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LA GUERISON MAGIQUE : ENTRE MEDECINE ET SORCELLERIE : Une enquete en Puisaye (France)

Pascale de VINCK
Civilisations
Vol. 36, No. 1/2, Ethnologies d'Europe et d'ailleurs (1986), pp. 365-387
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41229482
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
LA GUERISON MAGIQUE : ENTRE MEDECINE ET SORCELLERIE : Une enquete en Puisaye (France)
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Abstract

The human body is a primary tool for those who work on the land - a constraint that has only been partly lifted by technical progress. There has long been an opposition between 'traditional', 'modern' medicine and 'backward' folk practices. How do peasants in modern-day France move between these two types of care ? It seems that they use both kinds of therapist in parallel, despite the differences between them. But these therapists are not consulted for the same ills. Healers specialise in 'psychosomatic' disorders and, despite their frequency, these are the very disorders that confound the doctors. However, the manner in which both doctors and healers treat such disorders is similar, and depends on the spoken word. Whereas the doctor will produce some conforting remarks and a diagnosis, the healer will murmur some mysterious formula and challenge the affliction. A doctor will rarely acknowledge such afflictions as 'real' illnesses, and often leaves the sufferer without any relief; the sufferer will then continue to go to the healer for as long as the latter remains the more credible. In all probability the 'lifter of spells' is to the healer what the psychoanalyst is to the general practitioner. Instead of talking, he makes the patient talk in order to relieve him of his psychological distress.

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