Karo Batak ceremonial curing practices in urban Indonesia take place in a disputed zone of acts and meanings, in which neither social nor cultural coherence can be presumed by the analyst. Examining the therapeutic efforts of an urban Karo spirit possession cult aimed at curing the soul loss suffered by a young man, the Christian son of one of the cult's premier spirit mediums, this paper questions the relevance of the 'integrative model' in such cases, and suggests an alternative approach, looking at the sets of social, cultural and interpersonal tensions that run through the cult's practices and which, at the same time, those practices seek to contain. © 1988.
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