Do you ever feel in the grip of anger, fear or sadness that are sometimes triggered by seemingly trivial events? That perhaps well up in you from the depths of your childhood and are sometimes powerful enough to cause health problems related to stress and tension? Psychologist Ann Drake, PSy.D., opens her book, Healing of the Soul: Shamanism and Psyche (Revised edition,Busca Inc., NY. 2009) with a challenge to readers:
Join her in her struggle to understand mental and physical illness in new ways that lie outside of the Western way of understanding. She invites us to ponder existence from new and varied perspectives, to take what makes sense, validating it with our own internal wisdom, and, finally, to create our own meaning.
What are these new perspectives? They include seeing how energy, spirit, and psyche interface to create the unique psychological reality of each person. Drake is a scientifically trained practicing psychologist who has devoted her career to finding the connections between the conventional practice of psychotherapy and the ancient healing practices of Shamanism—which holds that the loss of part of one’s spiritual essence or soul, often happening as the result of childhood trauma, can result in psychological pain and even physical illness. For many years she has studied Shamanic practices with a Bomoh—an indigenous healer—in Borneo, bringing back new and deeper understanding and skills to add to her psychology practice.
While cognitive therapy focuses on the rational aspects of the mind, Shamanic healing enters a deeper, energy level. Describing powerful stories of healing the “inner worlds” of her clients, Drake says, “Many of us find ourselves stuck in images and feelings from childhood. These images and feelings create an energetic imprinting. The hurtful, rageful words of a parent stick to a child’s energy field as if to Velcro, haunting the child [and persisting as the child grows into adulthood] with feelings of shame and inadequacy….” Blockages to the removal of this harmful energy persist in our habitual ways of thinking, says Drake. But Shamanic work [which focuses on the flow of energy] can remove these blocks and restore the soul to wholeness and the body to health.
This book is an excellent introduction to the potential for deep healing and the alleviation of suffering by combining the science of psychology with the mysterious world of the soul.