The Rhetoric of Transformation in Ritual Healing

  • Thomas J. Csordas
Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)


Healing at its most human is not an escape into irreality and mystification, but an intensification of the encounter between suffering and hope at the moment in which it finds a voice, where the anguished clash of bare life and raw existence emerges from muteness into articulation. An understanding of healing as an existential process requires description of the processes of treatment and specification of concrete psychological and social effects of therapeutic practices, as well as determination of what counts as an illness in need of treatment in particular cultural contexts, and when it can be said that a cure has been effected. However complex, this task constitutes an essential problem of meaning in anthropology, for it is concerned with the fundamental question of what it means to be a human being, whole and healthy, or distressed and diseased. The interpretive dimension of the problem is highlighted by the fact that many forms of healing are religious in nature, which requires accounting for the role of divine forces and entities (Csordas and Lewton 1998). Given the prevalence of religious healing and the global interrelation of religion and healing, the category of the holy may in its own way be fundamental to our understanding of health and health problems. A complete account of religious healing per se would then have not only to examine the construction of clinical reality with respect to medical motives, but also the construction of sacred reality with respect to religious motives.


Therapeutic Process Healing Minister Endogenous Process Evil Spirit Spiritual Growth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Thomas J. Csordas 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas J. Csordas

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations