Experiences of Possession and Paranormal Phenomena Among Women in the General Population: Are They Related to Traumatic Stress and Dissociation?

Sar V. , Alioglu F., Akyuz G.

JOURNAL OF TRAUMA & DISSOCIATION, cilt.15, ss.303-318, 2014 (SSCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier identifier

  • Cilt numarası: 15 Konu: 3
  • Basım Tarihi: 2014
  • Doi Numarası: 10.1080/15299732.2013.849321
  • Sayfa Sayısı: ss.303-318


This study sought to determine the prevalence of experiences of possession and paranormal phenomena (PNP) in the general population and their possible relations to each other and to traumatic stress and dissociation. The study was conducted on a representative female sample recruited from a town in central eastern Turkey. The Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule, the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder sections of the Structured Clinical Interviews for DSM-IV Axis-I and Personality Disorders, and the Childhood Abuse and Neglect Questionnaire were administered to 628 women. Of these, 127 (20.2%) women reported at least 1 type of PNP and 13 (2.1%) women reported possession. Women with a dissociative disorder reported all types of possession and PNP (except telepathy) more frequently than those without. Whereas women with a trauma history in childhood and adulthood or PTSD reported possession more frequently than those without, PNP were associated with childhood trauma only. Factor analysis yielded 4 dimensions: possession by and/or contact with nonhuman entities, extrasensory communications, possession by a human entity, and precognition. These factors correlated with number of secondary features of dissociative identity disorder and Schneiderian symptoms. Latent class analysis identified 3 groups. The most traumatized group, with predominantly dissociative and trauma-related disorders, had the highest scores on all factors. Notwithstanding their presence in healthy individuals, possession and PNP were associated with trauma and dissociation in a subgroup of affected participants. Both types of experience seem to be normal human capacities of experiencing that may be involved in response to traumatic stress. Given the small numbers, this study should be considered preliminary.