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Illnesses of the Spirit Among the Serer of Senegal
MORTON BEISER; WINTHROP A. BURR; JEAN-LOUIS RAVEL; HENRI COLLOMB
Am J Psychiatry 1973;130:881-886.
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Associate Professor of Social Psychiatry, Harvard School of Public Health, 55 Shattuck St., Boston, Mass. 02115

Resident in psychiatry, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Brookline, Mass.

Research Psychologist, University of Dakar, Senegal

Professor of Psychiatry, University of Dakar, Senegal

1973, The American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

This report is part of an extensive survey of the Serer tribe in West Africa; the purpose is to assess clinical characteristics and prevalence of psychiatric disorder. Using key-informant interviewing, the authors identified three "illnesses of the spirit" as corresponding in many ways to Western notions of mental illness. Case material is presented that provides impressionistic evidence of the universality of some mental disorders.

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