Patterns of persistence amidst medical pluralism: pathways toward cure in the Southern Peruvian Andes

Orr, David M R (2012) Patterns of persistence amidst medical pluralism: pathways toward cure in the Southern Peruvian Andes. Medical Anthropology, 31 (6). pp. 514-530. ISSN 0145-9740

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Abstract

When mental illness and related conditions strike among the Quechua-speaking peasant population of southern Peru, they open wide the question of who is best placed to offer the healing that families seek for their afflicted relative. Biomedical doctors and the traditional healers known as yachaqs are the two most commonly consulted sources of help. Yet most families show different patterns of persistence with each; they frequently give up on biomedical assistance after the initial intervention but continue to consult a succession of yachaqs over considerable periods of time, even if the former has had some limited success and the latter virtually none. I draw on ethnographic fieldwork to show that explanations based on inaccessibility, cultural incongruence between patient and clinician, or stigma are ultimately inadequate; rather, it is necessary to delve into fundamental differences in how the two fields of healing are conceptualized by those negotiating them.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Andes, ethnography, medical pluralism, mental illness, Peru, psychiatry
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology > GN301 Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology > GN357 Culture and cultural processes Including social change, structuralism, diffusion, etc.
Depositing User: David Orr
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2012 15:55
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2012 15:57
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/40814
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