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Families of the sick confronted with the psychiatric explanatory model : The quest for meaning and social uses Volume 100, issue 1, Janvier 2024

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Author
Sociologue, Institut Universitaire des Etudes Africaines, Euro-méditerranéennes et Ibéro-Américaines. Université Mohammed V de Rabat
* Correspondance : K. Zouitni <khadija.zouitni@um5.ac.ma>

The purpose of this article is to explore, on the one hand, the explanatory models offered by mental health professionals to patients’ families and to which the latter adhere in their quest for meaning, and to examine, on the other hand, the transformations that the medical/scientific discourse undergoes and the social uses that these families make of it.

The research took place at Arrazi de Salé psychiatric hospital. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirty members of patients’ families and twenty-eight mental health professionals. The thematic analysis indicates that families adhere to psychiatric explanations when the diagnosis manages to locate the origin of the affliction, that is, when the diagnosis identifies an organic origin and offers satisfactory treatment. Moreover, these medical explanations are accepted by the families insofar as they allow them to give meaning to their experiences of distress, or to exculpate themselves of any responsibility linked to the emergence of the disease of their relatives.