Possession or Mental Health Issues


Could it be possible that because of lack of knowledge and stigma around mental health, people fail to acknowledge someone could have mental health issue or is it that easy to use possession for events we don’t understand? Have we ever wondered what the family of the victim goes through? For us it is just a news for them it is a lifetime trauma. Is it that easy to label a person as “witch”, “evil spirit” because we want to live in denial of mental health issues?

Let us try to understand concept of “possession” from psychological aspect. “Possession” in psychology falls under “dissociation”. In dissociation, one feels disconnected from their thoughts, body and feelings. Further in dissociation there is loss of control over body movements. It affects person’s sense of identity or perception of time. The symptoms of dissociation could look like possession. Under dissociation, there is a classification of dissociative trance. Some common symptoms of trance are; temporary loss of memory, loss of awareness of surroundings and identity, it may also look like the individual has taken some other identity, there is repeated movement or posture etc.  

Further there are certain other mental health issues which could be seen as possession. Psychotic features could also be responsible for person’s behaviour. In this the person may have hallucinations which is perceiving things through sense which do not exist, the person’s speech could not be understood by others, there could be rapid mood changes without any explanation or the person could have false unshakeable beliefs and the person also fails to take care of their basic hygiene.

These are common mental health illness which could be mistaken as possession and could lead to inhumane treatment to people suffering from it. This kind of treatment further triggers these symptoms due which the patient can fall into a vicious circle of symptoms manifesting and being harmed to further increase the frequency of mental health issues episode. Further, it could lead to traumatic symptoms in the person’s family.

Now the question is after knowing these things could fall under the purview of mental health issues, how many of us would want to acknowledge and provide treatment to the concerned person? These symptoms are treatable, sooner we provide them with treatment the safer it is for them.