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Title: Living in two worlds : pastoral responses to possession in Singapore
Author: Solomon, Robert M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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Possession behaviour and exorcism have become more common in Singapore churches since 1972, with the increasing popularity and influence of the charismatic movement. This study aims to describe, analyse, and evaluate the responses of pastors in Singapore to people who display possession behaviour. The in-depth interview of 16 pastors involved in exorcism/deliverance ministry forms the primary material for this study and is complemented by interviews of subjects of possession, psychiatrists, and other informed persons. The study is divided into three phases. In the descriptive phase (chapters 3-5), the pastors' worldview and understanding of the epidemiology, symptomatology, and therapeutic management of possession behaviour are described. They espouse a traditional spirit worldview which views life as a battle between God and a hierarchy of evil spirits who play an intimate role in the daily lives of people. People are believed to be possessed by evil spirits through contact with occultic and non-Christian religious practices. According to the pastors, people from the lower socio-economic strata, and those with emotional problems and other needs are predisposed to such contact: Demon possession is said to manifest itself through the emergence of an alternate personality, with accompanying personality and behavioural changes and disturbances. The pastors' respond in such instances by attempting to exorcise the 'demon' through a deliverance session. In the analytical phase (chap 6-7), the pastors' understanding, explanation, and response to possession behaviour is compared with competing paradigms from the scientific disciplines (eg psychiatry and social anthropology). The similarities between the two sets of discourses are shown using their epidemiological (and phenomenological) description of possession suggesting that they may be describing similar phenomena.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available