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December 2019

Cult Med Psychiatry. 1992 Jun; 16(2): 237-71.

Controlling domestic life and mental illness: spiritual and aftercare resources used by Dominican New Yorkers.

Weiss CI.

New Jersey Division of Mental Health & Hospitals, Trenton 08625-0727.

This research addresses the differential use of spiritual and mental health resources by 15 Dominican migrant women with major psychiatric disorders in Northern Manhattan. Methods included interviews and participant observation with patients, kin, and mental health staff. Structured instruments were used to examine patients' networks and functioning. Folk and popular healing traditions, adopted by some patients and kin through private observances or through a connection with a healer, yielded symbolic supports, companionship for patients, and ways of communicating and coping with distress. Episodes of health-seeking revealed multiple participants competing for control of the patients' lives and illness careers. Consultations with healers offered family members potential mastery over illness and domestic life, with no surrender of centrality, dignity or control in the quest for care.


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