Windigo psychosis in northern Alkonians

This article really intrigued me because it is talking about Indians that once they obtained this disorder they believed they would become Windigos themselves. It was mostly caused by the lack of food because of being trapped in their shelters during the winter. The symptoms begin with melancholia, depression, insomnia, and hallucinations. This leads to a depression state. They begin to crave human flesh and believe that if they eat human flesh they will be freed from this disorder. In too many cases this lead to cannibalism.

This case is believe to have a cultural, social, and physical causes. From lack of necessary food and proper socialization with people to keep from believing the antics of eating humans and becoming a windigo. But it also has to do with their culture they believed in their stories about the Windigo and believed they controlled this disorder, they believed it was an evil spirit that had possessed them and made them think this way. The biological dimensions of this disorder are basic, a need for survival and for socialization. It also stated on the last page that there was high dependency on trade goods, which could not be delivered in the snow.

The treatments were not stated but I could assume being in an Indian culture that the treatments would be seeing their healer possibly having herbs burned and being chanted at along with speaking to the spirits to see the root of the problem. An American solution for the problem would be storing more food and make sure it covers all dietary supplements needed to thrive through the long winters.

This was often evaluated by seeing someone secluding from their family and being aggressive. In the article it states a case where the locals reported and killed their own brother/son because he was “acting mad.” It was surprising the over whelming cases that got as far as cannibalism, and once they killed and ate they could not stop.  These cases could not be caught until it was too late, people in this culture must of been very well at hiding their feeling from others. It also stated there was several cases of suicide because people could not live with themselves always craving human flesh and could not bring themselves to killing/eating a loved one.

Williams, Thomas , and Charles Bishop. “Northern Algonkian Cannibalism and Windigo Psychosis.” Psychological Anthropolgy: 237-248. (accessed July 18, 2014).

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