Reframing of Inner Experience in Possession Groups

  • Ellen Corin


In 1974, I had the good fortune to be invited to survey group healing practices in Zaïre which involve possession or trance, this task being part of a larger survey of traditional medical systems aimed at achieving collaboration between traditional healers and the government health services. The diversity of healing practices which we encountered was striking, not just as between herbalists, ritualists and the new healing cults, but even among those for which possession was a central feature; and this impressed on me the need to grasp the nature of the different schools of healing before collaboration can be effected. Where one meets medical pluralism, the tendency in recent, psychiatrically oriented, research has been to look for universals, either as respects the therapeutic processes involved, the context within which healing takes place, or the exploitation of the patient’s own reparative powers. This way of thinking is important, because it shows the possibility of establishing a dialogue between modern practitioners and traditional healers. However, after having carried research with healers rooted in different traditions, I think that to implement a process of collaboration, it is also important to understand the specific and differential characteristics of the individual therapeutic groups.


Therapeutic Process Evil Spirit Spirit Possession Medical Pluralism Healing Cult 
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  2. Crapanzano, V. and Garrison, V. (eds), 1977. Case Studies in Spirit Possession. New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  3. Makang MA Mbog, M., 1969. Essai de comprehension de la dynamique des psychothérapies africaines traditionnelles. Psychopathologie Africaine, 5, 3: 303–354.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Corin
    • 1
  1. 1.Douglas Hospital Research CentreVerdunCanada

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