Crash-landings of flying witches in Ghana: Grand mystical feats or diagnosable psychiatric illnesses?

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Abstract

Crash-landings are a recurrent theme in Ghanaian witchcraft discourse. In the society’s witchcraft lore, these are inadvertently aborted flights of maleficent witches en route to secret nocturnal witches’ assemblies or to carry out diabolical deeds. While those accused of being witches who have crash-landed invariably face severe mistreatment, no study has systematically explored this purported phenomenon. In this article, I describe the results of an analysis of 10 cases of alleged crash-landings of witches that were reported in the Ghanaian media over a 12-year period. In addition to identifying the common characteristics associated with the alleged crash-landings, I provide a summary description of each case. The results show that the alleged witches were overwhelmingly female, elderly, and poor, and suffered from grave psychopathological conditions. Policy implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-397
Number of pages19
JournalTranscultural Psychiatry
Volume56
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

Keywords

  • Ghana
  • flying witches
  • mental illness
  • witchcraft
  • witches

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