Core Features in Ngoma Therapy

John M. Janzen

in Ngoma

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 1992 | ISBN: 9780520072657
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520910850 | DOI:
Core Features in Ngoma Therapy

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This chapter describes the main characteristics in ngoma therapy. These features include sickness and therapeutic initiation as a phased rite of passage; identifying the causes of misfortune; associating nosology with “spirit fields”; the “course through the white,” of sickness and transition; a sacrifice that sets in motion a circuit of exchanges; and the power of the wounded healer, together with fellow sufferers, that is, transforming sufferer into healer. It is evident that “spirit fields” provide a set of parameters having to do with worldview, order and chaos, legitimacy, and cultural categories against which to align, and begin to deal with, personal problems. The social dimension of “the white” may vary in its particulars from occurring within lineage and family to removal from it. Generally, the core features of ngoma reveal significant characteristics with which to understand how ngoma-type affliction and healing is organized.

Keywords: ngoma therapy; misfortune; spirit fields; nosology; sickness; sacrifice; sufferer; healer

Chapter.  9030 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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