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|Encounter with a Traditional Healer : Suzanne Maiello|
|Congresses - 2007 Cape Town|
|Written by Administrator|
Western and African therapeutic approaches in dialogue by Suzanne Maiello (Rome)
Encounter with a Traditional Healer
Suzanne Maiello, Rome
The author of the paper, a Western trained analyst and psychotherapist with a deep interest in anthropological issues and cultural differences in the approach to psychic distress and mental illness, had the unique opportunity, during a prolonged stay in South Africa, to meet an African healer and to learn about traditional methods of treatment.
The paper gives a detailed report of the encounter between the two women, the white European analyst and the black African sangoma. The meeting took place in a village in the wilderness, in the healer’s natural working environment. The theme of their discussion was the healer’s treatment of a patient who had had a psychotic breakdown.
A second level of considerations deals with the interplay between socio-cultural structures on the one hand and therapeutic practice and theory on the other. In other terms, both psychoanalytic theory and practice are seen against the background of the culture which produced them. This means that inevitably culture-specific aspects influence also the contents which are transmitted in professional training.
Finally, some thought is given to the possibilities and limits of cross-cultural psychotherapy and analysis. This aspect is becoming more and more relevant, as migratory movements across the globe are increasing, and Western professionals are more and more likely to work with patients whose cultural background is different from their own.
Suzanne Maiello, AIPA, IAAP
Languages of presentation: (English and Italian)