From Divine Mania to Shamanic Journeys: Revisiting the Spiritual Roots of Neurodiversity

Jay Getten | Oct 20, 2023 | 2 min read


In today's world, where mental health is often viewed through the lens of clinical psychology and neuroscience, it's easy to forget that our understanding of conditions like mania and schizophrenia has deep roots in spirituality and mysticism. Could our modern perspective benefit from revisiting these ancient views?

The Divine Mania of Socrates and Plato

In ancient Greece, mania was not merely a state of disordered thinking; it was a divine state. Plato described multiple types of mania, some rooted in bodily tensions, but others were divinely inspired.

Shamanism and Psychotic Disorders: A Global Perspective

The similarities between psychotic disorders and shamanic traditions are striking. Shamans often have personal histories that include episodes of severe mental disturbance. Yet, in societies where shamans are revered, conditions like schizophrenia are uncommon, and what we call 'insanity' is often viewed as a spiritual gift.

The Universal Role of Mystical Practitioners

Every society throughout history has had a role for mystical or religious practitioners. This ubiquity suggests that what we now categorize as mental disorders may have been integral to the spiritual and social fabric of ancient communities.

Reintegrating the Spiritual into Modern Civilization

As we strive for a more nuanced understanding of neurodiversity, perhaps it's time to reintegrate the spiritual dimension that has been largely sidelined by modern civilization. Could this lead to more holistic treatment approaches that honor the full range of human experience?


While we've made significant strides in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, the ancient perspectives of divine mania and shamanic journeys offer a compelling lens through which to view neurodiversity. By acknowledging the spiritual roots of these conditions, we may not only destigmatize them but also open the door to more holistic and effective treatment modalities.

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