The rôle of dance in the ritual therapy of the Anastenaria

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Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies

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Department or Program


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The Anastenaria is a ritual involving trance and possession which is performed in several villages and towns in northern Greece. It is a ritual system of psychotherapy which is often effective in treating illnesses that in Western psychiatric terms would be considered psychogenic in nature. This paper focuses on the rôle of the dance of the possessed Anastenarides in the therapeutic system of the Anastenaria. I hope to show that this dance contributes to the therapeutic effectiveness of the Anastenaria because it provides the Anastenarides with an opportunity to experience a cathartic release of anxiety, to structure this cathartic experience, and to transform a state of anxiety, suffering, and illness into a state of joy, power, and health. © 1979 Maney Publishing.

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