“Wailing Lore” in a Yemenite–Israeli community: Bereavement, expertise, and therapy

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This study explores Yemenite–Jewish wailing as an example of how a traditional community copes with bereavement in contemporary Israel. Observations of wailing events and interviews with Yemenite–Israeli wailers and mourners are analyzed in order to understand the respondents' perceptions of wailing as a psychotherapeutic expertise and experience. These findings are further used to substantiate a theoretical reconsideration of models of bereavement, exploring the interplay between the modern, self-centered, and detached psychological model (the “clinical lore”) and the traditional, other-oriented, and continuous anthropological model (the “wailing lore”). The article concludes by discussing criticisms of the Western psychotherapeutic paradigm as it relates to bereavement and asking where a mourning ritual such as wailing fits into our understanding of the subjective experiences of grief.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1501-1511
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2007


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