Paradise regained: "Miraculous healing" in an Israeli psychiatric clinic

Yoram Bilu, Eliezer Witztum, Onno Van der Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The articulation of the experience of distress in terms of prevailing cultural idioms is deemed a crucially important factor in the effectiveness of healing devices across the globe. This curative factor, however, is not easily attainable in multicultural settings where therapist and patient do not share the same world view or explanatory models. In the following case presentation we report a culturally sensitive employment of strategic therapy with an ultra-orthodox psychiatric patient in Jerusalem. Despite the enormous cultural gap between the parties, the therapists were sufficiently sensitive to the patient's mythic world to enable him to recast his traumatic experiences in the mold of key idioms of his cultural background. These idioms were amplified by providing the patient with a myth-congruent metaphor and manipulated to afford a dramatic resolution of his emotional conflict. In what follows we discuss the setting of the therapy, the patient's background and diagnosis and the course of treatment. Following a verbatim account of the last therapeutic session, in which the patient's self-reconstitution had been completed, we discuss the cultural idioms synthesized in the text and the pertinence of hypnotic and metaphoric therapies to multicultural settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-127
Number of pages23
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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