Erta Ale, Ethiopia

Destination 16: Erta Ale, Ethiopia


Erta Ale is a remote and rarely visited shield volcano in the Afar region of East Africa. Erta Ale is known to have an active lava lake in its summit crater and is surrounded by sulfur pits. Erta Ale has undergone seven eruptions in the past 125 years and has been erupting continuously since 1967.

Related Film: Aladdin (1992)


The location as well as the name of the region (Afar) of East Africa loosely references the villain in Aladdin (1992). Aladdin is a 1992 animated musical produced by Walt Disney Pictures based on the folktale of the same name from One Thousand and One Nights. Jafar is the grand vizier of Agrabah and the main antagonist in the film.

Jafar identifies a street urchin named Aladdin to retrieve a lamp hidden within the Cave of Wonders. Upon its discovery, Aladdin rubs the lamp, releasing its mystical vapors and all the adventures that follow including befriending a genie, flying on carpets, and becoming a prince.

How it relates to the field of psychiatry

Given the contents of the lamp (vapors), one could view One Thousand and One Nights as a hallucinogenic trip caused by inhalant exposure. As such, the adventures that befall Aladdin may be interpreted as psychological symptoms of inhalant intoxication. The physiologic signs of inhalant intoxication can be remembered by magic carpet rides (acronym).

Muscle weakness

Coma or stupor
Ataxia (unsteady gait)
Reflexes depressed
Psychomotor retardation

Rotary nystagmus
Dizziness; Diplopia
Energy decreased or lethargy
Slurred speech

Anthony Tobia, MD. Copyright © 2018 Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. All rights reserved.

Posted in psychation.