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Traumatic experiences and somatoform dissociation among spirit possession practitioners in the Dominican Republic

Schaffler, Yvonne; Cardeña, Etzel LU ; Haluza, Daniela and Reijman, Sophie (2016) In Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry p.74-99
Abstract
Recent studies in African contexts have revealed a strong association between spirit possession and severe trauma, with inclusion into a possession cult serving at times a therapeutic function. Research on spirit possession in the Dominican Republic has so far not included quantitative studies of trauma and dissociation. This study evaluated demographic variables, somatoform dissociative symptoms, and potentially traumatizing events in the Dominican Republic with a group of Vodou practitioners that either do or do not experience spirit possession. Inter-group comparisons revealed that in contrast to non-possessed participants (n = 38), those experiencing spirit possession (n = 47) reported greater somatoform dissociation, more problems... (More)
Recent studies in African contexts have revealed a strong association between spirit possession and severe trauma, with inclusion into a possession cult serving at times a therapeutic function. Research on spirit possession in the Dominican Republic has so far not included quantitative studies of trauma and dissociation. This study evaluated demographic variables, somatoform dissociative symptoms, and potentially traumatizing events in the Dominican Republic with a group of Vodou practitioners that either do or do not experience spirit possession. Inter-group comparisons revealed that in contrast to non-possessed participants (n = 38), those experiencing spirit possession (n = 47) reported greater somatoform dissociation, more problems with sleep, and previous exposure to mortal danger such as assaults, accidents, or diseases. The two groups did not differ significantly in other types of trauma. The best predictor variable for group classification was somatoform dissociation, although those items could also reflect the experience of followers during a possession episode. A factor analysis across variables resulted in three factors: having to take responsibility early on in life and taking on a professional spiritual role; traumatic events and pain; and distress/dissociation. In comparison with the non-possessed individuals, the possessed ones did not seem to overall have a remarkably more severe story of trauma and seemed to derive economic gains from possession practice. (Less)
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author
organization
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type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry
pages
74 - 99
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • pmid:26427849
  • scopus:84956884051
  • wos:000369242100005
ISSN
0165-005X
DOI
10.1007/s11013-015-9472-5
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f5372fa8-8f6b-4641-90f8-192bad879fbb (old id 8159207)
date added to LUP
2015-11-12 14:31:12
date last changed
2017-07-21 14:19:53
@article{f5372fa8-8f6b-4641-90f8-192bad879fbb,
  abstract     = {Recent studies in African contexts have revealed a strong association between spirit possession and severe trauma, with inclusion into a possession cult serving at times a therapeutic function. Research on spirit possession in the Dominican Republic has so far not included quantitative studies of trauma and dissociation. This study evaluated demographic variables, somatoform dissociative symptoms, and potentially traumatizing events in the Dominican Republic with a group of Vodou practitioners that either do or do not experience spirit possession. Inter-group comparisons revealed that in contrast to non-possessed participants (n = 38), those experiencing spirit possession (n = 47) reported greater somatoform dissociation, more problems with sleep, and previous exposure to mortal danger such as assaults, accidents, or diseases. The two groups did not differ significantly in other types of trauma. The best predictor variable for group classification was somatoform dissociation, although those items could also reflect the experience of followers during a possession episode. A factor analysis across variables resulted in three factors: having to take responsibility early on in life and taking on a professional spiritual role; traumatic events and pain; and distress/dissociation. In comparison with the non-possessed individuals, the possessed ones did not seem to overall have a remarkably more severe story of trauma and seemed to derive economic gains from possession practice.},
  author       = {Schaffler, Yvonne and Cardeña, Etzel and Haluza, Daniela and Reijman, Sophie},
  issn         = {0165-005X},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {74--99},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry},
  title        = {Traumatic experiences and somatoform dissociation among spirit possession practitioners in the Dominican Republic},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11013-015-9472-5},
  year         = {2016},
}