Chapter

 Neurotics to Tribal Psychoanalysts

Andrei A. Znamenski

in The Beauty of the Primitive

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780195172317
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199785759 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195172317.003.0003
  Neurotics to Tribal Psychoanalysts

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This chapter looks at shamanism from a psychological perspective. Eighteenth- and 19th-century explorers of Siberia and arctic North America frequently mentioned what appeared to them as extreme nervousness and mental instability of indigenous populations. European observers noted that trivial things or movements, such as a sudden exclamation, an unexpected move, a knock, or a bird flying nearby, sometimes easily drove native northerners to what such writers called hysterical fits. To the Western explorers, such scenes looked abnormal. So did incidents of natives running away to the woods or mountains and remaining there for a few days. This chapter looks at the experience of Russian ethnographer Waldemar Bogoras, who conducted research among the Chukchi and Yupik natives, the indigenous inhabitants of the northeast of Siberia. Shamanism became an important part of his observations. According to his accounts, the shamans he encountered were a weird, abnormal, or at least irritable folk.

Keywords: shamanism; neurosis; psychoanalysis; ethnography; Waldemar Bogoras; mental disorder

Chapter.  18871 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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