Skip to main content
Log in

Schizophrenia or Possession?

  • Psychological Exploration
  • Published:
Journal of Religion and Health Aims and scope Submit manuscript

A Correction to this article was published on 08 March 2023

This article has been updated


Schizophrenia is typically a life-long condition characterized by acute symptom exacerbations and widely varying degrees of functional disability. Some of its symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations, produce great subjective psychological pain. The most common delusion types are as follows: “My feelings and movements are controlled by others in a certain way” and “They put thoughts in my head that are not mine.” Hallucinatory experiences are generally voices talking to the patient or among themselves. Hallucinations are a cardinal positive symptom of schizophrenia which deserves careful study in the hope it will give information about the pathophysiology of the disorder. We thought that many so-called hallucinations in schizophrenia are really illusions related to a real environmental stimulus. One approach to this hallucination problem is to consider the possibility of a demonic world. Demons are unseen creatures that are believed to exist in all major religions and have the power to possess humans and control their body. Demonic possession can manifest with a range of bizarre behaviors which could be interpreted as a number of different psychotic disorders with delusions and hallucinations. The hallucination in schizophrenia may therefore be an illusion—a false interpretation of a real sensory image formed by demons. A local faith healer in our region helps the patients with schizophrenia. His method of treatment seems to be successful because his patients become symptom free after 3 months. Therefore, it would be useful for medical professions to work together with faith healers to define better treatment pathways for schizophrenia.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Change history


  • Al-Ashqar, U. S. (2003). The world of the jinn and devils in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Columbia: International Islamic Publishing House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Al-Habeeb, T. A. (2003). A pilot study of faith healers’ views on evil eye, jinn possession, and magic in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Society of Community and Family Medicine Journal, 10, 3.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ally, Y., & Laher, S. (2008). South African Muslim faith healers perceptions of mental illness: understanding etiology and treatment. Journal of Religion and Health, 47, 45–56.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Andreasen, N. C. (2011). Concept of schizophrenia: past, present, and future. in Schizophrenia (pp 3–8). Edited by Daniel R. Weinberger, Paul J. Harrison (3rd ed.). UK: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd. West Sussex.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arango, C., & William, T. (2011). The schizophrenia construct: symptomatic presentation in Schizophrenia, (pp 9–23). Edited by Daniel R. Weinberger, Paul J. Harrison (3rd ed.). UK: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd. West Sussex.

    Google Scholar 

  • Asch, S. S. (1985). Depression and demonic possession: the analyst as an exorcist. Hillside J Clin Psychiatry, 7, 149–164.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ashour, M. (1989). The jinn in the Qur’an and the Sunna. London: Dar Al-Taqwa.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boddy, J. (1989). Wombs and alien spirits: Women, men, and the zar cult in Northern Sudan. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coyle, J. T. (2006). Glutamate and Schizophrenia: beyond the Dopamine Hypothesis. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, 26, 365–383.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • DeLeon, J., Cuesta, M. J., & Peralta, V. (1993). Delusions and hallucinations in schizophrenic patients. Psychopathology, 26, 286–291.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Friedli, L. (2000). A matter of faith: religion and mental health. International Journal of Health Promotion, 2, 7–13.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gadit, A. A. M., & Callanan, T. S. (2006). Jinni possession: a clinical enigma in mental health. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 56, 476–478.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gater, R. A., De Almeida, E., Sousa, B., Barrientos, G., Caraveo, J., Chandrashekar, C. R., et al. (1991). The pathways to psychiatric care: a cross-cultural study. Psychological Medicine, 21, 761–774.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hunter, R. (2012). Treatment of Schizophrenia in the 21st Century: Towards a more personalised approach in schizophrenia in the 21st century (pp.3–26). Burne, InTech, Rijeka, Croatia: Edited by T.H.J.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kane, J. M., Honigfeld, G., Singer, J., et al. (1988). Clozapine for the treatment-resistant schizophrenic. Archives General Psychiatry, 45, 789–796.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Leavey, G. (2010). The appreciation of the spiritual in mental illness: A qualitative study of beliefs among clergy in the UK. Transcultural Psychiatry, 47, 571–590.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Littlewood, R. (2004). Possession states. Psychiatry, 3, 8–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Locke, S. (2011). Hallucinations in UNBALANCED. A view from the Vestibuleschizophrenia and hyperattention (pp 57-69). by World Scientific Ch 6.

  • Murray, C. J. L. (1996). The global burden of disease: A comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Cambridge, MA: Harvard School of Public Health on behalf of the World Health Organization and the World Bank; distributed by Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Penadés, R., & Catalán, R. (2012). Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT): Improving neurocognition and functioning in schizophrenia in Schizophrenia in the 21st Century (pp 69–86). Burne, InTech, Rijeka, Croatia: Edited by T.H.J.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pereira, S., Bhui, K., & Dein, S. (1995). Making sense of possession states: psychopathology and differential diagnosis. British Journal of Hospital Medicine, 53, 582–585.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Philips, A. A. B. (1997). Ibn Taymeeyah’s essay on the jinn (demons). Abridged, annotated and translated by A. A. B. Philips (4th ed.). Riyadh: International Islamic Publishing House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pompili, M., Amador, X. F., Girardi, P., Harkavy-Friedman, J., Harrow, M., Kaplan, K., et al. (2007). Suicide risk in schizophrenia: learning from the past to change the future. Annals of General Psychiatry, 6, 10.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Van Rossum, J. M. (1966). The significance of dopamine-receptor blockade for the mechanism of action of neuroleptic drugs. Archives Internationales de Pharmacodynamie et de Therapie, 160, 492–494.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Vreugdenhil, C., Vermeiren, R., Wouters, L. F. J. M., Doreleijers, T. A. H., & Brink, W. (2004). Psychotic symptoms among male adolescent detainees in the Netherlands. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 30, 73–86.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Whitwell, F. D., & Barker, M. G. (1980). Possession in psychiatric patients in Britain. The British Journal of Medical Psychology, 53, 287–295.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work is dedicated to the American mathematician John Forbes Nash and to all schizophrenic patients.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Kemal Irmak.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Irmak, M.K. Schizophrenia or Possession?. J Relig Health 53, 773–777 (2014).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: