Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dealing with demons in modern times - The Nation

In an age often criticised as being too materialistic, plenty of people still make room for the opposite end of the spectrum - belief in the supernatural. Now a "ghost story" emerging from the Northeast has demonstrated once again that such concepts can be just as harmful.

A particularly serious case some time ago involved a 12-year-old schoolgirl being forced to live alone for years in her family's home in an Ubon Ratchathani village after the neighbours cast her parents out of the community because they were deemed phi pob. In February in eastern Sa Kaeo, three people ostensibly possessed by phi pob forced seven neighbours and family members at knifepoint to strip off their clothes.

Not quite a ghost, in traditional folklore, a phi pob is a demon that takes possession of a person and feeds on his entrails. Once the spirit abandons the host body, the person dies. One type of phi pob passes its ghastly habit onto its children.
Anthropologists and psychologists have suggested that belief in the phi pob represents a social mechanism designed to control individuals' behaviour within a community, especially the smaller communities found in rural areas. Displaying behaviour incompatible with that of others can bring accusations of being possessed and, as a result, ostracism by those fearful of becoming themselves "infected". It's not uncommon for people thus accused to move elsewhere rather than carry the stigma.

The scientists' cool assessment of the phenomenon as a means of preserving order and unity within a community does little to alleviate concern over such troubling situations arising in these supposedly enlightened times.

Dealing with demons in modern times - The Nation

No comments:

Post a Comment