In Western science, extraordinary or visionary states of consciousness are traditionally discussed mainly in terms of psychopathology, that is, in the sense of mental disease. This applies even more when they are associated with psychoactive substances such as the herbal decoction Ayahuasca, which are generally called “hallucinogens” with the connotation “not objective, unreal”. However, responsible work with psychoactive herbal decoctions like Ayahuasca – similar to many forms of meditation – has salutogenic potential, i.e. it can enhance physical, mental and spiritual health by calling into play what is referred to as “participating consciousness”. Rigid feeling, thought, and behavioural patterns can unclench, the self can rearrange itself and develop its inner and outer resources more deeply.
The thesis of this article is that for an adequate understanding of these processes, the familiar “linear” thinking no longer suffices, rather, an “ecology of mind” is needed (Bateson 1972), i.e. less divisive, less objectifying explanations which also do not exclude the fundamental paradoxes of human existence. Of course, such approaches occasionally need some getting used to.
In the following, a few basic elements of the ecological approach will be explained (chapter 2). Chapter 3 will then analyze whether or not and to what extent this approach can explain extraordinary states of consciousness better than traditional, linear thinking.
Friczewski, F. (2010). Ayahuasca, Salutogenesis and the Need for „Ecological“ Approaches.