This paper focuses on the problems encountered in providing Westernized psychiatric treatment to a population with traditional healing beliefs. The sample comprised women of Moroccan origin living in Israel undergoing treatment for psychiatric disorders (N=38), and their treating psychiatrists (N=9). Ethnographic interviews were conducted among both groups. The results revealed that the symptoms, perceptions of the illness, and problems encountered in the therapeutic relationship differed across three age groups, young women (20-30 years), more mature women (31-42 years), and older women (43-60 years). While cultural conflict appeared to affect the development of mental illness in each group, this was most pronounced among women in the middle age range. Moreover, problems in the therapeutic alliance were greatest in this age group. The data from the therapists indicated that they maintained a Western perspective in both their understanding and diagnoses of these patients' illnesses. The different perspectives of the therapists and each of the three groups of women are discussed. It is concluded that professionals treating traditional populations must avoid imposing Western standards, and consider the treatment in the context of cultural beliefs. The developmental stages of the individual, and the stage of acculturation must also be taken into account if treatment is to be effective.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Drug guides