflects complex characteristics though specific. The physiological cornerstone of these ritualistic practices of the Shamans is only revealed through the examination of the biological as well as the evolutionary roots of the rituals in the community and the physiological mechanisms of the ecstasy. There exists a human foundation of the Shamanism practices in the brain system. Shamanism methods are derived from the selection of features involving much pressure on the newly selected features for adaptive capacity. These practices also help in the expansion of the rituals in order to facilitate integration of the community and this produces the ecstatic feeling that helps in enhancing community awareness. Such process of the ritualistic practices of the Shamans helps in the generation of new metaphoric thoughts that can be used in enabling new forms of healing and cognition processes.

The Shamans use drumming as part of the ritualistic activities. They consider drumming as a global aspect in their ritualistic practices. Drumming has a deep evolutionary root that has for long been used in the manifestation of fitness and readiness to act. Shouting during the ritual practice provides emotional communication, therefore, promoting the social well-being of an individual. Chorusing provides an individual with an audio-vocal information system, which serves as a means of expression in communicating emotions and motivating other members. These entire practices involving vocal expressions provide community with the best mechanism to enhance cooperation and cohesion (Helsel, Mochel & Bauer, 2004).

Findings show that music generates a strong effect on the brain. It helps in inducing many responses and patterns in the human brain system. Music helps promote relaxation and plays a role in stress reduction. Music can heal or promote healing through provision of reliefs in case an individual has emotional disturbances. It elicits emotional states in an individual, therefore, providing a means for constructive expression of emotions that were initially repressed ultimately generating insights. Many social factors affect the way individuals perceive music; this aspect of music still stands out as a social power that is evident in todays world more than before. The Kuna people use art in curing of other Kuna people. The Kuna art provides a wide range of understanding in the visual system of the society. They place statues in the middle of social relationships and this serves to entangle people with spirits. Skilled old men who have the knowledge it takes to mediate between the mortals and the spirits only carry out their activities (Helsel, Mochel & Bauer, 2005).

Shamanic ritualistic practices have some degree of therapeutic qualities. Its core effect of the healing process is derived from the induction of ecstasy. It triggers many neuromuscular activities in a persons body system and exemplifies its effects on the brain when an individual meditates. It has been noted that the ritualistic practices of Shamans have a powerful healing mechanism in the person's body system. All the activities being done trigger something in the neuromuscular system that has a positive impact on people. There is a sense of relaxation and satisfaction being generated by the practice that can be used in the treatment of emotional disturbances. The paradigm of Shamanism can be taken advantage of in the contemporary medical practices. In the provision of therapy Shamanism can serve as an alternative treatment.


Today the Shamanism concept stands at a crossroads of paradox. On one side, it represents one of the ancient times of human ritualistic practices while, on the other hand, it has been modified and spread into the modern society as a healing process. There is a collision between the past and the future. The beliefs surrounding the shamanic practices must be clearly understood as one of the parts of what makes up human nature. Shamanism represents a broader aspect that reflects an important part of the evolution of the human psychology as it continues to be applied in the present.

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