What It Is, How It Works, and Why

Robbie Davis-Floyd, Charles D. Laughlin


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Designed for both academic and lay audiences, this book identifies the characteristics of ritual and, via multiple examples, details how ritual works on the human body and brain to produce its often profound effects. These include enhancing courage, effecting healing, and generating group cohesion by enacting cultural—or individual—beliefs and values. It also shows what happens when ritual fails.


Robbie Davis-Floyd:

Robbie Davis-Floyd is Adjunct Professor in the Dept. of Anthropology at Rice University, and Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology. She is the author of many books including Ways of Knowing about Birth: Mothers, Midwives, Medicine, and Birth Activism (2018, Waveland).


Charles D. Laughlin is Emeritus Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. His many books include Communing with the Gods: Consciousness, Culture and the Dreaming Brain (Daily Grail, 2011), which explores the anthropology of dreaming and recounts his experiences as a practitioner of Tibetan dream yoga.