Alessandro Lupo

Patients, mystical journeys and health care: negotiating therapeutic paths and managing failure in a Mexican context of medical pluralism

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Huave; Mexican Indians; Health Care; Traditional Healing; Medical Pluralism; Therapeutic Negotiation; Curing Failure.

The subject of this article is the difficult relationship between biomedicine - with its therapeutic practices oriented toward the resolution of organic troubles of individual patients - and the profoundly semantic and social nature of the experience of illness in those who seek treatment by health institutions - mostly, but not exclusively - in non-Western contexts. Starting from a dramatic ethnographic example, the case of a Native Mexican teenager suffering from meningoencephalitis, admitted at a health center in San Mateo del Mar (Oaxaca, Mexico) and also, at the same time, ritually treated by several religious therapists for attacks against her alter-ego, I intend to show the different logics that inspire the diagnostic processes, healing practices and strategic choices of the agents involved, highlighting the difficulties of communication between them, the contrasting horizons of sense and value that orient them and the possibilities for negotiation and interaction.

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