The international weekly journal ‘Science’ has put a study of (former) HealthNet TPO staff in the spotlight. The examination of dissociative symptoms among patients with spirit possession in Uganda, has just been published online in ‘Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry’. In June the paper version will be available. In response, one of the authors was asked to give an interview on the findings of the study. The interview was published on May 7th under the heading ‘Random Samples’.
Spirit possession is a common, worldwide phenomenon with dissociative features (characteristics showing that certain thoughts, emotions, perceptions or memories are temporally being placed outside the consciousness, cannot be recalled, or are not coherent). Previous studies have revealed connections between dissociative features and potential traumatic events.
The authors were aiming to investigate the relationship between spirit possession, dissociative symptoms and (potentially) traumatic events in Uganda. The study concludes that spirit possession deserves more attention as a possible idiom of distress and a culture-specific expression of dissociation related to potential traumatizing events. The study therefore constitutes an impetus to a further exploration of this phenomenon.
This study is called unique because it links culture specific expressions of mental health to Western definitions of trauma and dissociation. Identifying the mental suffering of patients in their own culture, the aim of this study, contributes in providing care that is more effective.