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Falling, Dying Sheep, and the Divine: Notes on Thick Therapeutics in Peri-Urban Senegal

Abstract : Peri-urban Senegal lies outside the influence of both the nation’s historic public mental health model and contemporary global mental health. This paper examines how cultural logics in this underserved region spill over from social domains to widen the therapeutic sphere of psychoses and epilepsy. Observations and 60 carer and/or patient interviews concerning 36 patients afflicted by one or both conditions illustrate how the “crisis of the uncanny”, a spectacular eruption of psychoses and seizures into the everyday, triggers trajectories across these domains. To resolve the crisis, patients and carers mobilize debts and obligations of extended kin and community, as well as a gift economy among strangers. The therapeutic and non-therapeutic are further linked through the semantics of falling, which associates this local term for the crisis with divine ecstasy and the slide from human to non-human forms of life. We introduce the concept of thick therapeutics to capture how the logics of sheep- other animal-human relationality, secular-divine politics of giving, and payment/sacrifice for healing imbue a therapeutic assemblage continually constructed through actions of patients, carers and healers. We ask what implications therapeutic thickening might have for mental health futures, such as monetized payment under global mental health.
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https://hal-cnrs.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03480539
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 14, 2021 - 5:09:44 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 7, 2022 - 4:27:47 PM

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Anne M Lovell, Papa Mamadou Diagne. Falling, Dying Sheep, and the Divine: Notes on Thick Therapeutics in Peri-Urban Senegal. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, Springer Verlag, 2019, 43 (4), pp.663-685. ⟨10.1007/s11013-019-09657-2⟩. ⟨hal-03480539⟩

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