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Spiritism, Spirituality and Psyc Knowledges: studying mental health practices in an outpatient clinic in Southern Brazil

Fernando Ciello (PI)


Fernando’s doctoral dissertation intends to offer an ethnographic reflection about a psychiatric outpatient clinic in Southern Brazil where Spiritist conceptions are employed in parallel with psychological, psychotherapeutic and psychiatric practices. The study seeks to understand how “spiritual” elements appear in the treatment, be it tensioning or stretching concepts relevant to the treatment process. Among other things the study wants to discuss the dynamic and interactive manners in which life is constituted in the clinic, in light of the many therapeutic frameworks provided by psychology and spiritual beliefs. Ethnographic data thus far suggests that ideas such as “holistic treatment”, “spirituality paradigm” or “complex approach to human being”, common during this investigation, point to the creative ways in which subjects reflect, synthesize and negotiate the many aspects of their lives in the experience and in the treatment of mental illnesses.

This work is associated with the Graduate Program in Social Anthropology of Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC/Brazil) and is funded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq/Brazil). Fernando is a Visiting Researcher in the Fulbright Program in UC San Diego, sponsored by Dr. Thomas Csordas and Dr. Janis Jenkins.