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Ayahuasca and Spiritual Crisis: Liminality as Space for Personal Growth

Ayahuasca and Spiritual Crisis: Liminality as Space for Personal Growth

  1. catseye
    Sara E Lewis
    Anthropology of Consciousness, Vol. 19, Issue 2, pp. 109–133

    ABSTRACT:
    There is an increased controversy surrounding Westerners’ use of ayahuasca.
    One issue of importance is psychological resiliency of users and lack of screening by ayahuasca tourism groups in the Amazon. Given the powerful effects of ayahuasca coupled with lack of cultural support, Western users are at increased risk for psychological distress. Many Westerners who experience psychological distress following ayahuasca ceremonies report concurrently profound spiritual experiences. Because of this, it may be helpful
    to consider these episodes ‘‘spiritual emergencies,’’ or crises resulting from intense and transformative spiritual experiences. Although the author warns
    readers to avoid romantic comparisons of Western ayahuasca users to shamans, ethnographic data on indigenous shamanic initiates along with theory on
    liminality may be of some use to understand difficult experiences that accompany ayahuasca use. Given that psychotherapy is culturally sanctioned,
    therapists trained in treating spiritual crises can help Western ayahuasca users make meaning of their distress. Three case studies are offered as
    examples of individuals working through various sorts of crises following ayahuasca ceremonies.