As Terence McKenna says in a lecture on this subject: “a shaman is someone who swims in the same motion as a schizophrenic but the shaman has thousands and thousands of years of sanctioned technique and tradition to draw upon…” in a tribe if a child shows ‘schizophrenic’ tendencies they are immediately drawn away from society (but not rejected) and put under the care and tutelage of master shamans who will teach the child how to heal and enlighten the masses, in western society if someone is classified as a schizophrenic they are drawn out of society and told not necessarily verbally that they don’t fit in and are not of equal worth to the rest of society, they are locked up in asylums, equal to prisoners and numbed with drugs, this treatment makes schizophrenia incurable, Terence McKenna says in the same lecture “If you’ve ever bin in a mad house then you know that it is an environment calculated to make you crazy and keep you crazy…” . Culture is everywhere, it tells people what to do, what to believe and who they are. Culture embeds notions deeply inside people to the point where they are unaware of their presence these preconceived cultural notions dictate human life Culture determines who is going to be at the top of society and who is going to be at the bottom of society.
The building blocks that make up a culture in turn make up weather someone is a schizophrenic or a shaman, for instance the Yanomamo people who live in the Amazon rainforest are a shamanic community, and their cultural building blocks are vastly different to those of New York City and it is because of these cultural building blocks that there are shamans in the Yanomamo culture and no schizophrenics, just like there are schizophrenics in New York City (western culture) and no shamans. This is due to the different cultures attitudes towards god, humanity and the earth. If you took a newly born baby who had a genetic predisposition towards Schizophrenia and dropped him off in the Amazon Rainforest, he would surely become a shaman. If you took a newly born baby who is from a long line of shamans and dropped him off in New York
City, he would surely become a schizophrenic. Take away their culture and schizophrenics and shamans practically are one in the same. So far through researching the topic I have found that there is a startling resemblance between schizophrenic and shamanic tendencies. Both shamans and schizophrenics experience hallucinations and become very introverted and withdraw from ordinary realities. From the moment a person becomes schizophrenic or shamanic they are in a constant psychedelic state and perceive the world in a completely different way to normal people. What is different between schizophrenics and shamans is how that psychedelic potential manifests and conditions itself.
For a schizophrenic the conditioning takes place the moment he/she is born, the schizophrenic experiences and neutral stimulus, ordinary reality, this then elicits an unconditioned response, ordinary perception, but as the child grows up he/she is subjected to a new unconditioned stimulus, culture, when this new unconditioned stimulus is repetitively paired with the neutral stimulus, ordinary reality, Eventually the neutral stimulus, ordinary reality, becomes a conditioned stimulus and begins to elicit a conditioned response, non ordinary perception which in turn makes the schizophrenics perception psychedelic. In a sense, this psychedelic state of perception is permanent, for the schizophrenic is most likely always going to be a member of his original culture. Only through the external manipulation of the taking of antipsychotic drugs can the schizophrenic come out of the permanent psychedelic state that he/she is in. the shaman is conditioned in a similar way When a shaman is born, the Conditioning process takes place. A neutral stimulus, ordinary reality, elicits an unconditioned response, ordinary perception.
Eventually, when the shaman begins his rigorous training, he takes a powerful psychedelic, an unconditioned stimulus. This unconditioned stimulus, a powerful psychedelic, elicits an unconditioned response, non-ordinary perception. Eventually, The neutral stimulus, ordinary reality, becomes a conditioned stimulus and begins to elicit a conditioned response, non-ordinary perception . Thus, the shaman’s perception is made psychedelic. This psychedelic state is permanent, for a powerful psychological agent, such as a psychedelic substance, changes you forever. Counter-conditioning a psychedelic experience is extremely difficult. It may happen, however.
The sychedelic substance that the shaman takes reinforces his mind to perceive the Psychedelic and the culture that the schizophrenic grows up in reinforce his mind to perceive the psychedelic. If the shaman stopped taking his psychedelics, and if the schizophrenic started taking his anti-psychotics, then their state of mind would change, and this change is solely a somewhat controllable change. Therefore, the schizophrenic, like the shaman, takes a substance in order to transcend, and this substance is culture, a psychedelic. The shaman’s act of taking a psychedelic and the schizophrenic’s act of taking a psychedelic is a somewhat controllable act. Shamans and schizophrenics both experience religion .
Although schizophrenia is not seen as a religion unlike shamanism, many schizophrenics when experiencing delusions and hallucinations said is was a spiritual and religious experience which can be both positive and negative, sometimes their religious beliefs and faith can strengthen and comfort them, other schizophrenics can be rejected and contradicted by their faith because the delusions and hallucinations they have may challenge their beliefs, when this occurs schizophrenia itself sort of turns itself into a religion different from mainstream ones. Schizophrenics interpret a certain stimulus, the archetype of religion, in ways that don’t correspond with the accepted norm of their culture or rather the accepted religions of their culture. Shamans also interpret the archetype of religion but in ways that are accepted by their culture and religion. Shamans are accepted by their society where as schizophrenics are not.