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

By George Devereux | Go to book overview

PART 8. CONCLUSION

Πάντα θει + ̑α και πάντα ἀνθρύπινα

--HIPPOCRATES.


GENESIS AND VALIDITY OF MOHAVE PSYCHIATRY

The Introduction stressed the accuracy of Mohave clinical descriptions and the unsystematic, spotty but extensive compatibility of Mohave psychiatric thought with modern psychoanalytic theory and indicated that these two phenomena stood in need of explanation.

Neither of these two facts would surprise the Mohave themselves, since they ascribe universal validity to their psychiatric thories. Thus, the "highstrung" personality of an American was believed to have been due to premature sexual relations ( Devereux, 1950 a), another was believed to have the hikwi:r illness, while still another is said to have had the atcoo:r hanyienk type of convulsions. In fact, whites are believed to be relatively immune only to foreign sickness. Yet, even in that connection one Mohave at least suggested that, despite the relative weakness of the Mohave Indian's "blood," contact with a Mohave may also have mildly deleterious effects on whites. In addition, Ahma Huma:re specified without any prompting on my part that he could cure even whites who had hiwey lak, while Tcatc spontaneously gave me "supportive psychotherapy" at a time when I was supposed to have hi:wa itck. Even Hivsu: Tupo:ma, who declared that he was not able to treat white patients, freely interpreted some of my dreams. Finally, even though some of the information which I provided about the symptoms of white and Sedang Moi neurotics or psychotics elicited consternation, and while the Mohave are always ready to draw invidious comparisons between their ethnic character and that of whites, the symptoms of alien patients did not seem to impress them as "non-human" and "beyond empathy."

Before we attempt to account for the presence of these extensive congruences, we must seek to explain why there is any Mohave folk psychiatry at all.


THE GENESIS OF MOHAVE PSYCHIATRY

Neither science nor pseudoscience comes into being for its own sake, but always in response to a socially significant challenge, which has an appreciable "social and/or cultural mass" ( Devereux, 1940 b). Yet, even though the mentally deranged person possesses a great "social mass"--i. e., the capacity to trigger social action and to influence the

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Letter of Transmittal ii
  • Contents iii
  • Illustrations - Plates VI
  • Acknowledgments 1
  • Part I. Fundamentals of Mohave Psychiatry 9
  • Part 2. Disorders of the Instincts 39
  • Part 3. Mood Disburbances - The "Heart" Neuroses 90
  • Part 4. Disorders Caused by External Beings 116
  • Part 5. Occidental Disease Categories Neuroses, Psychoses, and Neurological Defects 213
  • Part 6. Psychiatric Disorders of Childhood 257
  • Part 7. Suicide 286
  • Part 8. Conclusion 485
  • Appendix - The Function of Alcohol 505
  • Preface 505
  • Summary 548
  • Addendum - A Note on Gentile Affiliations and Names 549
  • Bibliography 553
  • Index 569
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