Transcript: Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, "Coyote Wisdom", Apr 14 2006
Dr. Mehl-Madrona is a medical doctor and psychiatrist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology who has written three books about Native American wisdom, story, practices and ritual; "Coyote Medicine", "Coyote Healing", and "Coyote Wisdom". The stories that we live contribute to our health and disease. The role of ceremony and ritual.
Thom Hartmann interview with Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona 14 April 2006 on KPOJ
Dr. Mehl-Madrona is a medical doctor and psychiatrist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology who has written three books about Native American wisdom, story, practices and ritual; "Coyote Medicine", "Coyote Healing", and "Coyote Wisdom".
[Thom Hartmann] What is the essence of this book, "Coyote Wisdom"?
[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] The key point is that the stories that we live contribute to our health and disease, which is common knowledge to indigenous people and traditional elders. And that if we look at the story that we're living, and we ask ourselves is this is really what we want to be living, sometimes changing that, we can get healthier.
[Thom Hartmann] So, by the story we're living, what you mean is the story we tell ourselves about who we are, what our relation ship is to the world, what our relation ship is to work; those kinds of things?
[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Exactly. All day long, we tell ourselves stories to make sense of the world. And, you know, some of these stories have to do with our relationships with other people, what we eat, you know, what care we drive, you know, thinks like that. So in indigenous knowledge systems we know that all of our relationships affect our health. So our relationship to food, to animals, to plants, to the spirits, to the land, to each other, to our ancestors, these are all crucial for maintaining our health and when any one of them breaks down, disease can happen.
[Thom Hartmann] Now you talk about, in the book, a patient with anorexia who was healed through changing her stories.
[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right.
[Thom Hartmann] How does this work?
[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Well, what gave her meaning was to be perfect, and being anorexic was the way to be perfect, you know. Everyone could tell that she was perfectly thin. And for her she, you know, she kept looking for a better way to be perfect, and so what happened was we were able to say, "Well, you know, maybe there's a different way that you could be perfect. You know, maybe we could challenge the story that that's the only way to look so that everybody would know that you were perfect". And eventually she decided that she could throw herself into something else than being anorexic and that she could find more meaning and purpose than that. And ceremony and ritual was a part of that discovery. This is sort of the essence of indigenous or native healing, is that, you know, ceremony helps us to reflect upon our story. And, you know, when you're contemplating in the sweat lodge, let's say, or in another type of ceremony, when you're sitting there in that altered state of mind you can actually look and say, "what is the story I'm living? What's the plot? What do I value? What gives me meaning" And for her, she thought she changed to, she thought, "well, maybe horses would be more fun". Because she had that in her background as a potential success and she changed.
[Thom Hartmann] So, becoming very competent at riding a horse became, that became the story that she told herself, "I'm a competent horse person", rather than, "I'm a competent skinny person".
[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right. Right. And of course, she'll probably always be a skinny person, but not necessarily be a dangerously skinny person.
[Thom Hartmann] Right, yeah, big difference.
[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right, because you need some meat to hang on to a horse.
[Thom Hartmann] Oh, that's interesting. So you helped her acquire a story that also was an anti-anorexic story.
[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Exactly. Because if you are as thin as a rail, the horse is just going to toss you off. You don't have the strength to grip the saddle.
[Thom Hartmann] Fascinating. Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., PhD. He'll be speaking tonight. He's the author of "Coyote Wisdom: Native American wisdom and healing practices". He's going to be speaking tonight at 7 p.m. at the New Renaissance Bookshop, 23rd and Pettygrove in North West Portland. Show up, it will be a fascinating time. Lewis, we'll see you in a little while.
[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] All right, thanks.
[Thom Hartmann] Great talking with you.
Thom also spoke at greater length to Dr. Mehl-Madrona in the last 10 minutes of his national show today, which you can listen to from the archive.