Twenty years at Takiwasi: Reflections on the Spiritual Dimension as the Interface Between Drug Addiction and Traditional Amazonian Medicine

Jacques Mabit, MD



Abstract: Based on 20 years of experience at the Takiwasi Center, Peru, it is proposed that the pathology of drug addiction inevitably implies more than simple physical intoxication or psycho-affective problems. Within the context of healing rituals with psychoactive plants, traditional Amazonian medicine addresses the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions simultaneously. For this reason, this traditional Amazonian treatment has the potential to offer a solution to the problem of addiction. The Western approach, however, often denies the sacred or the spiritual, resulting in a tendency to confuse extreme psychedelic experiences with spiritual experiences. In this paradigm, psychoactive plants are more often used to facilitate psychotherapeutic processes rather than to open a door to a genuine relationship with the spiritual world. In our intervention, we propose criteria for discerning between the psychological and spiritual dimensions, and for transitioning from one dimension into the next.

Jacques Mabit first went to Peru in 1980 with the Medecins Sans Frontieres Organization as an MD specialist in tropical disease and natural medicines. He was honored as an honorary professor for the Southern Scientific University of Lima, as an honorary member of the Peruvian Association of Psychologists, and as a fellow for the Ashoka Foundation. Since 1986, he has been developing participative and auto-experimental research on traditional medicines and especially Amazonian medicines. These investigations led him to define an original therapeutic protocol for drug addiction treatment. In 1992, he founded the Takiwasi Center in the upper Peruvian Amazonia to initialize the first pilot experiment of this treatment. Jacques Mabit has made numerous public statements on the subject through publications, conferences, and other media.


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