Posted by: heykro | April 27, 2009

Schizophrenia & Shamanism

I recently read an article on schizophrenia for my religion class, and it interestingly drew paralells between the disease and mysticism. Hallucinations and delusions are hallmarks of schizophrenia, but can also be used to describe the “visions” of shamans. The article argues that schizophrenia is evident across cultures, but the interpretation of the experience and the names they use for it differ. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder which affects the sense of self and other. Auditory hallucination and delusions of control¬†are common and often one cannot distinguish between internal and external speech and speech generated by others. Shamans commonly claim to hear the voices of their ancestors, or become possessed by spirits and speak on behalf of them. The article argues that shamans and mystics could possibly misattribute these as spiritual experiences, when alternatively it could very well be schizophrenic behaviour. I just thought this was interesting!

If anyone would like to read the article, its called “Windows to the brain: Neuroimaging in Schizophrenia: Misattributions and Religious Delusions” by Katherine H. Taber and Robin A. Hurley. Published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 19:1 Winter 2007.

Hopefully this link works, if not I’m sure the article is easy to find using the library search engine.



  1. thanks for this informative article. i didnt know that schizo is even related to mysticism.

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