The Dancing Healers
by: Carl A. Hammerschlag, M.D.
Published by: Harper & Row
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Reviewed by Andrea Sisco
Everyone has a journey. Living the journey is important but one learns in reading The Dancing Healers by psychiatrist Carl Hammerschlag that the sharing of the journey can be equally as important. He shares personal stories and stories of those Native Americans who taught him his knowledge of life and healing. This is an opportunity to see the physical and spiritual life from another's perspective, and it contributes to a greater understanding of different life views.
Following medical school, Hammerschlag chose to serve New Mexico's Native American population rather than serving in Viet Nam, and later he continued this service in Arizona. It was through this 20-year immersion in the Native American culture that Hammerschlag, a Jew, learned the difference between healing and curing—and reconciled his own issues as a member of an oppressed people.
If Hammerschlag came to "Indian country" a naïve young physician, he soon learned to listen to those who knew more than he did. He also learned to serve his patients in the places they frequented—bars, street corners and barbershops because people talked more easily in those places. He sharpened his listening skills, understood the value of "the doing, not talking," began to understand prejudice (including his own), and experienced the give and take of forgiveness and compassion. And he learned that if he was to survive in Indian country, he'd have to learn how to deal with his own anger and that of his patients.
Hammerschlag's experience is a loving, thoughtful and respectful view of the Native American culture. We might all do better to listen more; "do rather than talk"; respect others and learn from them; and be quick to give love and forgiveness in equal parts.
Armchair Interviews says: The Dancing Healers is a thought-provoking view of one man's life. Read it with an open mind and learn and apply the concepts to your own life.
From our armchair to yours...