Hand Trembling, Frenzy Witchcraft, and Moth Madness
A Study of Navajo Seizure Disorders
According to traditional Navajo belief, seizures are the result of sibling incest, sexual witchcraft, or possession by a supernatural spirit—associations that have kept such disorders from being known outside Navajo families. This new study is concerned with discovering why the Navajos have accorded seizures such importance and determining their meaning in the larger context of Navajo culture. The book is based on a 14-year study of some 40 Navajo patients and on an epidemiological survey among the Navajos and among three Pueblo tribes.
"Given the rarity of good books in the medical anthropology of native Americans in the southwestern United States, this book is a most welcome addition to the literature. Its authors recognize the necessity of a multidisciplinary approach to adequately explain even one type of illness within this bicultural area and they succeed in integrating historical, psychiatric, epidemiologic and anthropological perspectives on seizure disorders. An interdisciplinary team, they expended years of research efforts in five Indian communities (Navaho, Apache, Zuni, Tewas, and Hopis). The result is an unusually comprehensive treatment of a disorder on which we have very little cultural data." Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review"The authors explore many questions . . . including the relationships among culture, psychopathology, and the personality types of shamans. This book will be . . . of interest to medical anthropologists and others involved in Navajo studies." Medical Anthropology Quarterly"[Clinically oriented case histories] provide considerable information that could complement other studies of these ceremonies—the Tremblingway, the Frenzy Witchcraftway, and the Mothway." Shaman's Drum"This book is a literary mosaic of bits from many sourcesNavajo and Pueblo mythology, historical documents, culture and personality theory, epidemiological survey statistics, patient interviews, Freudian theories, disease incidence statistics . . . [and provides] readers with an extensive bibliography." Journal of the Southwest