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Ego Boundaries, Shamanic-Like Techniques, and Subjective Experience: An Experimental Study

adam j. rock
Deakin University and University of New South Wales rock@deakin.edu.au

jessica m. wilson
The Australian National University jessica.wilson@anu.edu.au

luke j. johnston
Riverina Division of General Practice and Primary Health Ltd lukejohnston01@yahoo.com

janelle v. levesque
Charles Sturt University jlevesque@csu.edu.au
abstract

The subjective effects and therapeutic potential of the shamanic practice of journeying is well known. However, previous research has neglected to provide a comprehensive assessment of the subjective effects of shamanic-like journeying techniques on non-shamans. Shamanic-like techniques are those that demonstrate some similarity to shamanic practices and yet deviate from what may

Anthropology of Consciousness, Vol. 19, Issue 1, pp. 6083. ISSN 1053-4202, & 2008 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00003.x

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genuinely be considered shamanism. Furthermore, the personality traits that inuence individual susceptibility to shamanic-like techniques are unclear. The aim of the present study was, thus, to investigate experimentally the effect of shamanic-like techniques and a personality trait referred to as ego boundaries on subjective experience including mood disturbance. Forty-three non-shamans were administered a composite questionnaire consisting of demographic items and a measure of ego boundaries (i.e., the Short Boundary Questionnaire; BQSh). Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: listening to monotonous drumming for 15 minutes coupled with one of two sets of journeying instructions; or sitting quietly with eyes closed for 15 minutes. Participants subjective experience and mood disturbance were retrospectively assessed using the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI) and the Prole of Mood States-Short Form, respectively. The results indicated that there was a statistically signicant difference between conditions with regard to the PCI major dimensions of visual imagery, attention and rationality, and minor dimensions of imagery amount and absorption. However, the shamanic-like conditions were not associated with a major reorganization of the pattern of subjective experience compared to the sitting quietly condition, suggesting that what is typically referred to as an altered state of consciousness effect was not evident. One shamanic-like condition and the BQ-Sh subscales need for order, childlikeness, and sensitivity were statistically signicant predictors of total mood disturbance. Implications of the ndings for the anthropology of consciousness are also considered.
k e y w o r d s : shamanic, personality, ego boundaries, subjective experience, mood

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introduction Shamanism may be referred to as a body of techniques and activities that supposedly enable its practitioners to access information that is not ordinarily attainable by members of the social group that gave them privileged status (Krippner 2002:962). Noll (1985:45) states that shamanic techniques (e.g., monotonous drumming, hallucinogens, sweat lodges) are often used to cultivate enhanced visual mental imagery, particularly during journeying (i.e., soul ight). The shamans mental imagery tends to reect her learned cosmology (Walsh 1995): a universe consisting of multiple worlds such as a lower world (land of the dead), upper world (heaven or sky), and middle world or earth (Eliade 1964). However, Rock and Krippner (2007) state that it would be an overgeneralization to assert that all shamanic cultures liken the lower world to the land of the dead, and the upper world to sky. For instance, Lepp (2004) contends that Moso shamans of Tibet supposed that souls ascend to heaven rather than descend to the lower world.

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Bittman et al. (2001) suggest that although shamanic techniques have formed the basis of indigenous healing ceremonies since antiquity, such practices have only recently begun to generate interest as a complementary therapeutic strategy in the traditional medical and psychological arenas. One particularly relevant study in this context was conducted by Harner and Tryon (1995) who found that the mood disturbance of 40 experienced shamanic practitioners (measured by the Prole of Mood States questionnaire; POMS) was signicantly lower after journeying with drumming compared to baseline. Given the therapeutic potential of shamanism (Krippner 2002), it may be useful to investigate experimentally the subjective effects of these practices on non-shamans (Rock et al. 2007). Not surprisingly then, recent experimental studies (e.g., Rock et al. 2005, 2006; Rock 2006) have aimed to assess the effect of shamanic-like techniques on university students. Rock et al. (2007:80) suggest that, Techniques may be conceptualized as shamanic-like insofar as they bear some relation to shamanic techniques and yet depart from what may properly be called shamanism. For example, drinking ayahuasca in order to descend to the lower world and retrieve a tribal members soul may be considered a shamanic technique, whereas recreationally using ayahuasca to produce purported alterations in consciousness is merely shamanic-like. It is noteworthy, however, that previous research has not investigated whether the therapeutic effects (i.e., the reduction in mood disturbance quantied by the POMS) reported by Harner and Tryon (1995) may be replicated with a nonshaman population. Indeed, it may be edifying to quantitatively measure the degree to which a particular shamanic-like technique (i.e., drumming) affects mood disturbance when used by non-shamans, thus, providing an indication of the therapeutic potential of shamanic practices. Additionally, it is salient that previous experimental research has tended to use shamanic-like techniques to facilitate journeying by non-shamans to the lower world (e.g., Rock et al. 2005, 2006). It may be such that the therapeutic potential of journeying to one world may outweigh journeying to another world. For example, Walsh (1990:147) suggests that, broadly speaking, the lower world is a place of tests and challenges where one may be required to battle predatory creatures (e.g., jaguars) and traverse treacherous obstacles (e.g., infernal rivers). In contrast, the upper world may be populated with celestial beings and akin to a heavenly realm (Kalweit 1988). Consequently, one might expect that journeying to the lower world may be associated with more negative mood (i.e., mood disturbance) compared to journeying to the upper world. This hypothesis was not tested by Harner and Tryon (1995:92); instead participants were merely instructed to lie down and make a journey for the purpose of raising a specic immune response, rather than travel to a specic cosmological destination.

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Furthermore, it is perhaps signicant that previous research has neglected to assess individual susceptibility to shamanic-like stimulus conditions (Harner and Tryon 1995). Consequently, it may prove prudent to consider personality traits that may be associated with receptivity to shamanic-like stimulus conditions and, thus, possible changes in mood disturbance. One potentially relevant personality trait is ego boundaries. Hartmanns (1991:4) boundary construct describes the following notion: . . . consider the contents of our mindsFthoughts, feelings, memories; ego, id, superego; perceptual processes, semantic processes, memory processesFwe are speaking of parts, of regions, functions, or processes that are separate from one another and yet connected with one another. The boundaries between them are not absolute separations: they can be relatively thick or solid on the one hand or relatively thin or permeable on the other. In a review of previous research concerning the boundary concept, Hartmann et al. (2001) cite studies suggesting that statistically signicantly thinner boundaries relative to control groups are reported by, for example, lucid dreamers, frequent dream recallers, and nightmare suffers; people who are more hypnotizable; and art students. Furthermore, a link between thin boundaries and shamanic experiences was made by Krippner et al. (1998) who indicated that people who conceptualize themselves as shamans or psychics tend to score thin on the Boundary Questionnaire. Funkhouser et al. (2001) contend that the thinner ones boundaries are the more likely one is to be affected by internal and external stimuli. Consequently, a person with thinner boundaries who is administered a shamanic-like stimulus condition such as monotonous drumming may be more affected by the volume, pitch, and tempo of the drumming and, thus, more likely to experience changes in mood compared to their thicker boundary counterpart. However, it is arguable that merely administering the POMS to quantify mood disturbance will not capture the breadth of subjective experience associated with exposure to shamanic-like stimulus conditions. Instead, what is needed is a methodology designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of subjective effects that may be used in conjunction with the POMS. Over the past few decades, various self-report measures have been constructed to quantify subjective experience (Rock and Kambouropoulos 2007). One noteworthy measure is the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI; Pekala 1991); a questionnaire designed to quantify the subjective experience associated with exposure to a particular stimulus condition (e.g., meditation, hypnosis, shamanic-like techniques). Specically, the PCI quanties 12 characteristics of subjective experience referred to as major dimensions (e.g., positive affect, altered experience, rationality) and 14 minor dimensions (e.g.,

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joy, altered body image, absorption). PCI scores may be pictorially represented using graphs referred to as psygrams (Pekala 1991). A psygram depicts two types of information associated with exposure to a stimulus condition: (1) the average intensity values (ranging from 0 to 6) for each PCI major dimension; and (2) the strength of association between pairs of PCI major dimensions (Pekala and Kumar 1986). The performative function of a psygram directly impinges on Tarts (1975:62) notion of a discrete (i.e., specic) state of consciousness (SoC), which may be dened as a unique conguration or system of psychological structures or subsystems . . . that maintains its integrity or identity as a recognizable system in spite of variations in input from the environment and in spite of various (small) changes in the subsystems. Pekala (1985) states that, in Tarts view, it is the pattern formed by these various psychological structures (i.e., subjective effects) that comprise a discrete SoC. Consequently, if the psygram associated with a baseline or control condition (e.g., sitting quietly with eyes open) is statistically signicantly different from a psygram associated with a shamanic-like stimulus condition, then one may conclude that the shamanic-like condition was associated with a major reorganisation in pattern structure that is hypothesized by Tart (1975) to be associated with an altered state of consciousness (Woodside et al. 1997:84). That is, the pattern structure of the SoC associated with the shamanic-like stimulus condition would be considered statistically signicantly altered relative to the pattern structure of the SoC associated with the control condition.
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the present study In light of the reviewed literature, the aims of the present study were to (1) quantify and compare the subjective experience associated with two shamaniclike stimulus conditions (i.e., journeying to the upper world versus the lower world) and a control condition; and (2) investigate whether shamanic-like stimulus conditions and ego boundaries were predictors of mood disturbance. The present study consisted of a between-subjects design with three conditions: (1) Harners (1990) journeying to the lower world instructions coupled with listening to monotonous drumming at eight beats per second for 15 minutes (L-group); (2) an adapted version of Ingermans (2004) journeying to the upper world instructions coupled with listening to monotonous drumming at eight beats per second for 15 minutes (U-group); and (3) a control condition consisting of sitting quietly with eyes closed for 15 minutes (C-group). This studys design allowed investigation of three related questions:
1. Is there a difference between conditions with regards to (a) the PCI major dimensions and (b) the PCI minor dimensions?

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2. Is there a difference between the psygrams for each of the three conditions? 3. Do condition and ego boundaries predict total mood disturbance scores?
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method Participants A total of 43 undergraduate students enrolled at Charles Sturt University participated in the present study (17 males and 26 females). The mean age for males was 20.29 (SD 5 2.71) and the mean age for females was 22.46 (SD 5 6.40). Participation in the present study was voluntary. Participants were treated in accordance with American Psychological Association ethical standards. Materials (or Apparatus) Participants were provided with a pencil-and-paper precondition questionnaire and postcondition questionnaire. The precondition questionnaire consisted of demographic items (e.g., age, gender) and the short version of the Boundary Questionnaire (BQ-Sh). The postcondition questionnaire consisted of the PCI and the Prole of Mood States-Short Form (POMS-SF). The Rawlings (20012002) BQ-Sh was used to quantify the thinness of ego boundaries. The BQ-Sh is an empirically derived shortened version of the 145-item Hartmann (1991) Boundary Questionnaire (BQ). The BQ-Sh consists of 46 items with a 5-point Likert-type scale, and produces six subscales: unusual experiences, need for order, trust, perceived competence, childlikeness, and sensitivity. The BQ-Sh has adequate psychometric properties as evidenced by Rawlings empirical examination of the scale, and it can, thus, be considered a satisfactory alternative to the BQ. For example, the BQ-Sh strongly correlates with the BQ (r 5 0.88) and the a coefcients for the BQ-Sh subscales range from 0.69 to 0.80 (Rawlings 20012002). The 30-item POMS-SF (McNair et al. 1992) was used to quantify total mood disturbance. The scale provides a total mood disturbance score plus additional scores for six subscales: tension/anxiety, depression/dejection, anger/hostility, vigor/activity, fatigue/inertia, and confusion/bewilderment. The POMS-SF has respectable psychometric properties (McNair et al. 1992). The 53-item PCI (Pekala 1991) was used to quantify subjective experience. Items cover 26 dimensions including 12 major (e.g., positive affect, altered experience, attention, volitional control, arousal) and 14 minor (e.g., joy, altered body image, vividness of imagery, absorption) dimensions (Pekala and Levine 1981, 1982; Pekala and Kumar 1984, 1986; Pekala 1985). Participants were required to respond on a 7-point Likert-type scale (Pekala and Wenger 1983; Pekala et al. 1985). The PCI possesses adequate psychometric properties. For example, Pekala et al. (1986) reported coefcient as between 0.70 and 0.90 for all dimensions, suggesting that the PCI has good internal consistency. In support

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of the scales criterion validity, Pekala et al. (1986) found that participants exposed to different stimulus conditions received signicantly different PCI scores. This nding suggests that the PCI can successfully distinguish among what are typically referred to as qualitatively different states of consciousness. A CD-ROM consisting of the journeying instructions and the monotonous drumming was used for the U-Group and L-Group. Procedure After the general nature of the study was explained and consent forms were completed participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions and instructed to complete the precondition questionnaire. The conditions in detail were: 1. L-Group. Following Harner (1990), participants in this condition were instructed to remove their shoes and lie on the oor, placing their right forearm over their eyes. Participants were subsequently instructed as follows: Visualize an opening into the earth that you remember from some time in your life. It can be an opening that you remember from your childhood, or one you saw last week, or even today. Any kind of entry into the ground will doFit may be a hole made by a burrowing animal, a cave, a hollow tree stump, a spring, or even a swamp. It can even be a man-made opening. The right opening is one that really feels comfortable to you, and one that you can visualize. Spend a couple of minutes seeing the hole without going in it. Note its details clearly. [Harner 1990:32] Participants were allocated two minutes to visualize their chosen opening into the earth (Harner 1990:32). At the conclusion of the two-minute period participants were instructed as follows: Visualize your opening into the earth, enter it, and begin the journey. Go down through the opening and enter the Tunnel. At rst the Tunnel may be dark and dim. It usually goes underground at a slight angle, but occasionally it descends steeply. The Tunnel sometimes appears ribbed, and often it bends. Occasionally one passes through the Tunnel so fast it is not even seen. In following the Tunnel you may run up against a natural wall of stone or some other obstacle. When this happens, just go around it or through a crack in it. If this fails, simply come back and try again. At the end of the Tunnel you will emerge out of doors. Examine the landscape in detail, travel through it and remember its features. Explore until you are signaled to come back, and then return up through the Tunnel. Do not bring anything back with you. This is only an exploratory journey. [Harner 1990:32] A prerecorded drum beat at a tempo of eight beats per second was subsequently played for 15 minutes.1 At the conclusion of the 15-minute period the

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drum was heard to be struck sharply four times to signal to all participants that it was time to return. The drum beat then became very rapid for about half a minute to accompany participants on their return journey (Harner 1990:32). 2. U-Group. The procedure associated with this condition was identical to the L-Group with the exception that participants were exposed to upper world instructions rather than lower world instructions: Visualize a particular location or object in nature that will help you travel upward, that you remember from some time in your life. It can be a location you remember from your childhood or one you saw last week or even today. Any kind of location will do. For example, you can see yourself climbing up a tree, rope, or ladder, jumping from the top of a mountain, rising up on a tornado or a whirlwind, climbing over a rainbow, going up with the smoke of a re or through a chimney, or nding a bird to take you up. The right location or object is one that really feels comfortable to you, and one which you can visualize. Spend a couple of minutes seeing the location or object without using it. Note its details clearly. [Ingerman 2004] Participants were subsequently allocated two minutes to visualize their chosen object or location in nature. At the conclusion of the two-minute period participants were instructed as follows: Visualize your familiar location and begin the journey upwards. You will pass through a transition, such as a cloud or a layer of fog that will indicate that you have arrived at your destination. If you are still seeing planets and stars as you journey upward, you have not yet reached your destination. Again, you will know that you are in your destination because of the sensation of having passed through a threshold of some kind, after which the landscape will change. Examine the landscape in detail, travel through it, and remember its features. Explore until you are signalled to come back, and then return down using the object the same way you went up. Do not bring anything back with you. This is only an exploratory journey. [Ingerman 2004] As in the L-Group, a prerecorded drum beat at a tempo of eight beats per second was played for 15 minutes. At the conclusion of the 15-minute period the drum was heard to be struck sharply four times to signal to all participants that it was time to return. The drum beat then became very rapid for about half a minute to accompany participants on their return journey (Harner 1990:32). 3. C-Group. Participants in the control condition were requested to sit quietly with their eyes closed for 15 minutes.2 After the completion of the treatment and control procedures, all participants were administered the postcondition questionnaire. Subsequently, all participants were encouraged to attend a voluntary debrieng session. Debrieng took

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the form of supplying participants with a written statement outlining the detailed purposes of the research, participants being afforded the opportunity to ask on-site researchers questions about the research, and participants being redirected to the phone numbers of the Chief Investigator and appropriate Ethics Secretariat for further questions.
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results Research Question 1 (a) and (b): PCI Major and Minor Dimension Differences To address Research Question 1, and to avoid violating the assumption of multicollinearity, separate multivariate analyses were performed on the PCI major and minor dimension scores (Woodside et al. 1997). A one-way between-subjects multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed a statistically signicant difference between conditions with regard to the combined PCI major dimension variables, F (24, 58) 5 3.98, p 5 .000; Pillais trace 5 1.24; partial eta squared (partial Z2) 5 .62. Subsequently, an a 5 .01 was used to assess the separate univariate effects (Woodside et al. 1997). Separate univariate analyses revealed statistically signicant results for visual imagery, F (2, 39) 5 7.32, p 5 .002; attention, F (2, 39) 5 6.11, p 5 .005; and rationality, F (2, 39) 5 10.11, p 5 .000. As can be seen from Table 1, the U-Group reported signicantly lower visual imagery intensity ratings compared to both the L-Group and the CGroup; the U-Group reported signicantly lower attention intensity ratings compared to the C-Group; and both the U-Group and the L-Group reported signicantly lower rationality intensity ratings compared to the C-Group. Pallant (2001:219) asserts that for a reliable multivariate equation the number of cases in each cell must equal or exceed the number of dependent variables. Given that the present study examined 14 PCI minor dimension-dependent variables with a sample size of 43 (consisting of between 12 to 17 cases per cell), two separate multivariate analyses were conducted for the PCI minor dimensions. A one-way between-subjects MANOVA revealed a statistically signicant difference between conditions with regard to the combined PCI minor dimension variables of altered time sense, altered perception, altered meaning, imagery amount, vividness, direction and absorption, F (14, 68) 5 4.33, p 5 .000; Pillais trace 5 0.94; partial Z2 5 .47. Separate univariate analyses revealed statistically signicant results for imagery amount, F (2, 39) 5 11.01, p 5 .000; and absorption, F (2, 39) 5 6.78, p 5 .003. As can be seen from Table 1, both the U-Group and the C-Group reported signicantly lower imagery amount intensity ratings compared to the L-Group; and the U-Group reported signicantly lower absorption intensity ratings compared to the C-Group. In contrast, a one-way between-subjects MANOVA revealed no statistically signicant difference between conditions with regard to the combined PCI

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table 1: pci major and minor dimension differences between means of each condition Variable 3 2 1 U-Group L-Group C-Group M M M 2.68 3.04 1.58 2.58 1.09 1.12 1.04 1.12 3.48 2.64 3.18 2.72 2.15 2.92 3.00 2.85 2.49 2.79 2.04 3.79 2.51 3.77 2.89 3.73 3.95 2.85 3.06 2.00 1.92 2.08 1.74 1.32 2.15 1.71 2.86 2.87 3.47 2.94 2.42 4.60 5.38 3.83 3.05 3.22 2.88 3.92 2.72 3.08 3.39 3.00 4.67 2.50 2.81 2.74 2.00 3.68 1.42 1.21 1.88 1.18 2.73 3.06 3.51 2.06 2.18 4.28 4.41 4.09 3.72 3.70 3.74 4.04 2.72 4.12 4.55 4.21 4.31 1.68 F p gP 2 Post Hoc

Positive Affect Joy Sexual Excitement Love Negative Affect Anger Sadness Fear Altered Experience Body Image Time Sense Perception Meaning Visual Imagery Amount Vividness Attention Direction Absorption Self-Awareness Altered State Internal Dialogue Rationality Volitional Control Memory Arousal

0.11 1.66 0.25 5.01 1.38 0.08 2.46 0.63 0.72 0.59 0.46 1.97 0.18 7.32 11.01 3.48 6.12 1.29 6.78 0.30 0.58 1.24 10.11 4.01 0.95 3.00

.895 .204 .781 .012 .264 .919 .099 .539 .493 .559 .638 .153 .834 .002 .000 .041 .005 .288 .003 .744 .564 .301 .000 .026 .396 .062

.006 .078 .013 .204 .066 .004 .112 .031 .036 .029 .023 .092 .009 .273 1,2;1,3 .361 1,2;2,3 .152 .239 1,3 .062 .258 1,3 .015 .029 .060 .342 1,3;2,3 .170 .046 .133

minor dimension variables of joy, sexual excitement, love, anger, sadness, fear and altered body image, F (14, 68) 5 1.26, p 5 .256; Pillais trace 5 0.41; partial Z2 5 .20. Pattern Analysis of Subjective Experience for Each Condition For the sake of completeness, a pattern analysis of the subjective experience associated with each condition was performed. Figure 1 depicts a psygram of the pattern of relationships between pairs of PCI major dimensions reported by the C-Group.3 This group reported little negative affect and arousal; mild alterations in altered state of awareness, altered experience, and positive affect; a

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gure 1. psygram associated with the control condition.

moderate amount of change in internal dialogue, vivid imagery, volitional control, inward absorbed attention, memory, self-awareness, and a considerable alteration in rationality. As regards pattern analysis, altered experience is strongly coupled with internal dialogue, altered state of awareness, positive affect, vivid imagery, and inward absorbed attention. Rationality is strongly coupled with volitional control, memory and arousal; memory is strongly coupled with arousal and self-awareness; arousal is strongly coupled with negative affect; positive affect is strongly coupled with inward absorbed attention and vivid imagery. Figure 2 represents the pattern of relationships between pairs of PCI major dimensions reported by the L-Group. In comparison to the C-Group (Figure 1),

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gure 2. psygram associated with the l-group.

there is an increase in altered state, arousal, memory, and vivid imagery; a decrease in rationality, self-awareness, internal dialogue, volitional control, and inward absorbed attention; and no change in positive affect, negative affect, or altered experience. As regards pattern relationships, the congurations evident in Figure 2 are noticeably different from those depicted in Figure 1. The strength of the relationship between negative affect and arousal has doubled, and the strength of the relationship between memory and self-awareness has decreased. Additionally, rationality and memory; altered experience and positive affect and self-awareness; and self-awareness and volitional control are all now strongly coupled. Furthermore, it is evident that many of the pattern relationships present in the C-Group are no longer present in the L-Group.

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gure 3. psygram associated with the u-group.

Figure 3 depicts the pattern of relationships between pairs of PCI major dimensions reported by the U-Group. With the exception of self-awareness, volitional control, vivid imagery, and internal dialogue (which have increased), and memory and inward absorbed attention (which have decreased), intensity ratings across the 12 major PCI dimensions are identical to the L-Group. Despite this nding, several changes in pattern relationships are evident. Altered state is now strongly coupled with altered experience, inward absorbed attention, and arousal. Internal dialogue is now strongly coupled with rationality and self-awareness; whereas volitional control is strongly coupled with vivid imagery and negative affect; and altered experience is strongly coupled with inward absorbed attention.

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Thus, inspection of the psygrams for the C-Group, L-Group, and U-Group reveals many differences between conditions with regard to the patterns of relationships between pairs of PCI major dimensions. Research Question 2: Psygram Differences In order to address Research Question 2, the equality associated with the three independent correlation matrices pertaining to the PCI major dimensions was examined.4 A nonsignicant Box Test result was found, F (78, 2,115.18) 5 1.42, p4.001; Box M 5 218.73.5 Research Question 3: Predictors of Total Mood Disturbance A standard multiple regression on the level of the BQ-Sh subscales was performed to investigate whether condition, unusual experiences, trust, perceived competence, need for order, childlikeness, and sensitivity were signicant predictors of total mood disturbance. R for regression was signicantly different from zero, F (8, 33) 5 4.06, MSE 5 84.26, p 5 .002. Four of the independent variables contributed signicantly to regression, U-Group (b 5 .30); need for order (b 5 .33); childlikeness (b 5 .36); and sensitivity (b 5 .40) (Table 2).6
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discussion Research Question 1 (a): PCI Major Dimension Differences between Conditions A statistically signicant difference was found between conditions with regard to the PCI major dimensions of visual imagery, attention, and rationality. First, the mean score for visual imagery was signicantly higher for the L-Group compared to the U-Group, and the C-Group compared to the U-Group. At a cursory glance this nding appears rather odd given that participants in the U-Group and L-Group were instructed to cultivate visual mental imagery whereas their C-Group counterparts were not. However, this result may be accounted for by narrative comments suggesting that U-Group participants tended to report expanses of sky and clouds rather than a myriad of discrete visual mental images. Second, the mean score for attention was signicantly higher for the C-Group compared to the U-Group. Participants in the U-Group may have experienced difculty in placing their attentional focus on the monotonous drumming coupled with Ingermans (2004) adapted upper world journeying instructions and the ensuing mental imagery sequences. This is consistent with the nding that the L-Group also reported poorer attention intensity ratings relative to the C-Group, though this difference was not signicant. The mean score for rationality was signicantly higher for the C-Group compared to both the U-Group and the L-Group. It is possible that the mental images encountered during the shamanic-like stimulus conditions were judged

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table 2: standard multiple regression of u-group, l-group, unusual experiences, need for order, trust, perceived competence, childlikeness, and sensitivity on total mood disturbance UE NFO Tr PC Ch Se B b Sr2 (unique) .07

Variables

TMD (DV)

U- Group

L-Group

U-Group 0.22 L-Group 0.13 UE 0.15 NFO 0.43 Tr 0.18 PC 0.03 Ch 0.11 Se 0.43 Intercept 5 14.62 M 11.10 SD 11.69 1.00 0.26 0.10 0.06 0.07 0.24 0.09 1.00 0.24 0.22 0.01 0.47 0.16 1.00 0.18 0.27 0.18 0.42 1.00 0.26 0.02 0.01 1.00 0.02 0.31 17.62 5.85 10.95 3.49 13.31 3.29 1.00 0.29 20.33 7.43 17.21 7.67 1.00 4.33 2.07 0.26 0.45

1.00 0.42 0.18 0.11 0.07 0.02 0.15 0.08

3.41 3.72 0.23 0.22 0.45 0.28 0.52 0.84

.30 0.24 0.13 0.33 0.19 0.20 0.36 0.40

0.08

0.13 0.16

0.33 0.48

Adjusted

R2 5 .50 R2 5 .37 R 5 .70

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UE 5 Unusual Experience; NFO 5 Need for Order; Tr 5 Trust; PC 5 Perceived Competence; Ch 5 Childlikeness; Se 5 Sensitivity; TMD 5 Total Mood Disturbance. po.05; po.01.

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to be less rational by the participants compared to extraneous thought impressions reported by participants in the C-Group: a stimulus condition designed to elicit subjective effects consistent with ordinary or normal waking consciousness. Research Question 1 (b): PCI Minor Dimension Differences between Conditions A statistically signicant difference was found between conditions with regard to the PCI minor dimensions of imagery amount and absorption. The mean score for imagery amount was signicantly higher for the L-Group compared to the U-Group, and the L-Group compared to the C-Group. As previously stated, despite the fact that both the U-Group and the L-Group were instructed to cultivate mental imagery, this nding may be accounted for by non-numerical data indicating that U-participants tended to report expanses of sky and clouds rather than a myriad of discrete visual mental images. The mean score for absorption was signicantly higher for the C-Group compared to the U-Group. This is consistent with the previously discussed nding that the mean score for attention was signicantly higher for the C-Group compared to the U-Group. Research Question 2: Psygram Differences The Box Test showed that there was not a signicant difference between the PCI correlation matrices for the three conditions. This result suggests that, compared to the C-Group, the U-Group and L-Group were not associated with a major reorganisation in pattern structure that is hypothesized by Tart (1975) to be associated with an altered state of consciousness (Woodside et al. 1997:84). This nding is consistent with previous research (e.g., Rock et al. 2006; Rock et al. 2007), which found that there were nonsignicant psygram differences for control versus shamanic-like stimulus conditions. Unlike the shaman who receives special altered states of consciousness (ASC) training (Noll 1985), non-shamans may not have the skill-set necessary to cultivate ASCs. It is noteworthy, however, that the present studys Box Test result was approaching statistical signicance (i.e., p 5 .01), and that a larger sample size and, consequently, greater statistical power may have led to the detection of a statistically signicant result. Research Question 3: Predictors of Total Mood Disturbance At the level of single BQ subscales, need for order, childlikeness, and sensitivity were statistically signicant predictors of total mood disturbance. To our knowledge, these ndings have not been investigated by previous research. Need for order was signicantly positively correlated with total mood disturbance, suggesting that participants who have thick boundaries in the sense of need for order reported more total mood disturbance compared to thin boundary counterparts. Because participants volitional control tended to

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decrease during shaman-like stimulus conditions relative to the control condition (see Table 1), participants with a high need for order may have found that shamanic-like techniques facilitated feelings of, for example, confusion or bewilderment that contributed to total mood disturbance. Childlikeness was signicantly negatively correlated with total mood disturbance, suggesting that participants who have thicker boundaries in the sense of childlikeness reported more total mood disturbance compared to thinner boundary counterparts. Childlikeness reects the tendency to hold beliefs about the importance of remaining childlike (e.g., function without strict roles; Rawlings 20012002:140). It is arguable that participants who have thin boundaries in the sense of childlikeness are more open than their thicker boundary counterparts and, thus, less likely to become distressed by potentially novel stimuli (e.g., subjective experiences associated with exposure to shamanic-like stimulus conditions). Sensitivity was signicantly positively correlated with total mood disturbance, indicating that participants who have thin boundaries with regard to sensitivity reported more total mood disturbance compared to thick boundary counterparts. Sensitivity involves, for example, the tendency to be easily hurt, or the feeling that one is falling apart (Rawlings 20012002:134). Walsh (1995) suggests that the affect associated with journeying is partly contingent on the content of the journeying imagery encountered. Imagery may have more impact on highly sensitive participants and, thus, result in higher affect intensity ratings compared to less sensitive participants. The preceding ndings suggest that the concept of ego boundaries is a complex one; apparently the positive correlation between ego boundaries in one sense (e.g., sensitivity) and total mood disturbance is not indicative of a positive correlation between ego boundaries in all other senses and total mood disturbance. It is also noteworthy that the upper world stimulus condition was positively correlated with mood disturbance in the present study, suggesting that, for example, participants in the U-Group reported more mood disturbance than their C-Group and L-Group counterparts. This result is broadly inconsistent with Harner and Tryons (1995) nding that journeying was accompanied by a statistically signicant reduction in mood disturbance compared to a baseline condition. The disparity may be explained, at least in part, by the fact that Harner and Tryon (1995) used experienced shamanic practitioners whereas the present study used non-shamans. That is to say, shamanic-like techniques may be counterproductive if applied in the absence of shamanic training (e.g., learning a cosmology, cultivating a mastery over mental images; Walsh 1995). Indeed, it is possible that some non-shamans found, for instance, the cultivation of specic mental imagery sequences rather demanding thereby eliciting fatigue or inertia whereas others may have been overwhelmed by what may be conceptualized as a novel stimulus condition, and reported confusion, or

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bewilderment. This partial explanation is supported by the nding that the lower world stimulus condition was also positively correlated with mood disturbance in the present study. However, it is arguable that mood disturbance may dissipate with intermittent exposure to shamanic technologies (e.g., monotonous drumming) over an extended period. Consequently, it might be advantageous to compareFvia retrospective quantitative assessmentFthe upper and lower world journeying experiences (including uctuating mood states) of shamans versus non-shamans. It is perhaps also salient that Harner and Tryon (1995) created a contextual variable (i.e., instructing participants to embark upon a journey for the purpose of raising a specic immune response), whereas our participants were blind to the studys aims. The contextual variable may have linguistically conditioned participants to, for example, report subjective experiences implicitly held to be consistent with raising a specic immune response (e.g., increases in positive affect). It might be benecial to partially replicate the present study by comparing non-shamans who are informed with regard to the purpose of the journey with non-shamans who are blind to the purpose. Implications for the Anthropology of Consciousness The results of the present study suggest that Pekalas (1991) methodology is a valuable means of investigating the subjective effects of shamanic-like stimulus conditions. The PCI has the advantage of allowing one to quantify, diagram, and thus comparatively analyze the intensity and pattern of PCI dimensions associated with a variety of stimulus conditions. Consequently, anthropology of consciousness scholars may benet from applying this methodology to other consciousness phenomena (e.g., trance, possession, and dissociative states). The nding that various BQ-Sh subscales (e.g., need for order) were statistically signicant predictors of total mood disturbance suggests, in general terms, that ones personality traits may inuence ones receptivity to changes in mood. This salient result may encourage anthropology of consciousness researchers to consider the importance of personality when investigating the subjective experience of what are typically referred to as altered states of consciousness reported by, for example, shamans, mediums, and mystics. Possible Methodological Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research One important caveat in this study is that one cannot control for the length of time it takes participants to enter the upper and lower world. Consequently, some participants may have spent longer descending to the lower world or ascending to the upper world and, thus, less time traversing the landscapes than others. This extraneous variable may account for some of the within-group and between-group variability associated with various PCI dimension intensity ratings (e.g., imagery amount).

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Furthermore, the present studys sample size (N 5 43; n 5 1317) was too small to allow very thin versus very thick boundary comparisons within each condition with regards to subjective experience. It is arguable that by removing the second and third quartile of the total boundary scores and, thus, retaining only the very thin and very thick boundary participants, the magnitude of the treatment effect with regard to variables quantied by the PCI and the POMS-SF would have been larger. Hartmann (1991) suggests that thin and thick boundaries constitute a broad personality dimension that encapsulates measures such as absorption, openness to experience, and schizotypy. It may be edifying to partially replicate the present study to investigate whether the inclusion of personality measures conceptually related to the boundary construct serves to account for a larger amount of variability in total mood disturbance. Traditionally, shamans have used a plethora of techniques to facilitate journeying experiences (e.g., plant hallucinogens, sweat lodges, pain rituals, sensory deprivation) (Jilek 1982; Achterberg 1987; Dobkin de Rios and Winkelman 1989). It may prove useful to partially replicate the present study by incorporating a variety of shamanic technologies rather than merely monotonous drumming.

&

conclusions Overall, stimulus conditions consisting of sitting quietly with eyes closed and shamanic-like techniques were associated with statistically signicant differences in subjective experience. Notably, there was a signicant difference between the U-Group and the L-Group with regard to the PCI major dimension of visual imagery and the PCI minor dimension of imagery amount. However, the shamanic-like stimulus conditions were not associated with a major reorganization of the pattern of PCI major dimensions compared to the control condition, suggesting that what is typically referred to as an altered state of consciousness effect was not evident. These results suggest that Pekalas (1991) methodology is a valuable means of examining the subjective effects of shamanic-like stimulus conditions. Finally, condition and various BQ-Sh subscales were signicant predictors of total mood disturbance. Specically, the U-Group, childlikeness, need for order, and sensitivity made the largest unique contribution to explaining the variance in total mood disturbance. This nding suggests that shamanic-like techniques may be counterproductive if applied in the absence of shamanic training. Furthermore, this nding emphasizes the importance of evaluating participants personality traits when investigating the subjective effects of shamanic-like techniques.

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&

notes
1 Monotonous drumming at eight beats per second for 15 minutes was used in the present study because Rock et al. (2005) found that that it was associated with a statistically signicantly higher number of ostensibly shamanic journeying images reported by non-shamans compared to a control condition, whereas, for example, four beats per second for 10 or 15 minutes and eight beats per second for 10 minutes were not. 2 The type of control condition used for consciousness studies is a contentious one. The primary area of dissension between authors is the issue of sitting or lying, eyes open or closed. As regards to sitting versus lying, Harner (1995:258) advocates the latter, utilizing a control condition referred to as the resting condition in which participants were instructed to, Just lie down and rest for about 20 minutes. Harners (1995:103) rationale for this condition was to allow participants to reach baseline levels prior to exposure to the active treatments and to have such a comparison condition in addition to their off the street baseline measures. Similarly, Harner and Tryons (1995) control, or baseline, condition involved lying on the oor for 30 minutes resting. Conversely, Pekala (1991) sets a strong precedence for a sitting control condition. Pekala (1991) outlines several studies relating to hypnosis, absorption, and out-of-body experiences, all utilizing the sitting control condition. Correspondingly, Pekala et al. (1985) use sitting quietly with eyes open as their control condition, arguing that this is a condition similar to normal waking consciousness. Pekala (1991) discussed extensively the issue of whether a control condition should involve participants having their eyes open or closed. In research developing the Dimensions of Attention Questionnaire, Pekala (1991) performed a comparative analysis of the conditions of sitting quietly with eyes open and sitting quietly with eyes closed. Pekala (1991) argues that sitting with eyes open simulated normal waking consciousness, while sitting with eyes closed was akin to daydreaming. Results of this study showed few phenomenological, attentional, or intensity differences between these conditions on the PCI, a result Pekala (1991) interpreted as suggesting that the PCI was unable to make such subtle discriminations. Though no between-group differences were found, Pekala (1991) did nd, however, signicant differences across the same participants between having eyes open and closed. Subsequent analysis performed by Pekala (1991) identied the conditions of eyes open and eyes closed as identity differing (I-D) states in reference to each other. Pekala (1991:231) denes identity states (I-states) as those where stimulus conditions have the same (nonsignicantly different) intensities and patterns of phenomenological experience. I-D states are those with the same pattern structure but varying intensity values for some sub-dimensions. At the conclusion of this discussion, Pekala (1991) suggests that the issue is in need of further analysis and subsequently has used both eyes open and eyes closed on several occasions. 3 Psygrams are graphical representations of the squared coefcients of the correlation matrices, also depicting the dimension intensity scores.

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4 The Jenrich (1970) test is the appropriate statistical procedure to assess pattern differences associated with the 12 major dimensions of the PCI (Pekala 1991). However, Pekala (1991:235) asserts that the Jenrich test is a large-sample multivariate procedure requiring a minimum of 60 participants per condition (provided that all 12 major dimensions of the PCI are being examined). Given that the present study consisted of between 12 and 20 participants per group, the Jenrich test was not appropriate. Consequently, a Box Test comparison was performed (Pekala 1991). 5 The Box Test is typically held to be overly sensitive with regard to the detection of differences between independent correlation matrices. Consequently, convention dictates that the a level associated with the Box Test should be set at po.001 (Tabachnick and Fidell 2007). 6 Coakes (2005) states that categorical variables may be entered as predictors in a standard multiple regression equation provided that they are recoded as dummy variables.

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