Brain Chemistry
   Western science views the brain as the source of human consciousness, and increasingly sophisticated understandings of brain chemistry have prompted some researchers on shamanism to consider brain chemistry and the role of the human central nervous system as key to understanding altered states of consciousness and shamanic experiences. Neuropsychological research on altered states has contributed to the shamanistic interpretation of rock art, wherein certain geometric shapes termed entoptic phenomena that are consistent in visionary experiences may be identified in rock art imagery. In addition, the efficacy of shamanic healing has been interpreted as resulting from the release of endorphins (from endogenous, meaning “within,” and morphine, a painkiller), biochemical compounds resembling opiates in their analgesic effects. By attaching themselves to the receptors on nerve cells, endorphins reduce the body’s sensitivity to pain—as “natural painkillers” they produce a sense of euphoria. It has been hypothesized that there is an increase in endorphin activity in both patient and shaman during shamanic healing, as well as for the shaman during the induction of altered consciousness, such as prolonged dancing and other forms of deprivation, since endorphins are linked to endurance. Certain drugs used by shamans may also be linked to endorphin activity: the molecular structure of peyote is held to resemble the endorphin nonadrenaline, for example. These investigations into brain chemistry and shamanism have prompted Michael Winkelman and other scholars to explore neurotheology—the idea that the impulse behind shamanism and other religions originates in brain chemistry.
   See also Mental Health.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brain implant — Brain implants, often referred to as neural implants, are technological devices that connect directly to a biological subject s brain usually placed on the surface of the brain, or attached to the brain s cortex. A common purpose of modern brain… …   Wikipedia

  • Brain size — is one aspect of animal anatomy and evolution. Both overall brain size and the size of substructures have been analysed, and the question of links between size and functioning particularly intelligence has often proved controversial. Brain size… …   Wikipedia

  • Chemistry Is What We Are — Studio album by Simian Released 9 July 2001 …   Wikipedia

  • Brain — This article is about the brains of all types of animals, including humans. For information specific to the human brain, see Human brain. For other uses, see Brain (disambiguation). A chimpanzee brain The brain is …   Wikipedia

  • brain — brain1 W2S2 [breın] n ↑artery, ↑brain, ↑fatty, ↑tissue, ↑heart, ↑kidney, ↑intestine, ↑intestine2, ↑small, ↑large, ↑liver, ↑lung, ↑muscles, ↑stomach …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • brain — 01. He suffered some [brain] damage as a result of hitting his head on the ice when he fell while skating. 02. She s a total [brain] in chemistry. 03. You really have to use your [brain] if you want to solve this puzzle. 04. Frank is the head of… …   Grammatical examples in English

  • chemistry — noun 1 subject of study ADJECTIVE ▪ analytical, applied, theoretical ▪ atmospheric, environmental, medicinal (esp. AmE), physical ▪ …   Collocations dictionary

  • Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry — The Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer Institute) in Göttingen is a research institute of the Max Planck Society. Currently, 812 people work at the Institute, 353 of them are scientists. As one of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Pinky and the Brain — Genre Comedy Satire Format Animated series …   Wikipedia

  • Human brain — The human brain controls the central nervous system (CNS), by way of the cranial nerves and spinal cord, the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and regulates virtually all human activity.Cite web|url=http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”