For the Yolngu of Central Australia, illness was often thought to be caused by a harmful object lodged within the body. Treatment involved a medicine man rubbing the pained part of the body and ‘extracting’ from it, through ‘sucking’ or sleight of hand, the object ostensibly causing the illness—generally a small stick.
I was watching TV the other night, the 4th season of Mr Robot, and there was a scene in which the protagonist is forced to submit to a therapy session in which a long-buried piece of trauma is pulled out of his subconscious.
Reading this piece makes me wonder if this old shaman's trick isn't still alive and well in contemporary therapy culture. It's certainly a thing in pip culture. This trope of revealing buried trauma as character arc really is everywhere.
It's also dramatized in "Man on the Moon" when Andy Kaufman (Jim Carrey) goes to a quack cancer clinic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy53Un2AXpU.
Fascinating. I imagine this is also the source of the popular idea that snake venom should be sucked out of the bite wound?
Being a medicine man's apprentice must be a disillusioning experience...
Maybe the widespread cupping therapy was based on the same principle of sucking out the disease, but with the help of a jar.
How interesting. I've been looking for historiography on the tent revival snake oil salesmen of the wild west. Humans are such gullible creatures.