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Case Of Significant Weight Loss And Dysphagia "Due To A Curse"

Farhad F Vasanwala, Dr. Shu-Yun Tan, Rukshini Puvanendran, Beng-Yeong Ng


Objective: This case illustrates how a patient with medically unexplained symptoms was "cured" using symbolic healing rituals of Christianity and traditional Malay black magic. Method: We report a case of a 49-year-old lady who presented with unexplainable weight loss and dysphagia despite extensive outpatient and inpatient medical investigations. She later attributed these symptoms to a "curse" by a Boyanese man with whom she had disagreements. After catharsis with a Roman Catholic priest and cleansing with a Bomoh (Malay witch doctor), the patient’s health improved. Results: We believe this patient had a conversion disorder due to recent multiple stressors in her life and she attributed her symptoms to the "curse" inflicted to her. The symbolic healing rituals by the Catholic priest and Bomoh "cured" her of her illness which concurred with the patient’s own beliefs for her illness. Conclusion: This article illustrates the importance of the physician being familiar with various local traditional beliefs, and how the interplay between various different religions and customs can come together to treat medically unexplained symptoms in a country like Singapore. ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 13 (1): January - June 2012: XX XX.