Preface to the 1982 Paperback (pp. xv-xxi)
1. Do the subjects of anthropological studies usually read published reports about their
ways of life? Did they read Scheper-Hughes’book? Explain.
a. Most subjects never read works published about them because they are usually
illiterate people from far away primitive cultures. However, the people of
Ballybran knew S-H very well and were perfectly capable of reading English.
They did read her work.
2. Did the people of Ballybran lose or gain anything by virtue of Scheper-Hughes’study?
a. Lost a hitherto, unchanged, native interpretation of the meaning of their lives as
ones based on the implicitly cherished values of familistic loyalty, obedience, and
sacrifice. But perhaps gained insight into the effects of their traditional culture on
b. LOST- until now an unchallenged native interpretation of the meaning of their
lives as ones based on the implicitly cherished values of familistic loyalty,
obedience, and sacrifice.
3. What were the villagers’complaints against S-H’s book?
a. The villagers that were the subjects of S-H’s study felt personally violated
because they weren’t aware that S-H was planning on going into their town to
write a book on all of their problems and difficulties. They also complained that
while what S-H said may be true, she ignored all the great things about Ballybran
(low crime rate, friendliness, etc.)
Prologue to the Original 1977 Edition (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
1. Who was Mag Moriarty, and why does S-H discuss her? Died at age 93. Her death
symbolized the death of Ireland
Preface to the Y2000 Edition (p. xiii)
1. Main points
Introduction (Mental Illness and Irish Culture)
1. What broad perspectives and questions provide the orientation for S-H’s study?
a. Cultural diagnosis of pathogenic stresses in Ireland today
b. Explore high vulnerability of young and middle aged bachelors to schizophrenic
c. Separation of sexes- at least one boy (usually the youngest) owes loyalty to the
parents, family, and village
2. Define “participant observation” and discuss S-H’s use of this standard fieldwork
a. Being part of the field that is being studied-- how S-H is part of the village (goes
to church, kids go to school, husband is in pub, etc.)
3. What use did S-H make of interviews, and how did these interviews relate to a specific
4. What projective tests did she administer? What advantages did these tests have over
other means of gathering data?
a. ThematicApperception Test (TAT)
b. Draw-a-person c. Values hierarchy scale
i. These are indirect ways to ask personal questions that if asked directly,
subjects would not have answered. Essentially these tests persuade the
villagers into giving her answers to personal questions
5. Did S-H have help in conducting her research? Yes, her family helped her (husband and
kids), as did many of the villagers
6. What concerns and anxieties did she have about the moral issues associated with her
fieldwork? She didn’t want to “steal” the villagers secrets
7. What is cultural relativity?
a. All cultures are different. Rights and wrongs differ by culture so norms of one
place may be considered something wrong of another place.
b. Norms and values are derived within the specific social context
8. What difficulties attend the study of mental illness?
a. It is a taboo subject, so one must be careful studying it
b. Doesn’t want to look like she is going on a “witch hunt” for the cause of mental
c. When studying mental illness it is necessary that one interact with many mentally
ill people, which is potentially dangerous and sometimes quite dangerous.
d. People may lie about family illness when answering questions
9. Is Ballybran a completely atypical or highly unusual Irish village? Ballybran is a good
example of an Irish village, being atypical and unusual from our perspective, but very
alike to its neighbors.
Chapter 1 – In Space and In Time
1. Briefly describe Ballybran’s physical layout, social structure, and modes of economic
a. Physical Layout
i. The central village consists of a double row of two-story houses, half of
them shuttered and deserted- overlooking the bay with its last remaining
naomhog (refer to pg. 77 to understand that word) in a state of melancholy
disrepair and tied idly to the quay.
ii. Aprimary school, a chapel, dick, a creamery, 3 pubs, 4 small dry-goods
shops, the forge, a guesthouse house, 2 graveyards, and the ruins of 3
churches complete the inventory of public and social institutions of the
b. Social Structure
i. Mountain Villagers
1. Shepherds, fishermen, and dairy farmers
2. Claim continuous residence in the parish as far back as the first
settlement by seafaring Mediterranean Celts
3. Long, lean, finely sculpted (fair Norman complexion)
ii. “Urbane” Families
1. Provide the educational, religious, and recreational needs of the
resident farming and fishermen population
2. Teachers, postmen, politicians, nurses, auto repairmen,
shopkeepers c. “Equality and classlessness are strongly defended ideals… but the children of
teachers rarely play with children of shopkeepers… shopkeepers of farmers… and
almost no one plays with the children of the shepherds.” Page 78
2. In what terms does S-H characterize Ballybran’s worldview and ethos?
a. Fear and mistrust in outsiders
b. Intensely familistic
c. Tightly endogamous
i. Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group,
class, or social group, rejecting others on such basis as being unsuitable
for marriage or other close personal relationships.
3. What survivals of Celtic culture exist in the village’s natural environment, religious
beliefs, and social practices?
a. The odd lines found in Tommy Murphy’s field is dated back to the Celts, the
different monuments like the standing stones or the underground dwellings were
granted religious validity to respect the ancestry.
b. The rounds at holy wells
c. The assembly for sun worship at sacred mountain tops
d. The devotion to sacred rocks
4. When did the historical period begin in the parish?
a. 5th century with the introduction of Christianity in the village
b. Per location tradition-- history begins with the landing of Noah’s Granddaughter
on Dun ma mBarc on the Dingle Peninsula
5. Who is St. Brendan? He introduced Christianity to the village in the 5th century. “The
navigator” is his nickname
6. What does S-H mean when she says that St. Brendan’s monastic theology left its imprint
on both Irish Catholicism and the ascetic personality of the Irish countryman?
7. In what ways have Celtic and Catholic beliefs merged together?
8. What reflections do you see in parish history of the historical antagonism between the
English and the Irish?
9. What and when was the Great Famine?
a. The great famine was a period of starvation, disease, and death in Ireland
b. Happened because of the rapid decline in the import of potatoes
Chapter 2 – The People Left Behind
1. In broad terms, how has the quality of life in western Ireland changed since the 1940s?
2. Define “familism”.Adependency upon and reciprocity within wide circles of near and
“far out” kin.
3. Briefly outline the decline in population and the change in household composition in
Ballybran over the last century.
a. Population has declined due to increased deaths and decreased births
b. Households now have unmarried adults residing in their parents house or all kids
left not only the house but also the village
4. How has the nature of rural Irish women’s emigration changed since World War II?
a. Before WWII, women left for a few years to get money and then returned
b. Post WWII women leave with no intention of returning 5. Compare statistics on the male and female farm population in Kerry County. Note the
problems of celibacy, childlessness, and aging of the Irish farm population. There are
way more eligible boys (64) than there are girls (27)
6. What influences have these demographic problems had on agricultural development and
values associated with traditional life? Because most farms don't have successors (no
kids to take it over) they are run by the elderly, who do not conform to new technological
advances in agriculture
7. Discuss the assumptions about traditional agrarian life, which have informed the
agricultural policies of the Irish government.
a. Fathers still rule imperiously over their children
b. Women are eager to marry into farms
c. Farming is valued as a priceless, if not profitable, way of life
d. ASSUMPTIONS NO LONGER HOLD TRUE
8. Outline what S-H calls the constriction of village institutions and trades.
9. How has tourism influenced the village? People come to the village to see the quiet and
quaintness of it so villagers will be extra chatty and cheery-- as to not be entertainment of
10. What does S-H’s “occupational hierarchy scale” reveal?
a. kids ranked the village doctor above the priest
b. Health over religious faith
c. Low statues given to the village blacksmith and new guesthouse operators
d. Due to decrease in use of horses and iron utensils
e. Guesthouse operators are seen as greedy and having bad taste for selling Irish
11. How does S-H define anomie? Reference to loss of meaningful work identity and its
relationship to the proliferation of self-destructive tendencies-- such as alcoholism
12. Explain S-H’s assessment of cultural versus psychoanalytic interpretations of the
Thematic Apperception Test. What differences were there in men and women’s
interpretations of the cards?
13. Discuss evidence of depression and self-destructive tendencies in Ireland.
a. Attempted suicide is very common
b. Evidence includes alcoholism, seeking help, high rates in cigarette consumption,
caloric intake, and deaths from hypertension, coronary disease and gastric and
14. What did the Gaelic revival movement aim to accomplish? What obstacles did it face,
and what did it actually accomplish?
a. Aimed to maintain spoken Irish in the gaeltacht and to revive Irish as the national
language in the rest of the public
b. Obstacles include criticism which affected their positive outlook greatly and there
were few to no native-born Irish speakers
c. Those who were native-born speakers were too old or otherwise incapable of
teaching the language
Chapter 3 – Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics
1. Discuss S-H’s evidence for the role of sociocultural factors in evoking or sustaining
mental illness in Ireland. Celibacy, age, male bachelors, mental handicapped 2. Define schizophrenia.Acrude diagnostic label to describe a cluster of symptoms that,
under further scrutiny and with greater refining of psychiatric nosology, may be found to
represent more than one illness.
3. What problems are involved in diagnosing schizophrenia and making cross-cultural
a. Different countries and cultural systems are more or less likely to diagnose
b. So cross-cultural comparisons may not be all the accurate, as there are different
techniques in diagnostic procedure, so numbers will obviously be different
4. Why is there high usage of hospitals in Ireland? Acombined result of the availability of
beds, highly esteemed care by nursing Sisters, generally positive attitudes toward
hospitalization, and the low cost of treatment
5. Why are the elderly hospitalized? No one else wants to take care of them, so they end up
in hospitals because they have nowhere else to go.
6. What is the distinction between “fool” and “lunatic”?
a. A fool is someone who is ‘god’s own’
i. They are simple and not dangerous, childlike and innocent; clean of heart.
b. Alunatic is a transformation of the fool, and is violent or dangerous to the
7. What is labeling theory, and what part does it play in S-H’s analysis?
a. Looks at the local understanding of mental illness
b. You have to understand how people locally categorize mental illness.
8. How do the Ballybran villagers define “normal” and “abnormal” behavior?
a. Reserved behavior is normal
b. Uncontrolled excitability is abnormal
9. What link does S-H pose between village communication patterns and schizophrenia?
a. So-called Irish doublespeak may create intolerable levels of ambiguity, which can
provoke schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals
b. Borderline schizophrenic persons, or schizoid, given their characteristic
difficulties with language, would be quickly recognized and labeled as abnormal
10. What kinds of psychiatric models structure professional treatment of the mentally ill in
Ireland? How do these contrast with perspectives in American treatment procedures?
a. In Ireland they emphasize the chemical component of mental illness, virtually
excluding the attention to social and environmental factors
i. America focuses on psychiatric care-- lots of psychologists and psychiatric
social workers. They use psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and group
11. What kinds of psychiatric facilities are available to the people of Ballybran?
12. Define what S-H calls “hospitalism.” Discuss this concept in relation to village attitudes
about the mentally ill and the effectiveness of treatment.
a. “Hospitalism-” voluntary dependency upon the total institution as an adaptive
13. Is mental illness stigmatized in Ballybran? Evidence?
a. Yes, it is but in a sort of Irish way.
b. The evidence is in how they treat those who are mentally ill.
14. How do mental illness rates for Ireland compare with those of other Western countries? Chapter 4 – Brothers, Sisters, and Other Lovers
1. Who becomes schizophrenic in Ballybran? Mostly males who are not married-- late
twenties to mid thirties
2. Explain the notion that familism as an ideal continues to be important in Ballybran.