Indigenous and faith healing for mental disorders : an exploratory study of healers in Accra, Ghana

Kpobi, Lily Naa Ayorkor (2018-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Mental health care in Ghana is not limited to biomedical care. A large number of service users are believed to utilise non-biomedical avenues in the pathway to health seeking. These non-biomedical treatments include indigenous and faith healing methods. Although some studies in Ghana have examined the reasons for and use of alternative mental health care methods, not many have examined the beliefs about mental illness and the treatment methods of the healers themselves. In this qualitative study, my aim was to examine how indigenous and faith healers conceptualised mental disorders, providing rich data on their perspectives and experiences. In particular, I questioned the perceived homogeneity of non-biomedical practitioners in Ghana by examining the nuances in mental health notions between different categories of non-biomedical healers. Thus, the objectives were to assess the beliefs and methods of different types of healers about different types of disorders, as well as to examine their views on collaboration with biomedical service providers. Using Kleinman’s Explanatory Models of Illness concept as a guiding framework, individual, semi-structured interviews using case vignettes were conducted with thirty-six indigenous and faith healers who lived and/or worked in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. The healers comprised herbalists, Pentecostal Christian faith healer, Muslim healers, and traditional medicine men/priests. The findings of this research suggest that unlike the perceptions of homogenous conceptualisation of mental disorders by non-biomedical practitioners, differences exist in the way different disorders are understood and treated by indigenous and faith healers, including differences in classification, perceived best treatments and perceived impact of the disorder. Although there were some similarities to biomedical concepts as well as between the healers, there were also important differences across the different types of healers. With respect to integration of services, the healers’ views on collaboration with biomedicine varied based on their own perceptions of power and position. These findings present further perspectives on the fluid, dynamic and often multifaceted nature of mental health care provision in a country such as Ghana, and provide a lens to understanding the work of indigenous and faith healing in a pluralistic health care setting. The study concludes by outlining some potential next steps for developing dialogues on integration of mental health care services in Ghana.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In Ghana word geestesgesondheidsorg nie tot biomediese sorg beperk nie. Daar word vermoed dat ‘n groot getal diensgebruikers nie-biomediese weë in die soeke na gesondheid benut. Hierdie nie-biomediese behandelings sluit inheemse en geloofsgenesingsmetodes in. Alhoewel die redes vir en gebruik van alternatiewe geestesgesondheidsorgmetodes al in sommige studies in Ghana ondersoek is, is daar nog nie veel ondersoek ingestel na die oortuigings rakende geestesgesondheid en die behandelingsmetodes van die genesers nie. In hierdie kwalitatiewe studie was my doel om die manier waarop inheemse en geloofsgenesers geestesgesondheid konseptualiseer te ondersoek, ten einde ryk data oor hul perspektiewe en ervarings te bied. In besonder het ek die waargenome gelyksoortigheid van nie-biomediese praktisyns in Ghana bevraagteken deur die nuanses in geestesgesondheidsopvattings tussen verskeie kategorieë van nie-biomediese genesers te ondersoek. Die doelwitte was om die oortuigings en metodes van verskillende genesers oor verskillende tipes siektetoestande te evalueer asook om hulle sieninge oor samewerking met biomediese diensverskaffers te ondersoek. Individuele, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude, waartydens gevalle-vignettes gebruik is, is gevoer met ses-en-dertig inheemse -en geloofsgenesers, wat in die groter Accra-gebied in Ghana gewoon of gewerk het. Kleinman se Verduidelikende Modelle van Siekte-konsep is as rigtende raamwerk met die voer van die onderhoude gebruik. Die genesers het bestaan uit kruiedokters, pinkster-christelike geloofsgenesers, Moslem-genesers en tradisionele toordokters/priesters. Die bevindinge van hierdie studie dui daarop dat, in teenstelling met die waargenome homogene konseptualisering van geestessiektetoestande deur nie-biomediese praktisyns, daar verskille bestaan in die maniere waarop verskillende siektetoestande verstaan en behandel word deur inheemse en geloofsgenesers, insluitend verskille in klassifikasie, waargenome beste behandelings en waargenome impak van die siektetoestand. Alhoewel daar sommige ooreenkomste met biomediese konsepte asook tussen genesers bestaan het, was daar ook belangrike verskille tussen die verskillende tipes genesers. Wat die integrasie van dienste aanbetref, het die genesers se sieninge oor samewerking met biomedisyne gevarieër gebaseer op hul eie oortuiginge oor mag en posisie. Hierdie bevindinge bied verdere perspektiewe op die vloeibare en dinamiese aard van geestesgesondheidsorgvoorsiening, wat dikwels uit veelvuldige fasette bestaan, in ‘n land soos Ghana en bied ‘n lens op die verstaan van die werk van inheemse en geloofsgenesing in ‘n pluralistiese gesondheidsorgomgewing. Die studie word afgesluit deur ‘n paar potensiële volgende stappe vir die ontwikkeling van ‘n dialoog oor die integrasie van geestesgesondheidsorgdienste in Ghana uit te lig.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104907
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