Home Institution

University of Virginia

Publication Date

Fall 2007

Program Name

Brazil: Public Health and Community Welfare


Candomblé is an Afro-Brazilian religion that has a strong presence in Brazil as a religious institution as well as a health center. Many turn to the houses of Candomblé (terreiros) for healing from not only physical ailments but mental illnesses as well. Candomblé has been very effective in healing mental illnesses even when Western medicine has proved ineffective. I have sought to understand how Candomblé perceives mental health and the treatment of mental illness. I have examined how they diagnose mental illnesses, how they understand the nature of the illness, and their healing methods. I have also explored more general aspects of Candomblé that positively affect the mental health of its practitioners—particularly the role of ritual, one’s sense of identity within the religion, and the strong familial community of the terreiro.


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Psychiatric and Mental Health


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