A Nutritional Factor in Windigo Psychosis1


  • 1

    Grateful acknowledgement is made to the Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, for funds for the fieldwork and to the San Diego State College Faculty Foundation, with whose financial assistance the follow-up work was done.


This paper reviews reports of windigo psychosis, in particular those cases that are “cured” before they are “full-blown,” with a view to studying evidence of an organic factor related to the development of the illness. Knowledge of biological factors related to ritual behavior in different cultures is reviewed in this context, together with examples of windigo cases and relevant information about nutrition. It is indicated that the traditional “cure” of windigo symptoms, which frequently includes the ingestion of fatty meat, particularly bear meat, indicates a positively reinforced—due to beneficial effect—curing method for this condition. Thus, such an investigation of a widespread way of curing windigo psychosis supplements our analysis of culture with an additional — extracultural — dimension.