Most of our people belong to one religious order or the other, and thus subscribe to a faith. Most of the faiths in Guyana share a belief in the existence of good and evil. Thus most of us believe that there is both good and evil existing side by side.
It therefore becomes quite easy for citizens to believe that an act or a sickness or something ill that has happened to them has roots in somebody wishing or inflicting a bad omen on them. Since they believe that there is both good and bad in the world, they may falsely assume that they are victims of some bad spirit.
This is why it is very easy for persons to fall prey to fortune tellers and bogus astrologers and fake spiritualists and other quack medicine men and women. They are easy game because they feel that they cannot dismiss the idea that they are victims of evil spirits, for to do this, may imply that they question the duality of good and bad in this world. It is hard for a believer who has sought help from a “quack” to deny that there is no evil.
Having a victim accept the idea of good and evil, it is then easier for a bogus spiritualist to convince physically or mentally sick persons that their illness is due to some evil omen.
A person therefore suffering from some disease can fall victim to the overtures of fraudsters who try to convince them that their problem is not medical but spiritual and that somebody, one of their enemies, has cast an evil spell on them and thus is responsible for the problems they are having.
Some persons are often so frustrated with the problems they are experiencing that they actually seek out the help of persons who they believe can help them spiritually, with the result that they end up being put through a regimen which leaves them feeling spiritually stronger but financially weaker. They are open to being fleeced by the bogus spiritualists.
There are cases in which well-intentioned persons end up misleading persons by themselves actually believing that the person who is consulting them is really afflicted by an evil omen. Instead of encouraging the person to seek medical attention, they actually view their client as someone who needs their help and often the result is tragic.
It is time that things are put in their proper perspective. Persons who have problems should at all times seek help but the first call should be on trained and competent medical professionals.
If you are sick and seeing a doctor you should insist that the doctor explain fully your condition and if after receiving treatment you are still not satisfied, do not revert to the spiritualists. Instead go and see a specialist medical practitioner who may offer a second opinion which may be entirely different from the first one.
If someone shows signs of being ill, do not take that person to any spiritual healer. The persons should be taken to a doctor not a faith healer. The first call should be on trained and qualified medical personnel, not some elder in the community who everyone believes has the solutions to all ills. There are some elders who cannot cure themselves, much less others.
If on the other hand the person is suffering from emotional trauma or any other emotional problem, the first call should be on a psychiatrist, not a spiritualist. This person first needs professional help and should not become a guinea pig to be experimented on by some bogus spiritualist.
The first course of action should always be a qualified medical practitioner. The last option should be to seek the help of spiritualists because most of the problems which people encounter are medical in nature and can be treated by a qualified person.
This does not mean that persons should cease believing in good and evil. At the centre of most religions is that duality of good and evil. And having faith and strong convictions has been shown to improve spiritual help.
But there has never been a study which has demonstrated that going to a fortune teller or astrologer is a better option than being treated by a doctor. So if you are sick, check with a doctor, even if you have to wait a few hours at the clinic. It is much better than spending tens of thousands on some snake oil peddler.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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