A Qualitative Study Examining the Definition and Prevalence of Spiritual Abuse by Native American Traditional Healers
Introduction Spiritual Abuse by Native American Traditional Healers has been virtually undocumented within the professional literature.
Research Question: Is there a shared definition of spiritual abuse by Native American traditional healers, as defined by twelve Native American culturally knowledgeable elders, four Native American traditional healers? Hypothesis: A shared definition of spiritual abuse by Native American traditional healers exists. Null Hypothesis: A shared definition of spiritual abuse by Native American traditional healers does not exist.
Hypothesis: A shared definition of spiritual abuse by Native American traditional healers exists. • Null Hypothesis A shared definition of spiritual abuse by Native American traditional healers does not exist.
Purpose This study will add the following valuable information to the literature: • Define spiritual abuse from the perspective of the healer/elder • Report the prevalence of Ojibwe traditional healer spiritual abuse from a healer/elder perspective • Examine effects on tribal communities
Spiritual Abuse Definitions • Misuse of power in a spiritual context (Young-Eisendrath & Miller, 2000) • Misuse of social power and/or political power in a spiritual context (Wehr, 2000) • Use of power to coerce or threaten others for personal gain (Landes,1968) • The egotistical use and control of spiritual power, which can be used for destructive or productive ends (Grim, 1983)
The theoretical and methodological foundation of this study is Narrative Theory (Prince, Herman and Foucault as cited in Hoshmand,2005). • Subjects are allowed to speak for themselves (Gergen & Gergen,1997) • Includes a focus on the meanings, relationships and the social, historical and cultural nuances of the storyteller (Hoshmond, 2005). • Ojibwe culture contains a historical, storytelling transference of information and values (Danziger,1979).
Attributes of Healthy Native American Functioning • Spirituality (Kawagley, 2001;Garrett, 1999;Garrett, 2001;Lowery, 1998) • Medicine (Garrett, 1999) • Harmony (Garrett, 1999) • Elders (Redhorse, 1980;Garrett, 2001;Hudson, Armachain, Beasley & Carlson, 1998) • Sovereignty (Weaver, 1998) • Humor (Garrett & Garrett, 1998)
Barriers to Healthy Native American Functioning Impact and Role of Alcoholism(Lowery, 1998; Garrett, 2000; McEvoy & Dunalik, 1995; Rodenhauser, 1994) Sexual Abuse(McEvoy & Dunalik, 1995) Historical Grief and Trauma(Brave Heart & DeBruyn, 1998; Garrett & Carroll, 2000; Garrett & Herring, 2001a) Wounded Healers(Meader, as cited in Miller et al., 1998) Spiritual Loss (Grame et al., 1999; Lowery, 1998; Robin et al., 1997) Shaman/Native American Healers (Danziger, 1979; Grim, 1983; Landes, 1968;
Shamans/Traditional Healers -Spiritual leader/healer within many cultures and throughout much of history(Achterberg, 1990) -1698, Dutch diplomats wrote of Siberian shamans (Grim, 1983) -Acerbi (1802) wrote of Lapland shamans -Fritzner (1877) wrote of Norwegian shamans -Numerous authors addressed history or practices of shamans
Research Design • Qualitative Ethnological study with first person reports • Data compared between study participants and literature search data • Case study narratives, field notes and diary was utilized • Goal: record, interpret and understand each participant’s reality of research question
InterviewSubjects • Five Ojibwe reservations located in Minnesota • One Chippewa reservation located in North Dakota • One Sioux (Dakota) reservation located in South Dakota
Interview Subjects • As Designed: • Twelve Native American Cultural Elders • Four Native American Traditional Healers - Delphi Method (N=30) • In Actuality: • Nine Native American Traditional Cultural Elders • Seven Native American Traditional Healers
Population - 558 Federally recognized Native American tribes (Garrett, 1999) -Chippewa/Ojibwe tribes some of the most underreported tribes (Danziger, 1979) -Participants obtained using Delphi Method (Linstone & Turoff, 2002) -Interviews conducted May,2 through November 28, 2006. -Interviews occurred from ½ hour to six hours - 13 of 16 participants re-interviewed
Interview Results All Participants: • believed spiritual abuse occurs, to differing degrees • were very concerned and supported the research study • loss of language/culture was single most significant factor in allowing spiritual abuse to occur • Language/Culture should not be separated
Interview Results Most Participants: • Definitions as stories of healing or abuse • Observed ‘old time’ healers as enormously kind, giving persons • Healers are highly valued members of the communities • Traditional Healers have extreme emotional, physical, spiritual demands placed on them • Loss to tribal communities is large when healers abuse • “Wounded Healer” valid explanation for current healer abuses • Supported treatment for victims and offenders • Treatment for victims and offenders should contain a primarily cultural focus, along with other mainstream treatment regimes
Interview Results Study Responses Produced Twelve Themes
Theme 1 Loss of Ojibwe Language & Culture ~ 16/16 participants reported historical genocide/boarding school era directly attributable to the social ills producing spiritual abuse
Theme 2 • Extreme Kindness of “Old Time” Healers ~11/16 study participants described these persons as overwhelmingly kind and giving persons
Theme 3 • Extreme Burden on Current Healers • 10/16 participants described the extreme burden that is placed upon current healers • $ • Time • Emotional investment • Family burdens
Theme 4 • Gradated Abuse Intensity and Severity • 15/16 study participants described examples of varying degrees of abuse • Figure 1
Theme 5 • Boarding School Era • Directly resulted in historical and present unresolved issues with grief and loss, trauma, alcoholism, prevalence of sexual abuse, the Traditional Healer as an individual who is emotionally/psychologically “wounded” (Miller,1998) and has not healed from it.
Theme 6 • Trauma • Perpetrated from 2 sources: • Other children within the boarding homes • Others within their home communities “there is so much trauma in our communities. There is so much grief and loss, both historical and current. The accidental death rate due to alcoholism is appalling. The healers in our communities are so needed” Participant K
Theme 7 • Sexual Abuse • “Sexual abuse is rampant within Native communities and along with the historical trauma and chemical dependency, it leaves the communities open to abuse by outsiders and because so many new people that are coming into the Native communities do not know and were not raised in the traditional ways, they do not know what is appropriate.” Participant J
Theme 8 • Alcoholism • Often used by participants as a coping mechanism to cope with the pain of the sexual abuse/trauma • “when I went to boarding school is when my life changed…I became very angry and resentful of what was occurring and stayed angry…I was a man’s man, drinking hard, fighting hard and never backing down from a fight…” Participant B • “I was sexually abused while growing up…I was so angry about it. I drank alcohol through the years to avoid the emotional pain and now I’m dealing with it” Participant L
Theme 9 • Wounded Healer (Miller et al.,1998) concept plausible partial explanation • “…I had my dream giving me the gift of healing a long time ago, and I began to use alcohol years ago because I knew I wasn’t ready for the gift, mainly because of the sexual abuse...”Participant L
Theme 10 • Community Void when Healers Offend • 7/7 Healers and 4/9 elders described an extreme number of community members seeking out the Traditional Healers for relief from a number of physical, spiritual or emotional maladies. This demand makes each Healer highly valued within their respective communities.
Theme 11 • Healing for the Wounded Healers • 9/16 participants supported a treatment program for the healers who offend against others • Should include: • Cultural focus as core of program • Known treatment modalities • Effected victims & community members
Theme 12 • Similarities of “Old Time” Healers and Modern Healers • Explanations of healing practices from participants that were doctored by “old time” Healers, and explanations of practices from current Healers, were remarkably similar • 3/16 participants did report the “old Time” healers, along with their power, are gone.
Appendix CSpiritual Abuse Definition The misuse of a gifted healing process for personal financial profit, illicit pleasure and/or ego gratification.
Exploitation of Healing Gift Appendix G Instructing Compliance Sexual Abuse Misrepresenting Manidoug Shame/Blame Knowledge Manipulation Power/Control—Exploitation—Ego Gratification
Summary • Historical Genocide/Boarding School era most influential- loss of culture/language • Loss of culture/language directly related to present spiritual abuse • Historical/current trauma • Alcoholism • Sexual Abuse • Wounded Healers (Meader, as cited in Miller et al, 1998)
Summary • Extreme kindness of “old time” healers • Extreme emotional, physical and spiritual burdens placed on current healers • Graduated abuse intensity and severity • Damiani: mystical manipulation, demand for purity and sacred science (Appendix G)
Summary • All Healers reported treating many victims/extremely traumatized by spiritual abuse • Healers are highly valued members of community • Abusive Healer allegations/convictions increase demands on other available healers • Most participants supported comprehensive treatment for victims and offenders • Without treatment-Healers gifted but no longer have credibility in community to doctor again • With treatment-Healers could make amends to victim/community and continue their needed role within community
Recommendations -further research is needed on the impact of spiritual abuse by Native American traditional healers and it’s result on their victims and the reverberating impact on the effected Native American communities -further research is needed on potential treatment programs for victims, communities and abusive healers >examine ways that Native American culture, spirituality, abuse factors, wounded healer concept, historical trauma and alcohol abuse factors may be integrated into potential culturally based treatment programs >examination of whether non-native abuse treatment programs may offer material for culturally based treatment programs to develop a treatment regime for the Native American victims