- The epidemiology of spirit possession in the aftermath of mass political violence in Mozambique.
- Social Science & Medicine
- Volume | Issue number
- 71 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In this article we assess the prevalence rates of harmful spirit possession, different features of the spirits and of their hosts, the correlates of the spirit possession experience, health patterns and the sources of health care consulted by possessed individuals in a population sample of 941 adults (255 men, 686 women) in post-civil war Mozambique in 2003e2004. A combined quantitativeequalitative research design was used for data collection. A major study outcome is that the prevalence rates vary according to the severity of the possession as measured by the number of harmful spirits involved in the affliction. The prevalence rate of participants suffering from at least one spirit was 18.6 percent; among those individuals, 5.6 percent were suffering from possession by two or more spirits. A comparison between possessed and non-possessed individuals shows that certain types of spirit possession are a major cause of health impairment. We propose that knowledge of both local understandings of harmful spirit possession and the community prevalence of this kind of possession is a precondition for designing public health interventions that sensitively respond to the health needs of people afflicted by spirits.
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