"Now he walks and walks, as if he didn't have a home where he could eat": food, healing, and hunger in Quechua narratives of madness

Orr, David (2013) "Now he walks and walks, as if he didn't have a home where he could eat": food, healing, and hunger in Quechua narratives of madness. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 37 (4). pp. 694-710. ISSN 0165-005X

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In the Quechua-speaking peasant communities of southern Peru, mental disorder is understood less as individualized pathology and more as a disturbance in family and social relationships. For many Andeans, food and feeding are ontologically fundamental to such relationships. This paper uses data from interviews and participant observation in a rural province of Cuzco to explore the significance of food and hunger in local discussions of madness. Carers’ narratives, explanatory models, and theories of healing all draw heavily from idioms of food sharing and consumption in making sense of affliction, and these concepts structure understandings of madness that differ significantly from those assumed by formal mental health services. Greater awareness of the salience of these themes could strengthen the input of psychiatric and psychological care with this population and enhance knowledge of the alternative treatments that they use. Moreover, this case provides lessons for the global mental health movement on the importance of openness to the ways in which indigenous cultures may construct health, madness, and sociality. Such local meanings should be considered by mental health workers delivering services in order to provide care that can adjust to the alternative ontologies of sufferers and carers.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0544.5 International social work
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine > RA0790 Mental health. Mental illness prevention
Depositing User: Pascale Fanning-Tichborne
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2014 06:30
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 07:47
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/49088

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