I was in the car yesterday afternoon listening to NPR. Listening to NPR on Sunday afternoons is perhaps one of my favorite things to do. On this particular afternoon our station was airing The Moth Radio Hour from WNYC. I happened to catch the part of the show when Andrew Solomon was on stage telling of his quest to find any and all cures for depression.
After suffering for years and years from depression himself then working his way out of the pain through conventional western medicine, Solomon researched and explored and traveled the world to find out how cultures other than our own treat the disease. In the process he met many interesting people who were more than happy to share their own stories of healing with him–including one lady who found her way out of depression by making little things from yarn (?).
The laugh-out-loud part of the show, however, came when Solomon told the story of traveling to Senegal and submitting himself to a tribal cure for depression, which involves the whole village and copious amounts of animal blood–quite daunting for your average westerner, for sure.
In addition to may hilarious details, Solomon recounted some very touching moments, too. For example, in Senegalese culture illness is, of course, attributed to evil spirits. When performing a cure for depression, there is a moment in which the patient says to the evil spirits harassing him: “Spirits, leave me alone to complete the business of my life. I will never forget you,” which in some strange way mollifies them and then you get cured. It was kind of interesting to think of asking your illness to please leave you alone…made me wonder if it really works.
There’s a lot more about this episode that made me think, so take a listen and see if it gives you something to think about, too. My bet is that you will laugh out loud.
And if anybody is up for a trip to Senegal, I swear I’m game.