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.
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.