An epidemic of ghosts
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
Netanyahu ‘spat in our face,’ White House officials said to say
The White House’s outrage over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress in March — a move he failed to coordinate with the administration — began to seep through the diplomatic cracks on Friday, with officials telling Haaretz the Israeli leader had “spat” in President Barack Obama’s face.
“We thought we’ve seen everything,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed senior ...
The Return of the Protected Jewish Minority in Europe
Contrary to the standard narratives of Jewish ‘history,’ a prominent feature of the historical presence of Jews in Europe has been their protected status. The common context for this status was a symbiotic relationship between the Jewish minority and exploitative or tyrannical elites. As agents of the feared elite, as foreigners, as exploiters in their own right, and with interests ...
Truth Revealed: McCain’s ‘Moderate Rebels’ in Syria ARE ISIS
Poor John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Washington’s real first couple. They only want to arm the ‘moderate opposition’ in Syria. Three years on, how come their master plan isn’t working, while ISIS has grown so strong?
Despite what media lauded as, “the largest demonstration in France’s history – bigger than liberation at the end of WWII!” (can you rightly compare the ...
European 'No-Go' Zones: Fact or Fiction?
Comment: This is an interesting article about Muslim no-go Zones in Europe. However, keep in mind that the focus in this piece is not addressing the root of the problem, but a symptom of the problem. Yes, there is an issue with large Islamic colonies in Europe today, but the article mentions nothing about who has changed the immigration laws ...
A Radical Traditionalist Critique of the Anti-Islam Movement
The terrorist attack against the staff at the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris shook an entire continent. In a European climate in which protests against the perceived Islamization of our civilizational sphere becomes ever more widespread, showing in increased electoral success for moderate nationalist parties, as well as in expressions of mass public dissent, the recent resurgence of violent Islamic ...
|More News » |