Before reading this chapter please start with:
First concepts
WOB is optimal

Shamanism accompanies humankind ever since it became conscious of itself. Shamans were the first healers, and their heritage guides also many healers today. What distinguished a shaman from  other members of his tribe was his capability to alleviate suffering. His insight  might have originated in  a serious ailment from which he recovered.  He then applied his experience to other members of his tribe. This is how the first healer may have appeared on earth.

With time his curiosity broadened his understanding of phenomena around him.  Nature was a collection of  beings with human nature which he called spirits.  Spirits were  handled in the same way as  ailments.   Healthy spirits  brought prosperity, and his task was to strengthen  weak spirits for the benefit of his clan. There were no evil spirits.  When evil spirits were  conceived, shamans became pagans,   and founded the first religion.

Shamanism is an inborn faculty of our body. 

From the medical point of view shamanism is an inborn faculty of our body like animal behavior. Each species has a typical behavioral repertoire, known as ethogram that is innate and may be manifested at birth or later. According to Eibl-Eibesfeldt  human behavior is innate and preprogrammed. Konrad Lorenz and his teacher Heinroth described in animals innate fixed action patterns which were initiated by releasing stimuli. During animal courtship, the  male WOB communicates with female WOB. Shamanism is another way of communication between different WOB.


A plant by the name of Atropa belladonna, or "the beautiful lady", (in Italian. bella donna), is a source of alkaloids like atropine.  It accompanies humankind ever since shamans discovered its cosmetic qualities. The tincture of belladonna widens the pupils (mydriasis) and gives greater brilliancy to the eyes, hence the name. Whenever a female feels an affection for a male, her pupils widen, and attract the male. Wide pupils  are an important element in their mutual  courtship ethograms, and  the tincture is a cosmetic attempt to improve its  outcome.

Innate knowledge

A second important finding of Lorenz concerned the early learning of young  birds such as geese. For instance, the newly hatched chick knows that its mother is waiting outside the egg shell. Its expectations are nurtured by an a priori knowledge that was not gained by experience. The act of mother selection, coined by K. Lorenz as imprinting, has to be distinguished from learning from experience. E.H. Hess demonstrated what happens when the chick's expectations are not fulfilled. He substituted for the real mother a quacking model with a loudspeaker inside, that moved by mechanical means. The hatched duckling followed the model as if it were its real mother.

Other innate faculties are called instincts.  Like  the Language Instinct which according to  Steven Pinker accounts for our innate capacity for language.

A smile of a baby

You smile at a baby and it returns  a smile. This marvel is hard wired in its WOB. First the baby 
recognizes that you smile. Its WOB then associates the change in your face with its own, activates the appropriate  facial muscles and smiles. In order to achieve this feat  its WOB has to store  an innate representation of its  body.  The smiling baby responds to a message from your WOB. It is an unconscious response to your smile, and is a manifestation of its shamanistic faculty.

The study of shamanism

The word shaman originated among the Siberian Tungus and literally means he who knows. From the 18th century and onward, shamanism caught the attention  of anthropologists. However not all their  descriptions are reliable. The following pitfalls face any anthropologist:

1. In order to please the investigator the shaman may include in the description of his experience  elements of Western  culture which he has learned from his previous encounters with  researchers.
2. Some anthropologists  learn shamanism from
indigenous tribes, and communicate their experience using Western metaphors. This is particularly true of New Age shamans, like Michael Harner.
3. We ought to distinguish between the healing shaman  and the pagan shaman. From the medical perspective only the first is relevant. The healing shaman  communicates directly with WOB, while the pagan shaman  makes more use of the mind in order to get to the WOB. 

The genuine shaman

The genuine healing shaman, attempts to alleviate suffering and  is not concerned with its cause (etiology). He applies the so called  consciousness-changing techniques involving a monotonous percussion sound, most typically done with a drum, but also with sticks, rattles, and other instruments. He chants and dances. These are direct messages to the WOB of the patient, and do not require  the mediation of the mind. A genuine healing shaman communicates even with the WOB of a mindless patient in coma.

Shamanism is not a belief system. It is based on personal experiments. It is an instinct driven method, not a religion. A shaman may display two states of consciousness. An ordinary state, when mind and WOB interact, and a trance, when mind is turned off, and his WOB interacts with that of the patient.

Today most shamans are pagans, or animists, which developed an elaborate system of  explanations, like the existence of spirits.  They believe that all species, including humans, have souls with which the shaman interacts directly.  (v. Aristotle On the Soul.

Pagan shamanism has a profound drawback. Its healing is wrapped up in adverse  metaphors which may initiate a disease of the mind. Particularly  the notion of evil spirits which cause evil diseases, which have to be purged, and exorcised. A sentence like "people who are not powerful-spiritually are prone to illness, accidents, and bad luck" initiates a  slippery slope which ends in mind diseases caused by religion.

A genuine shaman acts (!) and does not talk, or explain, suggest or the like.

Additional reading:

A Shaman who treats cancer
A carpenter listening to stories on diseases which describes a modern kind  of shamanism.
The modern witches are female shamans. Like Ishtar the witch or the inter-stellar witch.


Hypnotism is a manifestation of shamanism and was always practiced by healers, and Asclepiads. In the 18th century it was rediscovered by Franz Mesmer, and labeled as Mesmerism, or animal magnetism. The hypnotized person is ready to silent  his mind  and let the hypnotist communicate with his WOB. Hypnotic induction is achieved either indirectly through the mind, or by acting directly on the WOB.  Indirect techniques include religious and cultural rituals, or their modern versions like swinging a pendulum.  

Hypnosis may be induced directly without the reliance on rituals. Like by touching the neck, drumming, or playing a  monotonous, loud  and deep sonorous tune. These  act directly on the WOB and do not require the mediation of the mind. WOB directed hypnosis is a means to influence unconscious processes controlled by WOB, and can be applied also to a patient in coma.

The hypnotized individual  shuts out his mind and accepts the instructions of the hypnotist. He is ready to replace his beliefs with those of the hypnotist.   Phenomena like regression,  are only moderately related with his real childhood experience. Or memories about his previous life, which  are mere  fancies  created by the hypnotist. Such memories are utterly unreliable and have been called false memories.  A false memory is a memory of an event that did not actually happen, or is a distortion of an actual experience. False memories can be highly vivid, just like normal memories. These negative characteristics of hypnotism cause unpleasant mind diseases.

Hypnotism is valuable for controlling unconscious processes during illness. This facet of hypnotism is still neglected and waits to be explored.

Placebo effect

The placebo effect is inborn
and stems from our shamanistic faculty. The visit to the doctor raises in the patient an  unconscious expectation to receive a  shamanistic healing, yet the doctor is unaware of his shamanistic faculty. Nevertheless the patient (WOB) unconsciously regards him as a shaman. Whatever the doctor does affects WOB directly, which is regarded by medicine as a placebo effect. During his visit to the doctor the patient's WOB perceives the physician's body image and his nonverbal communication. They are talking about his cancer. The physician smiles and assures the patient that his cancer is under control. However his doubts are unconsciously transmitted to the patient, initiating in him   a cancer of the mind.

Additional reading:

Making placebo respectable
Placebo and Cancer
Placebo effect is the Healing force of nature
Scientific framework for the Placebo effect

Medical interpretation of Shamanism

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