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September 2022

Can J Psychiatry. 1983 Feb; 28(1): 52-6.

Psychodynamics of spirit possession among the Inuit.

Seltzer A.

Three cases of spirit possession were studied to determine common underlying psychodynamic factors. The spirits were believed to represent culture bound defense mechanisms, and attempts at problem solving in individuals suffering from unresolved conflicts. These being anomic anxiety, dependency, sexual identity and aggression. The symptoms, therefore, were considered to be attempts at conflict resolution. Furthermore the psychodynamic process is described as a transition phase in psychic development between externalization and internalization of intrapsychic distress or collective versus individual ego solutions to life stress. As such, therapy will be facilitated by knowledge of myths and customs and culturally significant methods of healing.

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