“Medical Doctors Can't Do You No Good”

Yvonne P. Chireau

in Black Magic

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780520209879
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940277 | DOI:
“Medical Doctors Can't Do You No Good”

Show Summary Details


This chapter explores the relationship between African American supernaturalism and healing. Ever since the slavery period, black people in the United States have retained distinctive ideas and practices concerning sickness, its causes, and cures. African Americans viewed healing as an integral part of the ongoing struggle of good against the evil that plagued humankind, and, using a language of invisible causes, articulated health concerns by incorporating spiritual healing practices and beliefs into their therapies. Their supernatural healing practices were developed, as they lacked the access to formally trained medical practitioners, contempt of black patients by white physicians, and distrust of white doctors among blacks. In general, healing with herbs, roots, and other organic substances was implemented for common physical ailments, but supernatural healing and rituals were utilized for illnesses that were not responsive to other methods. Two religious groups, the black Pentecostals and the black Spiritual churches, also promoted ritual healing, actively conjoining supernaturalism and Christian piety in African American religious life.

Keywords: supernaturalism; ritual healing; African Americans; traditional therapies; United States

Chapter.  12050 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.