Prayagraj: Diha family fell prey to shared delusion, say psychiatrists

Published on Jul 01, 2022 12:27 AM IST
A family was trying to resurrect 14-year-old girl who had died few days back. They were trying to please a deity and had stopped taking proper meals.
 (Pic for representation)
(Pic for representation)
By, Prayagraj

Incident of sorcery at Diha village of trans-Yamuna where a family tried to resurrect a dead girl, has not only shocked the people of the area but has also alerted the psychiatrists. A team of psychiatrists visited the family members who are admitted to SRN hospital and spoke to them. The psychiatrists said the family was suffering from ‘shared delusion’ or shared psychosis in which all members have strong common belief on some thoughts even if it is wrong.

It is worth mentioning that one Abhayraj Yadav along with his family was trying to resurrect his 14-year-old daughter who had died four days back. On Tuesday evening, police reached the village after residents informed them about something suspicious going on in the house. Police forced their way inside despite being stopped by Abhayraj and his family and saw the body of the girl lying on the floor.

The family started behaving unusually and circled around the body with their hands up in the air when policemen tried to take it away. Police somehow managed to send the body to the mortuary and called a team of doctors for checkup of other members of the family.

SP trans-Yamuna Saurabh Dixit also reached the spot and sent three sons and a daughter of Abhayraj to SRN hospital after their condition was found to be deteriorating as they were not taking food for many days. Dixit informed that the family members told police that they were trying to please Bamba Devi who would resurrect the dead girl.

A team of psychiatrists under senior psychiatrist at Colvin Hospital Dr Rakesh Paswan, on Thursday visited them at the SRN hospital.

Dr Paswan said the family is suffering from shared delusion or shared psychosis which develops due to overvalued religious ideas. The family or members of a close community believed in a common belief even if it is wrong. They shared the same ideas and were opposed to others who did not believe them. The myth of resurrection already exists in some communities or societies and often surfaces.

“The girl was ill and was being treated through sorcery. She died and her body started becoming stiff. The motion in the body further strengthened their belief that Bamba Devi will revive her. The family believed that Bamba Devi used to talk to them directly and so they looked down upon others and treated them as inferior beings. They severed contacts with other villagers and kin due to their belief,” Dr Paswan said.

He further informed that the family not only needed regular counselling but also medical treatment as well. A woman in the family is the key who introduced sorcery among the other members. She is still to be counselled, he added.

Some villagers claimed that Abhayraj and his family used to discuss about seeing ghosts and witches in their fields. The family had cattle but they were also given little food following which some of them died.

Police investigations revealed that Abhayraj has five daughters and three sons. The family started behaving unusually some years ago and for past some months they were surviving on ‘lai chana’ and Ganga water which they used to fetch everyday from the nearby ghat. Abhayraj’s fourth daughter was married some years back but used to live with her parents.

Her husband used to visit her often. Eldest daughter Meera was also living with her parents since a month with her two children who were also malnourished. All family members started practising sorcery and severed relations with their other kin and relatives.

Deceased girl’s cousin informed that Abhayraj is a farmer while his two sons aged 20 and 18 are pursuing BTC and IERT training respectively.

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