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September 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1988 ; 27(8): 799-810.

Wayward winds: Malay archetypes, and theory of personality in the context of shamanism.

Laderman C.

Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Fordham University, Bronx, NY 10458.

In comparing shamanistic healing with Western psychotherapy, the principal distinctions advanced by psychiatrists and psychologists have been: (1) that the shaman's patients receive 'remission without insight' while Western psychotherapy provides patients with a learning experience; and (2) that Western psychotherapy is based upon rational theory, whereas psychotherapeutic elements in shamanistic rituals are by-products of irrational magical activity. Anthropologists, on the other hand, have demonstrated the logic behind the shaman's seance, and its uses as a projective system which locates the patient's problems in external entities rather than within his own psyche. An investigation of the Malay shamanistic ritual (Main Peteri) expands the scope of discussion, since it reveals that embedded within this exorcistic spirit-raising seance is a nonprojective indigenous theory of psychic functioning, employing symbols internal to the patient, which is comparable to, and no more nor less rational than, mainstream Western theories.

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