Social psychiatry

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 49–52

Amakiro: A Ugandan puerperal psychosis?

  • John L. Cox
Other Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00583573

Cite this article as:
Cox, J.L. Soc Psychiatry (1979) 14: 49. doi:10.1007/BF00583573


31 childbearing Ugandan women were interviewed, and their beliefs about the causes, symptoms and treatment of the traditional puerperal illness “amakiro” were studied. The variety of such beliefs had been established by 20 preliminary interviews, and a semi-structured interview subsequently developed. All interviews were carried out in the vernacular language by a male medical student from the same tribe as the sample women. The results showed that, despite proximity to a modern teaching health centre, the majority of the women were familiar with the illness and could readily identify its symptoms. Thus 28 women knew of the illness, and 12 women had known of a particular person with “amakiro”. Wanting to eat the baby was a symptom of “amakiro” described by 22 (78.6%) of those women who had heard about the illness. Promiscuity of the pregnant woman and not using herbal baths during pregnancy were the causes most frequently described. These results are discussed in relationship to traditional beliefs about legitimacy and some similarities noted with the psychology of Western women.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • John L. Cox
    • 1
  1. 1.University Department of PsychiatryRoyal Edinburgh HospitalEdinburghUK