When culture becomes medicine. On March 9, 2018, Michelle Duff of New Zealand’s Stuff website wrote a piece (8 minute read), “In Narrative Therapy, Maori Creation Stories are Being Used to Heal”. Ms. Duff reports on a form of mental health treatment called “Mahi a Atua” which uses tales from Maori creation mythology help heal the trauma of European colonization of the Polynesian people who first settled in New Zealand between 1250 and 1300. The therapy is making a difference, with urgent requests for traditional psychiatric treatment for Maori youth decreasing by 50% within the first six months of the program.
“For many Maori, traditional mental health settings are intimidating. It’s almost like mental health services are way of colonizing people again. You come in, you’re disconnected from your land, your culture, and your language. You can’t articulate values that are part of your ancestry.”
Contemporize this concept to meet the ideologies of Western individualism. One’s deeply personal experience with illness and subsequent treatment should rest in the informed choices most resonant to our beliefs.