Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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If a Client is Operating From a Samoan World View How can S/He be Holistically and Appropriately Treated Under the Western Medical Model?

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posted on 2021-11-03, 02:11 authored by Esera, Folole Iaeli

This paper is an analysis of the cultural and traditional factors that I believe are essential considerations in the treatment of Samoan people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.  Just as important to any diagnosis is the spiritual nature of our culture and traditions, which forms the most part of my people's belief system. A full understanding of these will explain how the traditional beliefs and cultural values of Samoan people have an impact on their perception of mental illness, its causes and cures. Greater emphasis will be placed on 'ma'i -aitu', the Samoan term for most ailments pertaining to the mind or psyche.  The focus will be on defining 'ma'i -aitu' as part of a Samoan world view and likewise a description of a similar type of manifestation in the Papalagi (western) context of a psychiatric disorder and how treatment and management is usually undertaken.  The issues addressed in this paper will serve to highlight the Samoan client's world view from a Samoan perspective of mental illness which then poses the question of how they can be managed holistically and appropriately under the Papalagi medical system. Furthermore, does the traditional belief system of Samoans run deeper than we originally thought and can the replacement thereof by a foreign culture be responsible for the increased mental problems in Samoans living in New Zealand?  This paper emphasises the importance of integrating the western medical model and Samoan health models, for appropriate mental health service delivery to Samoan people.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Arts (Applied)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health


McEldowney, Rose