Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 392–398 | Cite as

The role of folk healers in Community Mental Health services

  • Pedro Ruiz
  • John Langrod


This paper deals with the relationship between sociocultural factors and psychopathology in Hispanic groups in a disadvantaged urban area. The data were drawn from a 6-year collaborative undertaking between the Lincoln Community Mental Health Center and two local spiritualistic centers in the Southeast Bronx, New York. Comparisons are offered between classical mental health personnel and indigenous folk healers with emphasis on terminology, means of communication, and diagnosis techniques, as well as the utilization of social behavior and moral values. Relevant inferences are drawn regarding the broader relationship between religion and psychiatry. The importance of understanding and of utilization of local folk resources in the planning and implementation of mental health services in urban ghettos is documented.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Guthrie, G.M. Culture and mental disorder. InAddison-Wesley Module Anthropology (Module 39). Reading, Mass.: Addison Wesley, 1973.Google Scholar
  2. Karush, A., & Ovesey, L. Unconscious mechanisms of magical repair.Archives of General Psychiatry, 1961,5, 55–69.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Kiev, A.Transcultural psychiatry. New York: Free Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  4. Lubchansky, I., Egri, G., & Stokes, J. Puerto Rican spiritualists view mental illness: The faith healer as a paraprofessional.American Journal of Psychiatry, 1970,127, 312–321.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Nelson, S.H., & Torrey, E.F. The religious functions of psychiatry.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1973,43, 362–367.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Sidel, V.W. The health workers of the Fengsheng neighborhood of Peking.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1973,43, 737–743.Google Scholar
  7. Torrey, E.F. What Western psychotherapists can learn from witch doctors.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1972,42, 69–76.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Wintrob R. Hexes, roots, snake eggs? MD vs. occult.Medical Opinion, November 1972, 54–61Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pedro Ruiz
    • 1
  • John Langrod
    • 1
  1. 1.Albert Einstein College of Medicine, BronxBronx

Personalised recommendations