|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 47-49
Jinn and psychiatry: Beliefs among (muslim) doctors
Department of Psychiatry, Iqraa International Hospital and Research Centre, Calicut, Kerala, India
|Date of Web Publication||13-Feb-2017|
N A Uvais
Department of Psychiatry, Iqraa International Hospital and Research Centre, Calicut - 673 009, Kerala
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: The belief that jinn can cause mental illness in human through afflictions or possession is widely accepted among Muslims. Belief about jinn in Muslim medical professionals, especially medical doctors has not been studied till date. Aim: To explore the belief among Muslim doctors regarding jinn and psychiatry. Materials and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among Muslim doctors using a study questionnaire. Results: Majority of the participants believed in the existence of jinn and a significant proportion of the sample believed in jinn possessing humans and jinn causing mental illness in humans and recommended treatment by doctor and religious figures together for jinn afflictions. Conclusion: The belief in jinn and jinn causing mental illness are common among Muslims and remain intact even after medical education. It deserves attention from practitioners in the field of mental health care and demand strengthening of liaison between religious leaders and mental health services.
Keywords: Cultural psychiatry, jinn, psychiatry
|How to cite this article:|
Uvais N A. Jinn and psychiatry: Beliefs among (muslim) doctors. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2017;33:47-9
| Introduction|| |
Explanatory models of illness communicate notions about an episode of sickness and its treatment that is employed by all those engaged in the clinical process. By understanding the individual's explanatory model, the mental health professional can better understand the individual's experience and can better provide services that fit with the individual, family, and community understanding of the experience, with the fundamental goal of diminishing suffering and facilitating recovery. Throughout history, mental illness has been attributed to possession by demons or evil spirits. Supernatural explanatory model for mental illness is held in all major world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
According to Islamic beliefs, the jinn are creatures made from fire and live in separate yet parallel worlds with human. The word jinn is mentioned 32 times in the Quran. The origin of the jinn is rooted in Pre-Islamic Arab Societies. Jinn were considered demon-like creatures made of smokeless and scorching fire. The jinn do good or evil to the human being, usually attack individuals with weak will, identity crisis, or weak moral standards. Most Islamic scholars agree upon the possibility of jinn possession and causing erratic behavior in one's word, deed, and movement, and keeping religious obligations as a protection against the same. Jinn as a causative agent of mental illness are widely accepted among Muslims. In population studies from the United Kingdom and Bangladesh, a majority of participants endorsed the concept of jinn causing mental illness., However, studies have shown that participants who attribute symptoms of mental illness to possession by jinn are having lower education attainment, coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and having underlying physical and mental health problems,,, which suggest possible role of lack of education and poor living standards in reinforcing such cultural explanatory models.
Recent studies done among medical professionals in African countries were about half of the doctors studied believed in the supernatural causation of mental illness, indicating that medical professional are also influenced by the cultural and magical-religious beliefs in the traditional culture as they do the general public. Hence, belief about jinn in Muslim medical professionals, especially medical doctors needed to be studied to know how much they are influenced by the traditional cultural beliefs, which is not studied to date. The present study aims to explore the belief among Muslim doctors regarding jinn and psychiatry.
| Materials and Methods|| |
The study was carried out in Calicut, Kerala. Purposive sampling technique was used. After explaining the research aims and methods, Muslim medical doctors were invited to the study and verbal consent was taken. If they agreed to participate in the study, they were asked to complete the questionnaire by themselves.
The study questionnaire had three sections. The first section was concerned with demographics such as gender, age, years after graduation in medicine, and specialization if any. The second section was concerned with views about jinn. Participants were asked whether they believe in jinn and whether jinn could cause possession and mental health problems in humans. The last section was concerned with views on who they think are best to treat mental health problems attributed to Jinn affliction; doctors, religious figure, or both (working together). The data were analyzed using SPSS version 17 (SPSS Inc, Chicago).
| Results|| |
Of 30 doctors approached for the study, 23 doctors completed the questionnaire. The mean age of the sample was 35 years, with majority (91.3%) belonging to male gender. Almost 69.6% of the doctors were specialized after MBBS [Table 1]. Eighty-seven percent of the participants believed in the existence of jinn. About 38.1% believed in jinn possessing humans and 28.6% believed in jinn causing mental illness in humans; among them, 66.7% recommended treatment by doctor and religious figures together [Table 2]. An orthopedic surgeon and nonspecialist doctors suggested treatment by religious figure alone.
| Discussion|| |
The study results show that religious belief about existence of jinn is prevalent among Muslim doctors. Though a significant proportion of them believe in jinn causing possession and mental illness, when compared to beliefs among general population from the past studies, it was found to be lesser. In previous studies in Muslim populations, religious figures were recommended by majority of the participants for treating jinn afflictions, which were not replicated in our study, and doctor along with religious figures treating jinn afflictions was recommended by majority of doctors who believed in jinn afflictions.
A cross-national analysis of beliefs toward mental illness among medical professionals from five countries (USA, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, and China) showed that professionals from African countries showed higher scores in beliefs in supernatural causations of mental illness. This result reflects the ongoing influence of culture and magico-religious beliefs in the traditional culture of these nations influencing medical professionals as they do the general public.
Hence, the belief in jinn and jinn causing mental illness are common in Muslim culture and remain intact even after medical education. It deserves attention from practitioners in the field of mental health care that they need to be sensitive to the cultural beliefs and do not hesitate in strengthening the liaison between religious leaders and mental health services. Moreover, culturally enshrined beliefs about etiology of mental illness among doctors in spite of their academic knowledge raises questions on the psychiatric training, they are receiving during their medical graduation. Academic curriculum in medical schools needs to be expanded to include programs dealing with the impact of tradition and culture on medical education.
The major limitations of this study were that questionnaire used was nonstandardized and conducted in a small sample without a control population. Moreover, religiosity and religious knowledge of the participants were not assessed, which could influence the result.
Future studies done in larger sample of medical professionals with doctors belonging to other religions as controls, using better-standardized tools can pave the way for better understanding of medical professional's beliefs about jinn and psychiatry which can guide policy makers in their approach toward traditional healing methods in cultures were alternative explanatory models are deep rooted.
| Conclusion|| |
The belief in jinn and jinn causing mental illness are common in Muslim culture and remain intact even after medical education, which has practical, educational and policy implications.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Table 1], [Table 2]