To Cure or to Heal: Different Ways to Appropriate Therapeutic Readings

Vanina Papalini


In Argentina, as is common in most Latin American countries, therapies addressed to wellness or healing are commonly shared in groups or communities. In contrast, self-help books emphasize personal appropriation and individual treatment. Research on the appropriation of self-help books is based on the premise that reading material is an essential therapeutic resource.

The aim of this article is to present different ways of using and interpreting self-help books. Using grounded theory methodology, I explore the importance of an interpersonal context as a proper sphere for dealing with suffering. The research is based on interviews, field notes, and analysis of documents. My main findings start with differentiating two categories: curing as an objective perspective to the remedy of disease, and healing as the subjective feeling of health. Up from here, three dynamics of treatment based on self-help books had been reconstructed: I show that self-help books, as well as faith-based therapeutic groups, focus on the healing perspective whereas therapeutic groups with a qualified coordinator are mostly involved in the perspective of cure. Support groups – i.e., mutual aid groups – fluctuate between healing and curing.



support groups; therapeutic groups; self-help books; illness; interviews; analysis of documents; grounded theory methodology


Copyright (c) 2017 Vanina Papalini -

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