Monday, 27 March 2017

Introducing David Dupuis

Social anthropologist, David Dupuis contacted me about my research having read my blog post via Hearing the Voice.

David is a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Anthropology of the University of Durham, funded by the Fyssen Foundation. In collaboration with the Hearing the Voice team, he is working on the experience of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH), occurring in shamanic contexts, especially during the ayahuasca rituals and retreat times in the jungle.

David's doctoral dissertation focused on ritual innovations, modes of transmission of religious knowledge and the topic of therapeutic effectiveness in Takiwasi. During his PhD, David spent eighteen months in Takiwasi, a therapeutic community located in the Upper Peruvian Amazon. This therapeutical team includes medical doctors, psychologists and traditional healers using some mestizo shamanism practices. Medicinal plants – including the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca – are used in rituals along with psychotherapy and speech groups. The rituals mix elements of Amazonian shamanism, Catholicism and the New Age.

David aims to advance his work in order to elaborate a cross cultural and comparative model of the arousal, socialization and control of AVH in various social contexts. His goal is to shed light on how cultural repertoires affect the nature and intensity of AVH, illustrating how culture affects our mental experiences. He is consequently planning to conduct further ethnographic fieldworks in order to collect new data with a view to better understand what he calls the socialization of AVH.

It was fascinating to hear about his experiences and the effect that the plants can have on people and their auditory verbal hallucinations. I am curious to find out more about the rituals, and the effects that the ayahuasca can have. The implications for the use of this plant are considerable.

David and I discussed how our research interests relate and began talking about potential collaborative ideas. I am looking forward to working with David and seeing how our ideas develop.

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