Windigo Psychosis of Algonkian speaking group in Northern Canada

Upon searching for a culture-bound syndrome, I stumbled upon an illness called Windigo Pyschosis. The people who have this symptoms are the Algonkian speaking Native America in Northern Canada. Windigo Pyschosis is a symptom of a person having a strong urge to consume a flesh of a human. So therefore cannibalism. The people who are to be affected with the symptoms are during the Middle of the winter when there are a fear of hunger and isolation due to the winter in Northern Canada.

From their cultural perspective it seems that there are a spirit called windigo would possess a person that cause the Windigo Pyschosis. The person will become as a cannibal and windigo would wait and attack a person. The person can be varied depending on who. It is the belief that a person would lose control of their action can be controlled by windigo.

From the biological perspective is that Windigo Psychosis are developed based on nutrition. What the article meant of nutrition is that during the winter starvation leading to loss of animal fats and protein may cause stress to make them have the desire to human flesh. Due to lack of resource of animal meat they consume human flesh as another alternative.

From as individual perspective, the reason could have been to preserve a relationship of a loss one, there was a case which a mother will eat her children if she knows that the child will die. Then she will acquire a characteristic of a person such as behavior, strengths, abilities, etc.

A sign of developing or having Windigo Psychosis is by recognizing the behavior and the health of the person. Some example are melancholia, hallucination, insomnia, anorexia, and desire to consume human flesh. For me this is synthoms seems to be due to starvation that result to physical and neurological damage. And then for the treatment, the old cure is are usually by consuming bear’s grease. The patients consuming the bear’s grease will eventually cured. The result are due to consumption of nutritional food can cure Windigo Psychosis due to starvation. But in reality any food of good nutritional value can cure with precautions observation of the patient.




Stallman, Shawn. “Spirit Beings, Mental Illness, and Murder: Fur Traders and the Windigo in Canada’s Boreal Forest, 1774 to 1935.” Ethnohistory 2010 57, no. 4 (2010): 570-90. 2010.




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