Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Thursday, April 14, 2011

India: Mental illness tackled by faith healers -- and studies show it's working

At a small Hindu temple on the eastern outskirts of Rajasthan, India's largest state, the spiritually possessed come to have their demons expelled.

For people suffering mental health problems in this part of the country, this is the closest many will ever come to psychiatric care, says Hungarian iReporter Pataki Balazs.

"Exorcism is a way of life" in this northwestern region, he explained in an iReport that documents the daily purification rituals conducted by local faith healers at the Balaji temple.

"There is very little understanding of mental health disorders, especially in the rural north of India," said Balazs, who has been traveling to document the region almost every year since 1994.

According to the 41-year-old amateur photographer, exorcism is performed in a number of ways, ranging from a strict diet over chanting Tantric hymns to, he alleges, keeping the "possessed" in shackles. (read more)