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Observations placeholder

PubMed paper - Naawtal, spells and wind



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

Med Trop (Mars). 1996;56(4 Pt 2):433-5. [Naawtal or the psychopathological aspects of a particular migration]. [Article in French] Sylla O, Seck B. Clinique Psychiatrique, CHU de Fann, Dakar, Sénégal.

This study deals with some psycopathological features of naawtal. Naawtal is a Wolof word designating a social practice based on black magic that consists in ostracizing someone to prevent him from competing for a common goal or approaching a loved one.

This traditional practice leads to involuntary migration from one place to another in the country. The survival of this practice in the socio-economic context of modern Senegal and indeed its extension to social classes not previously involved, reflects individual suffering, collective malaise, and ongoing social adjustments.

Analysis of the practice of naawtal not only distinguishes motives, author, means of casting the spell (involving birds and wind), and the way to break the spell but also underlies the essential place of sexual identity with the notion of greater female vulnerability.

To illustrate this article, the case of a woman persecuted by auditory hallucinations is analyzed in the light of the syndrome of mental and motor automatism characteristic of the diagnosis of chronic hallucinatory psychosis.

The basic notion of internal exile and drifting contained in this traditional representation of mental illness is called on to explain the psychopathologic features. The authors emphasize the value of the reference to naawtal in the therapeutic relationship in helping to achieve acceptance of psychiatry in Africa.

PMID: 9379869

The source of the experience

African tribal

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps