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A Cultural study of auditory hallucinations in psychotic Indian males from the Durban area.

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The aim of this project was to study the phenomenology of auditory hallucinations in Indians. The sample investigated consisted of thirty adult Indian males domiciled in the Durban area, attending neuroclinics, who had been diagnosed as having suffered from a psychosis and who had experienced auditory hallucinations. The patients were examined by the author and in addition relevant data was extracted from their case files. This included religion, previous diagnosis, age at onset of illness and present age, mother tongue, language of daily usage, language of hallucinations, source of hallucinations, comprehensibi1ity of hallucinations, content of hallucinations, patient's initial reaction to hallucinations, time when hallucinations were experienced, media of transmission, direction of voices and whether the patient had consulted a traditional healer. The findings were that a significant majority of patients: 1) described their hallucinations as being voices coming from supernatural beings (84%). 2) did not attribute their hallucinations to being voices belonging to their deceased ancestors (88%). 3) did not attribute their hallucinations to voices which were being relayed by technical transmitting apparatuses (88%) . 4) diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia initially, found their hallucinations to be distressful (89%) whereas 80% of the patients diagnosed as suffering from manic depressive psychosis found their hallucinations to be pleasant. 5) did not ascribe their hallucinations to animals (100%). 6) had visited a traditional healer (100%). Hallucinations were generally thought by the majority of patients to have occurred as a result of being possessed by spirits and that the possession had occurred following some "evil" done to them by enemies, rivals, or other persons who wanted the patient to come to harm. Their belief in spirits was derived both from religion and from folk-lore. Its connection with auditory hallucinations arose from the notion that evil spirits can invade human beings causing abnormal behaviour and also symptoms of mental illness including auditory hallucinations. All the patients had visited traditional healers presumably to exorcise the spirits that had possessed them. The Durban Indian community has been reported to be a deculturing community with many of its members adopting Western cultural attitudes and values. The following factors (religion, language grouping, and beliefs derived from folk-lore), specific to Indian culture, appear to have an important influence in shaping some aspects of the phenomenology of auditory hallucinations of psychotic Indian males.


Thesis (M.Med.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1985.


Hallucinations and illusions., Perceptual disorders., Personality disorders., Theses--Psychiatry.