Cultural Diversity in Health-Curandero/a

The curandero/a, a traditional healer, is a person who has met the health care needs of many people prior to the concept of a medical doctor (i.e., conventional or biomedical doctor). The concept of the curandero/a originated in the present-day south and southwestern United States and has origins in the traditional health practices of Mexico, Central America, and other Latin American countries, traditions which it has influenced in turn. Although the curandero/a is able to treat many types of illnesses, he/she is the only healer in the culture that can treat illnesses caused by supernatural forces. The curandero/a treats mal puesto (illnesses caused by witchcraft), mal de ojo (the evil eye), and susto (loss of spirit).

When translated into Western concepts these conditions seem at the least phony and in the extreme, quackery. However, conceptually speaking, these conditions have a parallel construct in Western ideas of religion and psychology. Spirituality and magico-realistic concepts of health and illness can and do explain these conditions which may be a far stretch to conceive for those with Western concepts of health and illness.

*Select one of these conditions that are diagnosed by a curandero/a. In 600 words or more, as best as possible, describe from the perspective of the curandero/a how a person contracts the condition and is affected by it. How is this perspective different from a psychologist/psychiatrist or a clergy person’s perspective? What implications would the curandero/a’s treatment have on the person’s treatment in general?

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