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Metaphysics & Psychology

Supernatural ‘Jinn’ Seen as Cause of Mental Illness Among Muslims

Supernatural 'Jinn' Seen as Cause of Mental Illness Among Muslims 86

By Bahar Gholipour

It may be common for psychiatric patients who are Muslim to attribute their hallucinations or other symptoms to “jinn,” the invisible, devilish creatures in Islamic mythology, researchers in the Netherlands have found.

The findings demonstrate one way in which culture may influence how people perceive their psychotic symptoms, and could help Western psychiatrists better understand patients who have an Islamic background.

Moreover, in today’s connected world, patients may fuse the symbols from their own backgrounds with those of other cultures to explain their symptoms, study leader Dr. Jan Dirk Blom, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Groningen, told Live Science.

In Islamic mythology, Jinn, or djinn, are supernatural creatures made of smokeless fire. They are frequently found in Islamic folklore and are mentioned in the Quran, the religious text of Islam. Historically, they are portrayed as menacing creatures that can harm humans, or drive them mad. People in Muslim societies have traditionally seen jinn as the cause of mental illness and neurological diseases, especially epilepsy.

To get a better idea of how commonly Muslim psychiatric patients consider jinn in the course of their diseases, the researchers looked into the scientific literature. They found 105 articles about jinn and their relationship with mental disorders, including 47 case reports. About 66 percent of those reports included a medical diagnosis. Nearly half of the cases involved a person with schizophrenia or a related disorder, while the rest of the patients had mood disorders, epilepsy or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“The available literature suggests that the attribution of psychiatric symptoms to jinn is common in some Muslimpopulations,” the researchers wrote in their review, published July 30 in the journal Transcultural Psychiatry.

“Since Western health professionals tend to be unfamiliar with this attribution style, diagnosis may prove quite challenging — especially when the patient-physician encounter is already impeded by language problems and cultural differences or biases,” the researchers said.

Moreover, findings from several case reports suggested that the attribution of psychiatric symptoms to jinn also affects the treatment and course of patients’ mental disorders, the researchers said.

What are jinn?

Like any supernatural creatures, Jinn have accumulated a rich world through years of folklore and cultural experiences. They are thought to share many characteristics with humans: Jinn are born, fall in love, get married and die, but also have some superhuman abilities, such as flying, moving mountains, becoming visible only when they wish and appearing as animals. Jinn are described as having hooves like a goat’s, and a black tail. [Our 10 Favorite Monsters]

A belief in jinns seems to have persisted despite recent cultural and political changes within Islamic cultures, the researchers said. For example, two recent surveys done in Bangladesh and the United Kingdom in 2011 and 2012 found that many Muslims believe firmly in the existence of jinn, black magic and the “evil eye.”

But belief in such supernatural beings may prevent people from seeking help from medical professionals, researchers said. Because patients may seek help from a religious leader, the researchers recommend collaboration between medical practitioners and religious health care workers. “In our practice in The Hague, an imam [a religious leader in Islam] in the service of our psychiatric hospital is available for consultation and advice,” they wrote in their review.

Cultures and the mind

Across societies, beliefs in the supernatural as well as other aspects of culture may influence how mental disorders manifest, the study said. Previous research has found that people with schizophrenia may experience different delusions depending on their cultures. For example, fears about technology and surveillance play a large part in the delusions of people with schizophrenia in the United States. Meanwhile, in Japan, which has an honor-oriented culture, patients’ delusions more commonly involve fears about public humiliation.

In a recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, U.S. patients with schizophrenia reported hallucinations that involved hearing voices with a negative tone, whereas in Ghana and India, patients reported voices with a generally positive tone.

However, culture is not the only factor that influences psychiatric patients. Blom and his colleagues previously treated a young Muslim patient who had schizophrenia, and who, contrary to the doctors’ expectations, didn’t attribute his hallucinations to jinn. Instead, the patient had searched the Internet for cases similar to his experience, and had concluded that he was a werewolf.

“He could not be persuaded to accept any other explanation,” Blom wrote in an article describing the case that was published in March in the journal History of Psychiatry.

As that case shows, the fusing of cultures and easy access to information online today means that people may incorporate other cultures into their own explanations of their mental health symptoms, Blom said.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Psilocybin mushrooms sprout in the blood of an ‘experimental’ patient

Psilocybin mushrooms sprout in the blood of an 'experimental' patient 99
Image: Giphy.com

US doctors described the story of a man who tried to relieve depression with psilocybin mushrooms in an unconventional way. He injected an intravenous infusion of mushrooms, causing the mushrooms to continue to multiply in his blood and cause multiple organ failure. The case was reported in the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.

Many drugs that people traditionally use as psychedelics are increasingly becoming the focus of medical attention. Some of them have already been repurposed and started clinical trials: for example, micro-doses of LSD have proven to be at least safe in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, and psilocybin has helped patients with  migraines and  depression. Often in such experiments we are talking about microdosing – that is, the mass of the substance is not enough for a psychoactive effect.

The story of an American who decided to experiment on his own was described by doctors led by Curtis McKnight of Creighton University School of Medicine. According to relatives, the 30-year-old American suffered from bipolar disorder, but shortly before the incident stopped taking his prescribed medications and suffered from alternating states of mania and depression.

When he stumbled upon research on the potential benefits of psychedelics, he boiled psilocybin mushrooms and injected the filtered solution into his vein. A few days after this experiment, relatives found him in a lethargic state with jaundice, diarrhea and bloody vomiting and took him to the hospital.

Doctors discovered the patient had a problem with multiple organs at once: acute renal failure, liver damage, tachycardia, and low blood saturation and ionic imbalance. He was prescribed droppers to normalize the composition of the blood, vasoconstrictors to raise blood pressure, antibiotics and antifungal drugs. Despite this, he developed septic shock and DIC (excessive blood clotting) and needed plasmapheresis. Only eight days later he was discharged from the intensive care unit, and at the time of publication of the article he had already been in the hospital for 22 days.

In the patient’s blood tests, in addition to the Brevibacillus bacteria , there were also Psilocybe cubensis fungi  – the same ones from which he injected himself intravenously. Apparently, due to insufficient filtration of the solution, the fungi entered the bloodstream and multiplied there, causing intoxication and multiple organ failure.

Psilocybin mushrooms sprout in the blood of an 'experimental' patient 100

The authors of the work note that this is not the first such case – at least in the 80s of the 20th century, doctors already described a patient with similar symptoms after an intravenous injection. Therefore, McKnight and coauthors warn their colleagues: since psychedelics are increasingly used as a medicine (at the end of 2020, they began to legalize it in the United States), it is important to remind patients of the inadmissibility of self-therapy. Intravenous administration can be dangerous – doctors still do not know if it has the same psychoactive effect as the classical methods of administration.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

A part of a person’s essence accompanies him throughout his life: this is confirmed by a brain scan

A part of a person's essence accompanies him throughout his life: this is confirmed by a brain scan 101
Photo: pixabay.com

A new method of scanning the human brain has produced amazing results. It turns out that in every person there is a certain part of his essence, which accompanies him all his life from the moment of birth to death.

Scientists believe that this is the core of a person’s self-awareness. It combines memories of the past with fleeting sensations of reality and provides a basis for anticipation of events in the future.

It turned out that a certain part of a person’s consciousness is consistent as they grow older and older.

For centuries, scientists and philosophers have been interested in the question: can this sense of “personal self” be stable throughout life? A new psychological study with the results of a brain scan made it possible to conclude that a certain part of a person’s consciousness really accompanies him throughout his life.

It is consistent as it gets older and older. Miguel Rubianes, a neuroscientist at the Complutense University of Madrid, says the aim of the study was to answer the question: Are we the same person throughout life? In combination with the results of other studies, scientists have concluded that there is a certain component that remains stable from birth to death.

The other part of consciousness remains susceptible to current changes. The scientists recognized independence as the basis of identity. And every time a person uses the word “I”, he means a thread that connects together all the events and experiences that have occurred in life.

Experience gained over the years changes a person, changes the components of his identity. Each case associated with personal experiences, a broken heart, a successful career step, expected or unexpected failure lead to the fact that a person compares himself to himself before and after these events. It is a neurological programming scheme that involves visual self-knowledge as an indicator of connection with your impressions of yourself.

This effect makes it possible to cope with memories and recognition of information when it is associated, for example, with one’s own photograph of an infant. Although this principle has a lot of evidence, scientists believe that the very mechanism of the brain involved in this remains a mystery.

This study was published in the journal Psychophysiology.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop 102

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we sometimes do not notice how time flies past us, what miracles surround us. We do not have time to listen to the rustle of leaves in the wind and we miss those minutes when the crimson moon hangs at the very horizon.

Below are 10 films that reflect the beauty and diversity of our world. You watch such a movie and forget about everything.

Kytice

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

7 fairy tales-ballads based on Czech folklore are filmed colorfully and poetically. 

They endure a time when people were closer to nature, believed in miracles and the spirits of the forest, when the terrible and the beautiful were merged together.

Ashes and snow

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

Gregory Colbert’s documentary has no plot, but it attracts with its stunning, unrestrained beauty, reflecting the unity of man with nature.

The film was shot for 13 years in the most exotic corners of our planet: Burma, Ethiopia, India, Antarctica, Sri Lanka, Tonga islands and many other picturesque places.

The fountain

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

The main character Thomas tries to find a cure for his wife Isabelle. Every day she gets worse, and he cannot be near, because he puts experiments in the laboratory. In his soul, love, the desire to be with Isabelle and the desire to extend her life are fighting. 

Darren Aronofsky’s philosophical drama was filmed in vivid colors, despite the fact that the director did not use computer special effects.

Samsara

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

This is a beautiful one and a half hour trip to the most amazing places on the planet. 

Director Ron Fricke showed the inextricable connection of all people and events on earth, the cycle of death and birth, the versatility of our world, where beauty coexists with nondescriptness, and the end means the beginning.

The Bear

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

The story of a bear cub that lost its mother and nailed to a large wounded bear. Together they have to go through many trials, the worst of which is meeting the hunters. 

The wonderful plot of the film is combined with stunning music that helps you immerse yourself in the world of nature and feel it with your whole body.

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

The harsh Siberian nature, untouched by man, the majestic Yenisei River and the small village of Bakhta with a simple way of life. 

People live and survive in these parts, rely only on themselves and also ask only themselves. Four seasons – four lifestyles for each of them.

August Rush

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

Young musician August Rush does not know his parents, but he really wants to find them and for some reason is sure that if he plays, they will hear and recognize him by his music. 

Mesmerizing music permeates the entire film and works wonders to dispel the evil spell of separation.

Baraka

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

A documentary masterpiece, a philosophical essay accompanied by superb cinematography and music, goes without words. The only and main actor here is life in all its diversity and unity. 

The gaze of a monkey sitting in a hot pond is equal to all the depths of cold space, and the dances of the aborigines are synchronized with the movements of the forest.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

This is a beautiful and unhurried philosophical parable about a wheel of time moving into infinity. Each time, with the beginning of a new cycle of rotation, life on earth is renewed, and everyone has the opportunity for a new rebirth. 

The film by Korean director Kim Ki-dook tells about two monks – a teacher and his student – and the obstacles that must be overcome on the way to finding harmony.

Chronos

Beauty and diversity of our world: 10 movies that will make time stop

The main characters of the documentary narration are cultural and historical monuments. 

They absorbed the life of the people who created them, and have remained for centuries as an imprint of bygone eras.

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