Native American Healing and Purification Rituals for War Stress

  • Steven M. Silver
  • John P. Wilson
Part of the The Springer Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


This chapter addresses certain features of Native American healing practices that have relevance to the treatment of traumatic stress syndromes and other mental states of distress. The major focus will be on American Indian healing practices used for survivors. To those unfamiliar with the ways of American Indian shamans, these practices may seem strange and initially somewhat foreign or even threatening. However, for those willing to learn and be open to experience, there is psychic encounter in ritual that some would term metaphysical or perhaps supernatural. To Native Americans, they are both religious and sacred.


Sensory Deprivation Vietnam Veteran Combat Veteran Healing Ritual Traditional Healing Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Attneave, C. L. (1974). Medicine men and psychiatrists in the Indian health service. Psychiatric Annals, 4(22), 49–55.Google Scholar
  2. Barter, E. R., & Barter, J. T. (1974). Urban Indians and mental health problems. Psychiatric Annals, 4(11), 37–43.Google Scholar
  3. Bergman, R. L. (1971). Navajo peyote use: its apparent safety. American Journal of Psychiatry, 128, 695–699.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bergman, R. L. (1973). A school for medicine men. American Journal of Psychiatry, 130, 663–666.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bergman, R. L. (1974). The peyote religion and healing. In R. H. Cox (Ed.), Religion and psychotherapy (pp. 296–306). Springfield, II: Charles C Thomas.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, J. E. (1971). The sacred pipe. Baltimore: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  7. DeMallie, R. J. (Ed.). (1984). The sixth grandfather: Black Elk’s teaching given to John G. Neihardt. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dillon, R. H. (1983). North American Indian wars. New York: Facts on File.Google Scholar
  9. Dizmang, L. H., Watson, J., May, P. A. & Bopp, J. (1974). Adolescent suicide at an Indian reservation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 44, 43–49.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Erikson, E. (1968). Identity, youth and crisis. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  11. Fuchs, M., & Bashshur, R. (1975). Use of traditional Indian medicine among urban Native Americans. Medical Care, 13, 915–927.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hagan, W. T. (1979). American Indians (Rev. ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  13. Harner, M. (1980). The way of the shaman. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  14. Holm, T. (1982). Indian veterans of the Vietnam War: Restoring harmony tribal ceremony. Four Winds, Autumn, 3, 34–37.Google Scholar
  15. Holm, T. (1984). Intergenerational reapproachment among American Indians: A study of thirty-five Indian veterans of the Vietnam War. Journal of Political and Military Sociology, 12, 161–170.Google Scholar
  16. Holm, T. (1986). Culture, ceremonialism and stress: American Indian veterans and the Vietnam War. Armed Forces and Society, 12, 237–251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hultkrantz, A. (1979). The religions of the American Indians (Monica Setterwall, Trans.). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  18. Isaacs, H. L. (1978). Toward improved health care for Native Americans: Comparative perspective on American Indian medicine concepts. New York Journal of Medicine, 78, 824–829.Google Scholar
  19. Janoff-Bulman, R. (1985). The aftermath of victimization: Rebuilding shattered assumptions. In C. R. Figley (Ed.), Trauma and its wake: The study and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (pp. 15–36). New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  20. Jilek, W. G. (1971). From crazy witch doctor to auxiliary psychotherapist—the changing image of the medicine man. Psychiatric Clinic, 4, 200–220.Google Scholar
  21. Jilek, W. G. (1974). Indian healing power: Indigenous therapeutic practices in the Pacific Northwest. Psychiatric Annals, 4(11), 13–21.Google Scholar
  22. Leighton, A. H. (1968). The mental health of the American Indian—Introduction. American Journal of Psychiatry, 125, 217–218.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Locke, R. F. (1976). The book of the Navajo. Los Angeles: Mankind.Google Scholar
  24. Mails, T. E. (1978). Sundancing at Rosebud and Pine Ridge. Sioux Falls: Center for Western Studies.Google Scholar
  25. Mails, T. E. (1985). Plains Indians: Dog soldiers, bear men, and buffalo women. New York: Bonanza.Google Scholar
  26. Mansfield, S. (1982). The gestalts of war. New York: Dial Press.Google Scholar
  27. May, P. A., & Dizmang, L. H. (1974). Suicide and the American Indian. Psychiatric Annals, 4(11), 22–28.Google Scholar
  28. McNickle, D. (1968). The sociocultural setting of Indian life. American Journal of Psychiatry, 125, 219–223.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Meyer, G. G. (1974). On helping the casualties of rapid change. Psychiatric Annals, 4(11), 44–48.Google Scholar
  30. Red Fox, W. (1971). The memoirs of Red Fox. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  31. Shore, H. H. (1974). Psychiatric epidemiology among American Indians. Psychiatric Annals, 4(11), 56–66.Google Scholar
  32. Silver, S. M. (1985a). Lessons from child of water. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. CG 018 606.).Google Scholar
  33. Silver, S. M. (1985b). Post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. In P. A. Keller & L. G. Ritt (Eds.), Innovations in clinical practice sourcebook (Vol. 4, pp. 23-34). Sarasota Professional Resource Exchange.Google Scholar
  34. Silver, S. M. (1985c). Post-traumatic stress and the death imprint: The search for a new mythos. In W. E. Kelly (Ed.), Post-traumatic stress disorder and the war veteran patient (pp. 43–53). New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  35. Silver, S. M., & Kelly, W. E. (1985). Hypnotherapy of post-traumatic stress disorder in combat veterans from WW II and Vietnam. In W. E. Kelly (Ed.), Post-traumatic stress disorder and the war veteran patient (pp. 211–233). New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  36. Stands In Timber, J., & Liberty, M. (1967). Cheyenne memories. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  37. Terrell, J. U. (1972). Apache chronicle. New York: World.Google Scholar
  38. Underhill, R. M. (1965). Red man’s religion: Beliefs and practices of Indians north of Mexico. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  39. Wallace, A. F. C. (1966). Religion. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  40. Weibel-Orlando, J., Weisner, T. & Long, J. (1984). Urban and rural drinking patterns: Implications for intervention policy development. Substance and Alcohol Actions/Misuse, 5, 45–57.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Westermeyer, J. (1974). “The drunken Indian:” Myths and realities. Psychiatric Annals, 4(11), 29–36.Google Scholar
  42. Wilson, J. P. (1980). Conflict, stress and growth. In C. R. Figley & S. Leventman (Eds.), Strangers at home: Vietnam veterans since the war (pp. 123–166). New York: Praeger Press.Google Scholar
  43. Wilson, J. P., & Zigelbaum, S. D. (1986). Post-traumatic stress disorder and the disposition to criminal behavior. In C. R. Figley (Ed.), Trauma and its wake: Theory, research and intervention (pp. 305–321). New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  44. Wilson, J. P., Walker, A. J., & Webster, B. (in press). Reconnecting: Stress recovery in the wilderness. In J. P. Wilson (Ed.), Trauma, transformation, and healing. New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  45. Worcester, D. E. (1979). The Apaches. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven M. Silver
    • 1
  • John P. Wilson
    • 2
  1. 1.PTSD ProgramVeterans Administration Medical CenterCoatesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCleveland State UniversityClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations