Can jinn be a tonic? The therapeutic value of spirit-related beliefs, practices and experiences

Anastasia Philippa Scrutton

Abstract


Religion and spirituality are increasingly associated with mental health, yet spirit-related practices, beliefs and experiences (SPBEs) are regarded with more suspicion. This suspicion is misplaced, and worryingly so, since, I argue, it shuts down a potentially therapeutic avenue in relation to anomalous experiences such as hearing voices and sensing the presence of the dead. A presupposition of this argument is that anomalous experiences are not inherently pathological but can become so as a result of the way they are interpreted and reacted to. While this claim is not new in itself, I will provide a philosophical foundation for it by defending a ‘contextualist’ view of pathology in the context of anomalous experiences against ‘inherentist’ alternatives, according to which some or all instances of anomalous experiences are inherently pathological.

Keywords: religion, spirituality, auditory hallucinations, psychosis, pathology, mediumship, schizophrenia, hearing voices, mediumship, spirit possession, healing rituals.


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