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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

´╗┐Psychogenic ("Voodoo") Death

Though widely believed to be merely a folklore belief of primitive societies, psychogenic death or "voodoo death," a physically healthy person's demise solely because of their belief, has been well documented. In these cases people found themselves in an impossible situation, unable to struggle, to flee or to fight. This giving-up is often complemented by a rejection of their critically important nurturing figures. During psychotherapy this can be an ending of the intense emotional attachment of patient to therapist, resurrecting the early childhood fear of rejection by their mother, akin to cutting the umbilical cord too soon. But this belief of inescapable death may be reversed, stopping the person's deterioration by introducing a powerful figure, a family member (particularly their mother) or a more flexible therapist.

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