Accepted paper:

FILM PRESENTATION: Tīrttam and tablets: A healing proposal for mentally ill patients in Gunaseelam (South India))


Brigitte Sebastia (French Institute of Pondicherry)
Marie-Caroline Saglio-Yatzimirsky (EHESS, INALCO)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Well known for its powerful deity who heals the mentally ill, the village of Gunaseelam illustrates an interesting example of mental healthcare combining rituals (tīrttam) and medication (tablets). After the Ervadi tragedy, when the government forbade the confinement and chaining of the mentally ill in unlicensed places such as in religious institutions as contrary to human rights, a clinic was established to treat patients. This documentary film attempts to explore the everyday life of the patients of Gunaseelam, circulating between religious healing and psychiatric treatment, tīrttam and tablets. It questions ultimately a new way to develop mental healthcare practices that are more acceptable to the people, notably those from lower social backgrounds.

panel P33
Constructing diagnosis in 'mental health': the negotiation of categories, the encounter of subjectivities in South Asia