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    More things in Heaven and Earth: spirit possession, mental disorder, and intentionality

    Rashed, Mohammed Abouelleil (2018) More things in Heaven and Earth: spirit possession, mental disorder, and intentionality. Journal of Medical Humanities 41 , pp. 363-378. ISSN 1041-3545.

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    Spirit possession is a common phenomenon around the world in which a non-corporeal agent is involved with a human host. This manifests in a range of maladies or in displacement of the host's agency and identity. Prompted by engagement with the phenomenon in North Africa, this paper draws connections between spirit possession, and the concepts of personhood and intentionality. It employs these concepts to articulate spirit possession, while also developing the intentional stance as formulated by Daniel Dennett. It argues for an understanding of spirit possession as the spirit stance: an intentional strategy that aims at predicting and explaining behaviour by ascribing to an agent (the spirit) beliefs and desires, but is only deployed once the mental states and activity of the subject (the person) fail specific normative distinctions. Applied to behaviours which are generally taken to signal mental disorder, the spirit stance preserves a peculiar form of intentionality where behaviour would otherwise be explained as a consequence of a malfunctioning physical mechanism. Centuries before the modern disciplines of psychoanalysis and phenomenological-psychopathology endeavoured to restore meaning to 'madness', the social institution of spirit possession had been preserving the intentionality of socially deviant behaviour.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Intentional stance, Spirit Stance, Madness, Daniel Dennett, Derek Bolton, Jinn (Islam)
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Research Centres and Institutes: Medical Humanities, Centre for
    Depositing User: Mohammed Rashed
    Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2018 09:45
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:40


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