The attribution of psychotic symptoms to jinn in Islamic patients

Transcult Psychiatry. 2015 Feb;52(1):18-32. doi: 10.1177/1363461514543146. Epub 2014 Jul 30.


Patients with an Islamic background who suffer from hallucinations or other psychotic symptoms may attribute these experiences to jinn (i.e., invisible spirits). In this paper, we review the medical literature on jinn as an explanatory model in the context of psychotic disorders. We conducted a systematic search for papers on jinn and psychosis in Pubmed, EMBASE, Ovid Medline, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar databases. Our search yielded 105 scientific texts on jinn and their relationship with mental disorders, including 47 case reports. Among the case reports a definite biomedical diagnosis was provided in 66% of the cases, of which 45.2% involved a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. Fully 10 of 16 hallucinating patients experienced multimodal hallucinations. Although infrequently documented in the biomedical literature, the attribution of psychiatric symptoms to jinn appears to be quite common among Islamic patients, and to have significant impact on the diagnosis, treatment, and course of mental disorders, particularly psychotic disorders.

Keywords: Muslims; explanatory models; migration; psychiatric symptoms; psychosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Islam / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Social Perception
  • Young Adult