Supernatural impotence: Historical review with anthropological and clinical implications


Ezrath Nashim Community Mental Health Center, PO Box 140, Jerusalem 91001, Israel


The historical and cultural background of the belief in supernatural impotence is presented, emphasizing its possible implications for clinical practice. A brief historical survey of the concept in Judaism and Christianity is followed by a short anthropological survey of supernatural impotence in different ethnic subcultures in Israel. A case demonstration exemplifies the connection between understanding the patient's cultural background and beliefs and the clinical competence of the therapist. The relationship between the clinical-therapeutic process in psychiatric practice and knowledge of the patient's cultural background and beliefs is stressed.