Michael James Winkelman
Track: Shamanism and Its Potential for Modern Man
Shamanism and the Treatment of Addictions
Shamanism has a number of bases in humans’ evolved psychology that provide platforms and processes for the application of this ancient technology of consciousness and healing in the treatment of addictions. A biogenetic structural approach to the evolution of shamanism reveals significant biological features involving: ritual participation and the mimetic expressive capacities, including dance, music and enactment; alterations of consciousness produced through these processes as well as the psychedelics; special experiences of self manifested in spirit identities and allies and the out-of-body experience. The applications of shamanic alterations of consciousness to addictions treatment are discussed in terms of the ability of these experiences to: modulate responses of the serotonergic and dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems; enhance access to dynamics of the unconscious; and stimulate endogenous healing responses. Similar effects are attributed to ritual practices, as well as their ability to produce a social dynamic that enhances well-being at biological, social and psychological levels. Clinical evidence for the effectiveness of drumming and singing are review in support of the use of shamanic practices as adjuncts for all substance abuse rehabilitation programs.
Michael Winkelman, Ph.D. (University of California-Irvine), M.P.H. (University of Arizona) is retired from Arizona State University. He was President of the Anthropology of Consciousness and Anthropology of Religion sections of the American Anthropological Association. Winkelman engaged cross-cultural and interdisciplinary research on the universal patterns of shamanism and identifying their biological bases. His publications on shamanism include Shamans, Priests and Witches and Shamanism: A Biopsychosocial Paradigm of Consciousness and Healing. Shamanism provides a biogenetic model of shamanism that explains the evolutionary origins of spiritual healing in ancient ritual capacities. This biological approach is expanded in his co-authored Supernatural as Natural. These provide a framework for understanding the necessary role of psychedelics in human evolution and the continued relevance of alterations of consciousness for healing (also see his co-edited Psychedelic Medicine and Altering Consciousness). Winkelman’s work shows that shamanism, psychedelics and alterations of consciousness have biological bases and continue relevance for addressing human well-being today.