Grisi Siknis in Nicaragua

The CBS that I chose for this week is called Grisi Siknis in the Native Miskito language in Nicaragua. Grisi Siknis translates to “crazy sickness.” It has many other names in the indigenous and ethnic groups, but they all mean crazy, dizziness, or possession by evil spirit. Some believe that it is possession by spirits or dwarfs and others believe that it is a cultural expression of fear, anxiety, and stress. Most people who get it are teenage girls or young women. They experience nightmares, some were reported to have super human strength, and appear to be in a hypnotic trance most commonly with rage. After these episodes the victims do not have memory of what they have done. It is very scary for their families because rage is common, but so is suicide. These violent outbreaks are stressful to endure. It was reported that many women try to kill themselves during hypnotic periods.

The indigenous people try traditional healers who used herbal potions to try and cure the victims. This article focuses on a specific village. The women who were ill blamed a man that they were having nightmares about. He was new to town and when he first arrived was when they became ill. For the village to cure the girls they created a lynch mob to try and kill the man. The man was believed to be a witch. When the mob arrived at his home they found a black magic book filled with the names of villagers, potions, amulets, and other suspicious items. The villagers then beat him until he agreed to cure the women. He did so by burning herbs. The man then disappeared from that village. The government had sent a traditional healer to check on the village and he thinks that the same man was responsible for other outbreaks in the area.

This illness is not treated by westernized medicine. The symptoms are psychologically strenuous on the victims causing extreme stress, fear, and anger. To help cure the victims the people believe in herbology and reversal of witchcraft. They cannot just go to a hospital and take a pill, there has to be spiritual component involved in the cure.

Rogers, Tim. 2009. “Miskito Village Beats Grisi Siknis.” McClatchy – Tribune Business News, Aug 07.

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