Ghosts and relationship in Vietnam

The Role of Vietnamese Ghosts in Bad Relationships

Image from F.Learning Studio.

Vietnam is a deeply superstitious country. Luck and ghosts play a central role in driving people’s the day-to-day fortunes — and more so for consequential motifs like love and relationships.

People’s love-lives are fertile ground for unscrupulous fortune-tellers who do things like use numerology to calculate when and to whom you should marry, as well as negotiate with malignant ghosts who are messing with your love-life.

A common myth is that if your love-life sucks, then there is a ghost to blame. For example, if you are constantly being spurned by your crushes, or your relationships continuously end in hardship. You could actually be very desirable and attractive, but the evil ghost is working to sabotage your relationships.

Who is the ghost? Most people believe it is a former lover from a previous life: perhaps the dead-lover is just very jealous, or perhaps you wronged them, like you were unfaithful in a past-life. In our casual survey of Vietnamese acquaintances, something like 80-90% of people believe in love-ghost phenomenon.

The following video explains the love-ghost phenomenon:

How ghosts are messing with your love-life, by Youtuber F.Learning Studio

Reincarnation in the Love-Lives of Vietnamese

Reincarnation and karma are central to Vietnamese spirituality. Good and bad fortunes in one’s life is considered a consequence of virtuous activities in one’s past-lives.

If someone has a good relationship with their spouse, the kind that is the envy of their peers, then their peers may remark: “You must of have saved the world in a past-life, to have met such a wonderful wife/husband!”

Conversely, if you have many failed relationships, it must be due to a haunting from a previous life.

How to Fight Evil Spirits in Vietnam

In Vietnam, there is often a simple and straight-forward remedy to deal with evil ghosts: go to a fortune-teller! Fortune-tellers seemingly have all the answers to life’s problems.

In order to counter the effect of an evil love-ghost, a fortune-teller may recommend a daily routine of chanting, or proscribe a visit to a pagoda, or a special bracelet, or get you to change your name, plus any other whiz-bang solution. Each fortune-teller has their own method.

The most common “solution” is make a paper doll/statue of a woman (if you are woman) or a man (if you are a man) — the doll is meant to deflect the attention of the ghost. “Dear ghost, please leave this woman alone! Here is another woman for you to love instead.” And then they burn the paper-doll to severe the connection between the ghost and the victim. Voila! All their relationship troubles are cured.

Ghosts in VIetnam, use a doll to sever connection
Paper doll to distract an evil ghost that is sabotaging romantic relationships

The notoriety of fortune-tellers often spread by word-of-mouth, like “oh, so and so went to a fortune-teller, and the next day they met the love of their life!”

Price of Fortune-Tellers in Vietnam

It could cost 1-5 million VND for one session with a Vietnamese fortune teller to quell a love-ghost. This is equivalent to $50 – $250 USD, which is a lot for a country where the average monthly income is much less than $1000 USD.

If the ghost is particularly strong, then the cost could be many multiples of that.

More fortune-tellers are leveraging social media to expand their reach and notoriety. There is some irony that you can be banned from Facebook or Twitter for spreading “misinformation” or challenging left-wing orthodoxy, but there are no consequences for proclaiming yourself to having magical ghost powers.

Exploitation of Lonely Peoples’ Desperation

The clever thing about fortune-tellers is that they shield people from confronting their own problems and short-comings. Can’t find love? — it isn’t because of your pudgy physique or propensity to nag or that your standards are too high or that you aren’t ambitious enough to attract a high-quality date. No no no, blame a ghost instead!

Fortune-tellers protect you from having to do the difficult work of self-improvement — the locus of control is shifted to something that can’t be disproved, and which costs money to solve.

Science has shown that people who have an “internal locus of control” have much better mental health and lower depression (Yeoh et al. 2017). People with an internal locus of control “tend to attribute events and outcomes to their own actions while those with external locus of control blame outside forces such as chance, destiny, or more powerful individuals.” Therefore,the reliance on fortune-tellers may be indirectly compounding people’s misery and depression — they give-up their internal locus of control and relinquish the ability to author their own fate.

Is this a Vietnamese Ghost caught on camera?

What is that white thing flying above the Shrine?

Vietnamese ghost on camera (fake AI-generated image by DALL-E)

No — it is an AI-generated image from a text prompt: “Ghost flying above a shrine burning incense”. READ MORE about AI-generated Art about Vietnam.

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