Psychoanalyst as Shaman: Creative Engagement: Integrating Past and Present

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Length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Michael O'Loughlin, PhD, Patrick B. Kavanaugh, PhD and Ingo Lambrecht, PhD

The healer is an archetypal figure that has been with us for most of recorded history, acting as an intermediary between the world of the flesh and the world of the spirit.  In some ways, the psychoanalyst of today takes up the position of the shaman of indigenous cultures, Charged with the ability to creatively engage with inchoate forces and unformulated experience, the clinician needs to be able to attune his or her unconscious to these forces and trust in what ensues.   For the psychoanalyst, much like the shaman, our ability to be creatively engaged, through our reverie and dreams, with inchoate and unspeakable experiences provides a leading edge in our work with our patients.  In our scientistic culture, pragmatic reality is overvalued despite our knowledge that reality can be like shifting sands, depending on one’s vantage point.  How then, we meet respectfully those who come to us weathering what one of patient calls ‘the dark night of the soul’? perhaps requires us to step back from our medicalized culture and to appreciate the wisdom of indigenous healers as we undertake the difficult journeys required.

(Michael O'Loughlin was not present but his paper was read.)

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