Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Witchcraft, God’s punishment or just malaria in West Papua?

16.03.2005


Who has made Mama Raja ill? Was it witchcraft, evil spirits, malaria or God’s punishment? Dutch researcher Ien Courtens discovered that in the interior of the Bird’s Head of West Papua, the presumed cause of the illness determines the choice of treatment.



By studying the illness progression of Mama Raja, Courtens discovered how inhabitants of the village of Ayawasi in the interior of the Bird’s Head of West Papua heal illnesses. In her doctoral thesis she unravels the different explanations for Mama Raja’s illness cause, and reconstructs the path she followed in search of healing. This approach provided answers to Courtens’ main research question: How are choices for healing performances related to religious change and gender?

Indigenous and biomedical therapies are interchangeable in the initial phase of the illness. Patients frequently choose an indigenous treatment first, such as those learnt during initiation or via dreams. If this treatment does not work, help is sought at the outpatients’ clinic of the missionary hospital. The opposite also occurs. Then ill persons first of all put their hope in biomedical treatments. Not infrequently, people combine these two healing methods until their health improves.


In this initial phase, individuals are mostly pragmatic in their choice. They experience the biomedical treatment as an ’easy way’ of getting cured which works relatively quickly. Conversely indigenous methods are seen as ’hard work’: you have to search for medicinal leaves, roots and tree bark in the rainforest. Furthermore the preparation and use of the ingredients as well as their uptake in the body is a time-consuming process.

Why more important than how

If individuals do not recover in this initial phase, they enter the following phase in their search for healing. Then interpretations of the possible causes of the illness are important. Mama Raja’s case clearly demonstrates that why she became ill and who was responsible for this were more important than questions about the nature of the illness. On the basis of the why and who questions, individuals look for causes of the illness, such as misbehaviour that invokes the anger of ancestral spirits and God, as well as possible perpetrators: individuals who practise magic, witches and evil spirits.

As the majority of the local population became practising Catholics following the arrival of the missionaries, they also consider the breaking of Christian rules and the ensuing punishment from God as a cause of illness. Further the population nowadays recognises the existence of diseases such as malaria and flu as a biological response of the body. In their eyes these biological causes do not conflict with the idea of punishment as a cause, but instead compliment this.

The research was financed by the Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research (WOTRO).

Dr Ien Courtens | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nwo.nl

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht High speed video recording precisely measures blood cell velocity
15.11.2017 | ITMO University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>