Mohave Ethnopsychiatry and Suicide: The Psychiatric Knowledge and the Psychic Disturbances of An Indian Tribe

By George Devereux | Go to book overview

PART 2. DISORDERS OF THE INSTINCTS

AGGRESSION AND GUILT
Aggressivity, as well as feelings of guilt over real or imaginary acts of aggression, play a decisive role in the etiology of mental disorders. In fact, even manifestly sexual derangements are due primarily to a contamination of sexuality by aggression. Hence, in a broadly theoretical sense, it is not really legitimate to single out certain psychiatric disorders as being caused by conflicts related to aggressivity, since problems related to aggressivity are present, to a variable extent, also in every other psychiatric illness.On the other hand, the Mohave themselves seem dimly aware of the fact that certain mental disorders are especially likely to affect persons who engage in certain aggressive activities, or fear retribution for real, magical, or unconscious acts of aggression, or seek to inhibit, but not sublimate, their aggressive impulses. Suicide also results from aggression, which is first directed at others and then, self-punitively, at oneself. However, for reasons of expository convenience, occurrences which the Mohave define as suicide will not be discussed in this section, but in part 7, and will therefore not be included in the following classification of disorders related to problems of aggression.Neuroses and psychoses related primarily to aggression may be classified as follows:
Pathological outbursts of homicidal rage:
Pi-ipa: teeva: rȧm: People scarcity
Pathological sequelae of socially approved aggression:
Against game: Hunter's neurosis
Against the outgroup: Scalper's psychosis
Against antisocial members of the ingroup:
Witchkiller's psychosis
Pathological sequelae of hyperactivity, which is apparently equated with aggression:
An illness of ordinary active persons
The god Mastamho's psychosis
The psychopathology of singers
The corruption of shamanistic powers
Pathological sequelae of inhibited aggressivity or power:
Heartbreak (=jealousy): Hi: wa itck. (See also pt. 3, pp. 91-106)
Psychoses resulting from the inhibition of magical powers
Pathological sequelae of imagined counteraggression on the part of hated aliens (a paranoid mechanism) (pt. 4, pp. 128-150):
Disease from aliens: Ahwe: hahnok
Disease from enemy ghosts: Ahwe: nyevedhi:

-39-

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