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Matyáš Müller 

Healing by Fiction: Carlos Castaneda in the Context of Neo-Shamanism and Psychotherapy

Matyáš Müller, "Healing by Fiction: Carlos Castaneda in the Context of Neo-Shamanism and Psychotherapy", Central European Journal of Contemporary Religion 3 (2, 2019): p. 91-107.

Carlos Castaneda is famous for the series of books about his shamanistic apprenticeship and, subsequently, mastery. As an author, however, he seems to be resisting any categorization as he has been moving on the borders of ethnography, fiction and esoterism. This article aims to assess his possible contribution to psychotherapeutic theory and practice. Castaneda is considered one of the fathers of the neo-shamanistic movement that seems to be linked to some schools of Western psychotherapy in many ways. However, he does not display many of its typical characteristics. While neo-shamanism tends to emphasize positive aspects of the world, harmony and healing, Castaneda emphasizes contemplating the “dark side of the world” and his approach contains a lot of dangerous and potentially psychologically disruptive techniques. Castaneda is thus probably less convenient for psychotherapeutic use than some of his followers. Despite that, some elements of his work seem to have a psychotherapeutic potential and they have not been left unnoticed in the psychotherapeutic community. I emphasize two specific elements of his work to be key in this respect: narrativity and direct bodily experience. Castaneda’s ambiguous position at the borders of genres thus can serve us to perceive their permeability at the one hand but also to remind us of the importance of keeping them apart on the other hand.

DOI: 10.14712/25704893.2020.2

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