Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Psychiatrist’s View On Medium & Possession

A spirit medium is commonly referred to as a person who can communicate with spirits. My psychiatrist friend Dr. Wong told me that most of the psychiatrists have some doubts about mediums though there are many evidences that most mediums are genuine.


According to Dr. Wong who has come in contact with many mediums and he merely dismissed them as having vivid imaginations and more often than not, the spirits are only hallucinations. These types of hallucinations are mainly the byproduct of cultural making and individual mind games. Hence when someone has seen a ghost, psychiatrist will say that he/she is imagining things; while a medium will say that the person is possessed.


Dr. Wong continued to say that in psychiatry, spirit possession is termed as ‘delusion of control’ and this is itself an illness because once the person believes that a spirit is taking control of his/her body; his/her normal living will be affected. Hallucinations may be the cause of excessive dopamine in the brain’s nerve system. Drugs can be used to control the dopamine but it will be difficult to totally eliminate it. Another downside is that such drugs are very expensive and may cost a few thousands of dollars in public hospital; many folds in private ones.


A second view on possession is attributed to culture-bond syndrome and this is not considered as an illness. For example, a medium when possessed by a spirit through controlled ritual; turns into another person. But he/she returns to him/herself after the ritual and this person’s daily life is not affected by any means.


The word of a psychiatrist: save both spirits and patient


On the other hand, Dr. Wong suggested that there is indeed a value in the spirit mediums as they are closer to general public and can ‘cure’ the sick through ‘suggestive techniques’. Added to the fact that the ratio of a psychiatrist to total population is no match to the available mediums, it is undeniably that the mediums are normally the first line of defense even with the advent of modern medical treatments. So, the importance of spirit mediums is undeniable.


Having said so, Dr. Wong continued to caution that many mediums are illiterate, immature and hysterical and this is definitely a danger for a sober person like you and me to consult them.


Dr. Wong thinks that sicknesses are caused by physical ‘disease’ and the psychological ‘illnesses’. Since every individual’s mental background varies, the same ‘disease’ may have a very different outcome. He also discovered that in Southeast Asia, people tends to adopt a ‘combinatory’ method; i.e. while seeking the aid of modern medicine, they also go to a medium for spiritual help.


Finally, Dr. Wong advise we exercise caution when visiting a medium and make use of our judgments and common sense. I would leave the judgment to you as I am being categorized by Dr. Wong as psychosis even though we still drink coffee together J!


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