West African Psychology: A Comparative Study of Psychological and Religious Thought

By Geoffrey Parrinder

The first comparative account of West African beliefs regarding the soul, and the spiritual powers of man and animals.

ISBN: 9780227170540


This book is a groundbreaking comparative study of African religion and psychology, dealing with the concept of the soul in West African belief. Based on personal research supported by anthropological study, this examination of West African thought on the soul, and spiritual powers of man and animals, concentrates predominantly on the western coast and hinterland, from the Ivory Coast to Eastern Nigeria.

This is a comprehensive and interesting selection of the beliefs that have moulded West African psychology, including perceptions of future lives and reincarnation, to physical and spiritual metamorphoses. The essence of the soul is also examined, especially with regard to hysterical possession and ‘soul-eating’ by witches. The supernatural is also addressed, as are deep beliefs in ghosts and the interpretation of dreams.

This subject is not only deeply absorbing, but is also one of practical importance to all those who are interested, personally and professionally, in religion, as well as to any others whose work leads them into personal relationships with West African people.

Additional information

Dimensions 216 × 140 mm
Pages 236


Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Professor Edward Geoffrey Simons Parrinder was educated at Richmond College (London) and Faculté Libre de Théologie Protestante (Montpellier). He became Professor of Comparative Study of Religions, at King’s College (University of London).

He is also the author of West African Religion (1949), African Ideas of God (1961), Religion in Africa (1969), Avatar and Incarnation (1970), The Indestructible Soul (1973), The Wisdom of the Forest (1975), Encountering World Religions (1987) and A Concise Encyclopedia of Christianity (1998).


1. Introductory
2. The African Philosophy of Life
3. The Body and its Powers
4. The Personality-Soul
5. The Spirit
6. Guardian Genius, or Over-Soul
7. Spirits of the Departed
8. Ghostly Apparitions
9. After-Life and Judgement
10. Reincarnation
11. Metamorphosis
12. Animal and Plant Souls
13. Injury to the Soul
14. Possession
15. Dreams
16. The Influence of Egypt and Islam
17. The Development of Religion

Index of Proper Names
Index of Subjects