Asian Exorcism Epidemic in UK
- Hundreds of Asians are operating as healers and removing evil spirits from bodies believed to be possessed, according to BBC Newsnight investigation
- Exorcist in east London said demons can 'deceive doctors' and research found some communities find it more acceptable to be possessed than ill
- Theological ground for belief in evil spirits as Qur'an mentions 'Jinn'
Exorcisms are being performed on Asians across the UK as a method of treatment for mental illnesses such as bi-polar disease, epilepsy and schizophrenia, an investigation has found.
Hundreds of British Asians are operating as healers, blaming the supernatural for mental health problems and charging sometimes thousands of pounds a session to remove evil spirits from bodies believed to be possessed.
An exorcist operating in east London has said the demons can ‘deceive doctors’ and research by BBC’s Newsnight has found that some communities are finding it more acceptable to be possessed than mentally ill.
The evil spirit – commonly known as a bad Jinn in Asian communities – is removed by a healer reading passages from the Qur'an.
There is a theological grounding for Muslim's belief in evil spirits as the concept of Jinn is in the Qur’an – though what Jinn actually is, is not universally agreed upon.
An exorcism is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person which they are believed to have possessed.
Communities of British Asians are blaming the supernatural for mental health problems, according to research by Warwick University.
The supernatural is also being blamed in some cases for criminal activity and even not getting a job.
The research coincides with the conviction in September of four members of the same Asian family who murdered a young woman believed to be possessed.
Experts have raised concerns that spiritual help is being treated by many as just as valuable as medical treatment, with one Asian comparing his exorcism to ‘like a dose of medicine.’
Abou Mohamed, an exorcist operating in Walthamstow, east London told BBC’s Newsnight: ‘We don’t want to interfere with the job of doctors of medical professionals.
‘Could be psychological problem but the one behind it is the Jinn because the Jinn can play with us, can deceive us and the Jinn can even deceive doctors.’
The belief in evil spirits is ‘widespread’, according to the BBC, and it can refer to concepts like black magic, but in the more extreme, that the body can be possessed causing physical harm.
Professor Swaran Singh, at the Warwick University medical school said ‘a lot of people’ seeing mental health being treated as possessions.
He said: ‘Any group of clinicians working in the city area they will all have seen this. It is an everyday experience. It is not necessarily a problem of social class or education.
‘It is a lot of people.’
He said spiritual healing can be helpful as long as it is not used instead of medical care.
He added: ‘I think it is a combination of how cultures make sense of people and how stigma just prevents them from recognising what it really is.
'Quite often people see abnormal behaviour as somehow being caused by some bad influence rather than a sign of mental illness and the badness becomes external malevolence.
Mudasar Khan, a letting agent in Walthamstow, suffered from panic attacks and depression. He claimed medication has not worked for him and instead, said he was possessed by a Jinn, a supernatural being.
He visits exorcist Mohamed in a back room, where he pays £60 for sessions to remove the evil spirits from his body.
He told BBC’s Newsnight after one session: ‘It will give me a boost, it is like a dose of medicine.
He added: ‘If there’s a fairy how can I explain the things that I’m going through.’
Many ‘healers’ were said to ‘operate in the shadows’, being heavily protected by the communities they seek to help.
Nazir Afzal, a chief crown prosecutor in the north west, said: ‘They do operate in the shadows. They are protected by others within their communities or within their faiths or within their place of worship.
‘We are becoming very aware of it.'
One 20-year-old, who was not named, said he visited a healer who tried to remove a Jinn inside of him but later discovered he suffered from schizophrenia.
He said: ‘I am actually happy that we did go through the spiritual help at first’.
In September a man and three members of his family were jailed for at least 56 years after being convicted of murdering his pregnant wife claiming she was possessed by evil spirits.
One of the four smothered 21-year-old Nalia Mumtaz while the others held her down, apparently in an attempt to drive out the ‘jinn’ spirit from her body.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, family friend Tony Mehdi said: ‘The thinking behind her in-laws was that they would have the body released – take it back home to Pakistan.’
The killers included her husband, Mohammed Tauseef Mumtaz – who later claimed she suffocated herself – his parents, Zia Ul-Haq and Salma Aslam, both 51, and his brother in law Hammad Hassan. - Daily Mail
Brazilian mediums shed light on brain activity during a trance state
Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil analyzed the cerebral blood flow (CBF) of Brazilian mediums during the practice of psychography, described as a form of writing whereby a deceased person or spirit is believed to write through the medium's hand. The new research revealed intriguing findings of decreased brain activity during mediumistic dissociative state which generated complex written content. Their findings will appear in the November 16th edition of the online journal PLOS ONE.
The 10 mediums—five less expert and five experienced—were injected with a radioactive tracer to capture their brain activity during normal writing and during the practice of psychography which involves the subject entering a trance-like state. The subjects were scanned using SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) to highlight the areas of the brain that are active and inactive during the practice.
"Spiritual experiences affect cerebral activity, this is known. But, the cerebral response to mediumship, the practice of supposedly being in communication with, or under the control of the spirit of a deceased person, has received little scientific attention, and from now on new studies should be conducted," says Andrew Newberg, MD, director of Research at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and a nationally-known expert on spirituality and the brain, who collaborated with Julio F. P. Peres, Clinical Psychologist, PhD in Neuroscience and Behavior, Institute of Psychology at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, and colleagues on the research.
The mediums ranged from 15 to 47 years of automatic writing experience, performing up to 18 psychographies per month. All were right-handed, in good mental health, and not currently using any psychiatric drugs. All reported that during the study, they were able to reach their usual trance-like state during the psychography task and were in their regular state of consciousness during the control task.
The researchers found that the experienced psychographers showed lower levels of activity in the left hippocampus (limbic system), right superior temporal gyrus, and the frontal lobe regions of the left anterior cingulate and right precentral gyrus during psychography compared to their normal (non-trance) writing. The frontal lobe areas are associated with reasoning, planning, generating language, movement, and problem solving, perhaps reflecting an absence of focus, self-awareness and consciousness during psychography, the researchers hypothesize.
Less expert psychographers showed just the opposite—increased levels of CBF in the same frontal areas during psychography compared to normal writing. The difference was significant compared to the experienced mediums. This finding may be related to their more purposeful attempt at performing the psychography. The absence of current mental disorders in the groups is in line with current evidence that dissociative experiences are common in the general population and not necessarily related to mental disorders, especially in religious/spiritual groups. Further research should address criteria for distinguishing between healthy and pathological dissociative expressions in the scope of mediumship.
The writing samples produced were also analyzed and it was found that the complexity scores for the psychographed content were higher than those for the control writing across the board. In particular, the more experienced mediums showed higher complexity scores, which typically would require more activity in the frontal and temporal lobes, but this was not the case. Content produced during psychographies involved ethical principles, the importance of spirituality, and bringing together science and spirituality.
Several possible hypotheses for these many differences have been considered. One speculation is that as frontal lobe activity decreases, the areas of the brain that support mediumistic writing are further disinhibited (similar to alcohol or drug use) so that the overall complexity can increase. In a similar manner, improvisational music performance is associated with lower levels of frontal lobe activity which allows for more creative activity. However, improvisational music performance and alcohol/drug consumption states are quite peculiar and distinct from psychography.
"While the exact reason is at this point elusive, our study suggests there are neurophysiological correlates of this state," says Newberg.
"This first-ever neuroscientific evaluation of mediumistic trance states reveals some exciting data to improve our understanding of the mind and its relationship with the brain. These findings deserve further investigation both in terms of replication and explanatory hypotheses," states Newberg. - Medical Xpress
Witch Hunt Ends - 111-year-old Woman Set Ablaze
Barely seven months after St. Roberts Catholic Church collapsed, killing at least 30 parishioners in Adamgbe, Mbayongo,Vandeikya, Benue State, tragedy struck again at the weekend when a 35-year old man, Mr. Tyoakaa Ijoho allegedly set 10 thatched houses ablaze killing a 111- year old woman Mama Martha Gyuse Bonko in the process.
Ijoho who lost his father to a snake bite recently was bitter and had gone to consult an oracle to ascertain the cause of the death of his father, a source say.
According to the source, the native doctor whom Ijoho consulted allegedly told him that some of his family members contributed to the demise of his father, a development which provoked him to leave his place of abode in Konshisha local Government area of the state and headed straight for his village where he set the houses on fire.
One of the villagers, Abraham Chafa told newsmen that his mother, Mama Mezaga Chafa, 75, tried to help the 111-year old blind woman out of one of the thatched houses but could not due to her age.
Speaking further, he said his mother, in an attempt to protect herself was compelled to dump the old woman who eventually was burnt to death by the fire which Ijoho had set, adding that Ijoho who left the community for the past eighteen years only reappeared that fateful day to set the village on fire.
Through the help of youths and vigilante men, he said, Ijoho was arrested and handed over to the police in Vandeikya while the body of Mama Martha Gyuse Bonko had been deposited at a private hospital in Tsar Mbaduku.
When contacted the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Daniel Ezeala said he was yet to be briefed about the incident. - Information Nigeria
The Coffin Lid
A moujik was driving along one night with a load of pots. His horse grew tired, and all of a sudden it came to a stand-still alongside of a graveyard. The moujik unharnessed his horse and set it free to graze; meanwhile he laid himself down on one of the graves. But somehow he didn't go to sleep.
He remained lying there some time. Suddenly the grave began to open beneath him: he felt the movement and sprang to his feet. The grave opened, and out of it came a corpse -- wrapped in a white shroud, and holding a coffin lid -- came out and ran to the church, laid the coffin-lid at the door, and then set off for the village.
The moujik was a daring fellow. He picked up the coffin-lid and remained standing beside his cart, waiting to see what would happen. After a short delay the dead man came back, and was going to snatch up his coffin-lid -- but it was not to be seen. Then the corpse began to track it out, traced it up to the moujik, and said:
"Give me my lid: if you don't, I'll tear you to bits!"
"And my hatchet, how about that?" answers the moujik. "Why, it's I who'll be chopping you into small pieces!"
"Do give it back to me, good man!" begs the corpse.
"I'll give it when you tell me where you've been and what you've done."
"Well, I've been in the village, and there I've killed a couple of youngsters."
"Well then, now tell me how they can be brought back to life."
The corpse reluctantly made answer:
"Cut off the left skirt of my shroud, and take it with you. When you come into the house where the youngsters were killed, pour some live coals into a pot and put the piece of the shroud in with them, and then lock the door. The lads will be revived by the smoke immediately."
The moujik cut off the left skirt of the shroud, and gave up the coffin-lid. The corpse went to its grave -- the grave opened. But just as the dead man was descending into it, all of a sudden the cocks began to crow, and he hadn't time to get properly covered over. One end of the coffin-lid remained sticking out of the ground.
The moujik saw all this and made a note of it. The day began to dawn; he harnessed his horse and drove into the village.
In one of the houses he heard cries and wailing. In he went -- there lay two dead lads.
"Don't cry," says he, "I can bring them to life!"
"Do bring them to life, kinsman," say their relatives. "We'll give you half of all we possess."
The moujik did everything as the corpse had instructed him, and the lads came back to life. Their relatives were delighted, but they immediately seized the moujik and bound him with cords, saying:
"No, no, trickster! We'll hand you over to the authorities. Since you knew how to bring them back to life, maybe it was you who killed them!"
"What are you thinking about, true believers! Have the fear of God before your eyes!" cried the moujik.
Then he told them everything that had happened during the night. Well, they spread the news through the village; the whole population assembled and swarmed into the graveyard. They found out the grave from which the dead man had come out, they tore it open, and they drove an aspen stake right into the heart of the corpse, so that it might no more rise up and slay. But they rewarded the moujik richly, and sent him away home with great honor. - Russian Fairy Tales - A Choice Collection of Muscovite Folk-lore
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