So often Shamanism is romanticised and misunderstood as an avoidant perspective when viewing mental illness. But as Gogo Ekhaya Esima explains here, when taken seriously that is not the case at all; it takes diving deep into trauma, both personal and ancestral, to walk the healing path.
A Shamanic approach can be much more empowering and effective for someone going through distress as it does not push away pain or altered states as meaningless and ‘wrong’, or symptoms of an illness, as the current Western psychiatric paradigm tends to do.
When Western psychiatry terms dissocative states as symptomatic of an untangible mental illness such as Multiple Personality Disorder, that is so often where things can become worse for the sufferer; not only do they now have the added problem of being lumbered with a label of pathology, they are so often told the only reprieve is to take medication for life. Hope is lost and a downward spiral can ensue.
But Shamanism looks at the cause of the ‘splitting’ and works with it – a fragmented personality does not just happen for no reason, each time a person experiences trauma a part of themselves dissociates as a self- protection mechanism. Soul retrieval is one technique for loving the dissociated parts of the Self back to wholeness. This perspective gives a person a prognosis of hope, not only for recovery, but for emerging as more wholly human in the longer – term, dealing with the BIO -PSYCHO – SOCIAL-SPIRITUAL elements of trauma, just as Gogo Ekhaya has…
Gogo Ekhaya is one of the main subjects featured in the amazing documentary CRAZYWISE. If you want to learn more about her journey and alternative cultural perspectives to trauma and discuss how we can learn from these approaches, please come along to any of these screenings and discussions happening over the next month in the UK: