How can western psychiatry help immigrants who do
not share the same cultural references? Why does western psychiatry fail
when it goes outside the cultural framework in which it was created? Despite
their irrational practices, traditional “healers” have a much
greater success rate treating patients from Africa, North Africa and the
Caribbean than western-trained doctors, with all their “science”
Tobie Nathan explains the methods used by traditional healers, and shows
how western doctors can learn from them — without sacrificing scientific
rigor — in order to really help patients from other cultures.
His book raises several questions: Could psychiatry, despite its scientific
appearance, act simply as one technique among others to exercise influence?
Could more productive methods of helping disturbed people be found among
marginal or “different” practices?
Tobie Nathan teaches clinical and pathological
psychology at the University of Paris VIII and heads the Centre Georges
Devereux of ethno-psychiatry. He is the author of La Guérison Yoruba
and La Psychanalyse Païenne (Editions Odile Jacob, 1998).