Existential Psychotherapy in a Deep Cultural Context: The Case of “Keo”
Keywords:Key words: depression; native Hawaiian culture; religious curses and healers of them; existential therapy; case study; clinical case study.
This is a narrative case study of the psychotherapy of "Keo," a 23-year-old native Hawaiian man who came from a deprived and abusive background. After a period of seeming to turn his life around, Keo became depressed and withdrawn upon learning of a native Hawaiian culture curse that had been perpetrated on him and his sister. In the 24 sessions I saw Keo, I drew on my existential therapy principles to focus on his subjective reality and to work in conjunction with the Hawaiian subculture associated with the curse, including referral to a Kahuna, a healer in the native Hawaiian culture. A major existential dialectic that emerged in the case was Keo’s pull towards freedom from the curse versus his pull towards the status quo to avoid the anxiety associated with change.
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