Spiritual Transformation, Relation and Radical Empathy: Core Components of the Ritual Healing Process

Transcult Psychiatry. 2006 Dec;43(4):652-70. doi: 10.1177/1363461506070789.


Based on studies of spirit healing, this article proposes a model of the process of ritual healing that is focused on the core components of spiritual transformation, relatedness and empathy. It describes the central role of spiritual transformation in healers from which emerges their capacity for relation and empathy. Many spirit healers, following a spiritual transformation, begin to exercise 'radical empathy,' in which individual differences between healer and sufferer are melded into one field of feeling and experience. The model is compared and contrasted with aspects of healing processes in some psychotherapeutic and analytic therapies. These comparisons are offered in the light of the growing interest in incorporating spirituality into psychological and medical treatments.A concluding section briefly explores some implications of aspects of the model of healing process that support the claim that it is widely applicable and identifies foundational components.

MeSH terms

  • Ceremonial Behavior*
  • Culture*
  • Empathy*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Mental Healing*
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Spirituality*