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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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A Survey of Afro-Brazilian Mediums: Gender Differences and Distinguishing Characteristics. Joan H. Hageman & Stanley Krippner

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77 A Survey of Afro-Brazilian Mediums: Gender Differences and Distinguishing Characteristics Joan H. Hageman & Stanley Krippner Introduction The spiritistic traditions of mediumship in Brazil are often denigrated as psychopathological by Brazilian mental health practitioners, similar to how these phenomena are largely negatively viewed in Europe and North America (Johnson, 2007). However, recent research (e.g., Cardeña, Lewis-Fernandez, Beahr, Pakianathan, & Siegel, 1996; Krippner, 1997; Martinez-Taboas, 1995; Moreira-Almeida, Lotufo, & Graysen, 2007; Moreira-Almeida, Neto, & Cardeña, 2008) indicate that the experience of mediumship and/or mediumistic trance is not necessarily pathological (Bastide, 1978; Lewis-Fernandez & Kleinman, 1995). Furthermore, the mediumistic experience in Western terms, conceptualized as dissociative trance, may be life-affirming rather than pathological (Krippner, 1997) relative to cultural norms (Hageman, Peres, Moreira-Almeida, Caixeta, Wickramasekera II, & Krippner, 2010). From this lens, mediumship may be viewed as a skill that empowers many of its practitioners (e.g., women subjugated by a patriarchal culture, gay men discriminated against by a homophobic culture). Moreover, the practice of mediumship also allows support for community members suffering from various afflictions, such as anxiety and depression (Krippner, 1997). 78 The Complexity of Mediumship One complexity to the cross-cultural study of mediums is that Western thought differentiates the terms “medium” and “channeler;” albeit, the practitioners of both purport to receive information that does not originate from consensual reality, i.e., living persons, media, or their own experience. Mediums claim to obtain this information from deceased persons, whereas “channelers” claim to obtain information from other spiritual entities (e.g., deities, nature spirits, inhabitants of other dimensions;...

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