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July 6, 1984

Shamans, Mystics and Doctors: A Psychological Inquiry Into India and Its Healing Traditions

Author Affiliations

Billings, Mont

JAMA. 1984;252(1):106-107. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350010066035

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This book, published by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Boston, is the result of a three-year study of traditional mental health and healing systems in India. The work was supported by the Homi Bhabha Fellowship. The fortunate reader is carried into a vivid and detailed experience of Islamic uranic soul knowledge and soul force, Hindu temple healing at Balaji, Dravidian shamans, Tibetan demonology, the devotional mysticism of the sect of Radha Soami Satsang of Beas, Tantra texts and healing, the cult of Primal Power Mata Nirmala Devi, Who Is God, and of Ayurveda and an Ayurvedic mental hospital at Jharsetli. Each system is well described from a structural-theoretical standpoint, and from the actual experience of patients, practitioners, and observers. Each system is then examined in the overall Indian medical context, and in Western (Christian, psychoanalytic, and medical) idiom. Most readers will find this journey to India fascinating and Sudhir Kakar