“Unusual” Illnesses

Carol Laderman

in Taming the Wind of Desire

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1991 | ISBN: 9780520069169
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520913707 | DOI:
“Unusual” Illnesses

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This chapter discusses “unusual illnesses,” their etiology, and their relations to Malay concepts of the self. The great majority of illnesses are those Malays call “usual.” Ordinary fevers, respiratory ailments, or digestive upsets are believed to result from a humoral imbalance, either to the hot or the cold polarity. They are treated with herbal remedies, dietary adjustments, and thermal treatments such as steam inhalation and cold compresses calculated to restore the patient's body to its normal state. Should ordinary health problems not respond to these treatments, or should an illness appear to be unusual in kind or in its course, a suspicion may arise that the sufferer's problems are due, at least in part, to the attacks of spirits, sent by an ill-wisher or acting on their own initiative.

Keywords: etiology; Malay; self; unusual illness

Chapter.  9366 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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