The act of remembering and forgetting: traumatic memories and medical pluralism in Chile
Dorthe Kristensen (University of Southern Denmark)
Paper short abstract:
The paper explores the negotiation of memories in the bodily experience and management of illness among patients in Chile in a context of medical pluralism. It is argued that through illness stories and use of medicines the patients articulate and negotiate notions of power, identity and belonging.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the negotiation of memories in the bodily experience and management of illness among patients in Chile in a context of medical pluralism. Many patients suffer from psychological symptoms (typically anxiety, sadness and lack of energy)and diffuse physical symptoms normally intense pain, which often have a tendency to move location in the body combined with an intense feeling of insecurity and often also the presence of strange smells and beings. Often patients are not satisfied with the diagnosis given by medical doctors (depression, states of anxiety, nerves) and seek indigenous healers. These types of practitioners generally treat the patients' sufferings as an expression of a lack of balance, for instance in the humeral balance, however more often they explain the sufferings as a product of spiritual or/and human aggressions coined as "damages" or due to fright (susto). The aim of the paper is to discuss the articulation and management of these afflictions in relation to the patients' articulations of Chile's political and socioeconomic past/ present. In the paper illness stories of patients who is treated both by doctor/ psychiatrist and shaman will be analyzed. By drawing on the concept of "embodiment" the aim is to compare respectively the model of traumatic memories of biomedicine/psychiatry and that of shamanistic healing practice. Focus will put on the concept of consciousness and agency in regard to treatment. Subsequently it will be discussed whether indigenous illness categories and treatment might provide a bodily idiom for the articulation and negotiating of distress of a current (and past) socio-economic and political context and as a critique of the modern Chilean State.