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Cross Cultural Psychology Seminar


  • 1. Supernatural Beliefs By Arathi, Charmaine & Kyle
  • 2. What is Supernatural?
    • Something that transcends the law of nature
    • Beyond the observable universe
    • Very value-laden and subjective
    • A very natural occurrence
  • 3.
    • Thaipusam & Hungry Ghost Festival
  • 4. Bomoh
    • Common traditional Malay healer
    • Spirit mediums
    • Cures the sick and solves problems
    • Foresees the future
    • Performs a Jampi or also known as a charm
  • 5. Toyol
    • A small child spirit from a dead human fetus
    • Treated as a child and feeds on the blood of its master
    • Obeys the commands of its master
  • 6.
    • What are the kinds of stereotypes that you associate with people who believe in these kind of things?
  • 7.
    • No significant difference in age, gender, educational status and occupation between patients who had consulted and not consulted bomoh (Razali & Najib, 2000, p. 281)
    • Although most people dont seek intervention from these healers, many acknowledge their powers.
  • 8.
    • It is not that the people are ignorant of or prejudiced against western medical facilities and techniques. They are aware of the efficacy of intravenous injections and surgical procedures. Nor is it the expenses involved for these poor people to make use of western medical facilities - all medical fees incurred, traveling cost and lost earnings for a day or more. (Werner, 1986)
    • It is the strong spiritual beliefs of the people which make them prefer the services of the traditional healer. (Werner, 1986)
  • 9. Statistics
    • A study by Borgignon (1973)
      • Studied a total of 488 societies
      • 90% had a state of altered conciousness
      • 50% of the societies attributing this altered conciousness to spiritual possession.
  • 10. DSM-IV Trance and Possession Disorder
    • A. Either (1) or (2):
      • 1. Trance, i.e. temporary marked alteration in the state of consciousness or loss of customary sense of personal identity, associated with at least one of the following:
        • Narrowing of awareness of immediate surroundings, or unusually narrow and selective focusing on environmental stimuli
        • Stereotyped behaviours or movements that are experienced as being beyond ones control
        • 2. Possession trance, a single or episodic alteration in the state of consciousness characterized by the replacement of customary sense of personal identity by a new identity. This is attributed to the influence of a spirit, power, deity, or other person, as evidenced by one (or more) of the following:
        • Stereotyped and culturally determined behaviours or movements that are experienced as being controlled by the possessing agent
        • Full or partial amnesia for the event
  • 11.
        • B. The trance or possession trance state is not accepted as a normal part of a collective cultural or religious practice
        • C. The trance or possession trance state causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
        • D. The trance or possession trance state does not occur exclusively during the course of a Psychotic Disorder (including Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features and Brief Reactive Psychosis) or Dissociative Identity Disorder and is not due to the direct phsiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition.
  • 12.
    • Knowing what you know about the beliefs in Malaysia and the naturalness of the supernatural, do you believe that Trance and Possession Disorder belongs in the DSM?
  • 13. Differences in Reality
    • Culture can impact on the expression of symptoms and the experience of mental illness not only for the individual but also the family and community
    • It is important to be culturally aware of belief systems
  • 14.
    • If you went to Malaysia as a psychologist, or if someone from an Asian country visited your psychology practice because they were possessed, what would be your course of action to deal with them?
  • 15. Culturally Sensitive Intervention
    • There is a need to consider the cultural context of an individual
    • Frameworks that have been used:
      • Cultural Awareness Tool
        • Being non-judgemental and open minded when dealing with the affected individual
        • Leaning about the causes and treatments of the condition
    • Might involve a combination of treatments
  • 16.
    • In every culture, there are built in systems which explain, legitimize, normalize and cure various forms of dysfunction and deviancy. It is essential for us to develop a deep awareness and appreciation of these indigenous, culturally appropriate, explanatory and therapeutic systems. Quite often these systems not only defuse individual culpability, remove stigma, facilitate family and social reintegration, but also provide the individual and his family with a sense of hope and efficacy (Cheng, 1985, p. 194).
  • 17.
    • Has watching these videos
    • changed your opinion at all
    • on the supernatural
    • and have you learnt
    • anything at all
    • from this seminar?
  • 18. The end
  • 19. References
    • American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed. Text revision). Washington, DC: Author.
    • Bourgignon E. (1973). Religion, Altered States of Consciousness, and Social Change . Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
    • Cheng, S. (1985). Cultural explanation of psychosis in a Chinese woman living in Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry , 19 (2), 190-194.
    • Gaw, A., Ding, Q., Levine, R., & Gaw, H. (1998). The clinical characteristics of possession disorder among 20 Chinese patients in the Hebei Province in China. Psychiatric Services , 49 , 360- 365.
    • James, S., & Prilleltensky, I. (2002). Cultural diversity and mental health: Towards integrative practice. Clinical Psychology Review , 22 , 1133-1154.
    • Multicultural Mental Health Australia. (2002). Cultural awareness tool: Understanding diversity in mental health . Paramatta, New South Wales: Author.
  • 20.
    • Ng, B. (2000). Phenomenology of trance states seen at a psychiatric hospital in Singapore: A cross-cultural perspective. Transcultural Psychiatry , 37 (4), 560-579.
    • Razali, S.M., & Najib, M.A.M. (2000). Health-seeking pathways among Malay psychiatric patients. Int

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