Combined Modality Therapy
Patient Care Team
Within Malawi, as in many other African countries, a variety of traditional and modern attributions exist regarding the cause of a person's mental disturbance, or their admission to a 'mental' hospital. It is argued that a good mental health service should consider the beliefs of the patients it seeks to serve. Consequently we studied 103 consecutive admissions to Zomba Mental Hospital in order to find out how patients explained their own admission to the hospital. Traditional attributions were the most common, followed by medical and then psychological attributions. Some patients explained their admission to the hospital by combining traditional, medical or psychological ideas. Content analysis of traditional attributions identified examples of "Tropical Tolerance" and the "Pull Down" phenomenon. The possible interactive nature of traditional, medical and psychological processes is discussed and it is suggested that traditional healers should be incorporated into 'modern' Malawian mental health services.