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2012 | 2 | 1 | 113-121

Article title

In the service of hope? Self-awareness of folk healers and their social reception

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Abstracts

EN
Purpose: The purpose of this research was to obtain knowledge about the activity of contemporary folk healers from Podlasie from two points of view – the healers themselves and representatives of the local communities. Materials and methods: The research material had been collected over the last few years in the eastern Podlasie region, particularly in the municipalities of Bielsk Podlaski and Hajnówka (2008). A full range of qualitative methods had been used, ranging from structured interviews and casual conversations, to observations and participation in the researched practices. The subjects of the research were the healers and other persons functioning in their social environment. The group of non-healers was clearly diversified demographically as well as culturally. Results: The folk medicine practiced by the folk healers in Podlasie proved to be an autonomous system of knowledge, very coherent, traditional and symbolic (based on trust in God and non-invasive curative methods), and additionally, still quite popular among certain local communities. Though, it also must be stated, that the self-awareness of the healers contrasted with the ambivalent social reception of such folk practitioners. Conclusion: The dominant religious aspect opens a wide area for discussion about the importance of the power of sacrum, hope and the placebo effect for an active patient, positively engaged in the curative process, who decides to combine therapeutic methods of both academic and folk medicine. From an ethnological point of view, the activity of Podlasian folk healers could be viewed as a challenge and an opportunity rather than a danger to health.

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2

Issue

1

Pages

113-121

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bwmeta1.element.ceon.element-25505193-9c2e-39be-9525-ed98e690ed0e
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