Research - Ongoing Projects

In the following list you can find the projects that are currently being developed within the framework of the research protocol of the Takiwasi Center.

Exploring perceptions about ‘the purge’ within Ayahuasca rituals in the context of drug addiction: a qualitative study with healers and therapists in a drug rehabilitation center in Peru

Researcher / Responsible : Svet Lustig Vijay

Partner Institutions: Master's student in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), UK.

Through face-to-face interviews with therapists, healers and plant preparers at the Takiwasi Center, and a secondary analysis of data from the lived experiences of patients with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), the proposed study aims to investigate the perceptions and narratives of therapists, healers, and patients about "the purge" within the Ayahuasca ceremony in the context of drug addiction. To the best of the author's knowledge, no such study has yet been conducted to date. Given that the proposed study aims to explore perceptions and narratives around purging during Ayahuasca rituals in healers, therapists, and patients with SUD, it seems reasonable to refrain from formulating specific hypotheses, as is often the case in conventional research of mostly quantitative hypothesis testing. However, preliminary analysis of the material published by the Takiwasi Center and the researcher's previous experience at Takiwasi suggests that therapists, healers, and plant preparers may perceive "the purge" in terms of its effects on (A) the "physical body ", detoxifying the body of addictive substances (B) the "psycho-emotional body", through emotional relaxation after intense vomiting, which is reported to release psychological charges, negative emotions or attitudes (C) the" spirit " or the "energetic body", "cleansing" the body of evil spirits that are sometimes reported to possess the patient.

Neurology of perfume rituals: Experimental study of the effect of perfumes and smells on neural activity during the rituals performed in Takiwasi

Researcher / Responsible : Antoine Renard

Partner Institutions: PhD program, art and science SACRe, University PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres).

This study on the effect of perfumes and smells on brain activity is a development of a larger research on “perfumeros healers”, initiated in 2019. The research aim is to better understand the impact of perfumes and smells on patients during the healing process of Takiwasi center. For this phase of the experimental research, the researcher will undergo a series of perfume related rituals within the pedagogical context of Takiwasi, wearing a special equipment called “EEG” helmet, which is a tool that captures brain activity and codes it into raw data. This data will later be analysed and interpreted into visualisations. It is important to keep in mind that this research is situated in between the academic world and the artistic world. The goal of the PhD program SACRe is to allow artist researchers to work on the creation of knowledge via creative processes, within a frame recognized by academic institutions. Since the beginning of the research on perfumeros, one problematic aspect is to define how the perfumes and smells generate the healing effect, until now the focus has been placed on the sensitive, intellectual and emotional perception of the perfume, the present research sets the aim to access neural data generated by the brain itself, as proof of efficiency of the healing process.

Crisis and dissolution of the Ego, spiritual combat and mystical experience in the therapeutic process of drug addict patients at the Takiwasi Center: a retrospective analysis

Researcher / Responsible : Alberto Dubbini

Partner Institutions: Independent researcher, Italy.

The general theme of the research project is the effect of personal experiences of crisis and dissolution of the Ego, spiritual combat and mystical experience in the therapeutic process of drug addict patients at the Takiwasi Center. We want to investigate, through the analysis of the clinical database of the Takiwasi Center, which contains the texts of the interviews carried out by the therapists with the patients, the testimonies of the effects of experiences of crisis/dissolution of the Ego in the therapeutic process of drug addicts and significant categories of differentiations between these experiences, with a specific focus on those that have had a spiritual/mystical/religious/sacred nature. The methodology is based on the detailed analysis, elaboration and interpretation of the contents of the clinical database of the Takiwasi Center that collects the texts of the interviews carried out by the therapists with drug addict patients during the therapeutic journey. The method of elaboration of the contents will depend on the specific characteristics of the significant elements identified in the analysis phase. Expected results: Identification of significant processes of crisis/dissolution of the Ego for the success of the therapy; identification of testimonies of most significant experiences in relation to the subject; identification of the most significant categories of differentiation among the testimonies collected; identification of categories of significant differentiation between the testimonies that are related to the different ritual contexts to which the interviews refer; identification of evidence of relationships between the testimonies and the success of the therapeutic process.

Dieta as a therapeutic pathway: a study on the ethnic roots and biotrade practices of plants used for dieta at the Takiwasi Center

Researcher / Responsible : Tommaso Dondoli

Partner Institutions: Master's student in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, University of Bologna, Italy.

The main objective of the present investigation will be to bring to light the ethnic roots of the plants used in the dieta process by the therapists of the Takiwasi Center and to reconstruct the process of buying and selling or self-production of the same, investigating the related biotrade practices. In general, a qualitative approach will be chosen, using the tools of ethnography: participant observation, semi-structured interviews and writing a field diary. Once the data will been collected, it will be analyzed using the conceptual tools provided mainly by disciplines such as medical anthropology, ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology; however, given the interdisciplinary nature of the research, political, social and economic issues will also be addressed. What is expected from the results of the research is the possibility of reconstructing a chronology relative to the implantation of the various medicinal plants used in the therapeutic process of the dieta with information on who taught their use, traditional knowledge, inherent practices and other data of an anthropological/ethnobotanical nature that will emerge from the fieldwork. Another expected result is to demonstrate the biotrado mechanisms of plants used for therapeutic purposes, the focus on the production chain and their self-production as strategies adopted by Takiwasi to enhance the agency and self-determination capacities of indigenous (and not) social actors of the area and to demonstrate how these practices are aimed at promoting health.

The ritual in the alternative treatment of drug addiction: Role, structure and cultural elements of the ritual processes that serve as a framework for the treatment of drug addiction at the Takiwasi Center

Researcher / Responsible : César Vásquez

Partner Institutions: Anthropology student, Pontifical Catholic University, Lima, Peru.

The main objective will be to understand the different ritual elements of the Amazonian shamanic culture that participate in the treatment of drug addiction at the Takiwasi Center, based on reports by the various members of the staff who work at the Center, such as; therapists, healers, plant preparers, religious personnel, nutritionists, medical personnel, psychologists, ethnobotanists; due to the fact that ritual acts, and affects, in a different way each one of these tasks and it is expected to analyze said relationships. It will be evaluated how the ritual affects the physical detoxification, followed by the psychic detoxification and finally, its relationship with the "plants" will be analyzed and how the latter have been modifying, evolving, according to the needs. For the present investigation, the following tools and techniques will be used: sociodemographic files, semi-structured interviews, participant observation and informal conversations. It is expected to understand what ritual elements of shamanic culture constitute this complicated cultural system and the structures of this process. In this panorama, an attempt will be made to understand how the implementation of these rituals works, how it is that they serve for the restructuring of the person at different levels by combining traditional knowledge with different other notions from the field of Western medicine. It is expected to achieve an analysis of the importance of these procedures from a social perspective and how this process makes a difference, in a positive way, compared to other similar treatments, centers and/or communities where both knowledge does not converge. In the same way, it is expected to find out how the various rituals have been changing and evolving over the years due to the needs of the patients, the Center or various other factors that could emerge after analyzing the information.

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