Handbook of Culture, Therapy, and Healing

Handbook of Culture, Therapy, and Healing

Handbook of Culture, Therapy, and Healing

Handbook of Culture, Therapy, and Healing


Emotional, as well as physical distress, is a heritage from our hominid ancestors; it has been experienced by every group of human beings since our emergence as a species. And every known culture has developed systems of conceptualization and intervention for addressing it.

The editors have brought together leading psychologists, psychiatrists, anthropologists, and others to consider the interaction of psychosocial, biological, and cultural variables as they influence the assessment of health and illness and the course of therapy. The volume includes broadly conceived theoretical and survey chapters; detailed descriptions of specific healing traditions in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and the Arab world.

The Handbook of Culture, Therapy, and Healing is a unique resource, containing information about Western therapies practiced in non-Western cultures, non-Western therapies practiced both in their own context and in the West.


Juris G. Draguns The Pennsylvania State University

Uwe P. Gielen St. Francis College

Jefferson M. Fish St. John's University


The subject of this book concerns the relief of mental suffering and physical distress by means of healing and psychotherapy, and the manner in which these objectives are pursued in a wide array of cultures around the world. To this end, our first task is to introduce, anchor, and pinpoint the three key terms in the title: culture, healing, and psychotherapy.


Definitions of culture abound. Our preference is to introduce culture, with Melville Herskovits (1949), as the part of the environment that has been generated or created by human beings. Social scientists are in agreement that culture encompasses concrete, visible, and tangible products created by human action, as well as that which Hofstede (1991) has called "software of the mind" (p. 4): the systems of communication and the preserved experience of prior generations, and also the shared values and beliefs that, at the same time, represent templates for future action. Cultures differ then not only in their artifacts, but in their languages, subsistence and production systems, and philosophies of life, both implicit and explicit. Closer to the major objective of this volume, it is reasonable to expect that cultures have shaped the healing and psychotherapeutic practices that have evolved within them.


Healing is an age-old practice found in virtually all cultures across space and time. No culture stands by idly in the face of human suffering; all human societies have evolved methods aimed at restoring physical health, promoting psychological contentment, and achieving spiritual serenity. Healing as a concept then refers to the . . .

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