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Faber, M.D. (1977). Don Juan and Castaneda: The Psychology of Altered Awareness. Psychoanal. Rev., 64(3):323-379.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Review, 64(3):323-379

Don Juan and Castaneda: The Psychology of Altered Awareness

M. D. Faber, Ph.D.


In a previous discussion I strove to shed light on the analytical significance of Carlos Castaneda's apprenticeship to the Indian sorcerer, Don Juan.8 Concentrating on the volumes The Teachings of Don Juan and A Separate Reality, I endeavored to say why Castaneda, in his own expression, “failed” to achieve his goal, a goal bound up with an altered state of mind designated by Don Juan as “seeing” or “sight.” My aim in this paper is to concentrate intensively upon the “system” of Don Juan, the psychological and philosophical assumptions that stand directly behind the old man's methods and beliefs. This will allow us to explore the master's character to some degree, and in particular those aspects of it that may have impeded Castaneda in his quest.

When I set out to write that earlier paper, I believed that Castaneda's interactions with his “guides,” explored from an analytical perspective, would help us to understand areas of human behavior that need as much clarification as they can get. I had in mind specifically the regressive nature of the transference relationship, the underlying fear of and paradoxical desire for engulfment in personalities with schizoid features, the maternal significance of the father figure, the role of maternal ambivalence in engendering vulnerability to the transference relationship, and the overwhelming importance of the reactivation of early pain and terror associated with maternal care in negative hallucinogenic episodes, or what are commonly called “bad trips.”

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