[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epilepsy has been linked to divine, demonic and supernatural powers throughout its long history. This study was conducted to explore if misconceptions such as possession by demons (Jinns) are still believed to be a cause of epilepsy among educated Saudis today.
This study was conducted among university-educated school teachers and undergraduate students. The findings are based on a structured questionnaire enquiring about familiarity with epilepsy, sources of knowledge, and depth of knowledge about specific aspects of epilepsy.
Responses from 398 participants were included in the analysis of the results. Most participants had witnessed epileptic seizures. 2/3 of the participants reported that they had learned about epilepsy from friends and relatives. 172 (43.1%) members believed that epilepsy is a psychiatric disease. 62 (40.3%) of the school teachers and 123 (50.4%) of the students in the study considered possession as a cause of epilepsy. The majority of the cohort believed medical treatment for the condition exists despite the fact that a significant number believed that faith healers and traditional medicine can be of help in the treatment of epilepsy.
Jinn possession is still believed to be a cause of epilepsy in Saudi society, even among fairly well-educated people. This finding emphasizes the urgent need for public education campaigns at all levels of education.