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November 1977

El Hospital InvisibleA Study of Curanderismo

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Medical School, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1977;34(11):1354-1357. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1977.01770230096009

• This report presents the results of interviews with 16 Mexican-American folk healers (curanderos and curanderas) in San Antonio, Tex. Curanderismo was found to be alive and well in San Antonio, though its practitioners tend to be older and its future unclear. Several salient characteristics of the practitioners were clarified such as the process of becoming a healer, referral practices, types of disorders treated, and treatment of the traditional folk illnesses.

We take a basically conservative position on whether curanderos can ever be incorporated into the health care delivery system. However, this study confirms that the practitioners and their clients simultaneously utilize the folk medical system and the scientific medical system.