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Transcult Psychiatry. 2007 Mar;44(1):44-54.

Ogun Oru: a traditional explanation for nocturnal neuropsychiatric disturbances among the Yoruba of Southwest Nigeria.

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  • 1College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria.


This article describes three cases of ;ogun oru' (nocturnal warefare), a condition reported in southwest Nigeria involving an acute night-time disturbance that is culturally attributed to demonic infiltration of the body and psyche during dreaming. Ogun oru is characterized by its occurrence, a female preponderance, the perception of an underlying feud between the sufferer's earthly spouse and a ;spiritual' spouse, and the event of bewitchment through eating while dreaming. The condition is believed to be treatable through Christian prayers or elaborate traditional rituals designed to exorcise the imbibed demonic elements. Ogun oru may be a label applied to medical problems. The differential diagnosis includes mainly parasomnias, for example, sleep terror, sleepwalking and sleep paralysis and, to a lesser extent, nocturnal or sleep epilepsy.

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