Walking Between the Worlds:
Links between Psi, Psychdelics, Shamanism and Psychosis
An Overview of the Literature
In folk lore there is a belief that many people who have an
acute psychotic breakdown exhibit signs of psychic ability. Research
into this folk lore is virtually non-existent, but some interesting
work by Neppe (1980) and Persinger (Persinger & Makarec, 1987)
psi suggests that there might be some foundation for it. My research
into the pineal gland is now exploring this same area from a neurochemical
The pineal gland makes a neurohormone called melatonin which
is one of the key regulators of the circadian and seasonal biological
rhythms. It also makes a mono-amine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor called
pinoline (Methoxytetrahydrobetacarboline (MeOTHBC)) which acts
on the GABA receptors and whose chemical structure is virtually
identical with the harmala alkaloids, which are key ingredients
in the ayahausca drink used by Amazonian people specifically for
inducing a state of consciousness in which they state that they
go out-of-body, experience travelling clairvoyance, divination
and shamanic healing. The suggested neurochemistry for these effects
implicates serotonin. Serotonin (5 Hydroxytryptamine (5HT)) has
frequently been implicated in certain aspects of psychoses. Pinoline
is a neuromodulator which prevents, amongst other effects, the
breakdown of serotonin. This results in an accumulation of physiologically
active amines including dimethyltryptamine (DMT) within the neuronal
synapses which may lead to hallucinations, depression or mania
depending on the amines being affected (Strassman, 1990). DMT
is the other main ingredient in ayahuasca. There are also interesting
links with the serotonergic activation by psychedelics such as
LSD, psilocybin and MDMA which have all been implicated in triggering
psychotic episodes, and more specifically with inducing a state
of consciousness which has many similarities with both an acute
psychotic breakdown and with shamanism, which traditionally uses
psychedelic plants in order to achieve the desired state of consciousness.
A key link between all of these various experiences is the dream
state of consciousness. Psychologically, both the shamanic initiation
experience and that of an acute psychotic breakdown share many
similarities with the dream state. It appears that the normal
every night experience of all human beings is connected with the
more extreme experiences of psychosis and shamanism through the
same neurochemical pathways that underlie all these experiences.
And, as the research at Maimonides (Ullman et al, 1975) and since
has shown, the dream state is a psychic state of consciousness
par excellence. This suggests that the anthropological reports
of psychic abilities being exhibited by shamans may have some
foundation, and suggests that some people who have experienced
a psychotic breakdown could be seen in other cultures as people
with a particular and highly valued gift - the gift of walking
between the worlds.
1. Background:Previous Research looking
at Brain - Psi Links
1.1. Epilepsy, Psi and Dreams
Until now the main theorising concerning psi and distressing
mental states has been centred around the folk lore concerning
epilepsy being the "holy disease." Epileptics report
experiences which are very similar to psychic experiences. 70%
of people suffering temporal lobe epilepsy report psi experiences.
Roll (1977) noticed that many people who have experienced poltergeist
phenomena have suffered epilepsy. His theory was later linked
with the temporal lobes (Roll & Montagno, 1985).
A large part of this research has been by Neppe (1980). He has
noted that many parapsycholgists have found that:
a) ASCs are psi-conducive, eg. Ganzfeld, dreaming, meditation;
b) Psi experiences appear almost as if there are deficits in brain
functioning . Various focal brain dysfunctions, such as frontal,
parietal, or temporal dysfunctions may be accentuated under certain
circumstances, such as epilepsy, and produce what appears to be
a psi event. An alternative understanding of this is that psi
experiences are subliminal events and are processed in a manner
equivalent to subliminal perceptions. Here, we understand the
psi information to have a very weak trace and it is this which
results in the distortions which make them appear as if there
are deficits in brain functioning.
1.2.The Temporal Lobes and Psi
The temporal lobes are the integrators of the brain. Temporal
lobe dysfunction is commonly reflected by the most complicated
kind of epilepsy, complex partial seizures, which may resemble
certain psychic experiences.
Nelson (1970) did a study of trance mediums and found that 10
out of 12 mediums show temporal lobe abnormalities. By comparison
25% of the general population have temporal lobe abnormalities,
so whilst it is common to have abnormalities the mediums have
an outstanding proportion. This study has not been replicated.
Neppe (1983c) did a study with 6 psi experients and 6 non-experients.
The experients had 2 to 11 different temporal lobe symptoms (see
Appendix 1) per psi experience, e.g. a chilly feeling with the
sense of an apparition. Also they had temporal lobe symptoms when
not having a psi experience. This suggests that an anomalous temporal
lobe state may predispose to psi experience and a heightening
of temporal lobe experiences.
Déjà vu is symptomatic of temporal lobe epilepsy
and also common amongst psi experiencers. The quality of déja
vu amongst psi experiencers is qualitatively different from the
epileptics. Psi déja vu is normally linked to a major distortion
in the sense of time and is linked to precognitive or retrocognitive
awareness, and is clearly defined and often externally validated
in some way. Schizophrenics also have a déja vu experience
which differs again in containing psychotic elements.
Persinger (1985) analysed subjective responses to religious experiences
and found that those with intense experiences score high on mid-level
temporal lobe signs. He also found temporal lobe EEG effects in
a Transcendental Meditator during a peak mystical experience,
and temporal lobe spikes during protracted intermittent episodes
of glossolalia. Fenwick (1983) also suggests right temporal lobe
involvement in mystical experiences. The stimulation of medial
temporal areas during surgery is sometimes associated with a sense
of presence, out-of-body-experiences (OBEs) and other strange
experiences. Penfield (1958) recorded the experience of an OBE
by stimulating the temporal lobe of an epilepsy patient.
Persinger & Makarec (1987) analysed temporal lobe sensitivity
of the average person. They report some correlations of major
complex partial seizure sign scores, and reports of anomalistic
experiences and a sense of presence in 414 students over a period
of 3 years. Persinger (1988a) reports a prominence of temporal
lobe symptomatology as well as psi experiences among writers,
poets, musicians, actors, and artists with an increased incidence
in left-handed individuals and creative academics. He also reports
someone who experienced an OBE associated with hypomania and a
right temporal lobe focus on their EEG.
Persinger (1988b) reports the coincidence of diurnal occurence
of complex partial seizures and psi experiences - between 2 -
4am with a further peak at 10 pm - which is the same for psi experiences
with a peak at 4am and another at 4 pm.
Temporal lobe theta waves are an extremely common comcomitant
of a variety of different states including meditation, fatigue,
drug effects, and altered states of consiousness (ASCs) (Healy,
Thus we are looking at specific personality type experiences
here which correlate strongly with those found amongst psi experiencers.
In other words a certain type of person has psi experiences, mystical
experiences, magical ideation and this links with temporal lobe
2. Changing our Attitude about Psychosis
Warner (1985) in his study of schizophrenia has shown that psychosis
is a disease of societies with a wage economy: tribal societies
and those with subsistence economies do not show the same pattern
of illness. When someone, ususally a young person, has what we
would call a psychotic breakdown there is no stigma and no loss
of status. Either they stay within the family and extended community
and do simple tasks until there is full recovery, normally within
about 9 months, or else they gain status by becoming the shaman's
apprentice and undergoing training. This training, which can last
for up to 20 years, teaches them stability, control of their mental
and emotional states and also how to go into trance states without
a full blown psychotic episode, which is characterised by the
hallucinations taking control as well as other social dysfunctions.
The shaman is well cared for by the community, making sure that
they have their needs met in recognition of the service they provide.
Boyle (1990), in her history of Kraepelin and Bleuler who introduced
the concept of schizophrenia, casts doubt on the validity of the
concept itself. Schizophrenic people show very little similarity
in onset, course and outcome. It can develop at any time from
age 15 - 55, can be short term with no recurrence or last a lifetime
with no remission. It actually appears now that they were describing
cases of encephalitic lethargic which normally develops in Parkinson
disease, so cases such as they describe would today have a different
Richard Bentall (1990) found that psychotic symptoms tend to
be randomly associated with no correlation. Using cluster and
factor analysis, schizophrenia is found spread evenly across all
clusters and factors. There is no clear border line between schizophrenic
and affective psychoses and between psychotic and neurotic. Many
psychotic symptoms are related to normal mental states and the
symptoms are poor predictors of final outcome. "Schizophrenia
is a disorder with no particular symptoms, course or outcome which
responds to no particular treatment." (Bentall, 1990)
Specifically Warner (1985) states that: Material conditions (political
economy) mould the course and outcome of schizophrenia and influence
its prevalence. Schizophrenia is a possibly genetically inherited
illness which is strongly affected by the environment. In most
cases stress triggers the psychosis.
Warner (1985) has shown that low-stress household with relatives
who are less critical, controlling and intrusive is essential
for recovery; the benefits are equal to, or better than, drugs.
Poor working class city people with high stress environments suffer
most from schizophrenia, and in these cases the state of the economy
is linked to the outcome:during periods of unemployment there
is less recovery and, in general, mental problems for working
class people increase in a slump. Job stress, factory work and
unemployment are all related to ill health and suicide. Economic
uncertainty is a severe stress for most people.
There is a great similarity between many features of psychosis
and the psychological effects of chronic unemployment: anxiety,
depression, apathy, irritability, negativity, emotional over-dependance,
social withdrawal, isolation, loneliness, and a loss of self-respect.
Women are less affected by labour dynamics and suffer less from
psychosis. Mazure et al (1997) examined the association of recent
life stress severity to biological markers of stress in 34 newly
admitted patients with acute psychosis. They found that serum
cortisol was correlated with stress severity.
The recovery rates from schizophrenia are not significantly better
now than at the beginning of the century:complete recovery is
still only 20 - 25%; with social recovery 40 - 45%. Antipsychotic
drugs are not any particular help in hospitals using social therapeutic
techniques with patients and therapists living and working together.
Drugs only help psychotics living in an inadequate environment:most
psychotics discharged from hospital end up in inner city ghettos,
unemployed and uncared for, and many end up in jail. Sadly, these
people are known as “revolving-door patients.”
The non-industrial extended family is a relatively low stress
environment compared with the Western nuclear family unit. In
countries, such as India, where there is a mixture of industrialisation
and subsistence agriculture, higher caste educated people are
most prone to suffer from schizophrenia. They suffer more because
they are in wage labour with its stresses and unemployment. If
they are sufficiently emotionally supported by relatives, friends
and community then the stressful events have less impact. In general,
people recover much quicker in non-industrial countries because
subsistence agriculture needs constant low stress, low demanding
work from everyone in a cooperative framework. Urban psychotics
benefit from a return to traditional village (tribal) life.
Also tribal people have a world-view in which the supernatural
plays a large part. Giving psychotic symptoms a supernatural element
removes "blame" from the person, leading to conflict
resolution and social reintegration with the family. If the person
is being interfered with by bad spirits then they remain integrated
within their family and anxiety is less because there is a higher
degree of tolerance of their problems and no social stigma. The
label mad is applied only to highly disruptive people, or those
who are violent.
Further, certain features of psychosis can lead to considerable
elevation in social status. The hallucinations and ASCs produced
by psychosis, fasting, sleep deprivation, social isolation and
hallucinogenic drugs are often a prerequisite for gaining shamanic
power. The psychotic features are interpreted as an initiatory
experience and social reintegration is so successful that spouses
are happier with them than before breakdown. Indigenous healers
who have suffered psychotic episodes find their elevated status
and well-defined curing role a valuable defence against relapse.
The psychotic may be able to function well as a shaman because
the emotional supports available to the shaman greatly alleviate
the strain of an otherwise excruciatingly painful existence. These
are of necessity people who have few personality or emotional
disorders, since the presence of these would compound the experiences
and make the person unfit for the role of shaman.
As non-industrial countries get "developed" so the
level of schizophrenia rises in the rural areas around the industrialised
city/area. Where there are migrant-labour practices, and where
people, e.g. Aboriginals, American Indians, the Scots and the
Irish have lost their land and associated life styles, this results
in gross unemployment and loss of self esteem and the highest
levels of schizophrenia. Assured employment in the former Socialist
countries and the stable role expectations among Hitterites and
the Amish of USA, and Southern Italians who have subsistence farming
are all linked with less schizophrenia. Immigrants who enter the
lower classes in their new country experience a high prevalence
of schizophrenia; those who enter at a higher level of status
do not. For example, Harrison et al (1997) have replicated the
finding of increased incidence of schizophrenia and related psychoses
in first and second generation migrants to Britain from the Caribbean.
Schizophrenics founder under the same difficulties with which
all of us struggle all our lives.
Thus the Industrial Revolution is linked to an increase in occurrence
of schizophrenia. Barham & Hayward (1990) point out that the
negative symptoms of chronic schizophrenia, e.g. loss of affect,
are related to all inmates of institutions such as prisons, refugee
3. Neurochemical Correlates of Psychosis
The brain is an holistic system with only part localization of
function. There are many-to-many correspondences between mental
states and brain events - the aetiology of even a single symptom
(e.g, hallucination) is likely to be variable (Jackson,1990).
There is a continuity between health and sickness - one can be
more or less sick. Mental illnesses form the endpoints of continuously
variable behavioural dimensions and these dimensions have a substantial
biological basis grounded in naturally occurring individual variation
in brain functioning. "It is possible that structural or
biochemical abnormalities may induce a vulnerability to certain
schizophrenic experiences which act as a catalyst for later elaboration
by otherwise normal cognitive processes. These abnormalities may
reflect biases in the way that schizophrenics process information
or in such fundamental processes such as arousal"Jackson.
(1990) Temperamental or personality differences partly reflect
differences in the underlying properties of the nervous system.
There is a distinction between enduring traits as descriptors
of personality and symptoms as indicators of illness, but a connection
can be discerned. Thus one can compare schizophrenia to systemic
disease, e.g. hypertension related diseases.
blood pressure -----------------> increasing risk of stroke
etc caused by stress, diet, or
schizotypal nervous system - -----------> increasing risk of
Therefore, a normal body mechanism can bring about a state of
dysfunction. The continuity is that of normal individual variation
with predisposition to disease greater in some than in others.
Systemic diseases are normally multiply determined. There is a
normal "nervous type" associated with schizophrenia
comparable to those other traits underlying other psychological
disorders, and the "dispositional" aspects are inherited.
This graded continuum of liability to schizophrenia could be called
Schizotypy scales identify 3 behavioural components:
1) cognitive: active florid symptoms, e.g delusions and paranoia;
2) affective: passive, introverted symptoms, e.g. anhedonia;
3) antisocial nonconformity.
These scales are linked with cognitive, psychophysiological (galvanic
skin response, GSR) and neuropsychological (hemisphere) research.
There are many nervous properties which relate to temperamental
or personality variations that are under some genetic control,
e.g. extraversion, anxiety proneness.
For example,one theory suggests a weakening of the inhibitor
system (Bergson’s filter theory (see note 2)). Thus possibly,
schizophrenia is a failure to limit the contents of consciousness.
This openness to stimulation, open mode of attention to the environment,
also links to high creativity, and to the shamanic traditions.
Ambiguous, critical, emotion-laden communications from another
might have a greater than normal impact because the person is
unduly sensitive to, and therefore more likely to distort, the
meaning. This happens quite often during adolescence as part of
the emotional growth pattern.
3.2.Neurochemistry of Shamanic States,
Psychosis and the Pineal Gland.
The shamanic state of conciousness is often precipitated by psychotropic
plants such as ayahuasca, peyote, and amanita muscaria. These
drugs activate the serotonergic (5HT) receptors in a similar fashion
to the pineal betacarbolines. I have discussed elsewhere that
the pineal betacarbolines are linked with psychic states of consciousness
and with the shamanic out-of-body state through the similarity
of the harmala alkaloids and pinoline (Roney-Dougal, 1986,1988,1990,1991,1993,
1999). Now I am presenting a link between the pineal gland and
the psychotic state of consciousness. I consider that our society
does not recognise the potential of people who experience this
state of consciousness, and so we are creating a severe disabling
illness totally unnecessarily by not treating these people appropriately
in the manner that tribal and subsistence economy people do. It
is time we recognised the potential shaman in the psychotic.
3.2.1.Geomagnetic Fields, Depression and
the Role of Melatonin
One of the key factors in linking the pineal with psychosis is
the work of Kay (1994). Admission to mental hospital varies with
season and time of the month, and mental illness is more common
the further north you go, i.e., into long light summers, and long
Seasonal variation in the incidence of depressive illness has
been recognised since Hippocrates (Lewis, 1934). Onset of depressive
illness, admission to hospital, prescriptions of antidepressant
medication and incidence of suicide have all been found to show
a bimodal annual distribution with peaks in spring and autumn.
Kay (1994) has found, in a 10 year study of admission rates to
Lothian psychiatric hospitals, that two weeks after a geomagnetic
storm there was a significant rise (36.2%) for male admissions
for depression phase of manic-depression and a smaller non-significant
rise for women with psychotic and non-psychotic depression. There
was no correlation between intensity of storm and admission rates,
i.e. if any sort of storm happens, mild or severe, you get increased
admission rate, which is consistent with a threshold event affecting
predisposed individuals. The effect of geomagnetic storms could
range from mild irritability to full-blown depression. Monthly
total psychiatric admissions have been positively correlated with
solar radioflux levels and indices of geomagnetic ionospheric
Kay suggests that geomagnetic storms partly account for the bimodal
annual distribution of depression by acting either through desynchronisation
of pineal circadian rhythms, or via an effect on 5HT-ergic and
adrenergic systems leading to depressed mood and secondary disruption
of pineal melatonin synthesis. Alteration in geomagnetic field
(GMF) activity is associated with decreased serotonin NAT activity
and decreased melatonin synthesis. Geomagnetic storms in spring
enhance the suppressing effect of increasing daylight on melatonin
synthesis, leading to a phase advance in the circadian rhythm,
while the effect of storms in autumn tend to be partially compensated
by the pineal response to decreasing light intensity. This is
consistent with a Southern Hemisphere peak for psychotic depression
admissions in September and October, and a peak in Sweden in April.
The main innervation of the pineal is via adrenergic systems
so magnetic fields may affect pineal functioning via this mechanism.
Sandyk (1990a) associates depression with decreased melatonin
secretion and suggests that melatonin regulates dopaminergic,
cholinergic and GABA-ergic functions.
It is also possible that the association between geomagnetic
storms and depression could be due to an indirect association
with changes in meteorological factors. Atmospheric ionisation
and barometric pressure have been shown to affect measures of
5HT activity. Prolonged exposure to abnormal magnetic fields may
also have an effect, acting through a similar mechanism to geomagnetic
storms. Depression admissions have been associated with exposure
to 50Hz e-m fields in the home.
3.2.2.Role of Circadian Rhythms, Melatonin
We have two circadian clocks - one is a biological clock which
includes the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, the locus
ceruleus and the dorsal raphe nucleus - food is the zeitgeber
for this clock; the second clock includes the retina, hypothalamic
suprachalasmic nuceus (SCN) and pineal gland - light is the zeitgeber
for this clock. The two clocks are normally in synchrony but in
view of the independence of the two clocks asynchrony is possible,
and the affective disorders may be caused by such a dysfunction
Disturbances of the noradrenergic activity of the central nervous
system (CNS) have been related to affective disorders, which are
also accompanied by depressed melatonin secretion and sleep disturbances.
Manic-depression is associated with a sleep disorder: in the manic
phase the person suffers from insomnia, in the depression state
they sleep too much.
Melatonin is mainly secreted at night through noradrenergic stimulation
of beta-receptors on the pinealocoytes. Melatonin secretion can
therefore be inhibited by beta-blocking drugs. Melatonin secretion
is depressed in mental disorders with sleep disturbances such
as the manic phase of certain affective disorders, alcoholic abuse
and dts with hallucinations.
There are mixed results regarding melatonin secretion in affective
disorders - some find decreased nocturnal melatonin secretion
in unipolar depressed adults, others do not. Lewy et al (1979)
reports increased melatonin levels in bipolar subjects through
a 24 hour cycle. Lam et al (1990) report decreased nocturnal melatonin
production in bipolar patients compared with unipolar depressed
and control subjects. Reiter (1982) suggests that manic-depressives
have a low melatonin concentration during suicidal episodes and
a high melatonin concentration during manic episodes.
Affective disorders involving circadian dysregulation may respond
to interventions that restore a normal sleep-wake cycle. Robertson
& Tanguay (1997) describe a boy with bipolar disorder. A trial
of melatonin led to rapid relief of insomnia and aborted manic
episodes for at least a two year period. Insomnia can be both
a symptom and a precursor of mania (Wehr et al, 1987; Leibenluft
et al, 1995). On the other hand, sleep deprivation therapy for
depression is thought to exert its effect by resynchronising circadian
rhythms, while antidepressants and lithium lengthen the pineal
circadian cycle period re-synchronising a phase advanced cycle.
In addition, melatonin administration to clinically depressed
patients gives negative effects (Carman et al, 1976). The treatment
of psychotic depression with daytime melatonin increases psychotic
symptoms and abolishes diurnal mood variation. The timing of this
treatment would tend to exacerbate a desynchronised rhythm. De-synchronising
circadian rhythms is therefore a possible mechanism for mood switching
in manic-depressive illness, and manic-depressive patients have
been found to be supersensitive to the suppressing effect of light
on night-time melatonin synthesis, suggesting that in these people
the pineal gland may be generally supersensitive to environmental
factors including geomagnetic storms.
Brismar (1987) studied people on beta blockers because of angina,
hypertension, etc. and found that those with depressed nightly
urinary melatonin excretion suffered from CNS symptoms such as
nightmares and hallucinations. Not many people suffer these effects.
Another possible site of action for melatonin is the dorsal raphe
nucleus. (LSD also acts on the dorsal raphe nucleus.) Melatonin
could enhance 5HT levels by acting as a MAO inhibitor in the synapses
of the dorsal raphe nucleus.
Abnormalities in circadian rhythm organization are consistent
features in manic-depressive illness (Wehr & Goodwin, 1980).
Wetterberg et al (1981) suggest pineal involvement. Manic-depressives
have an earlier onset of melatonin secretion during depression,
with this secretory onset being even earlier in mania (Lewy &
Kern, 1984). Manic depressives are also super-sensitive to light
with 50% reduction in melatonin production on exposure to 500
lux. Normally one needs 2500 lux for this suppression whereas
manic-depressives have complete melatonin suppression at 1500
lux (Lewy & Kern, 1984). It is possible that supersensitivity
to light with alteration in retinal perception of light could
contribute to a phase advance of those rhythms that are entrained
to the light-dark cycle and thus lead to alterations in those
function that are influenced secondarily by such rhythms (for
review see Kripke & Risch 1986; Rosenthal, 1986; Thompson,
Thus melatonin, as an integral aspect of our circadian rhythm
is implicated in manic- depression.
3.2.3. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
SAD is the name given to the hypothesis that decreasing daylight
desynchronises the pineal rhythm of melatonin synthesis. Non-psychotic
depression does show some bimodal seaonal variation. In line with
the idea that psychosis is the extreme end of a normal mechanism,
manic depression is thus an extreme response to a bimodal variation
with season that is very common amongst people living in latitudes
with variable daylength.
Arendt (1985) has shown that those who suffer from depression
can be helped by sun lamp treatment. To ameliorate SAD symptoms
intensity of light must be sufficient to suppress melatonin synthesis
and secretion. Some SAD patients respond to levels as low as 200
lux. Alternatively one can use melatonin treatment in pill form.
More generally the pineal plays an anti-stress function and "forms
part of a broader neurohormonal feedback mechanism linking the
stress response of the hypothalamus - hypophysis neuroendocrine
complex." (Reiter, 1982).
Thus, as with schizotypy and schizophrenia there is a normal
aspect of a behavioural pattern that we call a disorder, manic
depression. We can see that both these forms of psychosis are
at the extreme end of a continuum but do not differ in form from
experiences common to many people. We are all of us more active
in the long, light summer days, and more inclined to hibernate
during the dark, cold winter.
3.2.4. Melatonin and Dreams
Melatonin per se may well, directly or indirectly, be of importance
for normal sleep rhythm and for ordinary dream activity during
sleep. REM sleep has been sugggested to be induced by the actions
of CSF (cerebrospinal fluid), melatonin and vasotocin on the dorsal
raphe nucleus and the locus ceruleus. Melatonin and vasotocin
have been noted to be in rhythm with REM sleep (Pavel et al, 1979;
Birkeland,1982). Maurizi (1984) speculates that the synaptic enhancement
of monoamines induced by melatonin causes feedback inhibition
of the locus and raphe nuclei in REM sleep. A cycle of neuropeptides
and neuromodulators in the CSF has been suggested to pace the
90 minute dream rhythm (Maurizi, 1984). Intranasal application
of vasotocin and also of melatonin induces REM sleep in humans.
Maurizi (1987) suggests that REM sleep, which is under brain
stem control, facilitates the transfer of intermediate-term memory
into long-term storage in the neocortex. Psychotics suffer memory
loss, so do mediums in trance, hypnotised people and those on
psychedelics, and it is notoriously difficult to remember dreams.
Findings suggest that REM sleep over a prolonged time period is
a requisite neurobiological mechanism for the processing, maintenance,
and storage of long-term memory. In humans, recall of complex
associative information is significantly better after REM sleep
than after non-REM sleep or wakefulness. In elderly humans a positive
correlation of REM sleep with mental functioning has been demonstrated,
and people with learning difficulties have decreased REM sleep.
REM sleep benefits the consolidation of emotive memory, high association
value memory, or memory that calls for more divergent procesing.
Emotional memories and emotional events seem to be resolved by
Patients suffering from narcolepsy, which is thought to be a
disorder of the mechanism that controls REM sleep, frequently
have hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. These are more
than likely the emergence of REM dreams into the waking state.
Drugs, such as chlorimipramine, are particularly effective in
blocking hypnagogic hallucinations.
The delusions of mania are suggestive of dreams. If manic behaviour
is the consequence of REM sleep chemistry intruding into the wake
period, then perhaps grandiosity and a “flight of ideas” during
normal REM sleep are mechanisms for imagination and creativity.
3.3. Serotonin (5HT) and Schizophrenia
Whilst melatonin is made only at night, 5HT is made during daytime.
5HT is a wake state enhancer and REM sleep inhibitor. Thus, in
the northern hemisphere, we have increased levels of serotonin
in the summer and decreased levels in winter. Animal data indicate
that 5HT is a major neurotransmitter involved in the control of
mood, aggression, pain, anxiety, sleep, memory, eating behaviour,
addictive behaviour, temperature control, endocrine regulation,
and motor behaviour. There is also evidence that abnormalities
of 5HT functions are related to Parkinson's disease, tardive dyskinesia,
akathisia, dystonia, Huntington' disease, familial tremor, restless
legs syndrome, myoclonnus, Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome, multiple
sclerosis, sleep disorders and dementia, schizophrenia, mania,
depression, aggressive and self-injurious behaviour, obsessive
compulsive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, substance abuse,
hypersexuality, anxiety disorders, bulimia, childhood hyperactivity
and behavioural disorders in geriatrics (Sandyk, 1992b).
The highest concentrations of 5HT have been found in the pineal
glands of schizophrenics. A dysfunction of central 5HT metabolism
in schizophrenia has been repeatedly suggested, and is also implicated
in the cyclic seasonal nature of manic-depressives, since there
are higher concentrations of 5HT in the summer during the manic
phase of seasonally affected people. Schizophrenics often exhibit
sleep disturbances; insomnia may be the first symptom of a relapse,
whilst changes in REM sleep and in EEG patterns during sleep have
been observed. Also arousal level, thus implicating the reticular
activating system (RAS), is altered in psychotics. Pathologists
have found that the brains of suicide victims are deficient in
5HT. When 5HT levels are low there is an increase in the tendency
for people to behave in uncharacteristic ways (Elliott & Holman,
This dysfunction of 5HT metabolism in schizophrenia has been
suggested from studies measuring concentrations of 5HT in urine
and blood, in post mortem brains, in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
and after the administration of 5HT precursors and/or drugs affecting
central 5HT turnover. Two possible mechanisms have been suggested
both of which result in the formation of psychotropic chemicals
such as dimethyltryptamine (DMT) (see Appendix 2)(Rimon et al,
1984). There is a considerable body of evidence suggesting that
one defect in schizophrenia may be in the metabolism of tryptophan,
and perhaps especially in its uptake into the brain and subsequent
metabolism to 5HT. Another possible link comes from the fact that
the acute manic episodes of psychoses such as schizophrenia and
manic-depression rarely occur in childhood, and often first manifest
at adolescence. Puberty is intimately linked with a massive decrease
in melatonin levels, this decrease being the trigger for the onset
of sexual hormone production. There may be a delay in sexual maturation.
In some patients an increase in sexual activity may occur during
the acute phase and depressed patients lose interest in sexual
activity. The increased sexual activity of mania may be due to
an altered level or rhythm of melatonin (Roney - Dougal, 1999).
3.3.1. Serotonin and Psychedelics
Jacobs & Trulson (1979) suggest that certain aspects of dreams,
drug-induced hallucinations and psychosis share a limited set
of characteristics which are directly attributable to decreased
5HT-ergic transmission which is common to all three. This is manifest
primarily as changes in visual perception and affect. Additionally,
an activation of brain dopamine function may also be involved,
either directly or indirectly as a result of decreased inhibitory
control over dopamine-containing neurones.
The reasoning behind their hypothesis is that there is a structural
similarity between LSD and 5HT molecules, and psychedelics depress
central 5HT-ergic neurotransmission. A blockade of central 5HT
receptors might account for LSD’s psychotomimetic effects. Repeated
doses of LSD decrease the number of available binding sites for
LSD and 5HT, and affects the affinity of 5HT for its post-synaptic
receptor. LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs are potentiated by
drugs which depress, and blocked by drugs which increase, 5HT
neurotransmission. When LSD is given in conjunction with an inhibitor
of 5HT synthesis the effects are synergistic, e.g., depletion
of 5HT by reserpine enhances the effects of hallucinogens.
Vollenweider et al (1997) investigated the effects of another
psychotropic plant, psilocybin, on cerebral glucose metabolism
in 10 healthy volunteers. The data suggest that excessive 5HT
receptor activation results in a metabolic pattern that parallels
comparable findings associated with acute psychotic episodes in
Suppression of 5HT neurotransmission alone may be necessary and
sufficient for hallucinogenesis, but an added dopamine agonist
action greatly enhances the magnitude of the effect. When people
having frightening pschedelic experiences are given neuroleptics
which have a dopamine antagonist action, they still report experiencing
hallucination, but the magnitude of the effect is greatly diminished.
Bufotenine, another naturally occuring psychotropic, shows effects
similar to DMT. Body enzymes can produce bufotenine and DMT from
tryptamines (Axelrod, 1961/2). These findings further the hypothesis
of a role for methylated tryptamines in the origins of psychosis.
Perhaps any psychoactive effects of bufotenine result from its
conversion to 5-Methoxy-DMT (5-MeODMT) via the pineal enzyme HIOMT.
Bufotenine has been found in the urine of both healthy and psychiatric
people. The methylated tryptamines are also normal components
of human urine and blood (Callaway, 1994) .
Administration of a variety of hallucinogenic drugs, such as
LSD, psilocybin, DMT and 5MeODMT, in very low doses, directly
suppresses the activity of dorsal raphe neurons. Subtle alterations
of the raphe unit activity may produce dramatic behavioural effects.
Because of 5HT’s inhibitory synaptic action in the forebrain,
this depression of raphe unit activity produces a disinhibition
of target neurones in the visual and limbic systems, thereby giving
rise to alterations of visual perception and rapid and dramatic
changes in mood. The relative potency of these drugs in depressing
the discharge rate of these neurons corresponds to their relative
potency in various psychological and perceptual measures in humans.
Other psychoactive drugs such as the opiates, atropine and cannabis
do not exert this primary physiological action and produce ASCs
which are clearly distinguishable from hallucinogenic drugs. Only
psychdelics inhibit raphe cell firing without a compensatory increase
in 5HT synthesis.
3.3.2. Serotonin and Dreams
The amount of REM sleep in schizophrenics varies; acute patients
show reduced REM, chronic show increased. Acute phases are associated
with severe sleep disruption with reduction of both REM and NREM.
Longitudinal studies show a failure of REM rebound in schizophrenics
following loss of REM sleep. Some studies suggest that some schizophrenics
have short REM latencies, but there are conflicting results. Reduced
REM latency is also found with obsessive compulsives, borderline
personality, alcoholism, narcolepsy, schizoaffective disorder.
This is possibly due to alterations in the circadian rhythm of
REM sleep. It is possible that low REM latency is related to affective
symptoms &/or the presence of psychotic delusions. Dreams
are dominated by intense visual imagery and affective involvement
of the dreamer. Reduced REM latency also occurs with with sleep
There is evidence from animal and human studies for a serotonergic
involvement in the generation of REM sleep (Mendelson, 1987).
The monoamine theory of sleep states introduced by Jouvet (1969,
1972, 1974) implicates the serotonergic neurons of the raphe system
(see Figure 1). The discharge rate of 5HT from the dorsal raphe
neurones gradually slows as one progresses from the waking state
through non-REM sleep until they cease firing completely during
REM sleep. Humans show reduction in REM sleep with serotonergic
enhancers. Hobson (1992) states that in REM sleep the cholinergic
system and its postsynaptic REM sleep executive population are
modulated by serotonergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic inputs
which are in general inhibitory. Noradrenergic neurons are also
active whilst we are awake and inactive in REM sleep, so noradrenaline
as well as 5HT is inhibitory to REM sleep.
MAO inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants, such as chlorimipramine,
are thought to act by increasing the synaptic availability of
5HT and catecholamines. Chlorimipramine is a strong 5HT reuptake
blocker and has been found to be a potent inhibitor of REM sleep.
The results obtained with tricyclic antidepressants support the
notion that REM sleep depends on the activation state of 5HT-containing
neurons. It has been shown that MAO inhibitors consistently suppress
REM sleep time through their effect on 5HT; they selectively increase
brain 5HT levels without exerting significant effects on other
Thus, at the cellular level, there is a striking parallel between
brain activity following administration of hallucinogenic drugs,
and during REM sleep: a significant depression of the electrical
activity of the brain’s 5HT-containing neurons. The change in
raphe unit activity seen spontaneously across the sleep-waking
cycle may be the key to understanding altered states of consciousness.
Serotonergic activity I I
Dopaminergic activity ? ^
Jacobs and Trulson (1979) have two qualifiers to their hypothesis:
a) dreams, hallucinations, and psychosis are not identical processes.
Any two may share properties not shared by the third;
b)that neither 5HT nor dopamine covers any single process indicates
that other neurotransmitters are involved in each of the processes,
and 5HT and dopamine are also involved in other processes. Yet
the overlap of 5HT and dopamine indicates their interaction.
In conclusion, 5HT and melatonin are all implicated in the state
of consiousness we call the dream state, a state which has profund
similarities to the psychedelic induced state such as is used
by shamans for healing and psychic purposes, and to the spontaneously
ocurring and distressing state experienced by people who in our
culture are labelled psychotic. This action of melatonin and 5HT
on this primary process consciousness is highlighted by the action
of pinoline which is made in the pineal from 5HT, and has been
hypothesised as the neurochemical trigger for dreaming.
Figure 1. The limbic system, considered the emotional part of
the brain, includes the hippocampus, fornix, mammillary body,
anterior thalamic nucleus, cingulate cortex and entorhinal cortex.
Electrical stimulation of the entorhinal cortex elicits dream-like
memories. The hippocampus constitues a main part of the archicortex,
the old arc of cortex, lying on the medial surface of the temporal
lobe and composed of the dubiculum, Ammon’s horn, and dentate
gyrus. It receives fibres from the medial and lateral entorhinal
cortex, the medial septal nucleus, the locus ceruleus, the dorsal
raphe nucleus, and the contralateral hippocampus. Passage of information
through the hippocampus is necessary for the storage of new memories.
Serotonergic input from the median raphe nucleus seems to have
a role in modulating adrenergic receptors in the hippocampus.
The hilus of the dentate gyrus receives heavy innervation from
both raphe nuclei and the locus ceruleus. GABA has an inhibitory
role in the dentate gyrus. A feature of hippocampal physiology
is the production of theta rhythm which is related to learning
and memory and during REM sleep.
3.4. Pinoline:the link between dreams,
psychosis, psychedelics and the shamanic state of consciousness
A tryptoline is a beta-carboline and these are competitive inhibitors
of serotonergic uptake, and of the degradative enzyme MAO (Elliott
& Holman, 1977). This means 5HT does not degrade properly
or get taken up properly which leads it to form compounds such
as DMT which is a potent hallucinogen. Naturally occurring beta-carbolines
such as pinoline show psychotropic and physiological effects in
mammals (Klinker et al, 1997). Pinoline (6methoxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-beta-carboline)
is a naturally occurring compound in the mammalian body (Pahkla
et al, 1997).
Pinoline has its highest concentrations in the pineal and has
been reported to fluctuate in phase with melatonin (Kari, 1981;
Kari et al, 1983). It is exceptionally active in that it can potentiate
the activity of 5HT by both inhibiting its presynaptic reuptake
and by inhibiting its metabolism by blocking MAO-A. Both of these
are used as treatment modalities for depression. (Marcusson &
Ross, 1990/2?) Pinoline has also been shown to behave like a hormone
(Airaksinen et al 1984) and specific binding sites for pinoline
exist in the adrenals as well as the pineal and the brain. Pinoline
is probably made from 5HT either via 6-HO-THBC and HIOMT, or via
melatonin, 5-MeOT and cyclization (Callaway, 1994). Pinoline is
found in the arcuate nucleus, retina and pineal gland (Kari et
al, 1983) It has been shown to be an effective benzodiazepine
receptor ligand, associated with ethanol dependence, and binds
to opiate receptors.
Several people have suggested that the beta-carbolines may play
some sort of role in psychosis since they have hallucinogenic
effects, but concentrations of pinoline in blood serum and CSF
are identical in schizophrenics and controls. Both show a wide
range between people, some having 16 times as much as others,
and the levels do not correlate with such variables as age, sex,
subtype of schizophrenia or duration of illness (Rimon et al,
Verheij et al (1997) compared plasma levels of the beta-carboline
norharman ( a harmala alkaloid), concentration of platelet 5-HT,
trait measures of anxiety, and measures of coping and defense
mechanisms for patients with panic disorder. Platelet 5-HT concentration
was positively correlated with the subjectively reported anxiety.
Plasma norharman concentration was negatively correlated with
defense mechanisms and positively correlated with coping strategies.
It was concluded that norharman might reflect intrapsychic and
The key factor here concerning pinoline function is that it is
chemically almost identical with the harmala alkaloids found in
a psychotropic drink, called ayahuasca, used by Amazonian peoples
for the purpose of out-of-body experiences, clairvoyance, divination
and shamanic healing. In those tribes that have shamans the shaman
uses the ayahuasca specifically for connecting with their spirit
guide for psychic purposes. The primary function of harmala alkaloids
in ayahuasca is to allow for the oral activity of DMT by inhibition
of MAO-A, and further permits accumulation of 5-HT and other neurotransmitters.
On their own harmala alkaloids have only weak psychoactive effects
(Callaway, 1994) but Kim et al (1997) found that the harmala alkaloids
which occur in ayahuasca were the most effective inhibitors of
purified MAO-A. The psychedelic effects of ayahuasca probably
manifest primarily through the serotonergic effects of DMT on
the CNS and through increased levels of unmetabolised biogenic
amines. Pinoline potentiates the activity of methylated tryptamines
and this is the probable mechanism behind ayahuasca (Callaway,
Investigation of long term users of ayahuasca showed a statistically
significant difference between control group and users with a
higher binding density in blood platelets of 5-HT uptake sites
in the ayahuasca drinkers. No other pharmacological agent is known
to significantly alter values of Bmax binding density, though
the density of 5-HT uptake sites may vary considerably from one
individual to another. Therefore it is likely that other parameters
of the serotonergic system are analogously affected. This indicates
a modulatory role for pinoline (the endogenous equivalent of ayahuasca)
in the CNS. An upregulation of the serotonergic system is exactly
what current antidepressant medications attempt to do, i.e. increasing
synaptic 5-HT by preventing its reuptake.
The possibility remains that long term users of ayahuasca may
find relief through the tea for inherently high densities of 5-HT
uptake sites and that this condition allows them to better tolerate
the serotonergic effects of this mixture. In this case ayahuasca
can be seen as a form of self-medication for depressive psychological
problems. Thus it is possible that ayahuasca may be useful in
the treatment of affective disorders (Callaway, 1994).
Betacarbolines are produced from biogenic tryptamines. The search
for endogenous THBCs as biochemical explanations for mental illness
began in the early 1960s as an extension of the transmethylation
hypothesis for schizophrenia (Osmond & Smythies, 1952). Pinoline
has been shown to bind to sites in the interpeduncular nucleus.
The interpeduncular nucleus, a small area in the basal mid-brain,
and its connection to the habenula are essential for REM sleep.
When these connections are cut in rat brain, REM disappears or
It has been suggested that mental states of hallucinatory psychosis,
psychedelic drugs and dreams all share common features. Callaway
suggests that psychoactive tryptamine derivatives in the CNS of
mammals play a role in the manifestations of visual and emotive
phenomena during normal dream sleep. The endogenous activity of
these rapidly metabolised methylated tryptamines is suggested
to be promoted through the regular and periodic inhibition of
MAO-A by endogenous betacarbolines. The hypothesis is extended
to include psychoses by suggesting that hallucinatory psychotic
episodes may result from a desychronised dream mechanism, where
the individual essentially dreams while awake (Callaway, 1994)
3.4.1. The 40Hz EEG links between schizophrenics,
ayahuasca users and psi experiences
Don et al (1989) report increased 40HZ EEG activity associated
with clairvoyance hitting in an exceptional psychic, this being
repeated with another person in a later study (McDonough,1989).
Don et al (1996) recorded EEGs from 11 members of a Brazilian
shamanistic religion which uses ayahuasca. Analyses showed increases
in power in the 40 HZ region, consistent with reports that ayahuasca
intensifies visual imagery. They interpret these results as supporting
the proposal by Llinas & Ribary (1993) that the 40HZ rhythm
is linked with the consciousness-generating mechanism which produces
the REM state, hallucinations and daydreaming states, and further
suggest that this “may also underly the conscious elaboration
of initially unconscious or preconscious psi information.” They
think that the claimed psychic effects of ayahuasca are due to
40 Hz brain activity making unconscious psi information available
to the conscious mind.
Don & Moura (1997) analysed the EEGs of people claiming contact
or abduction UFO experiences who later spontaneously had altered
states of consciousness or trance experiences. This showed a state
of hyperaroused trance in which the muscles were relaxed and immobile
whilst their EEGs exhibited high frequency 40 Hz beta activity
at all 19 electrode sites, with maximum activity at the prefrontal
and adjacent loci. There were intermittent trains of rhythmic
approximately 40 Hz activity attaining very high amplitudes at
times exceeding 40 microvolts, which was distinct from muscle
discharge, significantly more in trance than in baseline. Also
the dominant alpha frequency increased during trance. There have
been numerous observations of increased fast beta activity in
schizophrenia patients (Itil, 1977) but this tends to include
delta, theta, alpha and low beta activity as well. Also in schizophrenia
the beta activity is observed mostly at sites posterior to the
frontal scalp. Most importantly UFO experiencers can voluntarily
commence and terminate the high frequency activity which was only
present in the trance condition; voluntary control is not found
in schizophrenics. Das & Gastaut (1957) found a similar EEG
in a yogi in advanced meditation, in the state of samadhi. They
suggest that UFO experiencers enter this ecstasy trance state,
some of the experiencers reporting feeling that they were linked
to a higher consciousness and sometimes connected with a non-human
being or even with God. The difference is that samadhi is experienced
after years of training whereas the UFO people experienced it
as a result of their abduction of contact.
Llinás has proposed that the thalamic intralaminar nuclei
which comprise the diffuse thalamic system generate 40 Hz activity
which integrates corticothalamic activity and so bears importantly
on consciousness. Sheer (1984) found that scalp-recorded 40 Hz
was associated with focused arousal and learning tasks. It appears
that as the focus of attention sharpens, the integrative activity
of the thalamic system increases through the action of 40 Hz rhythms.
Apparently when attentional focusing becomes laser-like an extreme
state of corticothalamic integration occurs and with it an amplification
of normally unconscious brain activity, with a higher-order self
or personality prevailing which seems to transcend time and space.
However the UFO experiencers did not show the high frequency brain
activity widely spread all over the scalp as did the yogis. Theirs
was centred on the prefrontal loci of the brain. In samadhi one
experiences Divine Union. The UFO people experienced a wider range
This EEG research suuports the neurochimical findings with regard
to the commonalities between the various primary process states
of consciousness of psychics, spiritual people and visionaries.
In section 4.2. we will look at Llinas hypothesis which links
these with the dream state of consciousness.
4. States of Consciousness: The Link between
Psychosis, the Psychedelic Experience and Dreams
What is central to the psychedelic, the shamanic and the psychotic
is a state of consciousness often described as hallucinogenic
or hallucinatory. In this state of consciousness one experiences
reality in mythic archetypal thought patterns, often called primary
process thinking. Many scientists, such as Noll (1983), consider
that: “Hallucination almost invariably carries with it the frightening
connotation of psychosis, especially if it occurs repeatedly.”
Yet, this state of consciousness is experienced by all humans
every night when we are dreaming. Every 90 minutes we experience
a dream lasting on average 20 minutes; therefore 19.4% of every
night's sleep is spent dreaming with an average of 4 - 5 dreams
a night. The fear surrounding hallucination is profound in our
culture but is not so marked in cultures whihc regularly use spychotropic
plants. Our fear has led us to consider hallucinations as unreal
and delusions. However, they are frequently used by primary process
consciousness to impart information to us in the mode whihc is
appropriate for that state of consciousness and the more familiar
we become with that state the less frightening is the hallucinatory
The link between dreams and psychosis has been remarked on often
through millennia, e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Freud. Moreau
(1845) remarked also on the similarity with drug induced hallucination.
Thalbourne (1996) has proposed the concept of transliminality
to describe the state experienced, which he defines as:
“Transliminality, or the ability to cross the threshold, is the
name that has been given to the common factor that has been found
to underlie creative personality, mystical experience, psychopathology
of the schizotypal and manic-depressive kind, and belief in and
alleged experience of the paranormal. Other core constituents
of transliminality are religiosity, frequency of dream-interpretation
and fantasy-proneness, dream recall and hyperaesthesia.”
4.1.Dream Sleep and Psychosis
Since the 50’s there has been speculation that sleep, dreams
and psychosis are interrelated. Dement (1960) in the classic study
on dream deprivation in which 8 young men were awakened every
time they started dreaming, for several consecutive nights, found
that on the first night of dream deprivation, the return to sleep
initiated a new sleep-dream cycle, and therefore there were 4
- 5 attempts to dream. On each subsequent night the time elapsed
between returning to sleep and starting to dream decreased dramatically,
i.e. there was a progressive increase in attempt to dream for
all subjects, from 11 - 30 awakenings in a night. Every subject
had the first minute or two of dreaming so the deprivation was
65 - 75% complete.
Then they were allowed recovery nights when they could sleep
and dream without disturbance: the first night they dreamt for
26.6 - 29% of the sleeping time. They required up to five nights
before a return to normal patterns was complete. If one is woken
in between dream periods there is no subsequent increase in dream
times so these effects are not due to repeated awakenings affecting
Psychological disturbances such as anxiety, irritability, and
difficulty in concentrating developed during the period of dream
deprivation. Three subjects stopped early - one after two nights
and two after four nights, presumably because the stress was too
great. One subject exhibited severe anxiety and agitation, 5 developed
a marked increase in appetite. These changes disappeared as soon
as they were allowed to dream again. "It is possible that
if the dream suppression were carried on long enough, a serious
disruption of the personality would result" (Keshaven et
Granek et al (1988) consider that sleep disorders generated by
chronic use of psychostimulants, such as opium or khat, may generate,
in the long term, hypnagogic experiences during daytime. REM suppression
and subsequent REM rebound have been described among chronic users
of amphetamine and cocaine. The striking similarity between daytime
hallucinations of the psychotic and dream experience has prompted
research in the EEG patterns of schizophrenia patients during
sleep. The hypothesis is that intrusion or leakage of REM sleep
phasic events into waking would contribute to a disorder of attention
A large majority of schizophrenics complain of poor sleep; they
show a fragmentation of sleep and decrease in total sleep time
(see section 3.3.2). Schizophrenics have a reduction in stage
4 sleep (delta slow wave sleep (SWS)), this being found also in
normal elderly people, in those with major depression, mental
retardation, when under stress and those with chronic dementia.
The major deficit in delta occurs in the first NREM period. Adolescence,
which is frequently when schizophrenia begins, is characterised
by quantitative decline in sleep, the time spent in stage 4 (SWS)
declines by 50%, the amplitude of delta waves declines by 75%
between 10 - 16 years of age. SWS deficit may also be related
to anxiety or to overarousal rather than to psychosis, (Keshaven
et al (1990).
4.2. Shamanic trance characteristics
The following characteristics are typical of shamanic experiences,
though every culture has some differing characteristics which
are peculiar to that culture:
a) Belief in aerial voyage of trancer - this is probably the most
consistent belief across all cultures linked with the shamanic
b) spirit helpers of plants, e.g. mescalito by users of the peyote
cactus, are evoked by users;
c) healers divine the future and make prognosis of illness, this
has already been exemplified by traditional usage of ayahuasca;
d) rituals associated with trance state: all shamanic cultures
use ceremony and ritual in conjunction with the psychedelic plant,
or other methods of achieving the trance state of consciousnsess;
e) music an integral part of ritual - this is commonly chanting
f) the song guides the trance - this is especially true with ayahuasca
g) women are involved in healing rituals generally after menopause
- presumably because pregnancy requires the women to abstain from
psychedelic plant usage and hallucinogenic plants are not given
to pre-adolescent children;
h) man/animal transformations utilising plant;
i) recruitment to shamanistic role is idiosyncratic based on personal
attributes - this I shall look at more fully in a moment; it may
also run in families;
j) no metaphor of possession by alien spirit force;
(Dobkin de Rios, 1986)
Dobkin de Rios also mentions the following characteristics which
are found also in psychotic and psychedelic experiences:
experience of time as highly accelerated or imperceptibly slowed;
death of ego/rebirth phenomena reported;
quality and intensity of altered state unpredictable;
fear of death.
Since the turn of the century psychiatrists have noticed the
similarity between acute psychotic breakdown and shamanic trance
states. It is an interesting historical exercise to read through
the reports over the past 50 years, because one sees primarily
how the same data is interpreted according to a changing Western
attitude. Initially one had titles such as “Shamans as Neurotics”
(Devereux, 1961) , in which the shamanic trance state was identified
as psychopathological. The following quote is a good example of
the sort of thinking at this time. Devereux lists various authors,
poets, composers who were considered to be mentally unstable and
offers the opinion that their insanity was a part of their creative
genius, and that “the problem is . . . we view the finding that
neurotics and/or more or less latent psychotics can perform culturally
valued social functions, as a slur and as an aspersion on culture
and society.” Interestingly this attitude still holds today -
but today shamans are seen as healthy members of their culture,
and I am now arguing that many psychotics in our culture could
be healthy and valued members of our culture, if only they were
assisted through their initial breakdown and taught how to grow
through and ground their experience, rather than being hospitalised
and treated with drugs.
Part of the shift in attitude is seen in the 1980’s when great
efforts were made to show that shamanic trance was not the same
altered state of consciousness as the psychedelic or psychotic
experience, that it could in itself be psychotherapeutic and that
the shaman was not neurotic or psychotic (Noll, 1983). This is
valid. All states of consciousness are unique to themselves. What
I am trying to show in this paper though is that they are on a
continuum from teh dream state through the psychedelic and shamanic
states to acute psychotic breakdown, and the same underlying primary
process, mythic mode of thought is common to all.
The visionary state is considered to be the essence of the shamanic
complex. I think that many young people have an inherent and strong
urge to experience ASCs. Noll (1983) also remarks on this. The
shamanic trance is a state of consciousness that has been utilised
among many human cultures across human history. More pertinent
to my thesis here though is the famous “initial call” of some
shamans, which mark the person out as having a particular gift,
a “greater lability to easily experience ASCs in whatever form,
thus marking him or her as a prospective candidate for shamanic
training.” (Noll, 1983) The important fact here is that after
the initial call experience the budding shaman is then taught
by the reseident shaman how to control their gift for the good
both of their society and for the person who has the initially
uncontrolled experience. The tragedy in our society is that people
having this experience are not recognised and not helped to control
Always in human behaviour there is an interaction between state
vs trait factors, between personality and behvaiour derived from
genetic, constitutional traits (Allport, 1966 et al) and behaviour
which is best understood within the context of psychological states
linked with the environment (James, 1890) in whihc the interaction
of the person and the situation accounts for more variance in
behaviour than the person or situation alone. Thus in a shamanic
culture the experience of an uncontrolled ASC will be interpreted
and dealt with completely differently from someone having that
experience in the modern Western culture. An experience within
an ASC cannot be easily regarded as “legitimate” or “real”, the
interpretation is almost totally culture dependent.
For example the Western medical model “views behavioural disorders
as displays of symptoms of underlying psychological “disease entities.”
Labelling someone as “ill” places then in a dependent and therefore
inferior role in our society. Such labelling may have dire consequences
for the person stigmatised by the disease syndrome tag. The ASC
experience by orthodox Western psychological standards is “sick”,
“inferior” or “pathological”. Tart (1975) notes that an implicit
assumption in Western cultures is that deliberately “cultivating
ASCs is also a sign of psychopathology.”
I am not the first to note this comparison. Silverman (1967)
argues that the onset of acute schizophrenia in our culture is
analogous to the “initial call” of the shaman, as described by
Eliade (1964) and others. Eliade’s chapter on initiatory sicknesses
and dreams centres on their importance in Siberia and elsewhere
as a transformation process :They transform the profane, pre-choice
individual into a technician of the sacred.” Laing (1967) claims
that “no age in the history of humanity has perhaps so lost touch
with this natural healing process that implicates some of the
people we label schizophrenic.” Shamanic techniques are described
as closely resembling certain psychotherapeutic techniques in
our own culture by Murphy (1964) who sees “the process of shamanism
as ‘whole man’ therapy” and by Peters and Price-Williams (1980)
who compare it with the various types of “waking dream” therapies,
especially with the process of “active imagination” in Jungian
psychotherapy. Both shamanism and schizophrenia are subject to
4.2.1.Differences between the Shamanic
State of consciousness (SSC) and schizophrenia
“By far the most important distinction between the SSC and schizophrenic
state is that the shaman voluntarily enters and leaves his ASCs
while the schizophrenic is the helpless victim of his.” (Noll,
The shaman willfully induces his ASCs, and the evidence suggests
that except in the case of the ingestion of certain hallucinogens,
the shaman can also willfully return from his altered states.
The shaman has a conscious, purposive, social function for entering
the SSC. Control of the shaman’s ASCs is the most important criterion.
Hartner (1980) adds: “Indeed, the ability of the master shaman
to operate successfully in two different realities is seen as
evidence of power.” This “shamanic balance” has been lauded by
others and is a sign of the high adaptability of shamans in maintaining
ther levels of social and occupational functioning despite repeated
ecstatic experience in altered states.” (Noll, 1983)
Form and content of thought
The negative, involuntary themes of intrusion so common in schizophrenia
are absent in shamans. However, similar themes are found in states
of involuntary or unsolicited “possession trance” or “spirit possession.”
The distinction between the baseline, or ordinary SOC, and nonordinary
states, between the outer and the inner, is a distinction that
the schizophrenia simply cannot always make. This does not appear
to be true of most shamans studied by ethnographers, and probably
results directly from their many years of training. The validity
of both realms is acknowledged by the shaman, whose mastery derives
from their ability to not confuse the two.
All experiences in ASCs are ultimately hallucinatory from the
cognicentrist point of view. For example, the schizophrenic may
be victimised by voices, mercilessly criticised and mocked by
them, and the voices cannot be made to stop through the volition
of the schizophrenic. For the shaman, there is an auditory component
to the SSC, but it is usually of a positive, helpful, healing
nature, and the advice given by “spirits” is willfully sought
out by the shamans. This is due to the positive emotional psychological
state of the shaman versus the frightened, confused state of the
psychotic. What we experience in our minds is so strongly derived
from what we heard as children from family, peers and society
in general. Western society in general is so sick that our hallucinations
Affect, sense of self, and relation to the external world.
Murphy notes . . that “for a shaman to become a successful healer
he had often to display an exceptional ability in emotional control
and in taking responsibility.” Butt (1966) says that among the
Akawio, any shaman who manifested psychopathy (such as loss of
emotional control and inappropriate expression of affect) “would
be regarded as inappropriate and likely to scare away patients
rather than encourage them to apply for aid.”
The point that comes across so strongly here is that shamans
are healthy people, who have not been subjected to abuse, not
been told that they are sick, stigmatised, put down, so they can
utilise the experience rather than being terrified by it and losing
control over it, with the voices being helpful rather than condematory,
their emotions being healthy rather than having to cut off from
feeling because it is all so scary. What are we doing to these
senistive peole in our midst? What tragedy is being committed
to so many sensitive souls that they have to live a nightmare
rather than fulfilling their birthright and growing into spiritually
4.2.1.Specific commonalities between psychotic
and psychedelic states of consciousness
Fischman (1983) points out that:
a) the initial acute incidence of schizophrenia is marked by visual
hallucinations, which are similar to psychedelic hallucinations.
In longer term chronic patients one gets more auditory hallucinations;
b)The experience of heightened sensory awareness is common to
psychedelic states and to acute psychosis. This shows up in psychophysiological,
e.g. GSR, studies. There are two related reactions:
i) ordinary intensity stimuli are experienced more intensely than
ii) less sensory information is necessary in order to report that
a stimulus is present.
c) Awareness of “significance,” the sense of special significance,
the experience of expanded relevance or meaning, is the initial
stage in the development of delusional thinking. The primary delusional
experience is fundamental to psychedelic states and in incipient
d) The behavioural withdrawal of some schizophrenics is similar
to those who unwittingly ingest hallucinogens without knowing
they are doing so and who then become extremely frightened and
e) Both psychotics and those taking a psychedelic trip have difficulty
expressing thoughts: rambling, incoherent, word salads become
charged with symbolic meaning so that one may effect a union between
the word and its object.
f)The earliest affective changes in schizophrenia are often pleasurable
and exhilarating like a pschedelic trip. Anxiety and dysphoria
occur later as people feel they are losing control over their
thoughts. One gets the same in LSD use. Hypnagogic phenomena,
such as daydreams, are prototypical of this: internal processes
can no longer be distinguished from external ones; sensory phenomena
strike the weakened ego boundaries with unaccustomed impact; colours
and sounds appear to have increased intensity; the distinction
between self and non-self is blurred; the notion of causality
4.2.2. Psychological Correspondences between
Dreams, Psychosis and Psychedelic States of Consciousness
The psychedelic state has its basis in a primary loss of ego
boundaries. Accurate perception of reality depends upon the ego’s
continuous synthesis of self-representations to form a constant
frame of reference, a continuous coherent self. The disruption
of this in dreams, psychedelic states and psychosis leads to a
chaotic condition in which various ego states succeed one another
without a common reference point. This renders a loss of temporal
continuity to experience, characterised by a weakening of the
ego’s identification with the self - a separation of body and
soul, e.g “I feel like I’m a bystander watching myself.” The observing
self becomes dissociated from the experiencing self. Eventually
the connections may be lost; the ego may identify with one or
another self-representation, but can no longer identify with a
coherent self. This estrangement is the fundamental process which
is seen alike in dreams, psychedelic states, acute psychosis and
even in everyday daydreams. Our whole relation to the external
world, to reality, depends on our ability to distinguish between
perceptions and ideas, and this depends on our capacity for reflective
awareness. Reality testing requires an ability to represent oneself
as thinker of the thought - reflective self-representation. In
dreams, hallucinogenic drug states and psychosis reflective self-representation
is lost and primary process thinking predominates.
Secondary process thinking depends on:
a)the capacity to maintain a constant inner representation of
the self and of objects;
b)the capacity to distinguish between self and object and thus
between internal and external phenomena;
c)the capacity to shift from “thing-presentation” to “word-presentation.”
In primary process thought one is unable to transcend immediate
sensory impressions and so move on to secondary process thinking
and the level of concepts and abstraction. In a dream everything
is experienced much more immediately. In primary process thinking
images predominates, i.e. thoughts (word-presentations) are transformed
into images (thing-presentations) (Fischman, 1983). “The relationship
to objects, including people, takes on an unusual quality and
depth and an immediacy which dissolves the ordinary experience
of continuity” (Fischman, 1983). It is this quality of vivid,
immediate sense-imagery which characterises the primary process.
In dreams, in LSD states and in psychosis, words undergo condensation
and displacement via the primary process. Words are not conceived
as symbols of objects but as objects themselves. In dreams visual
percepts are treated concretely as objects and as such, are subjected
to the transformations of the primary process. In all three states
(dreams, schizophrenia, LSD) the net effect of these transformations
is a tendency toward concretization, which one also gets to some
extent in the hypnagogic state. Abstract thought thus becomes
All three show an altered experience of time: timelessness, time
standing still or time slowed down. The dreamer’s time sense is
in the present. Only the present is real - past and future are
exceedingly remote. All thinking occurs in the present tense.
To differentiate memories and expectations from present events,
one must appreciate the relationship between the self-representation
associated with the memory or expectation, and the self-representation
associated with the present thought. If this relationship is not
appreciated the distinction between past, present, and a future
dissolves. In dreams, psychedelic states, and psychosis, the normal
continuity of experience is disrupted.
Also similarities between certain stages of psychoses and psychedelic
states are worth noting. Ideally the psychedelic chemicals hold
out a hope for understanding and perhaps improving certain aspects
of mental health. The psychedelics exhibit a high therapeutic
index and their use has not been associated with physical dependence.
DMT is a normal component of human blood. Psychedelics influence
the mind in such a profound manner because their structure is
very similar to naturally occuring compounds; the mere capacity
for such an experience suggests that the psychedelic state is
inherently fundamental to aspects of our psyche that are normally
inaccessible during the waking phase of our lives (Callaway, 1994)
4.2.3.The Dream State of Consciousness
Linás & Paré (1991) suggest that from the
standpoint of the brain’s thalamocortical system, dream sleep
and wakefulness are almost identical intrinsic functional states
in which subjective awareness is generated, although the handling
of sensory information and cortical inhibition is different. They
consider wakefulness is more highly coherent and more strongly
modulated by sensory input than is dreaming.
In general, the averaged evoked potentials (AEPs) recorded from
the scalp in response to sensory stimulation during waking and
REM sleep are very similar and differ strikingly from those recorded
during non-REM sleep. With auditory stimuli the early component
is the same when awake or asleep, the middle-latency component
differs but returns to normal, or surpassed waking values, in
REM sleep. Thus sensory stimuli may be embedded in an ongoing
dream or trigger a specific dream sequence, in which such stimuli
is a nucleating point. Or these stimuli may be integrated into
cognitive constructs in which their significance may be quite
different from that in the waking state.
The central paradox of REM sleep is that stimuli which are perceived
in the waking state do not awaken people in REM sleep, even though
the amplitude of the evoked cortical responses is generally similar
to, or higher than, in the waking state. In other words, although
the thalamo-cortical network appears to be at least as excitable
during REM sleep as in the waking state, the input is mostly ignored.
The late potentials following sensory stimuli are abolished in
REM sleep, and this suggests that the ongoing activity that generates
cognition during dreaming prevents unintegrated sensory stimuli
from being incorporated into the intrinsic cognitive world. Linás
& Paré suggest that mentation during dreaming operates
on the same anatomical substrates as does perception during the
waking states. Thus REM sleep can be considered as a modified
state in which attention is turned away from the sensory input,
toward memories. And wakefulness is nothing other than a dreamlike
state modulated by the constraints produced by specific sensory
inputs. Remove sensory input and we tend to fall asleep, e.g.,
many beginners in meditation fall asleep on relaxing and closing
their eyes. We slip into day dreaming and spacing out whenever
we are given even half a chance.
Only a minor part of the thalamocortical connectivity is devoted
to the transfer of sensory input. Rather, the thalamocortical
network appears to be a complex machine largely devoted to generating
an internal representation of reality that may operate in the
presence or absence of sensory input. All sensory messages reach
the cerebral cortex through the thalamus, except olfactory. The
connectivity between the thalamus and the cortex is bidirectional.
Thus the essence of brain function seems to be that of generating
the functional scaffolding required to create an internal image
consistent with external reality. Most of the connections necessary
for this are present at birth, i.e. our cognitive capacity is
truly a priori. Even though the mechanisms necessary for its generation
are present at birth, the emergence of self-aware consciousness
arises out of interactions between the brain and its environment,
and from birth onwards there is dream type primary process thought
which gradually develops to the adult type secondary process thought
The membrane properties of neurons allow them to oscillate or
resonate at different frequencies and this intrinsic activity
may play a fundamental role in CNS function. Recent evidence indicates
that neuronal activity in the spinal cord is at the foundation
of walking and other movement. In this context, the function of
sensory input in, e.g. walking, is to modulate the intrinsic oscillatory
properties of the spinal cord network in order to adapt it to
the irregularities of the land in which one moves. Higher in the
brain, the function of the neuronal system is determined by its
connectivity and also is directly related to the membrane properties
of the neurons. For example, the thalamus is capable not only
of controlling the transfer of sensory input to the cerebral cortex
but also of expressing its own electrical activity, these two
aspects of thalamic functions being intimately related, which
suggests that the brain is essentially a closed system.
Thus functional states, such as wakefulness or REM sleep, appear
to be just two examples of the multiple variations provided by
the self-generated brain activity. Sensory input plays an extraordinarily
important but nevertheless a mainly modulatory role. Sensory cues
gain their significance by virtue of triggering a pre-existing
disposition of the brain to be active in a particular way.
It has been hypothesized that the thalamus is involved in the
40 Hz activity (see section 3.4.1). Reticular thalamic nucleus
cells are responsible for the synchronization of the 40Hz oscillations
in distant thalamic and cortical territories. If we assume that
a function of this 40Hz activity is to maintain a general, continuous
neuronal humming against which intra- or externally generated
“irregularities” can stand out, the importance of a structure
which could communicate this irregularity to other neuronal groups
In conclusion, Llinas and Pare propose that wakefulness and REM
sleep are fundamentally the same type of functional state and
that the main difference between them lies in what particular
input is most prevalent. The most fundamental conclusion to be
drawn is that consciousness is an intrinsic property arising from
the existing disposition of the brain to be active in certain
ways and it is a close kin to dreaming. This implies that secondary
qualities of our senses such as colours, smells, tastes and sounds,
are inventions of our CNS which allow the brain to interact with
the external world in a predictive manner. The degree to which
our perception of reality and “actual” reality overlap is inconsequential
as long as the predictive properties of the states generated by
the brain meet the requirements of successful interaction with
the external world.
That consciousness is generated intrinsically is not difficult
to understand when one considers the completeness of the sensory
representation in our dreams, or in psychotic or psychedelic hallucinations.
The possible intrinsic nature of consciousness has serious implications
for our understanding of psychiatric conditions characterized
by illusional states in which the intrinsic view of reality and
the emotional states generated by them are in discord with the
perception of other individuals in the same social setting. If
the thalamocortical system is ultimately responsible for the generation
of consciousness, individuals who experience certain forms of
hallucinatory states may be convinced that their hallucination
indeed corresponds to events in the external world. Since attentiveness
is selective, the lack of responsiveness of a person dreaming,
hallucinating or deep in thought is because consiousness does
not necessarily heed external reality.
5. The Changes Needed in Our Society
1) the recognition that altered states of consciousness are natural,
the baseline functioning of the brain and the primary mode of
2) the recognition that the psychedelic state of consciousness
is experienced by every human every night, four times a night
on average, and we call this dreaming.
3) the recognition that some initial acute psychotic breakdown
experiences are a dream out of control, and if accepted, and support
given, that the person has a strong probability of waking out
of it sooner or later.
4) The recognition that in some cultures this experience is considered
to be a sign of a great gift and the person can be trained as
a wise healer and helper who can connect with the spirit world
for the good of the community, and may have special psychic gifts
which can be used to help others.
5) The recognition that antipsychotic drugs may be unnecessary
or harmful in the treatment of many psychotics. Long term treatment
with antipsychotic drugs creates dopamine receptor super-sensitivity,
worsening the underlying biochemical deficit of schizophrenia.
Withdrawal of antipsychotic drugs may cause a rebound of schizophrenic
symptoms to a higher level than would have been the case without
treatment. Most good prognosis schizophrenics do better without
drugs and drug treatment is less necessary for patients in low-stress
settings. Good social support and opportunities are related to
better outcomes, whereas effectiveness of medication is at best
related to only a 20% recovery rate and one also gets severe side
effect problems. Therefore people are being exposed to damaging
and ineffective intervention. "The overriding need to control
the mad, along with their lack of power to protest about their
treatment, can be the only explanation why this prevalence of
medically induced brain damage is considered acceptable by professionals"
(Warner, 1985) - and the public!! The drugs would be banned if
used on sane people. Psychiatrists have become agents of social
control: we are happy to hand over the responsibility for managing
mad people to them. We are ill-informed as to the nature of mental
illness and treatments and to the loss of civil rights of ordinary
citizenship of people who suffer such an experience.
6) The reality of the social aspects are that schizophrenics tend
to be unemployable, homeless, sad, lonely and scared. Whether
they get better depends more on the political processes. Revolving
door patients are created by the use of drug treatment coupled
with neglect of the psychosocial needs of the person. Psychotic
patients who are working stay out of hospital longer than unemployed
patients. Appropriate work such as gardening appears to be of
great benefit and long term secure and non-stressful work is the
best. At the same time there needs to be adequate psychological
support in the community with education concerning tolerance of
our differences, adequate material support giving a reasonable
standard of living with housing stock available, support for the
family, democratization of services so that patients can have
a say, availability of non-coercive, non-invasive methods of helping,
places to go and be with others, and to remove the stigma of mental
illness (Warner, 1985).
I wonder if the monastic system was created because of the need
for some sensitive young people to have a stress-free environment
in which a basic routine is established with an early-to-bed early-to-rise
rhythm, very simple basic food and plenty of physcial work outdoors.
This is exactly what is needed to help ground someone who is liable
to “dream whilst awake.” Coupled with elders who understand mystical
and psychic states of consciousness we have here perhaps the early
roots of the monastic system in societies which were just developing
out of the shamanic spiritual system. this is possibly seen most
clearly in the present day tibetan monasitc culture. I know that
the Tibetan monastery Samye Ling in Scotland has sometimes taken
in people who were referred by the psychiatric service in South
Pilgrim (1990) points out that madness has existed in all societies,
but the particular way it is understood both in terms of causes
and way in which one responds to it, and words used to describe
it, vary over time and place: some societies counsel and tolerate,
others segregate and medicate. In the West, systematic psychological
theorizing has been heavily biologically orientated, evading sociological
and anthropological models of deviance.
Tarrier (1990) also adopts a biopsychosocial model: he considers
that vulnerability to schizophrenia is a permanent trait, schizotypy,
and episodes of illness occur when stress levels reach the person's
vulnerability threshold. If the person has relatives who are high
on the expressed emotion scale with a high frequency of critical
comments, high hostility, marked emotional over-involvement, low
emotional warmth and low frequency of positive comments, then
one gets a particularly high relapse rate, the schizophrenic showing
high arousal and hyper-reactivity to social stressors. Family
therapy shows a reduced relapse rate: family intervention and
social skills training combined give best results of all. All
successful studies include an educational component and interventions
that reduce stress in the family environment. Poverty and lack
of social services exacerbate symptoms. Therefore, we need more
emphasis on the social aspects of treatment. "Perhaps the
most shameful consequence of the dominant role that biological
psychiatry has gained in mental health care is the almost complete
absence of these kinds of services" (Tarrier, 1990).
In tribal societies healing ceremonies for psychotics are a communal
process, and the person may well be adopted by another social
group which gives them additional social support and status, a
new social role and home. The communal ritual procedures are a
symbolic recognition that illness is a problem for the community
as a whole. Social isolation, alienation and stigma are one of
the strongest predictors of poor outcome in schizophrenia. Broad
group participation in healing not only aids the reintegration
of the patient but is also a necessary and powerfully effective
element in the treatment of emotional illness. Any form of treatment
which does not receive full community endorsement has a limited
chance of success. Extended families are related to less over-dependence
and emotional over-involvement or demands:this is good for recovery.
Community involvement also reduces family tensions because responsibility
is shared broadly. Therefore in the Third World the psychotic
retains their self-esteem and feeling of value to the community
and their sense of belonging (Warner, 1985).
Melatonin and pinoline, made by the pineal gland and regulated
by the seasonal changes in light and darkeness is linked to the
sleep/wake cycle and also possibly the onset of dreaming. Lack
of sleep for several nights is often linked to the onset of acute
psychotic breakdown in which the person starts hallucinating or
“dreaming while awake.” This state of consciousness is common
to the dream state, the psychedelic state, and the shamanic inititation
Through dreaming we access the primary process aspect of our
psyche, the language of myth, symbol and archetype, which are
normally inaccessible during waking consciousness and in this
sense dreams share a qualitative commonality with certain types
of psychoses and psychedelic states (Callaway, 1994). Thus dreaming
which is known to be a psi-conducive state is one end of a continuum
which extends next to the psychedelic state, which has not been
shown to be psi-conducive, to the shamanic experience which has
a reputation of being highly psi-conducive, to the acute psychotic
state which also has a reputation of being psi-conducive. I suggest
that we are dealing with the same underlying neurochemical pathways
which in turn lead to an essentially similar state of consciousness,
and that it is only in Western society that the potential shaman,
with all of their psychic gifts, is ignored and treated as sick.
All other human societies have honoured their prophets, psychics,
seers and shamans.
We need to learn to recognise the potential shaman in our midst
and re-learn what is required to ground them, teach them and train
them so that their creative and psychic abilities can be a gift,
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