Wairua: Clinical Parapsychology at Manawanui
Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Manawanui, Māori Mental Health Service
Auckland District Health Board
This presentation will consider clinical parapsychological approaches within indigenous health practices, be it amongst tohungas, shamans in New Zealand or amongst sangomas, shamans in South Africa. Clinical parapsychology will first be considered in regards to the author’s clinical psychological work where “the paranormal is normal”, namely at Manawanui, a Māori Mental Health Service in Auckland. The official health model of Manawanui is based on the sacred building called the Marae. The model is called in Māori Te Whare Tapa Wha, namely the house of wellbeing, which is represented by the four sides of tinana (body), whanau (family), hinengaro (mind), wairua (spirit). For wellbeing to be achieved, all four principles of this model for the client (tangata whai i te ora) needs to be addressed.
After highlighting the importance of wairua in this indigenous mental health model, specific Mate Māori (specific Māori illnesses) recognized by tohungas will be discussed, such as matakite, makutu, mauri, etc. This will be related to a model of voice hearing when working with psychosis and ancestors (tupuna), as well as considering diffierential diagosis of mental health and spiritual emergency.
The author’s own shamanic training as a sangoma in South Africa becomes relevant at this point. In regards to the tradition of becoming a sangoma, the ukuthwasa, the apprenticeship is often defined by complex relation between psi effects, altered states of consciousness, exceptional experiences, and mental health. A dialectical approach to the complex relationship between spirituality and mental health distress will be presented.
Specific and integrative psychotherapeutic and shamanic clinical vignettes with clients will be outlined to highlight interventions such as mentalization in terms of paranoia and witchcraft, seeing the ancestors and emotional regulation, or determining the cultural trauma of exceptional experiences in regards to psychosis or voice hearing. Some psychoanalytic considerations will be considered in regards to wairua, or ‘spiritual holding’.
Recorded at the Society for Scientific Exploration Conference in Boulder, Colorado 2016.
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Published on November 22, 2018