Man, a religious specialist in some non-Western cultures,
whose main function is to cure disease.
men base their healing methods on the assumption that most,
if not all, illnesses are caused by supernatural power and
that supernatural powers are required to cure them. The
individual may fall ill because of having offended one of
the gods, or through the machinations of witchcraft
or sorcery, or through the unprovoked attack of an evil
task of the curer is to diagnose the disease, usually by
divinatory techniques (Divination), and then to apply the
spiritual remedy, such as retrieving a lost soul, removing
a disease-causing object, or exorcising an evil spirit.
(In conjunction with these spiritual techniques, medicine
men may also at times employ physical remedies such as herbal
applications or massage.)
effectiveness of the medicine man's treatment seems negligible
in light of Western medicine. Anthropologists have, however,
observed that the work of medicine men occasionally has
beneficial results. These may be due to a process of psychological
release and consequent physiological healing.
healing in Western societies may be effective, in part,
through the same process.
By: John A. Saliba, S.J., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Religious
Studies, University of Detroit. Contributor to Anthropologica
and other publications.
Man," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001 http://encarta.msn.com
© 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.