The Rwandan prescription for Depression: Sun, drum, dance, community. “We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better, there was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again, there was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy, there was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again. Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.” ~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.

dance community

From The Moth podcast, Notes on an Exorcism.   http://themoth.org/stories

7 thoughts on “The Rwandan prescription for Depression: Sun, drum, dance, community. “We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better, there was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again, there was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy, there was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again. Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.” ~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.

  1. This is wonderful. Case in point, I had a long talk in the US with a man from Ghana who said that there was a fear of western style hospitals. The fear was related to not getting out again. “You go you die”. He said there was a preference to be with the community. They would pray and sing and dance for wellness.

  2. *There is healing in dance, catharsis in movement, it is such a simple, but most misunderstood concept, by those who have moved away from the primal, “nature-based” life that leads us away from our true selves….it is the act of movement, that is the opposite of stagnation…a dammed river cannot serve itself, or those down-river…RCM

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