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Is the shaman schizophrenic, after all? How religious practice may change psychotic experience.

Presentation by Professor Tanya Luhrmann, Stanford University

Info about event


Thursday 9 November 2017,  at 12:00 - 14:00


Nobel Auditorium, bldg. 1482, room 105

When anthropology was a young discipline, people smitten with the romance of cultural relativism argued that those who were diagnosed with schizophrenia in our society would simply be artists or shamans in another. When the biomedical model began to dominate psychiatry, it seemed clear that this romantic vision was a mistake. In recent decades, however, not only anthropologists but also psychiatrists have begun to wonder whether forms of cultural practice might alter the experience of even so profound an illness as schizophrenia in powerful ways. In this talk I present the best evidence for this possibility that I have yet encountered by examining a spirit possession practice in Ghana.