Introduction. The view that spirits may possess humans is found in 90% of the world population, including Arab/Islamic societies. Despite the association between possessive states and various neurological and psychiatric disorders, the available literature has yet to correlate possessive states with functional brain imaging modalities such as single-photon-emission computed tomography. Case presentation. This paper describes the clinical case of a 22-year-old male Omani patient who presented to us with an altered state of consciousness that his caregiver attributed to possession. We examined whether the patient's mental state correlated with neuro-imaging data. The patient's distress was invariably associated with specific perfusion in the left temporal lobe and structural abnormality in the left basal ganglia. Conclusion. We discuss the case in the context of possession as a culturally sanctioned idiom of distress, and highlight the importance of studying cross-cultural presentations of altered states of consciousness within biomedical models.
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