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

By George Devereux | Go to book overview

MOHAVE ETHNOPSYCHIATRY AND SUICIDE: THE PSYCHIATRIC KNOWLEDGE AND THE PSYCHIC DISTURBANCES OF AN INDIAN TRIBE

By GEORGE DEVEREUX*


INTRODUCTION

The present monograph is the first systematic study of the psychiatric theories and practices of a primitive tribe.1 Its primary focus is, thus, the exploration of that portion of Mohave culture that pertains to mental derangements, as understood by the Mohave. In this sense the present work is comparable in its orientation to monongraphs entitled, e. g., "Ethnobotany" or "Ethnogeography" that deal, respectively, with the botanical or geographical ideas, beliefs, and practices of some aboriginal group, but are primarily contributions to anthropology rather than to botany or to geography. In simplest terms, the present study is a kind of "Mohave textbook of psychiatry," dictated by Mohave "psychiatrists" to the anthropological fieldworker.

The second focus is the recording of all obtainable information on psychiatric illnesses in the Mohave tribe and an analysis of their social and culture setting. In this sense this work is a contribution to the study of "culture and the abnormal personality," or, as this field of inquiry is presently called, ethnopsychiatry.

The primary objective would not have permitted this work to be entitled "Ethnopsychiatry," since this term has come to denote primarily the science of the relationship between culture and mental disorder--i. e., that branch of "culture and personality studies" that deals with the abnormal personality. However, since the secondary objective of this work was to collect data on mental disorders in Mohave society and to interpret them in terms of Mohave culture and society, the title, "Mohave Ethnopsychiatry" is correctly used in both of the senses that the term "ethnopsychiatry" now possesses.

Although this work is addressed primarily to anthropologists, it is hoped that it will prove of interest also to psychiatrists and to the

____________________
*
Professor of research in ethnopsychiatry, Temple University School of Medicine, and lecturer in anthropology, Columbia University School of General Studies.
1
Laubscher ( 1937) dealt primarily with the psychiatric illnesses of the Tembu and discussed their psychiatric knowledge only incidentally.

-1-

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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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