Sunday, December 13, 2009

Autism and Shamanism at the Rubin Museum of Art

On November 8, 2009, the NAA-New York Metro Chapter proudly collaborated with the Rubin Museum of Art, a dialogue between Sas Carey and Eric Hollander, MD, on the topic of Autism and Shamanism. This event was part of the Museum’s series entitled “The Red Book Dialogues,” in which the paired guests interpret and discuss images from Carl Jung’s “The Red Book, as a jumping off point for their conversation. Ms. Carey and Dr. Hollander came to the conversation with very different perspectives, but along the way they also found some common ground. Ms. Carey is a holistic nurse, a healer, and a spiritual guide with a background in the traditional medicines of Tibet and Mongolia, in particular. She is a frequent traveler to Mongolia, where she has worked closely with the nomadic communities for many years, and is the director of Nomadicare, a support organization for nomads. Dr. Hollander is an internationally-recognized psychiatrist, currently on the faculty of the Montefiore Medical Center University Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Prior to joining Montefiore, he was the Esther and Joseph Klingenstein Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Along with “The Red Book,” the film (and book) “The Horse Boy” served as a guiding theme for this discussion. Ms. Carey knows Rupert Isaacson (the author of “The Horse Boy”) as well as some of the shamans who treated Rowan, the child central to the film and book. She discussed that a number of shamans have described to her childhoods that sound remarkably similar to those of autistic children. I thought this raised some provocative thoughts about healing and autism, and gifts within each of us that may lie untapped. Dr. Hollander and Ms. Carey also discussed some of the other aspects of the journey to visit the shamans in Mongolia that could have helped Rowan – for example, the act of riding the horse. Dr. Hollander, in his role as interviewer, demonstrated an openness to discussing non-traditional treatment options with Ms. Carey. Because of his openness, the discussion was a lively one.

The auditorium for this dialogue was full. The audience was comprised of people from the autism community as well as people who were not familiar with autism but were interested in shamanism and other similar practices. Dr. Hollander and Ms. Carey fielded many thoughtful and interesting – and often challenging – questions.

NAA-NY Metro is thankful to the Rubin Museum for allowing us to collaborate on this event and we look forward to working with the Museum on future projects.

(Photo: Sas Carey, Kim Mack Rosenberg (NAA-NY Metro), Dr. Eric Hollander, Sabeeha Rehman (NAA-NY Metro))

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