Spiritual Possession

I believe that health is the state of “being” whether it be good or bad. Illness is similar but I like to think the biggest difference is whether or not it can be proven or diagnosed. Other than that I think they both have to do with whether or not it causes pain and if it effects life in a negative way. So diagnosing, existence of pain, and effect on quality of life were my main deciding factors. I think of these terms similar to the terms fact and theory. A fact can be proven, and a theory, though very plausible does not have strong enough proof to make it a fact. It does not mean that the theory is not true, it just does not have enough information yet. My ideas come directly from school and my family. My three sisters and I are in the health field as well so school contributes as well. However I am a strong believer that the culture we are exposed to greatly effects our views as well.

In my opinion,  poverty is an illness. However, this is a complicated decision. I believe that in many cases poverty is something that people have control over. I have the idea that with enough will power, anyone can rise above the socioeconomic status they were born into, however, that does not mean it does not effect them. If someone is born into a low socioeconomic home, poverty played a negative part in their life. It is something a child cannot control and it does greatly effect children. So in this case I believe it is an illness. I also think it can be an illness if you are ever at a low point, or you try to rise up, but fail. It can have devastating results and can be cause for many other illnesses people experience, such as anxiety and depression. However if you choose to never “better yourself”I do not know if I can consider it an illness anymore, because to me, it seems like a self inflicted problem. However, I can see this topic spiraling off into a great debate on what in the world couldn’t be considered an illness.

I believe spirit possession is an illness. It causes you pain and it effects your life in a negative way. I am not entirely familiar with this disorder, but I see it similar to many disorders in the sense that it is something you can not control. To my knowledge no real testing has been done to biologically prove the person has been possessed, which is the main reason I would have to say it is an illness. However I do not think the disorder is any less important or serious than a disease. In my opinion it just cannot be ruled as a real disease yet.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Amber Hauck says:

    I found the condition of spirit possession to be a fascinating one once I started researching it. I agree that it is an illness according to our definitions we learned from the lecture, but prior to this week I never would have considered it one. But, after some research, I found there are entire associations committed to spirit possession.
    One thing I found most interesting is that The Association for Spirit Possession actually refers to the condition as Spirit Possession Syndrome on their website. The reason I find this so interesting is that the use of the word “syndrome” at the end of this condition is probably directed to those of our (western) culture to make it sound more like a disease. This association defines Spirit Possession Syndrome as “the actual physical or mental attachment of a consciousness to another person; the most common of which are earthbound spirits”. (The Association for Spirit Possession) There are numerous different “symptoms” or what are called “mind fragments” involved in spirit possession, and these all represent a different kind of connection with a spirit. Happy-Science.org says that the cause of spirit possession is actually that of a mistaken mind. For example, if one is possessed by animal spirits, they have forgotten the mind of human dignity (Okawa).
    In Judaism, a spirit possession is known as a “dybbuk”. A dybbuk is the term for a wandering soul that attaches to a living person and controls their behavior to accomplish a task (Belanger). This can either be a really bad thing for obvious reasons, or surprisingly, sometimes having a dybbuk can be a good thing. A dybbuk takes hold of a person due to their state when the soul and the body are not fully connected, due to many different reasons such as depression and psychosis. They usually choose a person who is going through something that the spirit went through in their lifetime. There are specific signs when you have a dybbuk, such as speaking things they would not be capable of knowing, such as what you dreamed last night or what is happening across the street. The solution to a dybbuk is exorcism, a ritual performed by a rabbi who has mastered practical Kabbalah. The ceremony involves 10 people who gather in a circle, who then recite Psalm 91 three times and the rabbi blows a shofar (ram’s horn) (Belanger). They then pray for the dybbuk to leave the person’s body and heal the person being possessed and also the spirit doing the possessing.
    Works Cited:
    Belanger, Jeff. “Dybbuk – Spiritual Possession and Jewish Folklore” November 29, 2003. Accessed July 6,
    2013. http://www.ghostvillage.com/legends/2003/legends32_11292003.shtml
    Okawa, Ryuho. “The Truth About Spiritual Possession” Happy Science International. Accessed July 6,
    2013. http://www.happy-science.org/the-truth-about-spiritual-possession
    The Association for Spirit Possession. “Spiritual Attachment and Possession: An Overview” Accessed July
    6, 2013. http://spiritpossession.org

  2. Elaina Clark says:

    I found spirit possession to be an interesting illness to examine. In our culture, spirit possession is treated as an evil or even as a mental illness. It’s often associated with religion. When people are possessed in our culture they are usually “exorcised” or they are admitted into a mental hospital. However, in other cultures spirit possession is treated a different way. For example, spirit possession in Hindu culture is seen as a method to contact a deity. Instead of treating it as an evil, they see it as an opportunity to communicate with divine forces. Also, they have a different ways of exorcising these spirits. Some exorcising rituals include medicine, injections, or operations. Spiritual possession isn’t seen as an illness.

    In Africa, spirit possession is viewed different as well. There, spirit possession is seen as usually affecting just women. Usually they affect women who are married or prostitutes or use makeup, henna and scented colognes. There’s a theory that women use spirit possession to gain control in a culture dominated by mostly men. They see possession as a way to gain some freedom. However, spirit possession also could be a blessing if they occur in times of drought, famine, etc. There’s also been a theory that possession like symptoms occur due to deficiencies of calcium, Vitamin D, and magnesium. One of the ways they treat possession is with trances, and they continue trances even after the possession is gone to keep the spirits away. Africans treat spirit possession as an illness, but there are very distinct characteristics of it that they believe in.

    “Hinduism (religion): Divination, Spirit Possession, and Healing,” Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed July 6, 2013, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/266312/Hinduism/261632/Divination-spirit-possession-and-healing.

    Maria Cruz, “Causes of Spirit Possession in African Women,” accessed July 6, 2013, http://web.wm.edu/so/monitor/issues/07-1/3-cruz.htm.

  3. zielin34 says:

    Hello Breanna,

    Love that you chose poverty. What a controvertial topic! I agree with all of your points on being able to rise up and control ones life, however I also believe that someone has to understand the options. I believe that there truely are people out there that do not realize how financially bad off they are, or were simply guarded from the possibilities of understanding. However, I do not personally feel that it is an illness as being poor does not actually physically directly effect a person, rather it impacts aspects that could make someone ill, such as lack of food, care, warmth, medicine, etc… However, I love your points and agree on the concepts entirely.

    When I looked up poverty and how it is viewed in India, I found quite a bit relating poverty to illness, however, not stating that it is an illness in itself. The areas with higher poverty rates have higher incidents of disease and illness. Many diseases area considered “poverty illnesses” as they are more common amongst those people who are poor. Those in poverty are also more likely to die from illnesses that they may not normally would die from as well.
    Lastly, those in poverty do have effected lifestyles due to their income as their physical activity levels are often found to be higher. Perhaps this helps their health compared to those in the urban areas. Not having a car could potentially help them fight off some problems that they have.

    Dean Nelson, “Lifestyle’ illnesses overtake ‘poverty’ disease in India reflecting growing middle class” The Telegraph. accessed July 7, 2013. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/7582378/Lifestyle-illnesses-overtake-poverty-disease-in-India-reflecting-growing-middle-class.html

  4. Zack says:

    I really hadn’t considered spirit possession an illness until you made the good point that anything that causes pain and effects negative balance in you life can be considered a illness.

    With some research I found some work some authors talking about spirit possession and Micheal Lambek described how spirit possession in African cultures is used to enhance rituals and escape normalcy. “Spirit possession straddles the boundary between the corporal, the cognitive, and the symbolic; between the private, the social and the spiritual; ” In some African cultures it is normal for spirit possession to be accepted and welcomed as a way for individualism and personal space to prosper.
    While in other countries signs of mental disabilities such as spirit possession results in the person being put into institutions. Even in some countries such as Ghana, the mentally ill are required by law to stay in confinement of the institution with little chance of every leaving their small living area, usually because of being chained to their bed or nearby post. Most institutions follow a “healing process” of fasting for weeks at a time and withholding medications and healthcare.
    While many other mentally ill flock to self proclaimed “prophets” and form camps where prayer for a cure from angels is performed. Some camps also follow the “healing process” and normally have poor sanitary conditions. No real evidence has ever been collected to collaborate any of these process and personally I think its abuse that should be stopped!

    “Ghana: people with mental Diseases face serious abuse,” The Human Rights Watch, last modified October 2, 2012 , http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/10/02/ghana-people-mental-disabilities-face-serious-abuse

    Micheal Lambek and Andrew Strathern, Bodies and Persons: Compartive Perspectives from African and Melanesia (Cambrigdee Unveristy Press. Mar 28, 1998), 88-91.

  5. mackin24 says:

    I found spiritual possession to be a very interesting topic that I wanted to research further into. There is a large debate concerning if this is an actual disorder or simply a side effect of mental illness. Each religion and culture seemed to have their own opinion on dealing with spiritual possessions. In Asia One of the largest and most widespread of the belief systems is Dao Mau, the Mother Goddess religion. In the circumstance of spiritual possession they practice the Len Dong spirit possession ritual, where spirit mediums channel various gods and goddesses connected to the cult. When in trance for communication with the other world, the mediums don a red veil, which facilitates manifestation of the spirit in their bodies. This ritual is thought to help achieve goals such as: a good business, a better job, curing a health condition, or passing university entrance exam. The least organized of the spirit possession practitioners are local shamans or mediums known as “soul callers”. Their process is comparable to the fortune tellers and channelers in major American cities. They carry on a conversation with particular deceased people their client wants to contact. People have continuously had to deal with the governments attempted to discontinue these practices. People with higher social standings are often known to have these spiritual rituals performed in private. Sometimes wives will perform the rituals on their husbands in private to guarantee no one else will know. Also in some temples officials permit use of facilities for performing spirit possession rituals at night, but not in the daytime

    Leslie Evans ,”Spirit Possession Religions and Popular Rituals Flourish in Vietnam,” accessed July 7, 2013, http://www.international.ucla.edu/asia/news/article.asp?parentid=11811

  6. Josh Hartwig says:

    I believe that poverty is a problem, but I find it to be a disease not a illness. To me a disease causes problems and a illness are the symptoms, where poverty it the root cause of many disadvantaged people. Weather it is stress or the ulcer that the stress has caused. I read an article that shows the prescribing income greatly improves these peoples lives and heath. Yeah i know, I thought the same thing when I read it too! But this article was written in Canada, so there system of heathcare and government are different. It does however pose an interesting solution that there should be more research done on. Does it cost less money to give people a boost when they are down below the poverty line to help them become more selfsuficent or are current methods best effective? I personaly think a new approach could be more benefical not only because it could be financialy cheaper. The other long term effects to the patients health seem to suffer from the “disease” of poverty costing even more resources later in life. The article goes on to say how the effects of poverty are even more prevalent on children which then just perpetuates the problem from generation to another.

    Kelly Crowe, “Treating poverty works like medicine, doctors say” accessed July 7, 2013, http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2013/05/24/poverty-disease.html

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