Social representations of mental illness and madness in Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso)

Pigeon-Gagné, É., Hassan, G., Yaogo, M., Saïas, T., & Ouedraogo, D. (2023, janvier)

Sciences sociales et santé

Vol. 41/Num. 1 | 22 p.

Inequalities in access to psychiatric care are increasingly recognized as a serious public health issue in sub-Saharan Africa. In these countries, little information is available regarding social representations of mental disorders, although these can have a significant influence on access to care. In this article, we examine the popular nosological entities and their characteristics in urban Burkina Faso. To do so, 7 focus groups and 16 individual interviews were conducted with various actors in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso. A thematic analysis revealed two popular nosological entities. The term Kougolobana refers to an alteration of the brain associated with bewitchment by supernatural entities and is expressed sporadically; whereas the term Fatoya refers to an incurable condition caused by the commission of transgressive acts of various kinds. Our results highlight the mutual influence of traditional and bio-psycho-social registers in the construction of these nosological entities. These results allow us to reflect on the centrality of the notion of transgression in the social representations of mental health disorders in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso.