An epidemic of ghosts
2010 08 30
By Vaughanbell | MindHacks.com
Mozambique is being ravaged by an epidemic of spirit possession. These ‘outbreaks’ have traditionally been dismissed as superstition by commentators from afar, but it is becoming increasingly recognised that different cultures have different ways of expressing mental distress and social anguish – to the point where a team of medical scientists have just published the first large scale epidemiological study on spirit possession and its link to mental and physical illness in post-civil war Mozambique.
In this form of possession, the person feels as if their normal identity has been ‘pushed aside’ by a ‘spirit’, who takes control of their body and typically communicates with other people. After the possession episode, the person usually has amnesia for the episode.
In Western medicine, this is usually understood through a psychological process called dissociation – where normally integrated mental processes become disconnected. It’s like the psychological equivalent of when two teams in a company can’t communicate very well, so they start operating independently rather than as an integrated organisation.
"Demon Possessed Man with Evil Spirits"
Video from: YouTube.com
In many societies around the world the concept of spirit possession plays an important role in understanding and explaining both the forces of nature and the psychology of individuals, to the point where it has both positive and negative effects.
Ethnographic studies have found that, during possession, ‘spirits’ may offer opinions or solutions to moral crises and may protect the individual from trauma and despair during times of violence.
However, negative possession states can causes problems or illnesses that are thought to be triggered by the harmful spirits, which can include anything from fertility problems, to family break-up, to physical aches and pains.
As times change, new spirits appear and old ones fade, each having different effects, benefits or risks. One legacy of the Mozambique war was the emergence of a new type of spirit that had a particular interest in the personal and social legacy of the conflict.
In the late twentieth century, as a result of the Mozambican protracted civil war, gamba spirits emerged. They became the principal harmful spirits and source of diagnosis. Gamba refers to the spirit of male soldiers who died in the war. Possession by gamba is a trauma of a double derivation. First, the host and patrikin [family on the father’s side] were severely exposed to warfare that led to vulnerability; and, second, to address that war-related vulnerability, the host’s patrikin were alleged to have perpetrated serious wrongdoings.
The person possessed by a gamba spirit publicly re-enacts the events of war, sometimes violently, and through the possessed person, the spirit demands public acknowledgement of the injustices they suffered. Spirits who are not appeased continue to torment the possessed person to the point of serious illness.
The study, led by medical anthropologist Victor Igreja and published in Social Science and Medicine, surveyed the extent of possession in two districts in central Mozambique and see how it was linked to trauma and physical health.
They used local criteria for the definition of spirit possession and validated interviews to assess trauma – such as the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire – developed to be used across cultures.
Households were selected at random, and out of 941 people evaluated, 175 (18.6%) reported some form of spirit possession while 5.6% had experienced multiple simultaneous spirit possession.
People who had been possessed were more likely to be women and have symptoms of physical illness but less likely to have had a baby. Those who went into trances as part of their possession were more likely to be experiencing psychological trauma, have fertility problems, have had a child die during their life and to suffer nightmares
One particularly striking finding was that the severity of psychological and physical symptoms was directly related to the number of spirits that a person had been possessed by, with more serious problems being associated with greater numbers of intruding spirits.
While the effects of spirit possession can be seen to have some relation to the Western diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or anxiety, there are also many distinct features that reflect a more local concept of how a distressed person can express their mental anguish.
For people familiar with diagnoses drawn from the DSM and World Health Organisation ICD system, it is tempting to think that established descriptions are the ‘real’ disorders while cases of spirit possession are simply a local interpretation of them.
What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that both our personal experience of psychological distress and how we express that to others, is shaped by our culture. In other words, diagnoses such as PTSD may be as much wedded to a particular culture as spirit possession.
Sadly, this new study is locked behind a pay-wall, but if you have access to the full thing I recommend giving it a read through as it is a curious combination of traditional statistical epidemiology applied to the ‘diagnosis’ of possession.
The paper demonstrates that spirit possession can be studied scientifically and makes as much sense as studying any other psychiatric problem that is defined by unusual or unhelpful behaviour, such as schizophrenia or panic disorder.
Article from: mindhacks.com
Also tune into:
Bob Curran - Dark Fairies, Folklore, Spirits & Creatures
Bob Curran - Earth Lights, Modern Interpretations, Tomtar & Troll
Anthony Peake - Cheating The Ferryman & The Daemon
Anthony Peake - Quantum Weirdness & Precognition
Michael Wynn - The Necronomicon, Magick & Hollywood
Patrick Heron - The Nephilim and the Pyramid of the Apocalypse
Barbara Lamb - Crop Circles Revealed
Christopher Moors - Halloween Special - The Living Dead - Segment One
"Devil Possessions" Swept England After Invasion, Study Suggests
Incantations for rain by KGB priests produce devilish greenish fireballs, priests report
Pope sees the Devil Behind Timing of Sex Abuse Crisis ... Exactly!
Mother says devil made her stab and decapitate her baby
Return of the Devil’s Bible to Prague Draws Crowds of Curious Czechs
The Devil worshippers of Iraq
Spirit World - Alien Kabbalah (Video)
Psychic Photography - Capturing spirits
Milosevic grave attacked to expel evil spirits
The new face of Malaysia’s Islamic witchdoctors
Easter - when Sweden’s witches come out to play
Poor Women in Nepal Subjected to Horrific Witch Hunts
Human sacrifices ’on the rise in Uganda’ as witch doctors admit to rituals
TV Psychic to be Executed for Witchcraft
Abuse of child ’witches’ on rise, aid group says
Medical explanations of bewitchment
Man Kills Wife During "Exorcism"
The exorcism of St. Petersburg’s parliament
Relatives convicted in ‘bizarre’ exorcism death
The Story of a Modern-Day Exorcist
Haunted hospital calls in exorcist
Glossolalia - Speaking in Tongues (Video)
Modern shamans all the rage in South Korea
Dealing With The Devil: Demonic Possession
Latest News from our Front Page
Former Chief Security Officer for NewsCorp: N. Koreans Not Behind Sony Hack, Interview Leak
Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor and former chief security officer for NewsCorp/Fox studios, says North Korea isn’t behind the Sony Hack.
Nigam gave several bullet points for why the hack was likely an inside job.
Attack code borrowed from a previous attack on Seoul, that’s why it’s in Korean. Private hackers typically borrow malicious code from other hackers.Nations state attacks follow ...
Sony Fires Back at Obama: Actually We Did Call the White House – Several Times
Sony fired back at Obama after the press conference saying they had several conversations with the Obama White House before and after the movie was canceled.
Via The Hollywood Reporter:
After President Obama criticized Sony for its decision to cancel The Interview's release after theater chains decided not to show the film, the studio has issued a statement elaborating on the move.
The Bankster International
Geopolitical analysis, the art of explaining power relationships through the prism of impersonal geography, can be a helpful tool for observers of the Great Game – but it also has its limitations. A case in point is the renewed US-Russia confrontation. Think tanks and policy insiders easily sell the narrative that from the dark days of the Cold War to ...
Another banker dies under suspicious circumstances
52-year-old Belgian Geert Tack – a private banker for ING who managed portfolios for wealthy individuals – was described as ‘impeccable’, ‘sporty’, ‘cared-for’, and ‘successful’ and so as Vermist reports, after disappearing a month ago, the appearance of his body off the coast of Ostend is surrounded by riddles…
Impeccable. Sporty. Cared for. Successful. Just some qualifications that are attributed to ...
NATO increases military presence on Russia’s borders
The Pentagon has confirmed the military buildup along Russia’s borders to ensure long-term “peace and stability” in the region.
Earlier Moscow accused NATO of a sharp increase in air activity and intelligence flights in the border zone.
Replying to RIA Novosti’s query on the increased number of NATO flights around Russia’s borders, a Pentagon representative told the news agency that the military ...
|More News » |