Why Some Israeli Bedouin Still Turn to Exorcism

A mere 15 mental health professionals serve a population of 270,000 Negev Bedouin. While there is increasing openness to psychological treatment, the lack of accessibility, along with political and economic factors and even age-old superstitions, continue to dog the many in distress, says Dr. Sarah Abu-Kaf, a clinical psychologist and researcher

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Dr. Sarah Abu-Kaf.
Dr. Sarah Abu-Kaf.

Tell me about yourself.

My name is Dr. Sarah Abu-Kaf, I am a clinical psychologist and researcher, and head of the Conflict Management & Resolution Program at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva. My research deals with cross-cultural psychology – I am interested in psychological phenomena in cultural contexts – and most of it focuses on different population and age groups in Arab society, with the emphasis on Bedouin-Arab society. In my personal life, I am the mother of six children, I’ll soon be 45. I live in a village that is now finally recognized [by the state], but is not developed: Umm Batin, near Be’er Sheva.

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