Muslim Traditional Healers in Accra, Ghana: Beliefs About and Treatment of Mental Disorders

  • Lily N. A. KpobiEmail author
  • Leslie Swartz
Original Paper


Traditional and faith healing is a common practice in many low- and middle-income countries due to resource limitations and belief systems, particularly for disorders such as mental disorders. We report on the beliefs about mental illness from the perspective of one category of alternative healers in Ghana—the Muslim faith healers. We also report on their methods of diagnoses and treatment for mental disorders. Results show that the healers’ beliefs about mental illness revolved around the notion of Jinn as causing most mental illness. Emerging themes are discussed with reference to their potential implications for patients’ care and health-seeking behaviour.


Ghana Islam Jinn Mental disorders Faith healing 



The research reported in this paper forms part of the doctoral dissertation of the first author, funded by the Graduate School of the Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University. Further funding was provided for the second author by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa under Grant Number 85423. The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the University or the NRF. Neither the University nor the NRF played any official role in the design of the study, nor the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, nor in writing the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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