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Aboriginal Models for Integration of Brain, Mind, Spirit, and Body
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Futurehealth WinterBrain Plenary presentation by Lewis Mehl-Medrona. European civilization and Aboriginal communities' stories about mind and mental health produce different social relationships and meanings than conventional Western stories.
  • aboriginal
  • health
  • brain
  • neurofeedback

European civilization has evolved multiple models to explain mind. We will look at theories as stories about the world with prescriptive functions and maintain social relationships. We will look at stories about mind that arise from aboriginal communities with more ways of knowing than just observational and empirical. These stories about mind and mental health produce different social relationships and meanings than conventional Western stories. We will review what stories brain physiology can tell and the ways that story can interface with European and aboriginal stories. We will conclude with the questions of what stories are transformational and which are sustainable.

Western European civilization has evolved multiple models to explain mind and its functioning. There are cognitive models, information processing models, biological models, and more. The only certainty is the lack of agreement among proponents of these models. Rarely do neuroscientists agree on what mind is. In this presentation, we will look at the various theories as stories about the world that hold prescriptive functions, maintain social relationships, order power relationships, and require audiences for their performance. We will look at stories about mind that arise from indigenous and aboriginal communities -- these stories have different ways of knowing (dialogue with spirits, intuition, divine inspiration) as well as ways of knowing that are more observational and empirical. These stories about mind and mental health produce different social relationships and meanings than conventional Western stories. They emphasize relational selves and are less concerned with individual selves. The problem of mental health is also radically different with an aboriginal model than a conventional Western model. Different approaches emerge which are more relational. These include ceremonial approaches and resolution of relationship conflict. We will review what stories brain physiology can tell and the ways that story can interface with European and aboriginal stories. We will conclude with the questions of what stories do we prefer and why? Which are transformational, which are sustainable, and which are life-affirming. We will relate this to other fields such as aboriginal agriculture, aboriginal forestry, and management of sustainable resources.

 


Author: Lewis Mehl-Madrona

Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and Narrative Medicine.

Other Products by Lewis Mehl-Madrona

1) Shaman's Mind, Shaman's Work, Shaman's Dialogue
2) Stories and Transformation
3) PET Scans and Spirits
4) Cultural Effects on Perception of Body Sensation
5) The Social Construction of Bipolar Disorder - is it "real" or is it a story?
6) States of Brain Mind; States of Healing; Speaking the Language of Shamans