The healing ceremony is almost aways a public and collective procedure involving family, tribe, and members of a special healing society. They are often quite large and may involve the entire social group. They are publicly open and often egalitarian, reflecting the traditional ethos of foraging societies. They tend to be repetitive and ongoing, meeting often throughout the year. The participants in the group use techniques designed to greatly increase the level of emotional arousal and alter consciousness. In such states, the participants are permitted the leeway to say or do things that under normal social conditions would be prohibited. In most healing groups, the healed are expected to become healers (Favazza, 1993). The reliving of the traumatogenic situation occurs in precise detail, and the pain is integrated into a meaningful whole by giving it a meaning in a larger mythical system. There is a relabeling of the complaint, a reduction in fear through the ability to maintain some degree of control; social relations and subjective experience are brought into harmony (Favazza, 1993; Scheff, 1983; Turner, 1982; Van der Hart, 1983).
It would appear, that on an evolutionary basis we are set for reenactment behavior and that this behavior has important signal importance to our social support network. The nonverbal brain of the traumatized person signals through gesture, facial expression, tone of voice, and behavior, that something is amiss, that there is some rift in the social fabric that connects the individual to the social group, a rift that must be healed. The behavior of the individual triggers a ritual response in the group in order to help the individual tell the story, re‐experience the affect, transform the meaning of the event, and reintegrate into the whole, while simultaneously the group can learn from the experience of the individual. The amount of social support that is offered is often enormous, with an entire tribe participating in escorting the injured party back into the fold through any means necessary to do so, and it is apparent that those activities we now call “the arts” are the means that enable a group to engage in these processes together (Bloom, 1995).
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