Siswanto is well known as a psychology clinician as well as an academician of the Catholic University of Soegijapranata, Semarang, Indonesia. He has published three books about psychology, the most recent launched in 2015 entitled “Psikologi Kesehatan Mental: Awas Kesurupan” or “Mental Health of Psychology: Beware of the Possessed.” This book is popular among psychology faculty and students. The term “possessed” raises people’s curiosity and gets them to read the book.
For an Indonesian, when someone is possessed, people believe an outside spirit enters the human body and manifests itself as a different personality. Siswanto determined that “possession” is caused by a deep trauma from the past and surfaces through the human imagination.
Psychology does not recognize being possessed, but it does use the term transference, where a thought/feeling about people with whom one has had a relationship is projected on to someone else. There are several factors that could result in someone thinking they are possessed. It could be violence, disaster, war, or some other traumatic experience.
In Indonesia, the people trusted to deal with the possessed patient are mostly religious leaders with their prayers or the shaman through their rituals. Yet, Siswanto explained, the patient could be healed through psychological methods. He has conducted many seminars about this in some cities in Indonesia such as Aceh, Madura, and Makassar. He added that there is much research about possessed people, especially in Western countries, but the practice to heal the patient through psychology is rare. Siswanto is a pioneer in developing this practice in Indonesia. After many experiences in dealing with possessed patients, Siswanto decided to continue his research and to get a Ph.D. degree in Psychology at Gadjah Mada University, one of the best universities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.