Foreign Fact Friday: Haiti and Vodou


Vodou is a highly dominant faith in Haiti and is heavily derived from West African religions. Its practitioners believe that a life force exists which connects the spirits of all things both living and dead. Vodou, as it exists in Haiti, centers around ancestral spirits and patron saints. It is commonly practiced by those who consider themselves Roman Catholics despite being spurned by the nation’s Protestants.

Vodou is commonly used as a spiritual form of healing. In the view of many Haitians, health can be influenced by spirits and other factors beyond the realm of modern medicine. This leads many to turn to priests and spiritual healers in the face of illness. Practitioners of Vodou train for five years, after which they are expected to be able to handle various illnesses reported by adherents.

One aspect of Vodou is the belief in possession. This can lead to delusional thinking, such that it is common for people to suffer delusions of persecution from a nefarious individual. It can, however, also offer a way to address delusion, depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. This is done through spiritual fortification against the forces that are understood to be the sources of these problems.


Sources:

Vodou's role in Haitian mental health - PMC

What is Haitian Voodoo?

Haitian Culture: Understanding Family Values and Beliefs

Haiti - Climate | Britannica

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