Book

Search for security: an ethno-psychiatric study of rural Ghana

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.New York, N.Y. • Published In 1970 • Pages: 478

By: Field, M. J. (Margaret Joyce).

Abstract
This is a study of mental illness and health among the pilgrims to religious shrines in rural Ghana. It is divided into two parts: Background and Patients. The first provides a summary of the sociological setting, and the formation of basic personality traits. A more extended discussion is provided of spirit possession (‘dissociated personality’) and how the shrine priests use this altered state of consciousness to understand the patient's confessions and prescribe cures, in the form of sacrifices and purification. The nature of spirit possession and its frequency (especially among the Biblical prophets) are also discussed. The second part of the text is composed of 146 individual case histories divided into thirteen categories. The division is based upon either the cause of the illness (e.g., depression, fear, guilt, physical illness, etc.) or a description (e.g., obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizo-affective psychosis, etc.). Short chapters on mental troubles of children, problems associated with middle age, and one on stable personalities are also presented. The best of the shrine priests are very efficient psychotherapists and Field readily acknowledges the success of their cures as an adjunct to and sometimes even instead of ‘European medicine.’ When sickness is caused by one's own wrong-doing or the ill-will of others (i.e., witchcraft) purification and protection by the shrine are a necessary part of the cure.
Subjects
Personality disorders
Life history materials
Sorcery
Spirits and gods
Sacred objects and places
Priesthood
Prayers and sacrifices
culture
Akan
HRAF PubDate
2000
Region
Africa
Sub Region
Western Africa
Document Type
Book
Evaluation
Ethnologist, Psychologist (Psychiatrist)-5
Analyst
Martin Malone ; Marlene Martin ; 1974
Coverage Date
not specified
Coverage Place
Ghana
Notes
by M. J. Field
Includes index
Includes glossary
LCSH
Akan African peoples)