Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Case Reports in Psychiatry
Volume 2012, Article ID 232740, 3 pages
Case Report

Religious Beliefs, Possession States, and Spirits: Three Case Studies from Sri Lanka

1Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, 08 Colombo, Sri Lanka
2Finley Hospital, Finley, NSW 2713, Australia
3University Psychiatry Unit (Ward 59), National Hospital of Sri Lanka, 08 Colombo, Sri Lanka

Received 5 July 2012; Accepted 15 August 2012

Academic Editors: E. Jönsson and F. Oyebode

Copyright © 2012 Raveen Hanwella et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We describe three patients from different religious backgrounds in Sri Lanka whose possession states were strongly influenced by their religious beliefs. Patient A was a Buddhist who claimed to have special powers given by a local deity named Paththini. Patient B was a Catholic who experienced spirits around her whom she believed were sent by Satan. Patient C was a Muslim and believed she was possessed by spirits. The religious beliefs also influenced the help-seeking behaviour and the rituals or treatments to which they responded.