Folk beliefs about epilepsy: Some recent studies

Epilepsy and psychosis: a comparison of societal attitudes. Epilepsia. 1985 Jan-Feb;26(1):1-9. [PMID: 3971944]

Awaritefe A, Longe AC, Awaritefe M.

A study of a literate population in Nigeria in the 1980s found that witchcraft was the second most-often-mentioned cause of epilepsy.

Magical thinking and epilepsy in traditional indigenous medicine. [Article in Spanish] Rev Neurol 1998 Jun;26(154):1064-8. [PMID: 9658494]

Carod FJ, Vazquez-Cabrera C.

A comparison of beliefs about epilepsy among several groups in central Africa and Central and South America. The researchers found that belief in a spiritual or supernatural cause is prevalent in these cultures and that patients get psychological benefit from traditional remedies even if western-style treatment is also available.

Epilepsy and religious experiences: Voodoo possession. Epilepsia 1999 Feb;40(2):239-41. [PMID: 9952273]

Carrazana E, DeToledo J, Tatum W, Rivas-Vasquez R, Rey G, Wheeler S.

A report from south Florida of five cases in which epileptic seizures were initially attributed to Voodoo spirit possession.

Epilepsy and its treatment in the ancient cultures of America. Epilepsia 1999 Jul;40(7):1041-6. [PMID: 10403232]

Elferink JG.

A discussion of epilepsy among the Aztecs and Incas. Both groups associated epilepsy with magic and religion and treated it by magic means, in addition to plant-based medicines.

Morbus sacer in Africa: some religious aspects of epilepsy in traditional cultures. Epilepsia 1999 Mar;40(3):382-6. [PMID: 10080524]

Jilek-Aall L.

A report of work in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa, where epilepsy has been thought of as being caused by spirits or witchcraft. When combined with Christian missionary teaching, these beliefs may cause it to be seen as a punishment or a result of possession by demons. Education, along with effective treatment, can change these ideas and improve the quality of life of patients.

Knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) towards epilepsy in secondary school students in Tanzania. Cent Afr J Med. 1994 Jan;40(1):13-8. [PMID: 8082145]

Matuja WB, Rwiza HT.

Many high-school students in Tanzania thought epilepsy was contagious, but only a few mentioned witchcraft as a cause.

Epilepsy: knowledge, attitude and practice in literate urban population, Accra, Ghana. West Afr J Med. 1997 Jul-Sep;16(3):139-45. [PMID: 9329281]

Nyame PK, Biritwum RB.

More than one-quarter of literate, urban people in Ghana attributed epilepsy to witchcraft or similar causes. Most of these people had low levels of education.

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