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Consciousness: Cultural and Therapeutic Perspectives

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Dagmar Eigner

In recent years the study of consciousness has gained considerable impulse through interdisciplinary approaches. Modulation and transformation of consciousness have been deployed for tens of thousands of years to obtain knowledge and to enhance well-being and health. In many societies, techniques based on exceptional states of consciousness have been used to maintain ecological equilibrium. The volume deals with historic, social, linguistic, philosophical, psychological, physiological, aesthetic, and creative issues of consciousness research. According to the integrative endeavours of the authors a variety of methods were applied; mostly, not only etic, but also emic perceptions were considered. The work of shamans, artists, and psychotherapists constitutes the main content of this volume, exploring different techniques for the induction of altered states of consciousness.

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(Post)Modern Brain – Shaman’s Brain. Evolutionary Perspectives on Shamanic Processes and Potentials. Jürgen Werner Kremer

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47 (Post)Modern Brain – Shaman’s Brain Evolutionary Perspectives on Shamanic Processes and Potentials Jürgen Werner Kremer Introduction The intent of this chapter is to explore some of the broader implications of research into shamanic practices, specifically in relation to recent developments in the neurosciences. I endeavor to re-vision the conversation about why it is important, and even urgent, for us to better understand shamanic practices, whether through continued ethnographic research, psychological analysis, or brain research. Many people not intimately involved with shamanism as scholars or practitioners/participants may find its ritual proceedings anywhere from puzzling and curious, to exciting, to bizarre and inexplicable. At the same time, it is not controversial to state that humans continue to have a hunger for integrative states of consciousness. What is it about the shamanic way of seeing the world that continues to speak to people in both traditional and modern cultures? How might the intersection of shamanic processes and contemporary science and psychology help illuminate socially appropriate, effective, and imaginative ways to engage the fullness of our being? The title of this chapter is intentionally provocative in its reference to the brain. To be very clear, I am not suggesting a reductionistic neuroscientific explanatory model of shamanic processes. On the contrary, the title seeks to call attention to the ways in which brain research of recent decades complements and enriches both our understanding of shamanism as well its evolutionary potential for the future. One could say the empirical provocation 48 is that neurophysiological...

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