International Journal of Transpersonal Studies


The strategic introduction of stressors to intentionally produce targeted psychological states

has a long history among indigenous peoples. Rites of passage ceremonies commonly involve

subjecting individuals to controlled violence to attain desired transformative outcomes. In

this context, violence is held to be sacred and generative, ritually introducing distress in

the service of loosening orientation and preparing the individual for spiritual advancement

and the acquisition of a new identity. Traditional ritual initiation ceremonies are typically

tripartite and characterized by stages of Separation, Ordeal, and Return. This article suggests

that accounts of the experiences of initiates in Separation and Ordeal stages bear striking

correspondences to trauma disorder phenomena, yielding insights that may contribute to

improving the effectiveness of modern trauma interventions.