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October 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1988 ; 27(5): 471-7.

Humoral concepts of mental illness in India.

Weiss MG, Desai A, Jadhav S, Gupta L, Channabasavanna SM, Doongaji DR, Behere PB.

Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Hospital, Boston, MA.

Based on interviews with patients at three allopathic psychiatric clinics in Bombay, Bangalore and Varanasi, employing a preliminary version of the Explanatory Model Interview for Classification (EMIC) to elicit indigenous explanations of illness and patterns of prior help seeking, we discuss popular humoral theories of mental disorder. Even though most laypersons are unfamiliar with the content of the classical treatises of Ayurveda, the humoral traditions which they represent influence current perceptions. Case vignettes clarify the nature of the relationship between cultural, familial and personal factors that influence the experience of illness.


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