Possibilities, Shamanic Healers and Reflections

Last Wednesday at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara, I attended a reading by a writing friend, Hope Edelman. We had first met at the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Program back in the 1990s—where I was the student and she the instructor. I vividly recall sitting on the bench by the river, chatting as she pushed her baby carriage back and forth, cajoling her crying daughter. As the author of Motherless Daughters , I remember observing that her maternal instinct was strong. Today, that baby is twelve years old and the subject of her latest book, The Possibility of Everything. There are only a handful of nonfiction writers who I truly admire and whose work resonates deep inside my psyche and Hope is one of those.

The subject of Hope’s new book will intrigue even those who do not have a spiritual streak. Hope describes the book’s impetus as the introduction of ‘Dodo,’ into her three-year old daughter Maya’s life. As we learned during her powerful reading, Dodo was Maya’s imaginary friend who insidiously infiltrated every aspect of this young family’s life. This imaginary friend would instruct Maya to take random and bizarre actions, such as walking into a room where her mother was, hitting her and then leaving.

To help fix the problem, most parents would decide on the traditional medical route and pull the child down a path of intense psychoanalysis and perhaps years of treatment with a long train of still-unanswered questions as to whether the child is schizophrenic. But not Hope and her husband Uzi. with the encouragement of their Nicaraguan nanny, the couple decided to pursue nontraditional modalities.They packed their bags and took their daughter to Belize hoping that the healers there would help Maya banish Dodo from her life. The book is about that journey which ultimately lead to Maya’s cure.

A link has been made between children who have imaginary friends and creativity. As a matter of fact, Hope admitted that she had imaginary friends as a little girl, but supposedly they did not adversely affect her childhood nor her childhood relationships. In other words, unlike her daughter Maya, she did not become obsessed by her imaginary friend. As an only child, I also had imaginary friends, who helped to fill the gap of having siblings as playmates. After hearing Hope’s story, I have grown even more curious about the connection between these friends and creativity. I wondered if any of my readers have any comments.

I have only begun The Possibility of Everything, but cannot put it down. In addition to wanting to hear Hope’s story and her family’s extremely unorthodox choice to journey in Belize and visit shamanic healers, I am also intrigued by the idea of shamanic healers, in general, and other complimentary modalities.  I would love to hear about your experiences in this area.

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6 Responses to “Possibilities, Shamanic Healers and Reflections”


  1. 1 Viv November 16, 2009 at 7:20 am

    No experiences of this sort, but I read Motherless Daughters years ago. While I don’t remember much of the content, I do remember the book’s impact. I shall look out for her latest. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Diana.

  2. 2 Shirley Budhos November 16, 2009 at 7:25 am

    I’ve only read abut shamans, and have no direct contact with them, but many years ago, when a close friend’s daughter attempted suicide at 15, and the mother was given advice to see a nutrition expert (!), I consulted another close friend, a psychiatrist who told me something I’ve never forgotten, and I never heard from other therapists or “helpers” mention.I’ve never dismissed her observation.

    The psychiatrist admitted that she used “talking” as a method of treatment, and others used medication, and after years of treating others (her mother had founded a training school for psychoanalysts) she concluded that one method is not more effective than another.

    The deciding factor in healing is the wish to be healed; when that is strong, it will work.

  3. 3 Nancy G November 16, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I grew up on a farm in Ohio. I was the “afterthought” child of four so my older brothers were gone from the house by the time I was five. Since anything store bought was either a luxury or just not available everything had to be self realized, even my friends for the most part. I credit my imaginary early life with my creativity now. I have been a fine artist for 35 years and actualizing my imaginings is the essence of my creativity. Luckily for me my early “friends” only wanted to have adventures and not be destructive. Thanks for the tip on the book. It sounds like it could be a fascinating read.

  4. 4 John Amen November 16, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Hi Diana,

    Interesting blog post. I was wondering: have you ever seen a movie called Lars and the Real Girl? What the movie suggests is that people invent characters for a particular reason. The imaginary person can serve as a foil or a surrogate so that the person can psychically initiate themselves in some way that is not immediately possible. They create a character and script, and therefore a certain “safe zone” where they can work out whatever needs to be worked out. In this movie, the main character’s community is idealized. They are extremely accepting, perhaps in a way that we would consider “unrealistic.” Unfortunately,this is probably true. But if we accepted that people create characters or even multiple personalities for a psychically constructive reason, ultimately to initiate themselves, resolve issues, integrate and become more functional in the world, then we would approach the situation much differently. I would strongly recommend the above-mentioned movie, and I will look into the book you mentioned.

    Thanks,
    John

  5. 5 Faith Stern November 17, 2009 at 5:11 am

    My brother George had an imaginary friend, Jimmy, for a while. The rest of us just acknowledged Jimmy as a friend of the family who was around quite often. As far as I remember Jimmy never advised George to do destructive things–though George (at age 7) did set fire to some excelsior –he said he just wanted to know if it would burn or not. He didn’t mention Jimmy being around right then. Fortunately a neighbor jumped a high fence and put the fire out. We were all inside and didn’t realize what was going on.

  6. 6 Gutsy Writer November 17, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Diana,

    Not only did I contact Hope after hearing about her book, but I met her last Monday in Newport Beach and we talked about Belize. As you may know, I volunteered in a Mayan Village there a few weeks ago and shared this with Hope. She is truly a wonderful person and I didn’t realize you knew her too. My next blog post will be about her, meeting her, and how I hope to stay in touch. I plan on continuing to volunteer and give back to the children of Belize after our amazing year living there with our three sons. Belize taught my sons gratitude, something truly needed after living in an entitled Orange County environment.

    I wanted to also thank for your book “Regina’s Closet,” which I thoroughly enjoyed. A friend also found your book terrific as she’s writing about her legacy.


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"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

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About Me


I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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