A Journey into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism, with Stanley Krippner, New York: Simon & Schuster (Fireside), 1984.
Healing States is a research volume that Alberto Villoldo co-authored with Stanley Krippner, and it’s a glorious onset of his own career in spiritual healing. The research presented in this book is highly thought-provoking if not mind-boggling, and it’s well presented.
The point of departure of the author’s scientific journey was his research on psychosomatic medicine. He was interested what exactly makes the soma follow the psyche, or why the spirit imprints itself on the soma, thus causing either health or disease. The authors write:
A growing number of allopathic physicians believe that as much as 80 percent of all illness may contain a psychosomatic component. Allopathic medical science, which does not publicly acknowledge the psychic realm, is still at a loss to explain the origin and treatment of many of these psychosomatic disorders, often merely referring to ‘unconscious conflicts’ that can trigger disease./19
The phenomenon of contact with spirits is highly uncanny and unusual for the modern mind. The authors, well aware of this cultural bias or denial, have found that in fact, it may be a question of terminology as psychotherapists talk about ‘complexes’ and ‘subpersonalities’ when they refer to the same causal agents as for example a medium refers to. In fact, in my own research on what transactional analysis calls our inner selves, I have found that here we encounter just another of those hidden key formulas that open windows to other, wider, and deeper realms of insight.
My research on Huna, the ancient religion of the Kahuna natives in Hawaii, brought to daylight and gave me evidence for the assumption that inner selves are not just psychic modalities but inner spirits, real entities that are part of our multidimensional psyche. And in my practice of the inner dialogue and spontaneous art, I had at least in once instance, a real encounter with a spirit, and I became acutely aware of the fact that many of our thoughts and ideas are not entirely our own but that we can, consciously or involuntarily, benefit from the ideas sent to us by guiding spirits. Yet for the authors, the idea of encountering spirits seemed novel and daring and they write:
But as we prepared to leave São Paolo we were struck with the thought that communications from the spirit world could be happening all the time, and that we might simply not be aware of them. Is it possible that many of our intuitions and creative thoughts come from outside ourselves? Although most scientists believe that contacts with spirits are fantasies of the unconscious mind, a small but growing number of investigators believe that the human brain may behave like a complex transmitting and receiving apparatus, which under certain conditions can pick up thoughts from other minds, and even across space and time./18
The first landmark research described in the book regards The Spiritual Psychiatry of Dr. Mendes, a Brazilian spiritual healer located in the suburbs of São Paolo and specialized on healing epilepsy, schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder.
The interviews with this phenomenal natural healer revealed that it’s by following the natural principle of self-regulation that healing states are realized. The authors summarize their interviews with Dr. Mendes as follows, fully quoting his reply to their questions:
You could say that we encourage the full expression of madness and of epilepsy. We then give them bioenergetic and psychic exercises that correct their improper use of altered awareness. After many years of observation, we have come to the conclusion that epilepsy, schizophrenia, and multiple-personality disorders can all result from inappropriate states of consciousness. Therapeutic exercises help to organize the guest/patients’ psychic energies and teach them to manage their highly developed yet poorly trained mediumship and trance abilities./41
On the same line of reasoning, the healing state is triggered not by exerting control over the sickly condition, but by giving the psychosomatic unity of the organism the opportunity to regulate its own healing, which in Dr. Mendes’ experience always leads to the original wounding. It is by allowing this regression to take place that full healing of the condition is achieved.
When we asked if learning to control the seizures constituted the basis of the treatment, Mendes explained that control is not the issue—as the basis of his therapy is hypnotic regression. This regression can take the patient back to childhood, or to a prenatal state when the person was still inside the womb, or even to former lifetimes. Mendes believes that, to cure themselves, most epileptics must discover and resolve the highly charged emotional events that contribute to their illnesses. But, unlike conventional psychotherapists, he feels that these traumatic events may have happened in another lifetime./43
The healing would be accomplished by having one of the clinic’s mediums incorporate the former personality and help her psychologically integrate and discharge that experience, just as if it had happened in this lifetime./44
Alberto Villoldo, long before he was famous as an alternative spiritual healer, already had grasped the importance of bringing self-regulation into healing; it was namely before he had departed to the Andes that he was directing the Biological Self-Regulation Laboratory at San Francisco State University. One of the motivational triggers for this doctor’s extraordinary journey was his research experience with Dr. Mendes.
Stanley Krippner reported that he was especially struck, in the discussions with Dr. Mendes, by ‘the likelihood that the treatment encourages a type of self-regulation.’ He explains:
All the various types of epilepsy involve dramatic alterations of consciousness, some of them quite spectacular. An epileptic may see auras before a seizure, may have a sense of déjà vu, or may have sensory alterations which indicate that a seizure is about to occur. Through biofeedback, some epileptics have been able to exert some type of control over the episode, thus minimizing its symptoms. Perhaps Mendes’ successful clients are doing something similar by shifting their epileptic episode into a mediumistic experience./53
In The Shaman’s Journey, the authors come to an important conclusion about shamanism, which points to the important fact that shamanism, at its very core, is basically non-judgmental and does not steer toward any fixated position in terms of morality. It’s thus free of the all-pervasive moralism that is part of the cultural bias inherent in all monotheistic religions and their respective cultural incarnations (such as, mainly, Judaism, Christianity and Islam). The authors conclude:
If we were to become polarized toward either the light or the dark we would become trapped by that aspect of reality and our spiritual development would be crippled./89