I would imagine that it would be quite easy to manipulate the peoples of a society steeped in a superstition. I wonder if its merely social compliance in many cases, that seems to be the controlling factor in vodun. If a person believes in the superstition, they can act accordingly or be exposed as an "unbeliever". Its not just west africans who are susceptible to this though, anthropomorphologicaly Ive seen italians claiming possession do similar things. In some american religions we have the snake possessions and speaking in tongues etc its all very psychogenic. Victorian england was very holier than thou too, no society seems to be exempt from its influences.
There is some work available which may help you out, look for R. D. Laing cultural expectations and compulsion on google scholar.