Georges Devereux and Clinical Ethnopsychiatry


(Translated from the French by Catherine Grandsard)

(1) Ph D ; Professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychopathology, Centre Georges Devereux, University of Paris 8

(2) Centre Georges Devereux - Centre Universitaire d'aide psychologique, Université de Paris 8, 2, rue de la Liberté, 93526 Saint-Denis cedex 02, France.

(3) "In 1968, he is furious. « My heart was heavy with anguish and worry for those young people in the process of preparing a unlivable, totalitarian world for themselves. There wasn't a chance that they would succeed in establishing their anarchist, idealistic world. » Catherine Clément: "De l'angoisse à la méthode" par Georges Deverux. Libération, May 20 1980, p. 34. (Quote translated from the French by C. Grandsard)

(4) "Georges Devereux remained unknown because he was always a rebel, first and foremost towards the establishment: he never asked for anything from anyone, and this is palpable. Where did his strange genius come from, this sort of burnt sorcerer above himself?" Ibid., p. 34.

(5) Devereux, G. From Anxiety to Method in the Behavioral Sciences, The Hague, Paris, Mouton & Co, 1967, p. 302.

(6) "Bohr and Jordan conclusively proved that, if one seeks to determine completely the functions of life, one must reach so deeply into the organism, one must disturb so radically its essential state, that one abolishes thereby the very phenomenon one seeks to study: Life." Ibid, pp. 288-289.

(7) Ibid, p. 302

(8) Concerning this matter, see Sybille de Pury, Traité du malentendu. Théorie et pratique de la médiation interculturelle en situation clinique. Paris, Synthélabo, Les empêcheurs de penser en rond, 1998.

(9) See the stimulating discussion of the concept of placebo in Ph. Pignarre - 1997: Qu'est-ce qu'un médicament ? Paris, La Découverte, 1997.

(10) Devereux, Essais d'ethnopsychiatrie générale , Paris, Gallimard, 1970, p. 18. (Quote translated from the French by C. Grandsard)

(11) Levy-Bruhl L. - La mentalité primitive. Paris, P.U.F., new edition. In recent psychoanalytic texts, one comes accross arguments very similar to those of the beginning of the century: "Primitive man made weapons and tools which he rendered sacred, investing them with a magical power greater then his own. In the same fashion, he manufactured idols and fetishes, signifying projections of his narcissism. The idols represented (and still represent nowadays, to the extent that their worship still survives, in more or less disguised forms) the virtues and powers that man would like to possess in an absolute fashion... thus the idols become a prop of his projected hatred and could be feared." B. Grunberger, P. Dessuant : Narcissisme, christianisme, antisémitisme ; Actes Sud, 1997. Hence, there is no interest here in the techniques of fetish makers and users - nor in their philosophy or their construction of the world - once again reduced to the status of infantile masturbators.

(12) Freud, S. Totem et tabou, Paris, Payot, 1968 (Totem and Taboo). See also the critique of the Western representation of "primitives" in M. Gauchet, Le désenchantement du monde. Paris, Gallimard, 1985.

(13) See certain present day works representing what one could qualify as "old style" ethnopsychiatry, an ethnopsychiatry which denies the specificity of its own approach to the world, which interprets the actions and, above all, thoughts that it ascribes to those it observes. In this type of approach, if others do indeed act, they do so guided by intuition whereby the theories they construct to justify their actions can only be considered as facts to be observed. Examples: Ortigues M.C., Ortigues E. Oedipe africain. Paris, Plon, 1966 or Pradelle de la Tour C.H., Le crâne qui parle. Ethnopsychiatrie bamileke, Paris, E.P.E.L., 1997 for Lacanian interpretations; Juillerat B., dipe chasseur. Une mythologie du sujet en Nouvelle Guinée. Paris, P.U.F., 1991, for more "classical" psychoanalytic interpretations.

(14) Stengers, Cosmopolitiques, tome 7, Pour en finir avec la tolérance. Paris, La découverte-Synthélabo, les Empêcheurs de penser en rond, 1997. (Quote ranslated from the French by C. Grandsard)

(15) I quote here an expression coined by Isabelle Stengers in "Le médecin et le charlatan" in T. Nathan et I. Stengers, Médecins et Sorciers, Les empêcheurs de penser en rond, Paris, Synthélabo, 1995.

(16) For example, the exponential development in large cities throughout the world of prayer groups which are genuine traditional therapeutic organizations adapted to the modern world. See Piault C. ed., Prophétisme et thérapeutique. Albert Atcho et la communauté de Bregbo. Paris, Hermann, 1975; Dozon P., La cause des prophètes. (politique et religion en Afrique contemporaine) Paris, Le Seuil, 1995; Nathan T., Hounkpatin L., La parole de la forêt initiale. Paris, Odile Jacob, 1996.

(17) With the noteworthy exception of Marcel Mauss.

(18) See G. Ròheim (1943) Origine et fonction de la culture. (Origin and Funtion of Cuture) Paris, Gallimard, 1967.

(19) Devereux, Ethnopsychanalyse complémentariste . Paris, Flammarion, 1972, p. 252. (Quote translated from the French by C. Grandsard)

(20) Ibid, p. 256.

(21) See I. Stengers, Cosmopolitiques I, La guerre des sciences . Paris, Paris, La découverte-Synthélabo, les Empêcheurs de penser en rond, 1996.

(22) Saura, B. Politique et religion à Tahiti . Tahiti, Éd. Polymages-scoop, 1993.

(23) Berger, Anthropologie politique des systèmes de soins magico-religieux. L'exemple des cultes de possession bamanan au Bèlèdugu (Mali). Mémoire de DEA d'Anthropologie, sociologie du politique et du développement. Université Paris 8, juin 1997.

(24) Field data collected by Geneviève Nkoussou and Jérôme Weisselberg, unpublished.

(25) Personal observation.

(26) See Pouillon's description of theDangaleat where any calling is first an affliction. In other words: it is an illness which promotes the individual to the social position he will hold and qualifies him for this function. Pouillon J., 1970, "Malade et médecin : le même et/ou l'autre. Remarques ethnologiques." Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse, 1, 76-98.

(27) It isn't surprising that it is in Foulcault's wake that one finds the most innovative attempts in including patient associations in research, for example in the works of Daniel Defert. The recent publication of Foucault's lectures at the Collège de France provides us with theoretical leads for reusing « subjugated knowledges ». "By «subjugated knowledges » I also mean a series of knowledges that were disqualified as non-conceptual knowledges, as knowledges that were insufficiently elaborated: naïve knowledges, hierarchically inferior knowledges, knowledges beneath the level of scholarly or scientific requirements... it is through the reappearance of these local knowledges of people, of these disqualified knowledges that a critique was initiated." [Quote translated from the French by C. Grandsard] Michel Foucault, Il faut défendre la société. Cours au Collège de France. 1976. Paris, Gallimard, Seuil, 1997, p.9.

(28) Oliver Sacks, Un anthropologue sur Mars. Sept histoires paradoxales . (An Anthropologist on Mars) French translation: Paris, Le Seuil, 1996.

(29) I even think it is the only methodology, at least for psychopathology and psychotherapy, which affords a way of avoiding Popper's criticism accusing psychoanalysts of producing "non refutable" statements.

(30) Brotherhood also including a therapeutic function, gathered around the tomb of a saint. See, for instance, A. Chlyeh, La thérapie syncrétique des Gnaoua marocains. Thèse de doctorat d'ethnologie, Université de Paris VII, 1995.

(31) The original text : G. de la Tourette, 1885, Etude sur une affection nerveuse caractérisée par l'incoordination motrice accompagnée d'écholalie et de coprolalie (jumping, latah, myriatchit), Archives de neurologie , 9, 19-42 et 158-200.

(32) Jilek G., Culture "Pathoplastic" or "Pathogenic"? A key question of Comparative Psychiatry. Curare. (Journal of Ethnomedicine and Transcultural Psychiatry), Heidelberg, 1982, 5: 57-68.

(33) Quoted by Collignon in Pour un retour sur les "culture-bound syndromes" en psychiatrie transculturelle. Santé, Culture, Health, VI, 2, 149-162.1989.

(34) Devereux, Ethnopsychiatrie des indiens mohave . French translation: Paris, Synthelabo, Les empêcheurs de penser en rond, 1996.

(35) I refer to Isabelle Stengers' use of this expression (la pratique de l'injure) - Seminar, 97/98.

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