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The Book Forum
October 26, 1964

Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy

Author Affiliations

San Francisco

JAMA. 1964;190(4):402-403. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070170143037

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Shamanism, while essentially a form of healing, is also intimately involved in religion, and in the person of the shaman is found that duality in which deism and medicine coexist. This extraordinary and superb volume on shamanism is the first complete history of this practice. The author, Chairman of the Department of the History of Religion at the University of Chicago, possesses the erudition necessary to deal with the religious and medical aspects of shamanism in every part of the world. Like his previous books Shamanism was originally written in French and has been very well translated into English.

Although the rites of initiation of the shaman embody primarily physical measures, the practice of shamanism is chiefly ritualistic. While the functions of the shaman are essentially similar to those of the medicine man, he alone can cope with illnesses of supernatural origin, namely, the ones that are due to "loss

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