Transcultural Limitations of Medical Model Treatment in Ghana


An anthropological study of mental health service use in Ghana, published online June 21 in Transcultural Psychiatry, finds that counter to expectations almost all those interviewed had accessed biomedical treatment but many had discontinued antipsychotics. Despite perceived beneficial effects such as controlling aggression or inducing sleep, “unpleasant side effects such as feelings of weakness and prolonged drowsiness conflicted with notions of health as strength and were seen to reduce the ability to work. The reduction of perceptual experiences such as visions was less valued than a return to social functioning. The failure of antipsychotics to achieve a permanent cure also cast doubt on their efficacy and strengthened suspicions of a spiritual illness which would resist medical treatment”

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Read, U. “‘I want the one that will heal me completely so it won’t come back again’: The limits of antipsychotic medication in rural Ghana.” Transcultural Psychiatry, online June 21, 2012

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].