Ways of Knowing™ Symposium: Exploring the Role of Intuition in Health & Healing

Interview and Ways of Knowing Award Winner:

Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Saybrooke Graduate and Research School

Sharon Franquemont,
Dr. Stanley Krippner
and Mary Jo Kreitze

Sharon Franquemont,  Dr. Stanley Krippner and Mary Jo Kreitze

Stanley Krippner, Ph.D awardStanley Krippner, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco, is a Fellow in three APA divisions, and former president of two divisions. Dr. Krippner was director of the Kent State University Child Study Center, Kent, OH, and the Maimonides Medical Center Dream Research Laboratory, Brooklyn NY. He is the author or co-author of 32 books among them Extraordinary Dreams (SUNY, 2002,)Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence (APA, 2000,) Spiritual Dimensions of Healing: From Tribal Shamanism to Contemporary Health Care (1992) and Healing States (Simon and Schuster, 1987.) Among his most recent awards are: a co-recipient, The Woodfish Prize, San Francisco, 2007, for the joint creation of a Native American/Euro-American social project Lifetime Achievement Award, International Association for the Study of Dreams, 2006 The Excellence Award, The Excellence Awards Institute, Barcelona, Spain 2005 Quincentennial Medal, Masonic Lodges of Eastern Brazil, “for promulgating the appreciation of Brazilian culture,” Recife, Brazil, 2005 The Ashley Montagu Peace Award, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2003 The American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Professional Hypnosis, Division 30 (Psychological Hypnosis), 2002

Question # 1: Having studied and explored culturally based healing and its relationship to conventional care, what things do you find common to both groups?

There are four major components to all healing. The first common factor is a shared belief system. The provider and the patient must believe in the diagnosis and treatment strategies. The second common factor is the personal qualities of the healer. These qualities range from kind to dictatorial. Healers are successful along this continuum depending on the culture and the personalities involved. The third factor is the expectations of the patient. Does the patient have faith and trust in the healer? Is the healer able to generate self-healing or activate successful placebo responses? Is the patient receptive to the type of healing being offered or does he/she doubt its efficacy? The fourth factor is the effectiveness of the treatment. For example, success may rest on personality interactions, the shared worldview of the caregiver and receiver, or the expectations of the healer. Scientifically, the treatment may appear to provide nothing of value, but healing happens anyway. Conversely, treatments such as antibiotics may be something the patient doesn’t like or particularly believe in, but they are effective regardless. Effectiveness is measured by outcome; there is no one standard.

These four components are common to healing and each or some combination of them may provide healing. However, all four factors do not need to be present for healing to occur.

Question # 2: What happened in your life to spur your interest in culturally based healing?

When I was young I was a sickly child with allergies, asthma, and constant coughs. Many times I was not expected to live. In desperation my parents took me to a chiropractor who helped me. Chiropractors were frowned upon in those days, so we kept my trips to the chiropractor a secret from my doctor. I became curious at a young age about alternative treatments.

Another important influence in my life was a meeting with Seneca elder, Twyla Nitch, head of the Wolf Clan. We served on a panel together when I was directing the Maimonides Medical Center Dream Research Laboratory. She awakened my a long standing interest in Native Americans—an interest that went back to my childhood farm days when I dug up Indian arrows heads which probably belonged to members of the Padawnee tribe in southern Wisconsin. Twyla Nitch helped me understand that shamans were the first healers, so I began exploring shamanism in many corners of the world. We continued to interact at conferences for years.

Question # 3: Having been close to culturally based healers for many years, what is your most memorable experience with healing?

My most memorable experience happened to me. I was rushed to the emergency room and was diagnosed with internal bleeding. Parts of my large intestine and stomach were removed during emergency surgery, but a puzzle arose during my recovery.

Waste matter kept draining out of a tube in my side. No one could figure out what was causing the waste matter and I was to be operated on the following week. It was assumed that I had an infection. My friends and family were really worried about me.

One psychic friend, Shirley Harrison, who lived in Maine, decided to drive down to New York City to help. She brought her Ouija Board with her and used it to gain insight into the situation. She told me:

  1. You won’t need surgery
  2. What is causing the waste matter will be out in 3 days
  3. There are 4 stitches loose in your abdomen causing an irritation, no infection
  4. Visualize the stitches coming out.

I did that. I visualized the stitches coming out through the tube and, amazingly, on the 3rd day 2 double stitches came out of the tube. The waste matter stopped and I was healed almost immediately!

Question # 4: Do you have any tips for conventional healthcare providers who would like to expand their understanding and support of culturally based healing?

With the United States becoming increasingly a multicultural country, health care providers need to learn about the healing belief systems and modalities that new cultures bring with them. People are arriving primarily from three areas:

  • Central and South America
  • Southeast Asia
  • Middle East

If conventional, other culturally based healers, and CAM providers want to have the confidence of their patience from these areas, they better know something about Islamic healing, the healing traditions of Southeast Asia, and curanderism. As I said in answer to question number one, trust and confidence in your provider is one of four components common to all healing. Providers owe it to their patients to invest in learning something about their healing belief systems and background.

Of course, all the culturally based healing practices and beliefs are not necessarily compatible or desireable. For example, destructive ideas and beliefs about AIDS in Africa have exacerbated the situation, not improved it.

I believe, however, that conventional medicine could learn a great deal from culturally based healers, especially about the interpersonal relationship. The love, care, and attention that culturally based healers provide is a good model for conventional health care education and practice.

Finally, both sides should fall back on evidence-based healing. Neither side should automatically dismiss the practices of the other, but approach them in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Stanley Krippner Chart


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  • Ways of Knowing™: Cultural-Based Healing Traditions and Practices