Were Ni! He is a Madman

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© Speed / Prince
30 minutes / Colour / 1963
Directed by
Frank Speed Raymond Prince

Country of production United States Nigeria

This ethnopsychiatric film shows the management of psychiatric disorders by the Yoruba of Nigeria. There are two basic types of institutions to deal with psychiatric disorders. First there are treatment centres managed by herbalists and diviners with specialist knowledge of traditional psychiatric therapy. Second there are cult groups that provide a setting for the expression of otherwise socially unacceptable behaviour through ‘possession’ and masquerade dances. The film shows a number of aspects of both types of institution, including sequences of male Gelede masqueraders and women of the Egun possession cult. In spite of the diversity of ethno‑medical practices which are portrayed, the film has been criticised for not drawing sufficient distinction between major and minor forms of healing.

R.G. Armstrong, 1967. Review of the film. American Anthropologist, Vol.69, p.426.

P.C. Lloyd, 1965. 'The Yoruba of Nigeria'. In J.L. Gibbs (ed.), Peoples of Africa. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York. (General ethnographic material on the Yoruba.)

R. Prince (ed.), 1968. Trance and Possession States. Proceedings of the Second Annual Conference, R.M. Bucke Memorial Society, Montreal.

A. Seronde, 1975. Review of the film. American Anthropologist, Vol‑77, pp.181-182.

Language and subtitles English (no subtitles)

Region West Africa

Country Nigeria

Keywords Health / Health care / Healing Ritual Possession

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