Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland.

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Samantha Jones
Professor Ford
Anthropology 103
30 November 2009

The people of Ballybran parish are located in southwest Kerry, which is in Ireland. All there is in this small rural county town is a school, chapel, cemetery, three pubs, some good shops, the forge, a guest house, two graveyards and three churches that are in ruins. (Scheper-hughes ,19) It is a small rural village and doesn’t have a lot of tutorist attractions. The people of Ballybran are very long, lean, and finally sculptured meaning in shape. (Scheper-hughes, 19) There have very fair skin. Much of what these people eat is from the sea. They also eat packaged good and canned goods from the local shops. These people are farmers they mostly grow potatoes and cabbage. The average farm is between five and twenty acres. (Scheper-hughes, 20) These people are Irish catholic. The population of Ballybarn is about 461. The men and woman in ballybran get married a lot later then the rest. It is about thirty-four for men and twenty- eight for woman. So about one in every three adults is married. The people of Ballybran don’t follow the seven to nine child rule once so prevent in their parish. Most families only have about two or three and are using some form of birth control. The men are mostly shepherds, fisherman, and dairy farmers. (Scheper-hughes, 19) The people in the town sell canned goods, cigarettes, sugar and tea. It is said that the introduction of Christianity by the village saint Brendan the navigator started the period of the parish. Brandon and his band of holy monks spent a summer in ballybran on a mountain, which is now honored in his memory. They now call it mount Brandon. It is said that when Brandon was preying on a moutatin he got a divine commission to sail westward, where he would discover land. In these peoples history it states that while Christopher Columbus was on his voyage across the Atlantic he paid a visit to Galway to read Brandon’s manuscripts. Ireland got its name Saints and Scholars when the meetings between Pagan and Christianity were being held on Mount Brandon. (Scheper-hughes, 25) In Ireland they have a huge problem with mental illness. In 1975 in the small town of Ballybran you can find almost five percent of the population out of 461 are in a hospital of getting treatment somehow. Scheper- Hughes says that a mental breakdown is the most common among the people. Male patients are out numbering the females there are 2,432 male patients and only 1,414 female patients. The author suggests that the mental illness is most common among men. The rate of hospitalization are declining and increasing a lot. Up until age seventy the hospitalized increases and then it declines after a certain age. The patients both male and female usually stay between two or more years. The author talks about a certain mental illness called schizophrenia. She explains that maybe this disease is caused by the person’s cultural background. The people who had mental illness in Ballybran or maybe there were just the outcast were either institutionalized and people forgot about them or there were sent away to mountains all alone and isolated from the world. Although in some cases the people would be treated well by there family and were called saints. (Scheper-hughes, 84) The family life in Ballybran is supposed to be parents and children it is not the rule but the expectation that the community has for each other. So the people who are either childless or not married tend to feel cheated and not happy because they wont have heirs to carry on their line. (Scheper-hughes, 98) Everyone in the family has different roles and some have more power then others. The father is the most powerful; the fathers pass on their names, land and also there belongs to the oldest son. They are usually favored as the best; most likely it will be the first-born son. Either they would work on village trades or be sent to emigrate to England or America. The daughters of the...
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