You’ve probably heard of Voodoo God or Voodoo Devil, or some variant thereof.
And the truth is, it’s not as straightforward as it may seem.
The term was coined by American psychologist John O. Sledge and first appeared in an 1897 article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, according to the website voodoo.com.
The title of the article was “An Examination of the Effects of the Voodoo Ritual on the Mental and Physical State of the Dead,” and the author, Dr. S. W. Wightman, said the term “is often used in connection with the phenomena of voodoo and its related diseases, which are believed to be the products of an occult and/or satanic conspiracy.”
According to the Wikipedia entry for Voodoo, the term is “often associated with witchcraft, sorcery and witchcraft rituals.”
It’s the name of a religious practice that dates back at least to the 1500s, and the religion has been practiced in the United States since at least the 19th century.
However, it was in the 1970s that the term began to gain popularity, especially in the form of V-Day, the date when the U.S. government declared a nationwide state of emergency.
“When we were going to do V-Days, I used to get really excited, I was so excited because the government was telling us to do something,” said T.J. McBride, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who wrote a book called The Voodoo Cure.
“But it wasn’t really something that was out there for everybody to understand.”
In order to understand the practice, McBride and his students used the research of former President Ronald Reagan.
In 1984, McWilliam and his colleagues, working in the Department of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University, tested 1,200 participants in an eight-week study and found that some of the subjects reported experiencing symptoms consistent with Voodoo.
The subjects also reported having hallucinations, delusions, and even violent outbursts when performing the rituals, McWilliams said.
The study found that, while some of those who experienced hallucinations reported feeling a sense of power, others reported no such feeling, and some even said that they experienced a lack of power altogether.
The researchers also found that those who reported experiencing Voodoo-like symptoms reported less motivation and less control of their lives.
“It wasn’t a supernatural event.
It was just the result of something going wrong,” McBride said.
McWilliams also used the study to prove that the effects of Voodos were real, but that the rituals were performed with the intent to control people.
The research was conducted in 1987, and a decade later, in 1990, McDevitt and McWilliams published a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, where they examined the effects that the Voodo rituals had on the participants’ behavior and thoughts.
Their study showed that the subjects were more willing to participate in Voodoo rituals if they believed the rituals would help them survive their demise, and more likely to do so if they had positive experiences with the ritual.
“The Voodoo practitioners we interviewed were extremely enthusiastic about their belief in the efficacy of VODA [the Voodoo cure],” McDevitons research notes said.
“We believe that this effect is due to their belief that the process of dying and being resurrected by VODAs is a very positive experience.”
McDevito and McDevitte said that the study also showed that people who had a lot of contact with the deceased were more likely than others to report experiencing Voodoos.
McDevitto and McBride are still hopeful that their findings will help people understand the rituals better.
“I think this is going to change the way people think about these things,” McDevita said.
And that, in turn, could lead to better research on the rituals.
“A lot of these things, it could help people who have a lot to lose,” Mcdevitt said.
You can read more about Voodoo and the effects on the world at voodos.com, and watch a video that showcases the ritual, below.
For more stories about science, visit sciencemag.com/voodoo.