States of Mind: Searching for Mental Health in Natal and Zululand, 1868-1918

Year Published: 
This study of mental illness and its cures in colonial and immediately post-Union Natal and Zululand investigates Westernised treatments of insanity at the Natal Government Asylum, as well as less well-known routes back to health via African and Indian modes of healing. Parle writes of the amandiki, bands of frenzied women who explained their illness as caused by possession by a male ancestor. She discusses quacks, medicines for hysteria and drunkenness, faith healers of different kinds, and suicide in all communities. Finally, she considers how mental health services became centralised under state control from Pretoria, with important consequences for the future of psychiatry and mental health services in modern South Africa.