Negotiation of the illness experience: Ayurvedic therapy and the psychosocial dimension of illness

Mark Nichter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The negotiation of the illness experience by ayurvedic vaidya and South Kanarese patients suffering from specific sources of psychosocial distress is examined in light of the cultural patterning of illness and communication within the clinical context. The negotiation process is initiated by the posing of rhetorical questions about somatic and affective states and structured by a conceptual framework which relegates such states to humoral interrelationships. By establishing a humoral explanatory model for an illness episode or affective state which takes into account environmental and constitutional factors over which one has little control, responsibility is mollified and dialogue about personal problems eased. A comparison of the interaction between ayurvedic practitioners and patients and astrologers and clients is made in this regard. The socially integrative and adaptive consequences of ayurvedic therapy is considered vis a vis a portrayal of a popular vaidya's therapy for a number of illnesses associated with the somatization of psychosocial stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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