John Libbey Eurotext

L'Information Psychiatrique


Body, suffering and relationships with others in the African culture Volume 94, issue 1, Janvier 2018

1 Neuropsychiatre, Chef de service de psychiatrie au CHU de Brazzaville. Faculté des sciences de la santé, Université Marien Ngouabi, République du Congo
2 Psychiatre et pédopsychiatre, psycho-criminologue-victimologue. Pôle 93G15 de psychiatrie adulte, EPS de Ville-Evrard, 93330 Neuilly-sur-Marne, France Faculté de médecine et des sciences biomédicales, Université de Yaoundé I, Cameroun 93330 Neuilly-sur-Marne, France
3 Maîtres de conférences en psychopathologie et psychologie clinique. Université de Picardie Jules Vernes, chemin du Thil, 80025 Amiens, France
4 Psychologue clinicien, service de psychiatrie, CHU de Brazzaville, République du Congo
5 Neurologue, service de neurologie au CHU de Brazzaville, République du Congo
6 Neurologue, chef de service de neurologie au CHU de Brazzaville, République du Congo
* Correspondance
  • Key words: traditional society, psychosomatic disorder, body, psychic trauma, interpersonal relationship, mental health, culture, care management, Africa, Congo
  • DOI : 10.1684/ipe.2018.1738
  • Page(s) : 33-40
  • Published in: 2018

Based on a descriptive analysis of four clinical cases with medically unexplained symptoms at Brazzaville University teaching hospital, the authors of this article wanted to examine the link between body, suffering and relationship with others in African communities. The study showed that patients had developed somatic symptoms with no organic base with the waning of a psychic trauma or existential stress. Neither they nor their families had any awareness of the link between their symptoms and the trauma or stress. They attributed their pains to evil spells cast by malicious people from their families, professional and social environment or ancestral spirits, requiring traditional support by performing rites. This attitude reflects the “family” character of the social organization. Clinicians who cared for them were less oriented towards psychological investigations due to the lack of awareness regarding mental health. The authors propose to take into account the psychological problems encountered by patients during their care and advocate for an integrative approach in which the role of the family is an important key resource.