This article expands psychosocial and cultural perspectives on the experience and expression of psychotic symptoms and the treatment of schizophrenia by exploring how Spiritism, a popular religion in Latin America, provides healing to persons with severe mental illness. Beliefs and treatment by Spiritist healers of persons with psychotic symptoms, some diagnosed with schizophrenia, are described. Reactions by mental health professionals (psychologists, mental health technicians and psychiatrists) to this alternative treatment are described. Qualitative data have been collected through in-depth interviews with 49 Spiritist mediums in Puerto Rico, and case histories of 22 patients and their family members, all of whom gave informed consent. In Brazil, interviews were conducted with a sample of 115 Spiritist mediums, with their informed consent. These mediums responded to semi-structured interviews and standard measures of social adjustment and mental health. As expected, beliefs and practices of Spiritist healers regarding psychotic symptoms, whether manifested by themselves or by clients diagnosed with schizophrenia or other disorders, differ substantively from conventional psychiatric constructs and treatment approaches. According to patients’ self reports and researchers’ observations, spirit healers often achieve positive results with persons manifesting psychotic symptoms or diagnosed with schizophrenia in that symptoms become less frequent and/or social adjustment improves. We suggest psychosocial mechanisms to explain these findings and raise questions for future research.
Australian Journal of Parapsychology, Volume 13 Issue 1 (Jun 2013)
Wasney de Almeida Ferreira
The aims of this paper are to narrate and analyze some psychological phenomena that I have perceived in dead people, including evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in murdered people. The methodology adopted was “projection of consciousness” (i.e., a non-ordinary state of consciousness), which allowed me to observe, interact, and interview dead people directly as a social psychologist. This investigation was based on Cartesian skepticism, which allowed me a more critical analysis of my experiences during projection of consciousness. There is strong evidence that a dead person: (i) continues living, thinking, behaving after death as if he/she still has his/her body because consciousness continues in an embodied state as ‘postmortem embodied experiences’; (ii) may not realize for a considerable time that he/she is already dead since consciousness continues to be embodied after death (i.e., ‘postmortem perturbation’ – the duration of this perturbation can vary from person to person, in principle according to the type of death, and the level of conformation), and (iii) does not like to talk, remember, and/or explain things related to his/her own death because there is evidence that many events related to death are repressed in his/her unconscious (‘postmortem cognitive repression’). In addition, there is evidence that dying can be very traumatic to consciousness, especially to the murdered, and PTSD may even develop.
The degree of influence on a human being by a discarnate spirit entity can determine the label that is used to describe the phenomenon. For example, the Catholic religion uses the terms possession and exorcism, clinical spirit release practitioners use the terms spirit attachment and release, and Spiritists us the term obsession and dis-obsession. Here is a video that describes the Spiritist concept of obsession.
The book is out. Get your copy here:
Anthropologists, exorcists and psychiatrists all approach the enigmas of spirit possession from differing perspectives and unsurprisingly fail to arrive at a consensual explanation for the phenomena. This creates problems for therapeutic interventions for perceived spirit possession cases. However, the 19th century researcher F.W.H. Myers developed a conceptual framework using rigorous scientific methods that provides a unified theory to explain all forms of spirit possession across all cultures, religions and societies. Myers declared that all so-called paranormal and supernatural phenomena are natural and normal, and all such experiences exist on a continuum of human experience. Discarded, forgotten and denied by mainstream science until now, Myers is being re-discovered by 21st century psychology. Using Myers scientific framework, this book fills the gaps in knowledge left by the inadequate theories of anthropology and psychiatry, and gives religious exorcism and clinical practice an alternative approach to research and intervention that is grounded in pragmatic and proven clinical experience.
A talk given by me at the Spirit Release Forum conference in London on 22nd June 2013.
Is there a spirit world? Do we go there when we die? Do spirits exist? Can we communicate with them? Are those who believe such things mentally ill, or deluded? Is there any scientific evidence that can answer these questions? The answer to that last question is ‘Yes’ and here is the evidence that says not all those who hear voices are mentally ill.