Understanding ‘Illness’

by Brzezinska, Magdalena

Abstract (Summary)
This study describes and analyses understanding ‘illness’ among clients andleaders of the spiritual tradition Candomblé in Rio de Janeiro. The studyfocuses on the individuals’ narratives of illness and of healing rituals withinthe cult. Particular attention is given to the consultation ritual called jogo debúzios, which is one of the main practices of finding the reason for the illnessas well as its cure. The emphasis in this study is on the necessity to look atmedical pluralism, the socio-individual context of illness and narrativity as anintersubjective practice. The conclusion is reached that illness withinCandomblé ideology can be understood as disequilibrium in a person’slifeworld.The individual is approached from within the plurimedical context ofboth biomedical and Candomblé healing tradition in Rio. Here it is argued thatthe person creates meaning of the illness in relation to different aspects of hislifeworld. The individual’s lifeworld includes the urban context of Rio deJaneiro; therefore a brief discussion is developed about how this contextinfluences the individual meaning production of the illness. The Candombléhouse is described with its social structure and other elements that areimportant for understanding how the cult might work for the clients as analternative and/or complementary medical treatment.The study progressively introduces and analyses the lifestories of theindividuals that approach the Candomblé cult in order to seek treatment. Italso is concerned with stories of the Candomblé leaders and their view on thephenomenology of the Body, the Self and the social milieu of the person.Finally, the study emphasises the importance of studies that focus on theindividual’s interpretation of the relations between the Self and the Body, andthe individual’s understanding of medical knowledge and practice.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Uppsala universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:illness candomblé rio de janeiro medical pluralism lifeworld narrative knowledge


Date of Publication:08/04/2004

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