Beliefs about Jinn, black magic and the evil eye among Muslims: Age gender and first language influences

International Journal of Culture and Mental Health 06/2011; 4(1):68-77. DOI: 10.1080/17542863.2010.503051


Mental health services in the UK have been repeatedly criticised for being insensitive to patients' religious and cultural needs. Muslims form Britain's largest ethnic minority group – nearly 3% of the UK population – yet, their health beliefs and practices remain relatively unexplored. We examined Muslims’ beliefs about Jinn, black magic and the evil eye and whether believed affliction by these supernatural entities could cause physical or mental health problems and also whether doctors, religious leaders, or both should treat this. A self-report questionnaire was given to a convenience sample of Muslims aged 18 years and over (n=111). The majority of the sample believed in the existence of Jinn, black magic and the evil eye and approximately half of them stated that these could cause physical and mental health problems and that these problems should be treated by both doctors and religious figures. Our results highlight an important area that demands attention from providers of health care.

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    • "To promote clinical engagement, it would seem advisable to tailor interviewing techniques to obtain more specific information about symptomatology, coping mechanisms, and the sociocultural context of patients' complaints. Biomedically trained health practitioners may seek the collaboration of religious health care workers (Blom et al., 2010; Khalifa et al., 2011). In our practice in The Hague, an imam in the service of our psychiatric hospital is available for consultation and advice. "
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    ABSTRACT: Patients with an Islamic background who suffer from hallucinations or other psychotic symptoms may attribute these experiences to jinn (i.e., invisible spirits). In this paper, we review the medical literature on jinn as an explanatory model in the context of psychotic disorders. We conducted a systematic search for papers on jinn and psychosis in Pubmed, EMBASE, Ovid Medline, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar databases. Our search yielded 105 scientific texts on jinn and their relationship with mental disorders, including 47 case reports. Among the case reports a definite biomedical diagnosis was provided in 66% of the cases, of which 45.2% involved a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. Fully 10 of 16 hallucinating patients experienced multimodal hallucinations. Although infrequently documented in the biomedical literature, the attribution of psychiatric symptoms to jinn appears to be quite common among Islamic patients, and to have significant impact on the diagnosis, treatment, and course of mental disorders, particularly psychotic disorders.
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    ABSTRACT: Mental health stigma in Muslim communities may be partly due to a commonly held belief among some Muslims about the supernatural causes of mental illness (i.e. jinn-possession brought on by one's sinful life). A thematic analysis was carried out on four English translations and the Arabic text of the Qur'an to explore whether the connection between jinn-possession and insanity exists within the Muslim holy book. No connection between spirit-possession and madness or mental illness was found. Pagans taunted and labelled people as jinn-possessed only to ostracize and scapegoat. Linking the labelling of people as jinn-possession to a pagan practice may be used to educate Muslims, so they can reassess their community's stigma towards the mentally ill.
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