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Record Type: Review   ID: 169

Psychological Anthropology

Bock, Philip K. (Ed.).

 As Bock points out in this handbook, the subject of anthropology is humanity, and this volume attempts to show how psychology can assist anthropology in answering these primary questions: "What characteristic of our species are found in all times and places? What features are limited to specific groups of humans? How can we best take account of individual differences?" (p. ix). The same questions could be asked of exceptional human experience—are there any universal EHEs? Are some EHEs limited to specific human groups? Are there individual differences in the types of EHEs? The methods and theories used to answer the basic questions listed by Bock may also help us to shed light on exceptional human experience. Throughout the book, the authors attempt to "show the interplay between universals of human existence and particular human lives as realized under local sociocultural and conditions" (p. xviii). There are 7 chapters in Part 1, each by a different specialist, dealing with various concepts and models: classical culture and personality, cross-cultural comparisons, social structure, cognitive anthropology, a psycho-cultural approach to mental disorders and emotions, evolutionary psychological anthropology, and the cultural grounding of self. The latter is especially important as regards EHEs, because the cultural grounding of the self sets the stage for EHEs and especially how they are received. At the other pole, the consensus worldview of a given culture also is involved in the very definition of an EHE. Part 2 consists of 12 chapters presenting evidence and methods. Topics covered are primate ethology, developmental issues, discourse, myth, cross-cultural perspectives on the development of children, the arts, field observations of behavior, dreams, trance and meditation, hallucinogens, self and person, and initiations. Reading about how these authors dealt with "the relationship of the individual to sociocultural phenomena" (p. 379) can suggest many approaches to exceptional human experience. The chapters on dreams, trance and meditation, and hallucinogens themselves touch on what we call exceptional human experience, and indirectly in the chapter on the arts, myth, the self, discourse-centered approaches, and initiations.
Publisher Information:Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994. 404p. Bibl: 383-390; Chap. bibl; 3 figs; 3 illus; Index: 391-399; 8 tables
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