A case of Ifufunyane : a Xhosa culture-bound syndrome

Niehaus, Dana J. H. ; Stein, Dan J. ; Koen, Liezl ; Lochner, Christine ; Muller, Jacqueline E. ; Mbanga, N. Irene ; Emsley, Robin A. (2005-11)

The original publication is available at http://journals.lww.com/practicalpsychiatry/pages/default.aspx


Clinicians and patients frequently have a different understanding and interpretation of the nature of an illness. While many reasons for these discrepancies can be postulated, differences in sociocultural background often play an important role—especially in the field of psychiatry. At our tertiary psychiatric hospital in South Africa, where standard Western teachings are followed, clinicians are often confronted by patients who have a markedly different interpretation of their psychiatric symptoms compared with the clinician’s perspective. For instance, “ifufunyane” (plural “amafufunyana”), a ritualized”“possession state,” often thought to result from witchcraft, is frequently reported by South African (Xhosa) patients with psychosis (including schizophrenia) and their families.

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