Therapeutic use of altered states of consciousness in contemporary north american indian dance ceremonials by Wolfang G. JILEK (notice bibliographique)

BOOK CHAPTER ln :Colleen A. WARD,editor : “ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND MENTAL HEALTH : A Cross Cultural Perspective”, Sage Publications : Newbury Park Calif. 1989

In this chapter, observations on sociocultural phenomena are presented in the light of physiol gical and psychological theories. I hope to demonstrate by the example of three contemporary North American Indian dance ceremonials that traditional therapeutic principles, developed in a specif ic non Western cultural and historical context, confirin the transcultural validity of theoretical propositions of modern physiology and psychology regarding altered states of consciousness and their relationship to mental health.


A review of the literature reveals the paramount importance for African psychiatry of transient psychotic states of short duration and good prog nosis, developing in close correlation with trauma of all kinds. Definition of their nosological status is attempted on the basis of data presented by various authors. Special consideration is given to the concept of bouffée délirante and related syndromes ; also to, hysterical and schizophreniforin psychoses. Organic and socio cultural aspects of aetiology are evaluated. The question of racial and ecological determinants is examined and coin pared with historical and contemporary reports front the European scene. Ibe phenomenon of transient psychosis is not specific to any area or ethnie group but more prevalent in tradition directed cultures of pre industrial societies ; exacerbation under conditions of acculturative stress is evidenc ed. Hypothetical explanations are offered for the fact that the phenom enon is less conspicuous in contemporary Western societies.

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