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October 2021

Cult Med Psychiatry. 1980 Jun; 4(2): 167-89.

Traditional treatment for mental illness in Africa: a review.

Edgerton RB.

The publication of The Quest for Therapy in Lower Zaire (University of California Press) by John M. Janzen (with the collaboration of William Arkinstall), and African Therapeutic Systems (Crossroads Press), edited by Z. A. Ademuwagun, John A. A. Ayoade, Ira E. Harrison and Dennis M. Warren, calls attention to recent research findings which indicate that mentally ill persons, particularly schizophrenics, may recover more rapidly and fully in non-industrialized societies than they do in industrialized ones. The books by Janzen and Ademuwagen et al. will be examined as contributions to a growing body of information on native African therapeutic practices. Evidence relating to the apparently benign course of psychosis in Africa will be examined, and various explanations for this pattern will be evaluated. Finally, some guidelines for future research will be suggested.

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