Episode 68: Changelings: Turn and Face the Strange

There are moments when stories transcend geographic and culturally borders, and touch on something fundamentally and universally human. The persistent idea of changelings across Europe, and the ogbanje and abiku throughout Africa might be an example of that type of story. Join us this week as we examine the circumstances that might lead to believing your child has been replaced by an impostor from the spirit of fairy realm. From medical explanations to rare and nearly unbelievable psychological diagnoses, to the cultural needs created by unique circumstances this is a complex case full of twists and possibility. We will conclude by taking a look at a classic anthropological study on maternal love in Brazil’s shanty towns, and how things have changed there over the last 20 years.

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Nancy Scheper-Hughes Lecture:



‘Not my baby’: Delusion led to fatal throat slitting by mother

No More Angel Babies on the Alto do Cruzeiro | Natural History Magazine

The Belief in Reincarnation Among the Igbo of Nigeria by Ian Stevenson University of Virginia School of Medicine

Born to Die: The Ogbanje Phenomenon and its Implication on Childhood Mortality in Southern Nigeria – Alex E Asakitikpi

The Medical and Social Dynamics of Ogbanje as an Occult and Paranormal in Nigeria by Oliver Onyekwere C. Uche & Martina Chioma Uche

Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness By Carole G. Silver

Fairies and the Folklore of Disability: Changelings, Hybrids and the Solitary Fairy

Why Mothers Kill Their Babies – Time

Police: Woman Says She Killed Her Baby With Rock – Orlando Sentinel

That’s Not My Child: A Case of Capgras Syndrome – Psychiatric Times

The Misidentification Syndromes as Mindreading Disorders – WIlliam Hirstein, Cognitive Neuropsychiatry

Accounting for delusional misidentifications. H D Ellis, A W Young The British Journal of Psychiatry

“Abiku” – John Pepper Clark

“Abiku” – Wole Soyinka

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