In the waiting room of the terreiro: an investigation with Umbanda adepts with health complaints

Luciana Macedo Ferreira Silva Fabio Scorsolini-Comin About the authors

Abstract

Health complaints are an important part of the religious demands of various beliefs, especially Umbanda in Brazil. This ethnopsychological study analyzes how Umbanda adepts with health complaints perceive the health-disease process. A total of 20 Umbanda practitioners from two terreiros located in a medium-sized municipality in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, were selected as participants. The corpus was constituted by semi-structured interviews transcribed and organized according to the thematic analysis. Ambivalence was observed in the process of understanding the illness and the therapeutic trajectories embedded in the reports of these followers,. From such medical explanations related to the physical body and medicine also emerge spiritual narratives related to the inner world and to mental health. Despite referencing the work of incorporating entities, criticism is also given to the way health professionals distance themselves from religiosity/spirituality, both their own and that of the patient. Regardless of such ambivalence, these adepts express an integrated notion of health when they seek care in the terreiro, mixing formal and scientific elements with religious expressions, wherein Umbanda is a safe space for this diversity. This movement reaffirms Umbanda as a diverse space in which different kinds of reasoning can live.

Keywords:
Religion and Psychology; Religion and Medicine; Spirituality

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