Modified Masters Thesis
Neo-Shamanic Counseling, Biomedicine, and Chronic Health Conditions: Disparate paradigms and alternative treatments, a case study
In 2005, 1 in 2 adults, or 133 million Americans, were living with at least one chronic health condition (CDC, 2009). In 2020 that number is expected to reach 157 million (Bodenheimer, 2009). Seven out of ten deaths that occur in the U.S. are due to a chronic condition. This proposal explores the application of neo-shamanism as a Complementary Alternative Integrative Medicine (CAIM) modality to treat patients living with chronic health conditions. The purpose of the proposed case studies will be to understand the lived experience of three individuals receiving different types of treatment for their shared chronic health condition: conventional biomedical treatment, biomedical treatment and neo-shamanic counseling, and only neo-shamanic counseling. I predict that because neo-shamanism is independently reproducible and anecdotally effective at reducing the secondary symptoms of chronic health conditions (depression, anxiety, isolation), patients will become empowered to shift the meaning of their subjective experience in a way that reduces their dependence on biomedical interventions and positively impacts the physiological and psychological health outcomes of their chronic condition.
Academic writing samples
Since its adaption in the early 19th Century (Narby & Huxley, 2001) the word ‘shamanism’ has come to have a rich linguistic etymology, making its definition as fluid and elusive as the human behaviors that researchers have attempted to attribute to its alleged practitioners, the shaman. Applying an operationalized definition of a shaman based on decades of Anthropological field research might help a researcher feel confident in his or her ability to identify a shaman. However the more one knows about shamanism and its unique history the more complex the term becomes. Shamanism is not a static term. Shamanism, like the cultures it is performed in has, in fact, changed its meaning many times since its introduction into the English lexicon.
The aging continuum is defined through an integral lens as: the multi-layered, complex, non-linear continuum of a soul’s progress, with the body as vehicle, from conception to death. The aging continuum is multi-layered because we are multi-layered beings consisting of physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual bodies (Gerber, 2001). It is complex because these layers are not mutually exclusive; each layer impacts the next, and one layer cannot exist without another. The aging continuum is also non-linear just as the development of our life is non-linear. Our sense of self, as well as our spiritual and cultural beliefs ebb and flow with the changing influences of our external environments and internal landscapes. What is truth today may be challenged the next. That which is old can grow young again.