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Biographical similarities between spiritual healers and their clients in Germany – a qualitative study


Stöckigt, Barbara MH; Besch, Florian; Jeserich, Florian; Holmberg, Christine; Witt, Claudia M; Teut, Michael (2015). Biographical similarities between spiritual healers and their clients in Germany – a qualitative study. Anthropology and Medicine, 22(2):177-190.

Abstract

Spiritual healers in contemporary Germany comprise a heterogeneous and growing group, yet little data exists about them. Therefore, one aim of this study was to learn about which biographical aspects and events were important to the process of becoming a healer and which biographical aspects drove clients to consult a healer. The study was based on semi-structured interviews combined with participant observations. All data were recorded digitally, transcribed, entered into the software program MAXQDA and analysed subjected to Content Analysis. In total, 15 healers (nine male, six female) and 16 clients (13 female, three male) were included. According to the healers, a talent for healing can be inborn, inherited or developed through life experiences. Most of the healers experienced a crisis, which prompted their transformation to healers (the wounded healer type). A smaller group became healers mainly out of interest without going through crisis and by focusing on the spiritual attitude itself (the healer by interest type). The basis of healing is seen as a connection to a transcendent reality, which enables an open, loving and empathetic attitude. The experience of crises and illnesses and the importance of spirituality are major biographical similarities between healers and clients. Near-death experiences as an extreme form of crisis were reported from a few healers and clients. The connections between healing talents and crises, including a deepened exploration of near-death experiences and questions regarding inclining towards spirituality could be of interest in further studies.

Abstract

Spiritual healers in contemporary Germany comprise a heterogeneous and growing group, yet little data exists about them. Therefore, one aim of this study was to learn about which biographical aspects and events were important to the process of becoming a healer and which biographical aspects drove clients to consult a healer. The study was based on semi-structured interviews combined with participant observations. All data were recorded digitally, transcribed, entered into the software program MAXQDA and analysed subjected to Content Analysis. In total, 15 healers (nine male, six female) and 16 clients (13 female, three male) were included. According to the healers, a talent for healing can be inborn, inherited or developed through life experiences. Most of the healers experienced a crisis, which prompted their transformation to healers (the wounded healer type). A smaller group became healers mainly out of interest without going through crisis and by focusing on the spiritual attitude itself (the healer by interest type). The basis of healing is seen as a connection to a transcendent reality, which enables an open, loving and empathetic attitude. The experience of crises and illnesses and the importance of spirituality are major biographical similarities between healers and clients. Near-death experiences as an extreme form of crisis were reported from a few healers and clients. The connections between healing talents and crises, including a deepened exploration of near-death experiences and questions regarding inclining towards spirituality could be of interest in further studies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of Complementary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:biography; crisis; healer; healing; near-death experience; spirituality; transformation; wounded healer
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:21 Dec 2015 11:54
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:42
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1364-8470
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/13648470.2015.1050578
PubMed ID:26073376

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