Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics

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Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland.
Nancy Scheper-Hughes
28 November 2011
Anthropology 1103- 001

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy
1979 Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics: University of California Press

“It is generally accepted that schizophrenia is a condition in which the person alters his representation of reality in order to escape or withdraw from seemingly unresolvable conflicts and from social interactions that are painful.”(Nancy quotes Hill, Lewis B 1955) as important defining quote of what is incorporated in characteristics of schizophrenia. In the mid 1970’s, in rural Ireland, cases of mental illness and schizophrenia was abnormally high; Nancy Scheper in her ethnography uncovers possible
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The attitude towards sex was implemented as shameful, dirty, and guilt covered. Older men, 30’s- late 40’s, were the most common relevance of schizophrenia, which Nancy implies has part to do with sexual repression of these men. Hopelessness was often common, and sexual appendages were seen as a burden, Nancy used a personal portrait of one of the patients of the hospital to show this. (pg.331) It seems Ballybran was “ caught in between old and new social systems and moral economics” (pg. 49). The Family structure was also a large part of development unusual social habits; children were neglected of personal interaction with mother necessary for early neurological development, but at the same time overly protected by isolation at a young age. Children were made tough by being beaten at home, school, and church and began to associate human touch with negative attributes instead of comfort. They were beaten into what was considered to be “a good Irish child”, expected to be quiet, out of sight, and not to ask for things such as sweets or attention. Depending on gender and position of being born, whether it to be first born child or the runt of the family, led to differences of their responsibilities into adulthood. The last born sons began to be expected to stay home and inherit the farm, Become the “scapegoat” of the family through their illness, forcing
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