Carl Allen Hammerschlag

"I am a Yale-trained, community psychiatrist whose professional life took an interesting departure from ordinary clinical practice when I went to work with American Indians instead of going to Vietnam. 

I joined the Indian Health Service for my 2-year military obligation, and it turned into a 20-year commitment, most of it as Chief of Psychiatry at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.

This experience moved me from doctor to healer -- a transformational journey in which my scientific healing repertoire was expanded to include more mystical explanations for how people get sick and how they get well.

In Indian country I learned how to use the power of language, stories and beliefs, incorporating them into my psychotherapy.  I saw how rituals, ceremonies, prayer, meditation, fasting, drumming, natural medicines, and hands-on healing could open channels into the unconscious mind to promote insight and change behavior.

Over the last 40 years, I have come to embrace shamanic healing practices.  A shamanic healer understands that everything that exists in life has an energy that can be a force for healing.

Every scientific discipline and every religious group uses its own words to describe that energy.  Scientists explain that force in physical terms such as quanta, strong and weak, or in molecular, biological, and genetic terms.  Mystics explain the force in spiritual terms:  unknowable, unfathomable, or ineffable.   

The critical issue to remember is that both scientific practitioner and shamans find a way to develop a relationship with that force that allows them to harness its energy and promote healing."

Hammershlag, C. (2009). The Huichol Offering:  A Shamanic Healing Journey. J Relig Health, 48, 246-258.