Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mental heath treatment in Africa

Bookmarked for later reading.

Get religion discusses a Harper's piece on mental health problems and hospitals in Ghana (which alas is only readable if you are subscriber).

when I was in Africa, the joke was that all of our schizophrenics spoke English: Many had stress related psychoses from the culture changes.

But we also saw a lot of "conversion" reactions.

How many are demon related? Probably few. However, this is not a Pentecostal belief, because traditionally some people were affected by a spirit at puberty.

Conversion reactions will respond to suggestion and hypnosis, which is why prayer (or the traditional treatment by the local Nganga) works.

But there is also vitamin related problem, infection related problems, post concussion related problems, etc.

In the old days, if you had a spirit you might be revered, but if you were crazy, you would be beaten and thrown out on your own to live (reminds me of the man in the cemetary in the bible). Or you might be poisoned, either accidentally (by giving them herbal medicine to treat the problem.. we had lots of death from accidental poisoning to treat illness), or even deliberately.

This is what people did in the good old days to those who threatened them, before police and the court systems.

My friend in Africa had one of her nieces develop mental problems in puberty, perhaps from the stress of loving her dad to HIV and from school.

My friend cured her by taking her on a pilgrimage to the grave of John Bradburne, where she was healed, although she only lived a few more years. What did she die of? HIV? Infection? I have no idea.

Bradburne was gentle guy, a veteran with PTSS, who found God and who later worked at a leper colony and was martyred. Now, at least 30 of my collegues there were martyred, but the Africans only spontaneously saw him as a saint... I presume because the rest of us were bossy do gooders, and he only was known for his love.

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