Woman as Healer

This groundbreaking work examines the role of women in the Western healing traditions. Drawing on the disciplines of history, anthropology, botany, archaeology, and the behavioral sciences, Jeanne Achterberg discusses the ancient cultures in which women worked as independent and honored healers; the persecution of women healers in the witch hunts of the Middle Ages; the development of midwifery and nursing as women’s professions in the nineteenth century; and the current role of women and the state of the healing arts, as a time of crisis in the health-care professions coincides with the reemergence of feminine values.


Women possess a strong tradition as healers, from ancient Danish shamans to modern midwives, physicians and nurses. Throughout the years, however, women have been systematically marginalized as socially legitimate practitioners by their male counterparts. Jeanne Achterberg explores this history in Woman as Healer by illuminating the connections between Western world views and women’s tribulations and contributions as healers. As painful as these truths may be, Jeanne imparts an empowering tone to her discussions and emphasizes as much as she can the spirit of the “warrior” woman, persisting through the ages, in women who heal with honor and clarity. — From The WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women; review by Laurie Pearce

About the Author

Jeanne Achterberg, PhD, (1942–2012) was a professor of psychology at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now Sofia University) and served as associate professor and director of research in rehabilitation science at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.