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

By George Devereux | Go to book overview

PART 4. DISORDERS CAUSED BY EXTERNAL BEINGS

EXOGENOUS DISORDERS
This part of the report is devoted to a discussion of psychiatric and psychosomatic illnesses that, according to the Mohave, are caused by the impact of ego-alien and external beings possessed of various supernatural powers, to wit:
i. An insane deity appearing in dream
ii. Supernatural snakes
iii. Aliens and alien ghosts
iv. Mohave ghosts who cause psychosomatic illness
v. Mohave ghosts who cause depressions
vi. Funeral paraphernalia and rituals
vii. Witches
viii. Magic substances and narcotics

An Appendix briefly discusses alcohol, drug addiction, and trance states (the latter being related to "power") that, if one tries to think along Mohave lines, appear to be related to exogenous psychic disorders, as the Mohave conceive of them.


INSANITY DUE TO DREAMING OF AN INSANE DEITY

According to Kroeber ( 1948) "People who dream of Mastamho after he became a bald eagle know nothing and are crazy (yamomk) like him" (cf. pt. 2, pp. 50-54).

While Kroeber's data impress one as reliable, it is likely that this belief is not a key concept of Mohave psychiatric thought. Indeed-- in reply to a direct question, illustrated by an account of the Indo- chinese Sedang Moi ( Devereux, MS., 1933-34) belief that a person who dies insane turns into the "ghost of insanity," which seeks to make others insane--the Mohave denied that they had similar beliefs. Furthermore, since Kroeber recorded the actual text that describes Mastamho's insanity--which means that his (apparently sane) informant had (theoretically at least) dreamed this portion of the myth without going insane--this raises questions concerning the rigorousness of Mohave belief in this assertion. What Kroeber's informant probably meant was that anyone who dreams of Mastamhoonly as a fish eagle, and perhaps not necessarily in connection with this myth, may become insane. This view would be compatible with modern psychoanalytic insight. Indeed, the onset of a psychosis is often

-116-

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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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