ERIC Number: ED101887
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1974-Nov-24
Reference Count: 0
Aspects of Death, Grief and Mourning in the Treatment of Spanish-Speaking Mental Patients.
Aguilar, Ignacio; Wood, Virginia N.
An intense preoccupation with death is evident in the Mexican culture's pre-Columbian art, myths, and religion. This preoccupation is still present in the urban Mexican American. A death in a Mexican family causes a set of emotions and events quite different from those seen in an Anglo family. The Mexican reaction to death is such that if the full process of mourning is not completed, it is possible that the survivors may find it so difficult to return to their "normal" life that they cease to function. Death and lack of resolution through mourning and grief are among the many events which may lead to a "nervous breakdown". The Xipe-Totec Clinica de Salud Mental, which has been in operation since November 1971 at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California, uses these feelings to develop a ritual-drama to facilitate catharsis in Spanish-speaking mental patients. The patient is placed in a familiar cultural setting where the decorations and furnishings, language, music, social activities, and customs are such as to relax him and remove additional stress caused by conflict with the Anglo culture. The goal is to bring about a collective response in the group. Strong expression of emotion is the most important element in the "funeral ceremonies". Collective mourning for the dead is essential if the technique is to work therapeutically for the patient. (Author/NQ)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropology Association (73rd, Mexico City, 19-24 November 1974)