- The term djinn is Arabic for spirit or ghost. It translates as 'that which is veiled and cannot be seen'. The term 'genius', traditionally used in the Western literature, is incorrect as a translation of the term djinn. In accordance with Islamic religious teaching, djnoun are classified as 'ghosts from beneath', i.e. as living beings created by Allah out of smokeless fire. They are referred to as one of the four classes of humanoid beings, the other three being humans, angels, and Azazeel or Iblees, who was later to become the chief of all sheytâns or devils (i.e. Satan). Out of these four classes, only human beings are normally considered to be visible to the eye. Djnoun are, however, deemed capable of making themselves visible if they so wish. They were allegedly created several thousand years before the human species and forced to inhabit islands far away from the continents, because they were found to be perverse and unwilling to reform. Like humans, they are believed to have a life cycle (they are born and die), to form families, communities, and societies, to eat, drink, move, procreate, urinate, defecate, and so on, and to be sensitive to offence. They reportedly carry out most of their activities at night. The presence of djnoun is regularly reported by North African and Turkish individuals with a clinical diagnosis of * schizophrenia or *affective disorder, but also by individuals with other clinical diagnoses. It may take some per-suasiononbehalfofthephysiciantogetthese individuals to talk about their djnoun,butwhen they do, they often provide detailed reports of creatures whispering in their ears, touching their shoulders, hitting them in the face or appearing in the form of snakes that climb up their legs or writhe around in their belly. Hallucinations in any of the sensory modalities can be attributed to a djinn, especially - although by no means exclusively - when they display human, humanoid, or animal characteristics. Common examples of unimodal hallucinations attributed to a djinn are verbal auditory hallucinations, *haptic hallucinations, * somatic hallucinations, * sexual hallucinations, * cacosmia, * dysgeusia, and visual hallucinations depicting human beings or animals such as a cat, a dog, or a serpent (i.e. * zoopsia). Multimodal or * compound hallucinations - such as personifications - likewise occur. In the latter case, djnoun tend to be depicted as dark-coloured, foul-smelling creatures, who may touch or penetrate the body of the affected individual and may be heard speaking inside or outside one's head. It is believed that djnoun exert their influence either from a place outside one's body (by speaking, or producing foul odours, for example), through physical contact with one's body (by touching or striking someone, or by sitting on their face or chest), or by entering the body. Some djnoun are believed to dwell in wet places such as a well, a stream, a toilet, or the kitchen sink and others in stones, ruins, cemeteries or garbage dumps. Allegedly, they can be aroused when a person passes by, steps upon them, or literally or figuratively 'crosses a line' (a phenomenon referred to as tretat). The person may simply have been 'in the wrong place at the wrong time', but he may also have committed an act considered sinful, such as torturing or killing an animal, or pouring boiling water into the kitchen sink. A second way in which djnoun can be aroused is when a person in the possession of magic powers (referred to as sHour or seHour) casts a spell over someone. It is believed that this can be done in a multitude of ways, either with or without direct physical contact between the two individuals involved. Djnoun are sometimes classified according to gender (male or female), geographic origin (Arabic, Dutch, German, etc.), and religious background (Islamic, Christian, Jewish, etc.). It is said that in Western, biomedical terms, being possessed by afemale, Jewishdjinn is comparable to a clinical diagnosis of chronic, incurable schizophrenia. While djnoun may be a nuisance or a threat, they may also be of use, in the sense that they often give good advice or provide agreeable companionship. Islam makes a clear distinction between good and bad djnoun. In a psychiatric setting, however, they tend to terrorize their victims by insulting and threatening them, by luring them into dangerous behaviour, or by attacking them. Djnoun are often reported as saying that they will intensify their attacks upon their victim if the individual in question dares to speak of them in front of others. A traditional healer (referred to as a fquih or feki, which translates to 'religious scholar') may attempt to oust djnoun by means of Koranic readings, prayer, trance, animal sacrifice, amulets, or magical rituals such as fumigation with herbs (referred to as bkhour or pkhor). Beating the affected individual, or throwing him or her into a deep well - with the intent of frightening the djinn away - is also common practice. When traditional methods fail, the victims of djnoun are often handed over to Western doctors employing Western methods, who classify these apparitions as * compound hallucinations, and treat them with antipsychotic and/or antidepressive medication. The Arabic names Tufah al-jinn (meaning apples of the djinn) and Baydal-jinn (testicles of the djinn) are used to denote the psychoactive plant mandrake or Mandragora officinarum.ReferencesColaço Belmonte, J.A.F. (1976). Jnun, een vorm van katatone psychose? Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 120, 1925-1927.Khalifa, R., Hardie, T. (2005). Possession and jinn. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 98, 351-353.Melton, J.G., ed. (1996). Encyclopedia of occultism and parapsychology. Volume 1. Fourth edition. Detroit, MI: Gale.Stein, D. (2000). Views of mental illness in Morocco: Western medicine meets the traditional symbolic. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 163, 1468-1470.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.