Djinnati syndrome: symptoms and prevalence in rural population of Baluchistan (southeast of Iran)

Asian J Psychiatr. 2013 Dec;6(6):566-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2013.09.012. Epub 2013 Oct 9.


Objective: The present study describes "Djinnati," a culture-bound syndrome and examines its prevalence and demographic attributes such as age, gender and education level in the rural population of Baluchistan in southeast Iran.

Method: In this cross-sectional study, the participants (n=4129) were recruited from people living in rural areas of Baluchistan (southeast Iran) by multistage sampling. The data were collected through interviews with local healers, health care personnel, family health records, interview patients suspected with the disorder and their relatives. We administered the dissociative experiences scale.

Results: Prevalence of Djinnati syndrome was about 0.5% in the studied population and 1.03% in women. All patients who experienced episodic symptoms of Djinnati were female. The most common reported symptoms were altered consciousness and memory, muteness, laughing, crying, incomprehensible speech and hallucination that have been attributed to a foreign entity called "Djinn." In addition loss of speech or change in speech rhythm and tone of voice was observed in a subgroup. In one case, speaking in a different language during the attack was reported. There was partial and rarely complete amnesia during the attack. Attacks usually lasted from 30 min to 2h.

Discussion: It is suggested that future studies explore prevalence of Djinnati syndrome in women and explore predisposing, precipitating, and maintaining factors. It is further suggested that a comprehensive pathology model should integrate the data related to socio-cultural context in order to prevent and treat this syndrome.

Keywords: Culture-bound syndromes; Djinnati; Possession.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Culture
  • Depersonalization / epidemiology*
  • Dissociative Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors