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Community Ment Health J. 1976 Winter;12(4):392-8.

The role of folk healers in community mental health services.


This paper deals with the relationship between sociocultural factors and psychopathology in Hispanic groups in a disadvantaged urban area. The data were drawn from a 6-year collaborative undertaking between the Lincoln Community Mental Health Center and two local spiritualistic centers in the Southeast Bronx, New York. Comparisons are offered between classical mental health personnel and indigenous folk healers with emphasis on terminology, means of communication, and diagnosis techniques, as well as the utilization of social behavior and moral values. Relevant inferences are drawn regarding the broader relationship between religion and psychiatry. The importance of understanding of utilization of local folk resources in the planning and implementation of mental health services in urban ghettos is documented.

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