Open Journal Systems

A Revisit To Paranormal Beliefs - When Is It A Psychiatric Disorder?

Keng Chuan Soh, Cheng Lee, Beng Yeong Ng, Kuan Tsee Chee


Objective: Beliefs in paranormal phenomena, matters beyond the ability of current science to plausibly justify, are shared by a significant number in the population. It is useful in clinical practice to be able to determine when this may have psychiatric clinical implications. This review article aims to better delineate the group of individuals with such beliefs and experiences, and go on to offer a schema of approaching a patient with paranormal beliefs. Methods: A MEDLINE search of the current literature in this field is conducted. Relevant findings are presented in the review, grouped according to appropriate subheadings. Results: Demographics of believers are reviewed, while certain psychological and physiological traits found to have associations with paranormal beliefs are also highlighted. The functional role of paranormal beliefs and the psychological rationale behind them are considered. Certain psychiatric conditions, which have to be considered when clinically evaluating an individual with paranormal beliefs and experiences, are evaluated with reference to the ICD-10. These individuals also have different attitudes towards treatment options where required for a psychiatric condition. Conclusions: Individuals with paranormal beliefs are a distinct group. Thorough evaluation is required when these individuals are assessed, to pick up a psychiatric diagnosis where present. A schema is offered towards such a cause in a clinical consultation with an individual who has paranormal beliefs. ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol.12(2): July - Dec 2011: XX XX.