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Med Anthropol. 1984 Winter;8(1):60-70.

The vidente phenomenon in third world traditional healing: an Amazonian example.



This article examines the vidente, or seer phenomenon in the Peruvian Amazon city of Pucallpa, Peru, where fieldwork was conducted in 1977 and 1979. With the discovery of natural opiate-like substances in the body, called endorphins, researchers in the brain sciences were intrigued by man's ability to create his own opiate-like response to pain, ecstacy and stress. Paranormal phenomena, often called psi, are believed to occur by large numbers of people. Close work was done with an urban healer, don Hilde, who used the plant hallucinogen, ayahuasca, for many yers. The healing milieu, present background information on Pucallpa City, don Hilde's biography and his activities as a vidente in connection with his hallucinogen use are described. Don Hilde's relationship with a mystical-philosophical organization and its influence on his paranormal activities and patient interactions are examined. The single most important function of plant hallucinogens in the Amazon area is to divine the future. Ayahuasca is used to treat magical illness in Iquitos and Pucallpa where illness is believed to have a mother spirit. The patients sit in a cirlce in rain forest clearings where they all drink the drug, believing the plant's spirit enters them. Healers like don Hilde are sought out by patients because of reputed vidente qualities and abilities as seers and because, on the daily level of interaction, their abilities are reaffirmed. In this case study, the healer derives a long shamanic healing tradition where he used plant hallucinogen drugs. He entered into organized mystical activities to enhance his personal power and to intensify his access to altered states of consciousness. Access to the supernatural realm is important to both the healer and the client in harnessing the source of divinity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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