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Being a patient in the religious and medical plurality of the Mberengwa district, Zimbabwe


Olov Dahlin

Zvinorwadza, a very common formulation heard among patients in the Mberengwa district, Zimbabwe, means «it is painful» or «it hurts». This book deals with patients in a rural area of southern Africa and poses two basic questions: What does it mean to be ill in this part of the world and what do patients’ life-worlds look like? Patients’ illness experiences are described with the word pain, anxiety and sometimes despair; their social situations are often marked by vulnerability, exposedness and insecurity which apply to both genders, but particulary to women; their help-seeking behaviour is characterised by pragmatism, complementarity and plurality; their conceptions about illnesses and aetiologies involve qualities of uncertainty, flexibility and multidimensionality; and, finally, patients’ treatment experiences can be depicted in three words: some experienced ease, others complete healing, while a significant group of the multi-episodical patients experienced non-deliverance. It is concluded that the phenomena illness and healing need to be regarded holistically and that it is of crucial importance to acknowledge patients’ own ideas concerning these issues.

BIC Classifications

  • Literature & literary studies (D)
    • Literature: history & criticism (DS)
      • Literary studies: general (DSB)
  • Humanities (H)
    • Religion & beliefs (HR)
      • Christianity (HRC)
        • Christian theology (HRCM)
  • Society & social sciences (J)
    • Society & culture: general (JF)
      • Cultural studies (JFC)
  • Medicine (M)
    • Medicine: general issues (MB)

BISAC Classifications

  • Foreign Language Study (FOR)
    • FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY / Miscellaneous (FOR017000)
  • Medical (MED)
    • MEDICAL / Health Care Delivery (MED035000)
  • Religion (REL)
    • RELIGION / Theology (REL102000)
  • Social Science (SOC)
    • Anthropology (SOC002)
      • SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General (SOC002000)

THEMA Classifications

  • Biography, Literature & Literary studies (D)
    • Literature: history & criticism (DS)
      • Literary studies: general (DSB)
  • Society & Social Sciences (J)
    • Society & culture: general (JB)
      • Cultural & media studies (JBC)
        • Cultural studies (JBCC)
  • Medicine & Nursing (M)
    • Medicine: general issues (MB)
  • Philosophy & Religion (Q)
    • Religion & beliefs (QR)
      • Christianity (QRM)
      • Aspects of religion (QRV)
        • Theology (QRVG)
  • Geographical qualifiers (1)
    • Africa (1H)
    • The Americas (1K)
      • South & Central America (including Mexico), Latin America (1KL)
    • Other geographical groupings, Oceans & seas (1Q)
      • Political, socio-economic & strategic groupings (1QF)
        • Developing countries (1QFG)
  • Language qualifiers (2)
    • African languages (2H)