Home Institution

University of Puget Sound

Publication Date

Spring 2006

Program Name

Madagascar: Ecology and Conservation


Possession, and the systems of mental health support existing under the same spiritual paradigm, inherently address and serve to instigate a change in the entirety of one’s life. The two traditional systems of mental health support in Madagascar, tromba spirit healers and Protestent exorcisms, appear to differ in doctine and tradition and have been proposed to be fundementally incompatible because of “conflicting or alternative epistemological realities” (Sharp, 525). The goals of this research, however, will be to identify the contextual and functional trends of the two systems that exist to support and ameliorate the mental health of the Malagasy people. For Malagasy women in particular, the impetus to change manifests in possession or a dream calling them to spiritual work. It is in rejecting that calling that the internal force requiring change, whether it is one’s psyche or spiritual counterpart, will sanction the individual in a form of mental illness. Inherent in following the calling of God’s work as mpiandry or one’s ancestors as a tromba medium, life becomes structured by the regulations of the system, is positively reinforced by the respect and needs of the community, and is ensured of continued mental health support through a profound and lifelong connection with the “spirits” within.


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Mental and Social Health

Article Location