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Differences between spiritist mediumship and dissociative identity disorder on the basis of a structured interview

Publiceringsår: 2007
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 64-74
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Proceedings of the 50th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag
Förlag: The Parapsychological Association


Objectives: To study the similarities and differences between Brazilian Spiritistic mediums and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) patients based on a structured psychiatric interview. The clinical and sociodemographic features of spiritist mediums enrolled in Brazilian spiritist centers were investigated in this study and compared with the scientific literature on DID patients. Despite the paucity of data regarding this issue, we hypothesized that mediums and DID patients, although sharing some dissociative experiences, would differ in that only the latter group would exhibit dysfunctionality and other indexes of psychopathology.

Methods: We carried out an investigation with 115 mediums randomly selected from Spiritistic centers in São Paulo, Brazil. All mediums completed a sociodemographic questionnaire, the Self-Report Psychiatric Screening Questionnaire (SRQ) and the Social Adjustment Scale (SAS). In a second stage, we interviewed with the DDIS (Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule) all mediums with scores suggestive of a mental disorder (SRQ+ n=12) and a subset of mediums with scores indicative of no mental disorder (SRQ- n=12). DDIS data on this sample were compared with those of DID described in the literature.

Results: The initial sample of 115 mediums was comprised of 76.5% women, mean age for the sample was 48.1 ± 10.7 years; 2.7% of the volunteers were currently unemployed; 52.2% were married; and 46% had a college degree. This sample exhibited a low prevalence of common mental disorders (7.8%) according to the Self-Report Psychiatric Screening Questionnaire (SRQ), and a sound level of social adjustment (1.85 ± 0.33) according to the Social Adjustment Scale (SAS-SR). The 24 selected mediums had an average age of 48.5 ± 11.7 years (range 27-72), 79.2% were female and 45.9% had a college degree. The Spiritist mediums were similar to published data on DID patients only with respect to female prevalence, high frequency of Schneiderian First-Rank Symptoms, and reports of anomalous experiences. However, as compared with individuals with DID, the mediums differed in having better social adjustment, low prevalence of mental disorders, lower use of mental health services, no use of antipsychotics, and lower prevalence of histories of physical or sexual childhood abuse, sleepwalking, imaginary childhood playmates, secondary features of DID, and symptoms of borderline personality.

Conclusion: Mediumship in this sample differed from DID in having better mental health and social adjustment, and a different clinical profile.


  • Psychology
  • mediumship
  • dissociative identity disorder


The 50th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association

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