Dobkin de Rios, Marlene

Dobkin de Rios, Marlene (1939– ) – American medical anthropologist and clinical psychologist; professor of anthropology at California State University, Fullerton. Best known for her interest in ayahuasca and other plant use in Amazonia and especially Peru, Dobkin de Rios’s many publications include Visionary Vine (1972) and others interested in “shamanic techniques of healing and psychotherapy.” She clarifies the fact that ayahuasca is not used as a curative agent, a medicine in the Western sense, but “gives the healer entry into the culturally important area of disease causality, enabling him to identify the nature of the illness from which a person is suffering, and then to deflect or neutralize the evil magic which is deemed responsible for illness.” She has also written insightfully about the “ayahuasca tourist” industry in which Amazonian tradespeople are finding increasingly lucrative employment in offering ayahuasca sessions as “advanced shamanic training.” She argues that these are rarely if ever conducted by “authentic ayahuasca healers” but rather by “common drug dealers” whose clients are frequently left with psychotic and physical health problems. This is all the more interesting given her argument that shamanic healers do not give psychotic patients ayahuasca but have an arsenal of other therapeutic techniques (including store-bought medicines) as well as means of declining to treat patients whose illnesses are beyond their powers.

SOURCE:

Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007

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