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

By George Devereux | Go to book overview

PART I. FUNDAMENTALS OF MOHAVE PSYCHIATRY

ETIOLOGICAL THEORIES

The Mohave do not possess a general etiological theory of mental diseases, presumably because each shaman seeks to make his own specialty the cornerstone of Mohave medicine. This tendency is clearly revealed by the attempt of Hikye:t--a shaman also reputed to be a witch--to bring mental disorders within the scope of his own specialty, which was "internal medicine." His account of the "foundations of psychiatry" is, in its own way, as grotesque as are certain modern attempts to bring even the functional neuroses entirely within the scope of neurology, or even of internal medicine. In fact, it is quite probable that Hikye:t's account sounds confusing not only because this suspicious witch may have wished to confuse me, but chiefly because he tried to force the neuroses and psychoses into the procrustean pattern of Mohave organic medicine.

Be that as it may, my efforts to integrate the etiological views of my various informants into a coherent whole having ended in a signal failure, I asked Ahma Huma: re to discuss the matter in my presence with the old blind shaman Hilyera Anyay and with Tcatc. I pointed out that since neither of these two was a witch, differences of opinion would not invite magical retaliation, and also promised that I would not invite to the conference such known witches as Hikye:t or Kwathany Hi:wa, who might bewitch him. In response to my request, Ahma Huma:re embarked upon a long, agitated, and rambling monolog, in broken English, whose gist was not always clear to me. In the course of this monolog he mentioned the late Hivsu: Tupo: ma, as well as the alleged witch Hikye:t, and once more enumerated various diseases. Then, speaking quite calmly once more, he stated that he did not object to the proposed conference.

If you were asking something about those people's suma: tc (dream powers), I could not attend the meeting. But since we are supposed to talk only about insane people, that is different. Your late friend Hivsu: Tupo:ma could tell you things about his power, but he could not have done so in my presence (since I, too, am a shaman). However, when it comes to insanity caused by illness, what I already told you about that topic it is probably just what the others will say, since it is simply a matter of telling you what we ourselves have seen.2

____________________
2
Extraneous circumstances unfortunately prevented me from arranging such a discussion.

-9-

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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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