Altered Experience Mediates the Relationship between Schizotypy and Mood Disturbance during Shamanic-Like Journeying



Studies have found that shamanic practices are associated with statistically significant reductions in mood disturbance relative to baseline.  However, contrary results were obtained for non-shamanic practitioners exposed to shamanic-like techniques.  These inconsistent results may be partially due to a personality trait referred to as schizotypy, which has been demonstrated to influence susceptibility to shamanic-like techniques.  Furthermore, given that an integral feature of shamanism is the production of altered states of awareness and altered experiences, and that shamanism is associated with health benefits, perhaps the production of such alterations affects health benefits.  Consequently, the present study aimed to investigate whether altered state of awareness and altered experience mediated the association between schizotypy and mood disturbance during exposure to a shamanic-like condition.  Sixty-nine non-shamans were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: shamanic-like journeying with drumming or sitting quietly with eyes open.  Total mood disturbance-change was significantly negatively correlated with schizotypy and altered experience – but not altered state of awareness – and these correlations were significantly stronger for the shamanic-like journeying condition relative to the control condition.  Furthermore, altered experience significantly mediated the association between schizotypy and total mood disturbance-change during exposure to shamanic-like journeying.

Keywords: shamanism—schizotypy—altered experience—mood disturbance

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