I am beginning to realize I may not have time to complete all the different ideas floating around in my head. I do a little here, a little there...blog posts and comments...but I can't see myself accomplishing anything in the 20 or so years I have left. Maybe it's because I fall a lot...five or six times a year no matter what the weather conditions...usually on the sidewalk but yesterday I fell crossing an intersection. If the van coming towards me hadn't stopped you would be reading this through a medium!
I need to focus on a single issue and have a set goal in mind to accomplish.
I've decided to focus on demonic possession and exorcism. My personal experience is with the Pentecostal Holiness form of exorcism. As far as demonology...not to show my age...but I cut my teeth on Derek Prince and FGBMFI...Fig-Bif-Mi, as we used to call it back in the day...Demos Shakarian's Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International...they were the first group to target high level businessmen, celebrities and politicians. They expanded their mission through cassette tapes...just as I used when I first came out of the Charismatic world and openly spoke of my experiences back in the 1980s. My goal back then, naively enough, was to try to drive a wedge between legitimate Christianity...yes, I was still a Christian at the time...and the mental and spiritual abuses I suffered as a Charismatic. I did seminars under the Spirit of Truth title with a quote from the Psalms that summed it all up for me: "Thou has led captivity captive" and a logo of the Charismatic 'dive bombing dove' with a red circle and slash over it. Went on from there to try and form a informational and activist group called the Christians Against the Charismatic Heresy. CATCH...had a logo with a Xtian fish dangling from a hook in its mouth.
I'm interested in any discussion that has been going on about this subject. Personal experiences are fine...but I want to take this beyond mere anecdotal evidence. That is all the Enemy...no God means I can hate my enemies, yippee!...has to offer to bolster their unverifiable and ludricous claims of spinning heads, levitation and the like. Actually, that goes back to the book Blatty used for the material on which he based the Exorcist from which the modern concept of possession has risen. I've forgotten the name of the book, have to dig it out and get me a copy off Amazon.
I want any actually scientific study on belief in demons and exorcism...not anthropological studies of ancient or exotic cultures...but of exorcism as it is practiced in the United States in the second decade of the 21st century. I want to confirm the correalation between Holy Spirit Possession and Demonic Possession.
I don't want to re-invent the wheel. If something is already out there, just give me a title and author. If this has been discussed in this forum, then point me in the right direction.
I've read M. Scott Peck on the subject and came close to the classic green pea soup projectile vomiting! Same with Marty Martin. But I'm going to read them again. I'm setting out on a course of watching every demonic possession and exorcism movie that's come out since the Exorcist...no sense going further back than that.
I need direction, I need input, and I need help.
The project is to create and publish a book on the subject...hopefully through a legitimate publisher like Prometheus, but I'll settle for an online book through Createspace..or, if I come into some money, XLibris or one of the classier vanity book publishers.
My goal is twofold:
First to have belief that you or others are possessed by demons listed in the next edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) put out by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental illness.
Second the passage of a law banning the practice of exorcism on minors. Adults...people over thirty in my admittedly arbitrary opinion... are capable of making their own decisions and suffering the results.
No one has the right to teach demonology or practice exorcism on a child.
Even if you don't quite go as far as Richard Dawkins in declaring all religious education of minors as abuse (a statement I wholeheartedly endorse but cannot imagine a way of banning) exorcism of a child is an abuse far more prevalent than priest/preacher pedophilia and with harm extending just as far and even further into the adult who was victimized in such a truly satanic practice.
I see the figures of the growing secular movement in this country. If this is true, and I hope it is for our nation's sake, then I feel the first step, the first flexing of the new found power of this sizeable secular minority, should be to protect the children. Christians have known this all along. The old saw about 'give me a child for the first seven years of his life and I'll give you the man."
We need to reclaim our children, our grandchildren.
I'm sixty-three this August. Like I said, I don't have much time. As an atheist, my personal ethics come down to a simple acronym:
Take Care of Your Own Shit
Meaning, if anything is going to change you can't wait for it to happen. If you want to change something then you have to do it yourself.
"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."
The Lord God doesn't exist.
Vengeance is yours. It is up to you to repay.
The oldest law: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth...a life for a life.
The Chicago Way, as Sean Connery put it in Brian dePalma's The Untouchable.
If you don't have the guts to fight back, then get out of the way of us who do.
I believe you will find much of the experiences of demonic possession are actually based on hallucinations, whether from hallucinogenic chemicals/gasses such as demonstrated by studies into the 'Oracle of Delphi" and neurological studies into religious experiences.
These have been exposing Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe lesions and Schizophrenia as the root of most religious hallucinations (visions/voices/sense of possession).
In fact it appears that these are indeed the root of Monotheistic religion.
The bible is a list of hallucination sufferers confirming the hallucinations of previous hallucinators with their own hallucinations. Moses -> Joshua -> Solomon -> Jesus -> St. Paul -> etc..
The book "Hallucinations" by Oliver Sacks and Robert Sapolsky's series of lectures on Religion would be a good source.
The work and Youtube clips from VS Ramachandran also point in this direction.
I like the story in Oliver Sacks 'Hallucinations' of a demon/god possessed individual who was hearing voices that he considered from god. This voice told him to kill his wife and himself, where his belief in this voice became so great that he proceeded to commit the orders. He succeeded in killing his wife, but survived his own wounds. Yet, he still consistently received his messages from god, until they discovered a lesion in his temporal lobe. Once this lesion was removed, he no longer received voices from god.
Yes, his possession was revoked by an operation on his temporal lobe.
Likely so can many other such hallucinations that people deem as possession.
Exorcisms in themselves involve chanting, burning substances (carbon monoxide and other gasses) and other practices/chemicals that can induce hallucinations.
Yet, these always fail to rid the victim of their often brain malfunction based hallucinatory sense of possession.
From Robert Sapolsky's discussion on Individual Differences: "500 years ago if you had an epileptic seizure, it was clear where it was coming from - demonic possession. So if you struck someone in the process, you were to blame. These days the notion is ludicrous because somewhere around 1900 we learned a new concept; it's not him, it's his disease.
We are spectacular at doing something like that with epilepsy. We are lousy at doing it in all other sorts of domains. "
I have schizophrenic friends who have experienced such sense of demonic possession and one who experienced religious messages from his hallucinations, both visually and auditory.
An article concerning Demonic Possession brought about by illness: http://learni.st/learnings/106019-a-scientific-explanation-for-demo...
I have read Sack's Hallucinations. You should also try The illusion of conscious will by Daniel M Wegner. They seem to be dealing with the same concepts.
I understand the place of schizophrenia and induced hallucinations in this discussion. And I agree, there are many ways of explaining possession states and exorcism...but what I am focusing on is the practice of exorcism as it exist in Catholocism and in the, shall we say, less regulated forms of exorcism that have sprung up in this country and in the last half of the 20th Century and the first Decades of the 21st.
The question I am asking is "Why should these beliefs...in demons and possession and exorcism...be allowed to continue in the Modern World?"
At what point do we draw a line in the sand and say:
This is not real.
This is a mental illness in need of treatment.
This is not protected under the rubric of 'Religious Freedom".
We know it. Most atheist know it...I can't think of any who would reject your explanation...
But what are the implications of this knowledge?
What action should we take?
Knowledge is only as good, as powerful, as it is when put into concrete application in the real world.
Shall we continue to allow children to be taught demonolgy? Shall we continue to allow children to be subjected to exorcism?
Perhaps I shoud introduce myself. Perhaps I should bring my own 'anecdotal evidence' to the table?
Perhaps then you and others on this list would know where I've been, where I'm coming from.
This article has some interesting notes on exorcism and the placebo effect.
The link here goes into diagnosis of demonic possession as being real and outside of DSM, which is somewhat idiotic.
Wikipedia also states it is considered a genuine condition existing outside the latest DSM.
This opens the gates on Catholicism to claim that demonic possession is a true disorder and cannot be covered by the DSM, because it is of a spiritual nature and only spiritual treatment, such as exorcism can apply.
What we really need is a DSM that categorizes demonic possession as simply a symptom of schizophrenia, temporal lobe epilepsy and a number of hallucinogens.
Then the Catholic church cannot claim it is a real, isolated condition that exists outside the DSM.M
We need a DSM that categorizes Demonic Possession as a symptom of mental disorders existing within the DSM.
This will solve all our problems with groups prescribing exorcisms, including the Catholic church.
Sufferers will then be sent to real mental health clinics for tests and treatment under a range of genuine disorders which can exhibit such illusion/hallucination symptoms as mentioned above, which will allow a better study of their conditions as well.
Reading you "through a medium"? But of course! The medium of the daily paper, obit section.
I am tired. That isn't an excuse, just an explanation.
Has any scienific study on possession and exorciism been done in the last 20 years? That's all I want to know.
Are there any people out there on this list who have exorsism in the last 20 years?
I am sick, I am tired, I want to die.
I am not an intellectual searching for an answer.
I am an old man wanting to making sense of his life.
Sorry to read about your predicament.
Well, the only research I have ever heard of on Exorcism was by a deluded Christian psychologist in M.Scott Peck, which I suppose you have already come across.
There have been no clinical studies on it anywhere.
Possibly because there is no commercial enterprise willing to fund any such research, as we both know, research requires funding.
Also, setting the parameters and guidelines for such research is rather haphazard and difficult.
It's far easier to just consider spiritual possession as a symptom of an underlying neurological disorder and commit them to neurological research.
Thus leaving the Exorcists without any source of patients, because the Mental Health System has deemed them as medical cases for clinical neurological/psychological testing and treatment.
If this becomes the standard practice, Exorcism will hold no purpose nor use, since those it was claimed as treatment for are now receiving medical treatment instead, we can thus ban it from being practiced.
Far cheaper and more practical than conducting expensive, hard to analyze research.
Need a government, medical professionals/advisors and legal eagles with enough guts to make the changes.
I find the idea of retrospectively reading mental disorders of the present back into the history of exorcism to be a part of the Getting God Off the Hook theology I've been encountering over and over again. The same type of liberal religion that, like my brother who is a 'progressive minister' in a small church, once expressed to me:
"Faith is just another way of looking at the evidence."
In other words, evolution and science are simply studying the way God created the world and us.
So when I asked him the next logical question:
"Oh, so you have looked at the scientific evidence."
He had to admit that, no, he hadn't.
Making a statement that implies you have done an indepth study of the subject when the reality is you haven't is lying.
Hence, one of my presonal rules when dealing with theists:
"Christians lie. Expect them to lie. Don't be surprised when they lie. And, most importantly, don't be shy about calling them liars to their face."
Yes, so very true! Theology and apologetics are nothing but lies and we here do blatantly push this into their faces.
I and my friends have termed theology (considering the mind of god) as "Pondering Porkies".
We have also called theological apologetics as "Porky Ponderers Producing Their Own Porkies".
You will find us attacking theists with this line of attack on some religious forums as well, like Australia's ABC, Compass program's forum.
I'm on there as 'goiday_myd'
Though it seems like I might have killed the forum.
Most of the theists (especially the Young Earth Creationists) have left in disgust.
There's no young earth creationists on there now, where once it had many, my friends and I have killed them all off.
As you might expect, theists get very upset at this attitude to their beloved porkies (theology).
I just finished reading The Vatican's exorcists : driving out the devil in the 21st century 1st ed.AuthorWilkinson, Tracy.
I'm now working on American exorcism / Cuneo, Michael W
Wilkinson's book focuses on exorcism in Italy. Though she has a short section on Skeptics and Shrinks, she mainly talks about various exorcists. Personally, I came away from the reading impressed by the background of "superstition" as she refers to any type of spiritualism outside of the Catholic Churches.
It made me angry.
Angry that these people have dragged so much superstition into the 21st Century...then dare to lay claim that Catholic exorcist are any different than the poor fools they claim to be possessed.
The book made me realize that religion is just that: superstition.
American Exorcism, though dated, is still a better take on the subject. Especially in Cuneo's remarks concerning exorcism...especially through Blatty's book and movie and Malachi Martins Hostages to the Devil. He says the emphasis on the Catholic rite in the last half of the 20th Century...and the churches increasing approval of what, BTE...Before The Exorcist...is a direct result of the damage done to the image of Catholic Priests through Vatican II and the pedophile scandles. With exorcism, the priest is once more placed in the role of the heroic champion of the innocent...rather than the butt-fuckers they really are. It is disturbing and disgusting that the church has chosen to excuse the actions of pedophile priests as resulting from demonic possession and influence. The 'Devil Made Me Do It' excuse is just pouring vinegar into the defiled buttocks of so many young men.
What I'm interested in is the original exorcism on which Blatty based The Exorcist...a boy in Mt Rainer area whose 'projectile vomiting' made so glorious and obscene by Blairs excellent...and bordering on child abuse...role in the movie...was, in the original case, little more than spitting. Tracking down the details of this case is my next project.
My working theory, at this point, is at least with child exorcisms...which I cannot say often enough, needs to be banned as the child sexual abuse that it is...is a form of Munchausen by Proxy. I am quite familiar with this particular mental illness, in which the parent...usually the mother, but then there's that horrible case of Todd Burpo and his NDE and visits to 'Heaven' that is still being publicized without anyone to my knowledge attacking the father...who is the real abuser...and exposing him for what he is: a 'spiritual' incestuous pedophile....I wonder if the Skeptical Inquirer has done any exposes of this fraud? Have to check.
Munchausen by Proxy is, for those who may not know the term, the abuse of a child by a parental figure claiming illness of all sorts...and, in the case of exorcism...demonic manifestations in order to fulfill their own sick needs. Usually, there is a monetary influence as well as the attention getting. After all, declaring your child to be disabled by some mysterious ailment that only seems to manifest in the presence of the parents can lead to a fat SSI check and all the bottles seeking donations in convenience stores for poor suffering children in need of help with their doctor bills...money which, once donated, goes to the parents without any oversight by legitimate charities.
In Wilkinson's short and lopsided book she makes that distinction quite clear. In exorcisms the parents of the child are encouraged to be present and to assist in the abuse. Whereas, in traditional therapy for children, the parents are kept out of the picture entirely...and often with well deserved suspicion...and the problems of the child are worked through directly with the child.
Exorcism is evil.
Religion keeps Satan and evil alive in order to justify it's own abuses.
Religion is superstition gone to seed. Religion is superstition made enormously profitable for a handful of priests and mega-church self ordained preachers.
Religion is ugly and foul. On another discussion we had a troll who was trying to say we atheists had a knee-jerk hatred of religion that led us to neglect the wisdom that could be found there.
Wisdom my ass.
I am a rational hedonist. In other words, I believe totally in doing what feels good...and I believe in stopping when it ceases to feel good. The problem with hedonism...and Epicurianism...though the only difference between the two is how much money you have to spend...is people continue doing things that felt great the first time but each time afterwards need to be escalated in a vain attempt to achieve that initial rush. Ted Bundy is classic in this regard. He started out by simply viewing a woman undressing in an open window. He got the ultimate sexual cocktail....orgasm combined with adrenalin...that led him to continue to escalate in order to regain the initial feeling.
The same is true of religion, especially Charismatic religion that is the framework of the Deliverance Ministry. Flo Conway and Jim Siegleman wrote the book on this years ago called Snapping...back in the days of anti-cult literature...that showed how the rational resistance to the insane ideas being presented by a 'cult'....the whole anti-cult movement and Deprogramming and ole Black Lightnin' himself were all a front for Fundies seeking to make an end run around the Freedom of Religion by claiming anything they were against was a 'cult'...my own controller during those days was a former astrologer and TM instructor who was writting literature for the anti-cult crowd while useing the same brainwashing methods of the alleged cults in controlling me...Conway and Siegleman soon lost favor with their second book Holy Terror that showed how Fundie Christianity was using the same methods to brainwash children into Christianity....when I first came out of Charismatic Christianity I tried to work with anti-cult groups believing naively that it was the methods of indoctrination were the problem. Kept working with them until I got a tert letter from one of the major groups stating unconditionally that they "would never consider Charismatic Christianity a cult."
As Willie Nelson said: "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."
I'm off track, but what the hell? You can't find something new if you keep treading the same ground others have before you.
What I need is contact with people who have had exorcisms performed on them or have performed them on others.
What I need is the smoking gun.
But I am sure you are familiar with this case and many others.