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Salud Pública de México

versión impresa ISSN 0036-3634


BERENZON-GORN, Shoshana; ITO-SUGIYAMA, Emily  y  VARGAS-GUADARRAMA, Luis Alberto. Diseases and illnesses for which help is sought from traditional healers in Mexico City. Salud pública Méx [online]. 2006, vol.48, n.1, pp.45-56. ISSN 0036-3634.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this paper is to describe the main reasons why people consult traditional healers in Mexico City. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The narrative of 16 traditional healers and 22 users of this type of medicine is the main source of information. This study used a qualitative approach. The field work was carried out in two stages. The first phase involved a series of observations with an ethnographic approach. During the second phase, focused interviews were held with selected informants. RESULTS: According to participants, the main reasons for consulting traditional healers were problems with romance and love, family conflicts, economic hardships, stress, tension, nervousness and spiritual distress. These motives cannot be considered diseases in a strict sense; they were all health problems manifested as illnesses that caused suffering and only some of them could be classified as diseases within the biomedical model. People go to traditional healers not only to cure their diseases but also to obtain advice about their personal problems. As a result, traditional medicine becomes an additional option for treating human suffering, not only physical, but moral and psychological as well. DISCUSSION: The information analyzed in this paper indicates that diverse reasons exist which explain not only the survival of traditional medicine, but also its importance in present life, where science and technology have obtained outstanding results, but biomedical medicine has forgotten the complexity of daily human life and the importance of personal attention, compassion, understanding, empathy and the use of the symbolic world to solve the conflicts and health problems characteristic to humanity.

Palabras llave : diseases and illnesses; traditional healers; traditional medicina; Mexico.

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