Culture-Bound Syndromes: Ghost Sickness

Ghost sickness is an illness found in many Native American cultures and characterized by a preoccupation with death. Found in tribes from the Southwest and Southern Plains, it is characterized by an intense fear of ghosts and results in the development of elaborate rituals to defend against these spirits of death. These cultures believe that after death, a vital force or spirit containing good qualities and elements that control the individual's impulses exits the body. Upon death, this spirit is believed to move toward heaven or toward the sky, leaving behind its evil or rage to wander the earth. These cultures believe that the final destination of ghosts is an afterworld–but sometimes, the ghosts do not want to reach this destination because they feel the ...

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