This second edition includes an additional chapter on neuro-imaging and automatic writing, together with a draft research protect protocol to test the efficacy of remote spirit release therapy under strictly controlled conditions.
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Spirit Release Therapy, as a clinical alternative to religious exorcism and traditional shamanistic practice is largely unknown by mainstream medical practice and psychiatry. This is due to several interrelated factors. Primarily, materialistic science does not recognise any concept of a spirit world and doctors are therefore not yet trained in SRT principles and techniques. SRT sits uncomfortably between the disbelief of a materialist secular society and the subjective experience of spirit possession: whether that experience is a symptom of psychosis, symbolic representation, socio-cultural expectation or a veridical manifestation. In contrast to the monism of mechanistic science, every culture and religious belief system throughout human history has its traditional beliefs of spirit possession in some form or another with corresponding rituals for the release or exorcism of spirit entities. It is common knowledge that Christianity has its angels, devils and demons (although the majority of modern so-called Christians probably don’t believe they really exist). Islam has its Jinns and the Hindus have a variety of evil spirits.
The conflict between the epistemologies of modern science and religion lies in the conceptual differences in perception that are arrived at through empirical data and radical empirical experience. In short, it is a difference between what we believe to be true and what we know to be true.
This article expands psychosocial and cultural perspectives on the experience and expression of psychotic symptoms and the treatment of schizophrenia by exploring how Spiritism, a popular religion in Latin America, provides healing to persons with severe mental illness. Beliefs and treatment by Spiritist healers of persons with psychotic symptoms, some diagnosed with schizophrenia, are described. Reactions by mental health professionals (psychologists, mental health technicians and psychiatrists) to this alternative treatment are described. Qualitative data have been collected through in-depth interviews with 49 Spiritist mediums in Puerto Rico, and case histories of 22 patients and their family members, all of whom gave informed consent. In Brazil, interviews were conducted with a sample of 115 Spiritist mediums, with their informed consent. These mediums responded to semi-structured interviews and standard measures of social adjustment and mental health. As expected, beliefs and practices of Spiritist healers regarding psychotic symptoms, whether manifested by themselves or by clients diagnosed with schizophrenia or other disorders, differ substantively from conventional psychiatric constructs and treatment approaches. According to patients’ self reports and researchers’ observations, spirit healers often achieve positive results with persons manifesting psychotic symptoms or diagnosed with schizophrenia in that symptoms become less frequent and/or social adjustment improves. We suggest psychosocial mechanisms to explain these findings and raise questions for future research.
- [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
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