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PREVALENCE OF FAITH HEALING IN P

PREVALENCE OF FAITH HEALING IN PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS

  

*Dr. Divya Montiero Pai, ** Dr.Safeekh A.T

 

Resident *Kasturba  Medical College, Mangalore. ** Associate Professor,Dept. of Psychiatry,Father Muller Medical College,

 

Abstract:

The prevalence faith healing among psychiatric patients are reported to be high compared to other disorders. A cross sectional study of the prevalence of faith healing among psychiatric patient in a tertiary care hospital was studied. Even with easy accessibility and availability of psychiatrists and hospitals the prevalence of belief in faith healing was found to be very high. The prevalence of   faith healing was different  across various communities and differed with age of the patient and duration of illness.

Key words: Faith healing, psychiatric patients

 

Introduction:

 Despite the advances in the field of medicine and many of the people being aware of scientific treatment for psychiatric disorders, a lot many of them still seek faith healing as a mode of treatment for psychiatric disorders.   While some of them prefer it alone, the rest combine it with modern medicine. Faith healing practices have been reported all over the world by various researches.  Seeking religious help for mental disorders is often a first step in the management of mental disorders as a result of cultural explanations for the illness1.  Faith healing practices are an indigenous part of Indian culture, and it is more prevalent in psychiatric disorders2. The form and type of healing practices varies widely depending upon religious and cultural back ground and geographical area.  Psychiatric patients used to go through different traditional and faith healers, including indigenous methods of exorcism, before arriving to proper care3

 

Though Mangalore, a coastal city in Karnataka where this study was conducted has a high literacy rate, high living standards and easy availability  of medical facilities, a large percentage of people seek treatment offered by astrologers,  priests, local godmen ,black magicians and so forth. 

 

Material and methods:

This study was conducted in the in-patient department of the psychiatry wards of Father Muller Medical College Hospital, Mangalore. It is a general hospital in the private sector which provides advances medical care of the inhabitants of coastal Karnataka and Northern parts of Kerala.

The subjects in the study were selected based on random sampling. The subjects consist of family members of 100 in-patients diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, admitted to Father Muller Medical College Hospital. Family members of male and female patients between the ages of 18 and 60years admitted in family psychiatry ward was randomly selected. Family members of patients with primary substance use disorder and Organic mental disorders were excluded from the study. Family members of the persons with mental retardation were also not included in the study.

 

At the beginning of the assessment, the investigator gathered information regarding the socio –demographic variables of the subjects and the details recorded in a proforma, specially designed for the study. A socio –economic status schedule (SESS) 4 was also filled up for every patient in order to assess the economic status of each patient.

The data was collected, coded and tabulated. Statistical Analysis was done using chi-square.

 

Results:

There were 49 male and 51 female patients were included in the study. Out of the 100 subjects interviewed, 56 did not believe in faith healing (group A) and 44 believed in it. Out of them 30 opted for counselling from an Astrologer (group B) and the remaining 14 opted for treatment from priests or persons who practices faith healing rituals (Group C).   Among those who did not believe in faith healing males and females were equal in number (28). The gender difference among those who believed in faith healing (males =21, females =23) was also not statistically significant (p=0.783).

 

Majority of patients who followed faith healing came from the age group of 20-39years (65%).  It is found that 29 out of 56 (51.78%) persons belonging to Hindu religion have undergone faith healing and among 23persons belonging to Muslim religion 12 (52.17%) have undergone faith healing, where only 14% of Christians (3 out of 23) have tried faith healing practices ( Table No.1). This difference in following faith healing practices among these religions was statistically significant. Type of family (nuclear, joint or extended) of the subjects did not have any correlation with prevalence of faith healing. Most of the people participated in the study belonged to SES III and SES IV. The prevalence of faith healing practices did not differ statistically among these groups (table2). 

 

Duration of illness found to have a negative correlation with faith healing practices above statistics show that in both the groups of people who believed in magico-religious treatment, the number gradually declined as time advanced. When 14 family members of patients with illness of less than one month14 believed in faith healing, only 5 family members whose relative had psychiatric illness lasting for more than one year still believed in faith healing. 45%(n=20) of the people who had taken their ill relative to faith healer still believed the faith healing works( Table 3). Even while receiving allopathic treatment in a hospital 39 %(N=17) still continued following faith healing practices(Table 4). Table 5 shows the different reasons for patients to choose allopathic treatment and how many in each group. 12 of them said it gave better results. Another 12 of them said they started allopathic treatment as a trial, 19 of them said they received no help with magico –religious at all and only said allopathic treatment turned out of be less expensive mode of treatment.

 

 

   Table 1. Religion Distribution

 

 

Hindus

Christians

Muslims

Total

Group A

27

18

11

56

Group B

27

1

2

30

Group C

2

2

10

14

Total

56

21

23

100

X2=37.25, p=0.000vhs

 

 

 

Table.2       Socio-Economic status

 

SES-II

SES-III

SES-IV

Total

Group A

1

27

28

56

Group B

 

14

16

30

Group C

 

6

8

14

Total

1

47

52

100

X2=0.26, p=0.878

 

 

 

Table 3.       Does faith healing work ?

 

0

Yes

No

Total

Group A

56

 

 

 

Group B

 

15

15

30

Group C

 

5

9

14

Total

56

20

24

100

 

 

Table 4.     Do they still continue it?

 

0

Yes

No

Total

Group A

56

 

 

 

Group B

 

12

18

30

Group C

 

5

9

14

Total

56

17

27

100

X2=100.16, p=0.000vhs

 

 

 

Table 5.    Why did they choose Allopathic treatment?

 

0

Better results

Trying out allopath

No help with magico-religious treatment

Less expansive

Total

Group A

56

 

 

 

 

56

Group B

 

7

7

15

1

30

Group C

 

5

5

4

 

14

Total

56

12

12

19

1

100

X2=105.8, p=0.000vhs

 

Discussion:

 

This study was done in a tertiary care hospital of southern part of Karnataka, where the literacy rate and standard of living is high compared to the other parts of the state. In spite of these factors the number of people seeking magico-religious treatment for psychiatric disorders is found to be enormous. Out of the 100 patients who are currently undergoing psychiatric treatment 44 have tried magico-religious healing practices at some point of their illness. This finding is comparable with earlier studies (10, 11) done three decades ago. Even modernization, advances in science and globalization did not bring people’s belief in faith healing. Even a recent study (3) in this field shows high prevalence of faith healing among psychiatric population before coming in contact with hospitals.  Various factors like shortage of psychiatrists to lack of awareness have been pointed as the reason for this high prevalence3. But these factors cannot be considered in the present study as the place where the study conducted, do not have any shortage of psychiatrists or hospitals. But another reason which most of the people who work with psychiatrically ill persons consider as reason for this high prevalence of faith healing is that the relatives of the mentally ill find it easier to say their children or themselves are affected of evil magic, because there is so much stigma attached to mental illness can be considered as a possible explanation for this high prevalence..  Faith healers and temple doctors are by far the most socially acceptable way to try to cure mental illness in India.

 With the rapidly rising insecurities of modern life due to financial crisis, recession, natural calamities, local and international political unrest and increasing crime rate people have started depending more on the unseen, unproven powers. This phenomenon of turning into religions, godmen and religious rituals for answers and remedies are on the rise even in the general population.

 

Out of the 44 patients who have undergone magico-religious treatment 30 had opted for counselling from an astrologer and the remaining 14 from priests and other magico-religious practitioners. Majority turning into astrologers for answers could be due to that many consider astrology as a science and reliable. Similar findings were reported by Trivedi and Sethi (11)

 

The gender difference between the patients seeking magico –religious treatment and allopathic treatment was not significant. The gender of the patient also did not play a role in choosing the of type magico-religious treatment. This finding is consistent with the study done by Sethi et al (10) and difference from the findings of Trivedi and Sethi (11)

 

Most of the patients who approached magico-religious healing practitioners belonged to age group of 20 and 39years (65%) which was highly significant. This is comparable with previous studies conducted in this field (10,11,12,13,). High prevalence of faith healing among the younger age group is also reported by Lahariya et. al (3).

 

The current study showed that the type of family the patient belongs to did not seem to alter the most of healing practices, patients had chosen, unlike the other studies (,10,11,14).

 

Prevalence of seeking magico-religious practices for psychiatric illness is found to be high in Hindu and Muslim religious (51.78% and 52.17% respectively), whereas only 14% of patient belonging to Christian community had tried magico-religious practices. This finding is comparable with previous studies (10,11, 12, 14).This could be because the difference belief and shortage of faith healing practitioners in Christian community.

 

Most of the study population belongs to class III and IV of Socio Economic Status Schedule. This is because a vast majority of the population receiving services from this hospital belonged to lower socio-economic classes. So the influence of socio-economic status in seeking magico- religious treatment cannot be determined from this study

 

It has been found that as the duration of illness increased, the number of patients continuing faith healing practices declined. This finding has high statistical significance Most of the he previous studies in this area has not reported this aspect. As the illness prolonged without any response patients and relatives might have lost their faith in magico-religious practices and that would have been the reason for less prevalence of faith healing practices in patients with longer duration of illness.

 

A very interesting finding of this study is that although all the patients in this study were currently under treatment from a psychiatric hospital, many of them still believed and continue faith healing practices along with allopathic treatment. This finding has been reported in earlier studies too (10.11.12.13) and shows how deep rooted is this belief in magico-religious practices among this people.

 

This study showed that majority of patients opted for allopathic treatment only when magico-religious practices failed to show any benefit and most were unaware about the effectiveness of allopathic treatment in-psychiatric illness. Health care delivery system in our country has to give importance in reaching these populations and to make them aware of modern mental health care services available

 

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Prevalence of faith healing practices for psychiatric disorders is found to be high in India. This study is done among psychiatric in-patients of a tertiary care hospital to find out the prevalence of magico–religious healing practices among them and its relationship with socio –demographic variables. 44% patients have undergone faith healing (magico–religious) treatment. No correlation was found between gender and type of family with the prevalence of magico-religious treatment. As the duration of illness prolonged, the prevalence of magico–religious treatment declined. Prevalence of magico–religious treatment is found to be high in Hindus and Muslims when compared to Christians.

People between the age group of 20-29 years have been found to approach magico–religious healing practitioners more than the others. Many of the patients are still continuing magico–religious treatment along with allopathic treatment 

 

 

 

References:

1.        R. Padmavati R, R.Thara , Ellen Corin A Qualitative Study of Religious Practices by Chronic Mentally Ill and their Caregivers in South India  2005     Int J Soc Psychiatry June 2005 vol. 51 no. 2 139-149

 

2.        Gautam S, Jain N. Indian culture and psychiatry. Indian J Psychiatry 2010;52:309-13

 

3.         Lahariya C, Singhal S, Gupta S, Mishra A. Pathway of care among psychiatric patients attending a mental health institution in central India. Indian J Psychiatry 2010;52:333-8

 

4.         Sodhi  and Sharma(1986) Socio-Economic Status Schedule; National Psychological Corporation of India

 

5.        Satija DC, Singh D, Nathawat SS, Sharma MA. A study of patients attending the Mehandipur Balaji temple, Indian Journal of Psychiatry 1981 (3): 247-50

 

6.        Brij Mohan 1972 Social Psychiatry in India, The Minerva Association, Kolkata

 

7.        Neki JS Psychotherapy in India: past, present and future. American Journal of Psychotherapy 1975; 29: (1) 92-100

 

8.        Neki JS, Psychotherapy in India. Indian Journal of Psychiatry 1979; 19:1

 

9.        Rajaram S. (1976) ‘Methods of management of psychiatric patients before coming to hospitals’ D.P.S.W. Dissertation, Bangalore University

 

10.     Sethi BB, Tivedi JK, Sitholey P. Traditioanl healing practices in psychiatry. Indian Journal of Psychiatry 1977; 19(4); 9-13

 

11.     Trivedi JK, Sethi BB. Healing practices in psychiatric patients. Indian Journal of Psychiatry 1980; 22:111-115

 

12.     Somasundaram Religious treatment of mental illness in Tamilnadu. Indian Journal of psychiatry 1973; 15-38

  

13.     Satija DC, Singh D, Nathawat SS, Sharma MA. A study of patients attending the Mehandipur Balaji temple: Psychiatric and psychodynamic aspects. Indian Journal of psychiatry 1982; 24: 375

 

14.     Trivedi JK, Sethi BB. Motivational factors and diagnostic break up of patients seeking traditional healing methods. Indian Journal of Psychiatry 1979; 21: 240