Friday, 10 January 2020
It has been a while since I last touched upon the paranormal. The dry spell comes to end today with a look a spirit possession and the questioning of how legitimate are some of the claims made by those that say their or another person’s body was taken over by a spirit.
I will look at what science has to say and the Indian university which is offering a certificate course to teach doctors how to treat people who claim to see or be possessed by ghosts.
So let’s get spooky
Spirit possession is defined as the control of a person’s body by another entity. This could be spirits, aliens, demons or even gods.
The idea of a person being controlled by a spirit exists across cultures and in most religions.
Christianity, Buddhism, Haitian Vodoo, Wicca, Hinduism, Islam and Southeast Asian and African traditions all feature customs rituals and tales of people whom have been controlled by mysterious forces.
For thousands of years and possibly at the start of all religions possession has been there, a 1969 study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, discovered that the belief in spirit possession could be found in 74 percent of a sample of 488 societies in all parts of the world.
So with such large number of people believing that spirit possession can occur what can be done?
Traditionally the realm of religious practitioner’s people effected by spirits would seek out their religions version of an Exorcist.
Most are familiar with the catholic priest and the rituals of the catholic Exorcism, they use holy water and chants to banish spirits and thanks to the massively popular films of the same name, many know of the practice.
Most would think that such a practice would not have a place in modern science, but Doctors in India may disagree.
The bbc recently reported on Bhoot Vidya and the Indian university teaching doctors Ghost Studies!
The article tells of how a prestigious Indian university is offering a certificate course that would teach doctors how to treat people who claim to see or be possessed by ghosts.
The program is said to run over six-months, the course being taught at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in the northern city of Varanasi will start in January.
The organizers of this study and training on dealing with ghost said that they will teach doctors to focus on psychosomatic disorders which are often confused with paranormal occurrences.
I guess Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler would be in approval.
The course will be conducted by the faculty of Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu system of medicine and healing.
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems still practiced today.
For 3,000 years Indian healers have been following traditional practices.
These ancient practices are based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
Ayurveda has the goal of promoting good health, not fighting disease.
But treatments may be geared toward specific health problems.
The university has set up a separate unit of Bhoot Vidya (Ghost Studies), Yamini Bhushan Tripathi, the Ayurveda faculty dean, said.
"Bhoot Vidya mainly deals with psychosomatic disorders, diseases caused by unknown reasons and diseases of mind or psychic conditions," She added that the university was the first in the country to offer such a course which would teach doctors about "the Ayurvedic remedies to treat ghost-related ailments".
India suffers from a lack of mental health professional and a poor understanding of mental illness this coupled with widespread social stigma, few seek for professional help or care and many Indians, especially in rural and poorer areas, visit shamans and witch-doctors in the hope that they will help cure their mental illnesses.
These religious figures diagnose a possession rather than a mental health disorder.
The news that the government-run BHU will be starting a course in Bhoot Vidya has been questioned on social media by some who pointed out that medicine and rehab were more appropriate methods to deal with mental health issues.
This is when we have to ask the question could mental illness be manifested by evil spirits or is it the mental sickness that creates these ghosts and demons?
Some claim that Demons don't possess people, this because demons don't exist!
Possession is a real occurrence, but they're actually caused by ghosts!
This is when we meet ghost exorcist Wanda Pratnicka, the author of a book titled ‘Possessed by hosts - Exorcisms of the 21st Century’
She writes that there are two types of ghost to watch out for.
The First are the souls of departed people. These ghosts have the personality of the deceased, and the free will to decide what to do after the death of their physical body -- so far as they're aware of having died! Many of these ghosts have overseen their own deaths and try to live as if they'd not died.
This I guess would be the simplest form of possession, I am thinking Whoppe Goldberg and Ghost!
"The other type ghosts are shadows of departed people, such as an astral body left behind on the journey to higher realms.
Could this link to the shadow people that people have reported, could these shadows actually be stalking a person looking for a body to possess?
According to Pratnicka Ghosts possess people for a range of reasons.
"The most common case occurs because the ghost needs the living person's energy in order to survive! Other reasons include their attachment to earthly things, such as material possessions, habits, and addictions. And in many cases, souls stay here because they don't want to leave their family or loved ones."
So what can you do if you or a loved one becomes inhabited by the energy of the dead?
Pratnicka says that a possessed person may need to take part in exorcism rituals every day for a period of up to three months!
She warns that Exorcisms can be very dangerous, especially for people lacking a deep esoteric knowledge needed to expel a spirit.
Pratnicka rejects the existence of demons, Satan, or the devil.
In her experiences over a thirty years practice, she has not encountered any such entities but Instead, she found that the attributes used to describe demons or the devil seem to be derived from ghosts that have entered a human body.
So with this information and the course being offered at the Indian university should medical institutes around the world be signing their health professionals up for an education in spirit possession?
Well maybe not just yet, it turns out that the Reports of the Indian university ‘ghost possession’ course appear to be based on a misunderstanding.
the "Bhoot Vidya" program, roughly translates to "ghost studies, and the BBC report titled "Bhoot Vidya: India university to teach doctors Ghost Studies" was wrong when it suggested that the course would "train doctors how to treat people who claim to see or be possessed by ghosts."
The course is really designed to treat psychosomatic or psychological disorders using the traditional Indian medicine system Ayurveda and not take up a ghost vanquishing mission across India and the globe!!
BHU Ayurveda Dean Yamini Bhushan Tripathi was quoted by Indian news agency IANS, saying that the course will teach "the Ayurvedic remedies to treat ghost-related ailments,”
The quote was misunderstood with many thinking that she suggested the university would be training doctors how to treat people for illnesses caused by ghosts, spirits, or other paranormal entities.
This was a contextual misunderstanding of the word "bhoot." can be translated as "ghost," in Ayurvedic medicine the word is said to actually refer to anything small enough that it can't be seen.
Like the mind!
A later IANS quote clarified that the course focuses on "diseases of the mind."
So all you doctors out there who were dusting off your proton packs and beige boiler suits just hold on, chances are a copy of Sigmund Freud’s “Psychopathology of Everyday Life” would serve you better.
What do you think, are reports of possession nothing more than mental illness misdiagnosed or is there something far more paranormal occurring?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below
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