This book investigates amaXhosa circumcision and the psychological processes involved. Lauraine Vivian employs concepts such as resilience, orthodoxy, broken men, and reciprocity to examine the experiences of men who have developed mental health issues in relation to their initiation into manhood. The chapters cover sensitive topics such as physical injury, pain, harm, and women’s agency. Drawing on the stories of over seventy amaXhosa men, the book provides rare insight into circumcision and psychotic experience.

chapter |12 pages


My ethnographic journey—Into isithetho

chapter |23 pages


amaXhosa circumcision—Performing the ordinary

chapter 1|20 pages

Negotiating patriarchy

Biomedical patriarchy—amaXhosa orthodoxy

chapter 2|21 pages

Resounding resilience in amaXhosa circumcision

Incorporating orthodoxy

chapter 3|20 pages

amaXhosa women in circumcision

Dropping the pot

chapter 4|21 pages

Embedding pain in memory

Instigating amaXhosa manhood

chapter 5|22 pages

Circumcision, manhood and psychosis

Testimonies of engendered suffering

chapter 6|16 pages

amaXhosa metaphor in psychosis

Chasa’s story—A symbolic nexus

chapter 7|20 pages

Negotiating harm

Holding to orthodoxy

chapter 8|21 pages

Women’s advocacy

Re-describing gendered dispositions

chapter 9|13 pages


The depth of contestation—Transitional states in transformational institutions