Between sacred and medical realities: Culturally sensitive therapy with Jewish Ultra-Orthodox patients Academic Article uri icon


  • One disconcerting aspect of the role of culture in shaping human suffering is the gap between the explanatory models of therapists and patients in multicultural settings. This gap is particularly noted in working with Jewish ultra–Orthodox psychiatric patients whose idioms of distress are often derived from a sacred reality not easily reconcilable with psychomedical reality. To meet the challenge to therapeutic efficacy that this incompatibility may pose, we propose a culturally sensitive therapy based on strategic principles that focus on the patient's mythic world and religious idioms of distress as the kernel of therapeutic interventions. Using one case of post–traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as illustration, we seek to show how the religious symbols through which the patient's distress was articulated may be manipulated to effect cure. The case highlights the narrative quality of both illness …

publication date

  • January 1, 1995