Presenter: Stanley Krippner, PhD
This presentation will propose that susceptibility is a human trait that was adaptive in the process of evolution. Hence, when tribal shamans conducted healing rituals, those that relied upon human suggestion for their effectiveness tended to become a part of the shaman's repertoire. Further, humans who did not respond because of their lack of suggestibility often did not survive and their genes dropped out of the gene pool.
Many of the herbal remedies prescribed by shamans and other indigenous healers have been found to be of medicinal value; they worked whether or not patients were suggestible or not, although suggestibility probably enhanced their effectiveness. Hypnosis, an 18th century social construct, depends in large part upon the recipient's suggestibility. In addition, shamanic rituals typically consisted of induction, deepening, suggestion, and enactment, the same stages that characterize most forms of contemporary hypnosis.
The Navajo sand painting ritual, the arrangement of "power objects" on a "mesa" by Andean curanderas, the drumming and chanting healing rituals of Siberian shamans, and the "throwing of the bones" by various Asian, African, and Nordic practitioners are examples of procedures that may not be "hypnotic" but are certainly "hypnotic-like." The use of social support and synergy in these procedures is consistent in Darwin's emphasis on cooperation as a facilitator of the evolutionary process.