The butterfly and the serpent : culture, psychopathology and biomedicine. (notice bibliographique)

By Roland LITTLEWOOD and Maurice LIPSEDGE.

In : Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 11, 1987 : 289 – 335.


Cultural explanations of psychopathology in the West have rarely employed models derived by anthropologists for small-scale non-literate communities. Some general fcatures of those ritual patterns usually classed as ‘culture-bound syndromes’ are applicable to Western neurosis. Such reactions articulate both personal predicament and public concerris, usually core structural oppositions between age groups or the sexes. They gain their power by relying on certain unquestionable assurriptions which, although beyond everyday jural relationships, articulate such relatioriships. In the case of Western reactions, such « mystical sanction » is provided by biomedicine. Theoretical paradignis emphasize cither the individual pragmatic or expressive aspects, or social homeostasis.


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