The Indigenous Medical Knowledge Systems, Perceptions and Treatment of Mental Illness Among the Yoruba of Nigeria

Obafemi Jegede


Studies in African indigenous medical knowledge and the perception and treatment of illnesses require a significant intellectual concern given the interface of indigenous knowledge and health. This paper seeks to argue that there exist an indigenous peoples’ medical knowledge systems and these influence their perceptions and treatment methods of mental illness. The research was conducted by using ethnography to elicit data on how indigenous knowledge is connected with the conceptualisation of mental illness, how this constructs the treatment strategy and then enhances the effectiveness of their practice. The Yoruba people of Southwest of Nigeria have an indigenous knowledge system that is technical. The paper concludes that indigenous medical knowledge system in the treatment of mental illness is efficacious in the treatment of different kinds of mental illnesses. It will be foolhardy to underrate and cast aspersion on this kind of practice especially among indigenous practitioners.



Indigenous; Treatment; Practice; Ritual

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