PROTECTED SACREDNESS: A GROUNDED THEORY EXPLAINING TRADITIONAL HEALING PRACTICES IN THE NORTH OF THAILAND
A grounded theory methodology was used. To explain traditional healing practices in the North of Thailand. Twenty-one traditional healers (i.e., herbalist and mantra healers) in a northern Thai province were asked to tell of their practices. Through unstructured in-depth interviews, we generated data for constant comparative analysis leading to the development of categories. A theoretical code (i.e., governance) was used to integrate these categories into a grounded theory
Results: Protected sacredness is a grounded theory developed to explain the traditional healing practices. According to this theory, traditional healing is regarded as a sacred practice. The theory outlines the purpose, foundational governing concepts, regulatory mechanisms, and processes of traditional healing. Sacredness, as the purpose of the mandate, denotes both the (sacred) practice standard and healing outcomes (i.e., effectiveness). Six concepts mandate foundational values for the protection of sacredness, namely, faith, benevolence, moral integrity, self-sufficiency, gratitude, and gender-appropriateness. These values guide the six regulatory mechanisms, namely, self-governing, relationships (healer-clients, pupilmaster, traditional healing-conventional medicine), knowledge transmission and acquisition, experience accumulation and expertise, purification, and protection. These values and mechanisms govern a healing process. The protection of sacredness usually involves certain ceremonial acts and rites.
Conclusion: Thai traditional healing as a sacred practice is governed by values and mechanisms for the best interest of clients and the practice itself. Protected sacredness can be used as a framework to further our understanding and utilization of Thai traditional healing practices.