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Title: A psychological ethnographic study of the Christian Orthodox understanding of 'evil eye' and its effects on individuals' mental health and development of personhood in the contemporary Greek region of Corfu island
Author: Souvlakis, Nikolaos
ISNI:       0000 0004 9348 8315
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2020
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The research presented in this thesis widens the scope of ethnographic approach to ‘the evil eye’ and its effects on individuals’ understandings of self and ‘others’ in contemporary Corfu, Greece. What makes this study authoritative and unique is that the island of Corfu is a region which was not historically under the Ottoman rule or any Islamic influence; in addition, the thesis examines the phenomenon of the evil eye from the perspective of Eastern Christian Orthodox teachings and tradition, which addresses a lacuna in the existing literature. The study proposes that different social groups, such as lay people, mental health professionals, clergymen and folk healers, experience the phenomenon differently but not because of their different socioeconomic backgrounds, as suggested by the current literature. This research confirms that the evil eye is experienced differently based on the individual’s trans-historical and trans-generational heritage, and further suggests that the evil eye is not purely triggered by envy, admiration or jealousy, but in fact is a phenomenon related to the individual’s shame and existential anxiety of ‘being’ seen by the others’ ‘I’. The analysis of the present study departs from the traditional view of the evil eye by arguing that the phenomenon offers insight into human existence and its tripartite elements: soul, mind and body. Following an ethnographic methodology anthropologically informed, the researcher is influenced by psychological/psychoanalytic anthropology, and this is the school of thought from which he chiefly draws his interpretations. Finally the present study proposes that the evil eye in Christian Orthodox tradition has been experienced differently according not only to the individual’s behaviours but also their linguistic expression of the phenomenon. This study enriches the literature by revealing that the evil eye is related to the reflected self as it is perceived by the sufferer and the caster through the others’ mirror eye, which in turn defines the self.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available