Spiritual Possession


To be possessed in the English language can hardly be good: it means being out of control, acting like a fool, or doing something dangerous. But in many places of the world, including the wealthy West, many individuals seek the healing and advice of mediums who claim to channel or be possessed by spiritual entities. And within Evangelical Pentecostal and Charismatic Catholic churches you may also be possessed or ‘slain’ by the Holy Spirit.

How do study and understand this phenomenon in the 21st century? In this study day, four experts from various subject areas (psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and dance) will share their academic and personal experiences of studying individuals and groups who experience possession within various cultures and traditions, including Christian, Afro-Brazilian, Islamic, and Vodou.

Programme details

9.45am            Registration

10.00am          The Psychology of Spirit Possession

                        Miguel Farias & Romara Delmonte

11.15am           Coffee/tea

11.35am           A longitudinal study of Dominican Vodou

                        Yvonne Schaffler

1.00pm            Lunch

2.00pm            Mental Health and Possession

                        Simon Dein

3.15pm            Tea/coffee

3.45pm            Dance and Possession: Transformation and Transcendence

                       Robert Clark

5.00pm          Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition only £70.00
Baguette Lunch £5.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Robert Clark


Robert Clark is an award winning choreographer working internationally across a range of contexts and venues.

Simon Dein


Simon Dein is a psychiatrist, expert on religion and mental health, and a lecturer at University College London.


Roma Delmonte


Romara Delmonte is a clinical psychologist specialising on Afro-Brazilian religions, and a Research Assistant at the Brain, Belief, & Behaviour Lab.

Dr Miguel Farias


Miguel Farias is an experimental psychologist, former Lecturer at Oxford University, founding director of the Brain, Belief, & Behaviour Lab, and co-author of ‘The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?’

Dr Yvonne Schaffler


Yvonne Schaffler is an anthropologist specialising on possession experiences, and a Research Fellow at the Medical University of Vienna.


Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email res-ctr@conted.ox.ac.uk for details of availability and discounted prices.