Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Global mental health and trauma exposure: The current evidence for the relationship between traumatic experiences and spirit possession


Hecker, Tobias; Braitmayer, Lars; van Duijl, Marjolein (2015). Global mental health and trauma exposure: The current evidence for the relationship between traumatic experiences and spirit possession. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 6:29126.

Abstract

Background: We present a literature review on trauma exposure and spirit possession in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Despite the World Health Organization’s objective of culturally appropriate mental health care in the Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020, and the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to consider local idioms of distress and to collaborate with local resources, this topic still receives very little attention. Pathological spirit possession is commonly defined as involuntary, uncontrollable, and occurring outside of ritual settings. It is often associated with stigmatization, suffering, and dysfunctional behavior. While spirit possession has been discussed as an idiom of distress in anthropological literature, recent quantitative studies have presented support for a strong relationship between traumatic experiences and pathological possession states. Objective: The aim of this review was to investigate this relationship systematically in LMICs, in view of the debate on how to address the mental health gap in LMICs. Methods: Twenty-one articles, published in peer-reviewed English-language journals between 1994 and 2013, were identified and analyzed with regard to prevalence of possessive trance disorders, patients’ sociodemographic characteristics, and its relation to traumatic experiences. Results: The review and analysis of 917 patients with symptoms of possessive trance disorders from 14 LMICs indicated that it is a phenomenon occurring worldwide and with global relevance. This literature review suggests a strong relationship between trauma exposure and spirit possession with high prevalence rates found especially in postwar areas in African countries. Conclusions: More attention for possessive trance disorders in mental health and psychosocial intervention programs in humanitarian emergency settings as well as in societies in transition in LMICs is needed and justified by the results of this systematic literature review.

Abstract

Background: We present a literature review on trauma exposure and spirit possession in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Despite the World Health Organization’s objective of culturally appropriate mental health care in the Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020, and the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to consider local idioms of distress and to collaborate with local resources, this topic still receives very little attention. Pathological spirit possession is commonly defined as involuntary, uncontrollable, and occurring outside of ritual settings. It is often associated with stigmatization, suffering, and dysfunctional behavior. While spirit possession has been discussed as an idiom of distress in anthropological literature, recent quantitative studies have presented support for a strong relationship between traumatic experiences and pathological possession states. Objective: The aim of this review was to investigate this relationship systematically in LMICs, in view of the debate on how to address the mental health gap in LMICs. Methods: Twenty-one articles, published in peer-reviewed English-language journals between 1994 and 2013, were identified and analyzed with regard to prevalence of possessive trance disorders, patients’ sociodemographic characteristics, and its relation to traumatic experiences. Results: The review and analysis of 917 patients with symptoms of possessive trance disorders from 14 LMICs indicated that it is a phenomenon occurring worldwide and with global relevance. This literature review suggests a strong relationship between trauma exposure and spirit possession with high prevalence rates found especially in postwar areas in African countries. Conclusions: More attention for possessive trance disorders in mental health and psychosocial intervention programs in humanitarian emergency settings as well as in societies in transition in LMICs is needed and justified by the results of this systematic literature review.

Statistics

Citations

3 citations in Web of Science®
3 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

12 downloads since deposited on 11 Dec 2015
6 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:11 Dec 2015 15:30
Last Modified:12 Aug 2017 19:42
Publisher:Co-Action Publishing
ISSN:2000-8066
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v6.29126
PubMed ID:26589259

Download

Preview Icon on Download
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 431kB
View at publisher
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Article Networks

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations