Accepted paper:

The Healer and the Psychiatrist: A Visual Dialogue through Spirits

Authors:

Mike Poltorak (University of Kent)

Paper short abstract:

The documentary investigates the similarities and differences between psychiatric and traditional treatment for mental illness in the South Pacific archipelago of Tonga through a focus on spirits, in relation to patient experience and the role of stigma in prognosis.

Paper long abstract:

The documentary investigates the similarities and differences between psychiatric and traditional treatment for mental illness in the South Pacific archipelago of Tonga through a focus on spirits, in relation to patient experience and the role of stigma in prognosis. It contains observational footage of both traditional and psychiatric modes of treatment a long with excerpts of video interviews on psychiatric perceptions of traditional healing and traditional healers perceptions of psychiatric treatment. The importance of film and media in colouring people's understanding is also covered, through a comparison of healer's and psychiatrist response to scenes in Hollywood films watched by patients and used by them to confirm the value and efficacy of traditional healing. The film will be of interest to a wide audience interested in the experience and treatment of mental illness in the developing world. Studies have confirmed the increasing world mental health burden being faced in the third world. There is also increasing recognition of the need to link local and psychiatric modalities of recognising and dealing with mental illness, given the low numbers of psychiatrists and facilities in many developing countries to treat all mental illness. This film thus will contribute to both research and further action in this important area.

panel V07
Representing the non-representable: visual representations of extraordinary beings in ethnographic films