Learning from the spirits: Candomblé, umbanda, and kardecismo in recife, Brazil

Anthropology of Consciousness 19 (1):1-32 (2008)

Abstract
Brazilian spiritistic religions have developed along elaborate historical and cultural trajectories with spirit mediumship as a central feature of ritual practice in Candomblé, Umbanda, Kardecismo, and similar groups. In these studies, several Brazilian spiritistic practitioners who worked as mediums were interviewed and, in some cases, tested with psychological measures for dissociation using the Dissociative Experiences Scale, for absorption using the Tellegen Absorption Scale, and for sexual orientation using the Kinsey Scale. Few significant gender differences were noted in these measures. In two cases, psychophysiological measures were employed including electroencephalography, heart rate, skin conductance, and electromyography. In general, the research participants scored highly on measures of dissociation while scoring in the average range on absorption (using U.S. norms). The psychophysiological results indicated that for the two spiritistic practitioners investigated overall peripheral autonomic nervous system activation was negatively associated with sympathetic cortical level deactivation. The data suggested a psychophysiological incongruence between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system functioning on the part of the two practitioners. However, the two variables were positively associated and congruent in data obtained from a control subject. Interview data identified five ways in which mediums received their "call to heal," visions, dreams, and unexpected incorporations being the most frequent factors cited. One medium who engages in surgical procedures was observed; tissues were collected from ten clients and were found to be consistent with the site of the surgery. In conclusion, it is apparent that mediumship is a complex phenomenon, one deserving of further investigation by anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists interested in human consciousness, in indigenous health care, and in the psychophysiology of practitioners who claim to work under the direction of spirit entities.
Keywords mediumship  absorption  African‐Brazilian religions  psychophysiology  dissociation
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DOI 10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00001.x
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References found in this work BETA

Trance States: A Theoretical Model and Cross-Cultural Analysis.Michael Winkelman - 1986 - Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 14 (2):174-203.
Trance States: A Theoretical Model and Cross‐Cultural Analysis.Michael Winkelman - 1986 - Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 14 (2):174-203.
Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy & Clyde E. Martin - 1953 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 15 (4):682-685.

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