Healing through sacrifice
in Descending with angels
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The fifth chapter explores the sacrifices expected from patients in both systems of treatment. Taking the near-sacrifice of Abraham’s son as a model for healing, the chapter analyses the ways in which patients – through leaps of faith – dismantle those parts within themselves perceived by the healer as the core of their suffering: psychotic delusions, jinn, or the desires of what in Islamic theology is referred to as the lower self. In conclusion it is argued that self-sacrifice of this kind enables the patients to submit to their treatment, and thereby to be reinstated as moral and healthy subjects in the structural order implied by the two systems of healing: biomedicine and Salafi-oriented interpretations of Islam. The chapter expands on the analysis of the scenes from the accompanying film presented in Chapter 4, but also explores additional scenes of the interaction between patients and psychiatrists.

Descending with angels

Islamic exorcism and psychiatry: a film monograph

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