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Kiyang-yang, a West-African postwar idiom of distress.
Cult Med Psychiatry. 2010 Jun; 34(2):301-21.CM

Abstract

In 1984, a healing cult for young barren women in southern Guinea Bissau developed into a movement, Kiyang-yang, that shook society to its foundations and had national repercussions. "Idiom of distress" is used here as a heuristic tool to understand how Kiyang-yang was able to link war and post-war-related traumatic stress and suffering on both individual and group levels. An individual experience born from a traumatic origin may be generalized into an idiom that diverse sectors of society could embrace for a range of related reasons. We argue that, for an idiom to be understood and appropriated by others, there has to be resonance at the level of symbolic language and shared experiences as well as at the level of the culturally mediated contingent emotions it communicates. We also argue that through its symbolic references to structural causes of suffering, an idiom of distress entails a danger for those in power. It can continue to exist only if its etiology is not exposed or the social suffering it articulates is not eliminated. We finally argue that idioms of distress are not to be understood as discrete diagnostic categories or as monodimensional expressions of "trauma" that can be addressed.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Cultural and International Psychiatry, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. jtvmdejong@gmail.comNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Comparative Study
Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

20422270

Citation

de Jong, Joop T., and Ria Reis. "Kiyang-yang, a West-African Postwar Idiom of Distress." Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, vol. 34, no. 2, 2010, pp. 301-21.
de Jong JT, Reis R. Kiyang-yang, a West-African postwar idiom of distress. Cult Med Psychiatry. 2010;34(2):301-21.
de Jong, J. T., & Reis, R. (2010). Kiyang-yang, a West-African postwar idiom of distress. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 34(2), 301-21. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-010-9178-7
de Jong JT, Reis R. Kiyang-yang, a West-African Postwar Idiom of Distress. Cult Med Psychiatry. 2010;34(2):301-21. PubMed PMID: 20422270.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Kiyang-yang, a West-African postwar idiom of distress. AU - de Jong,Joop T, AU - Reis,Ria, PY - 2010/4/28/entrez PY - 2010/4/28/pubmed PY - 2010/9/3/medline SP - 301 EP - 21 JF - Culture, medicine and psychiatry JO - Cult Med Psychiatry VL - 34 IS - 2 N2 - In 1984, a healing cult for young barren women in southern Guinea Bissau developed into a movement, Kiyang-yang, that shook society to its foundations and had national repercussions. "Idiom of distress" is used here as a heuristic tool to understand how Kiyang-yang was able to link war and post-war-related traumatic stress and suffering on both individual and group levels. An individual experience born from a traumatic origin may be generalized into an idiom that diverse sectors of society could embrace for a range of related reasons. We argue that, for an idiom to be understood and appropriated by others, there has to be resonance at the level of symbolic language and shared experiences as well as at the level of the culturally mediated contingent emotions it communicates. We also argue that through its symbolic references to structural causes of suffering, an idiom of distress entails a danger for those in power. It can continue to exist only if its etiology is not exposed or the social suffering it articulates is not eliminated. We finally argue that idioms of distress are not to be understood as discrete diagnostic categories or as monodimensional expressions of "trauma" that can be addressed. SN - 1573-076X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/20422270/Kiyang_yang_a_West_African_postwar_idiom_of_distress_ L2 - https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-010-9178-7 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -