#14 Mental health as relational, reciprocal, and contextual – Adam Aronovich

Hør afsnittet

Within mainstream Western psychiatry, mental health, wellbeing and affliction are often seen as mainly pertaining to imbalances within the individual, why care efforts often address the psychological and physiological dimensions of each person separately. In this podcast, we will explore the limitations of only taking such an overly individual approach to mental health, and seek complementary inspiration in alternative etiological, ontological and epistemological paradigms. To help us find ground in this vast terrain is the guest of this episode, Adam Aronovich. Adam has worked with alternatives to Western psychiatry and treatment in several ways. He is a PhD candidate at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili specialized in medical anthropology and cultural psychiatry. He is a member of the Ayahuasca Community Committee at the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, and a member of the Medical Anthropological Research Center (MARC-URV) in Catalunya. The past four years he has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in the Peruvian Amazon on the therapeutic mechanisms of ayahuasca, while also working as Research Coordinator and Workshop Facilitator for the pioneering ayahuasca retreat centre in the Peruvian Amazon, named the Temple of the Way of Light. For those not familiar with psychedelics, ayahuasca is a psychoactive Amazonian plant brew which has long been used by indigenous people for healing purposes and which, alongside with other psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD are now being heavily researched all over the globe because of their profound therapeutic potentials against a variety of ailments and general mental distress.

We begin our conversation talking about the main contributions from cultural psychiatry and medical anthropology to views on and approaches to mental health. Adam tells about the necessity of looking at mental affliction as politically, socially, and historically embedded, and the need for critical engagement with the dominant way of pathologizing parts of the human experience within the Western medical establishment. We then move on to discussing some of the exciting findings from Adam’s current PhD project, which presents mental wellbeing as first and foremost a question of connection and community. Adam introduces some elements of the healing tradition among the indigenous Shipibo people in Peru, and we talk about how we can learn from their different ways of approaching mental health and wellbeing, and what to be aware of in such a pursuit. Finally, we discuss how psychedelics can have both therapeutic and extra-therapeutic applications, and the need for a broad and contextually based engagement with the potentials of these substances for increasing wellbeing.

We need to emphasise that this podcast in no way serves as an encouragement to engage in illegal activities, but serves an educational and informational purpose only. For more information on the current status of psychedelic research, stay tuned for future episodes from Regnfang or go to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (https://maps.org), the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London (https://www.imperial.ac.uk/psychedelic-research-centre), the Centre for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at John Hopkins University (https://hopkinspsychedelic.org) or Center for Psykedelisk Dannelse og Dialog (http://psykedeliskdannelse.dk).

We hope you enjoy the interview!

Host: Sidsel Marie

Production: Heine Volder

Music: Victor Lange & Heine Volder

Photo: Victor Cornelius