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September 2022

Cult Med Psychiatry. 1983 Sep; 7(3): 279-99.

Astrological counseling in contemporary India.

Pugh JF.

Astrological counseling constitutes an important but relatively unexplored sector of India's medical and psychiatric traditions. The present paper provides a critique of studies of divination-as-therapy and presents a symbolic or phenomenological approach to the analysis of astrology as a form of situation-focused counseling. Three arts of medicine--the art of dialogue, the art of prediction, and the art of remedy--organize the therapeutic effectiveness of the counseling session. In analyzing these arts, the discussion extends the idea of performative efficacy by developing the concept of "therapeutic space," defining it as the topographical framework which encompasses both the scene of the advisory session and the scene of the client's everyday life. The experiential continuities which are established in this space are constituted through imaginal activity, which is indigenously understood as "picturing" the client's situation. The discussion focuses on the text of an advisory session between an astrologer and his politician-client in the city of Banaras.

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