When mental illness is really demonic possession, according to a psychiatrist

The following two paragraphs are excerpted from what’s basically your everyday, run-of-the-mill article about the reality of demonic possession as distinct from mental illness. Written by a board-certified psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College. For The Washington Post.

Move along. Nothing to see here.

For the past two-and-a-half decades and over several hundred consultations, I’ve helped clergy from multiple denominations and faiths to filter episodes of mental illness – which represent the overwhelming majority of cases — from, literally, the devil’s work. It’s an unlikely role for an academic physician, but I don’t see these two aspects of my career in conflict. The same habits that shape what I do as a professor and psychiatrist — open-mindedness, respect for evidence and compassion for suffering people — led me to aid in the work of discerning attacks by what I believe are evil spirits and, just as critically, differentiating these extremely rare events from medical conditions.

Is it possible to be a sophisticated psychiatrist and believe that evil spirits are, however seldom, assailing humans? Most of my scientific colleagues and friends say no, because of their frequent contact with patients who are deluded about demons, their general skepticism of the supernatural, and their commitment to employ only standard, peer-reviewed treatments that do not potentially mislead (a definite risk) or harm vulnerable patients. But careful observation of the evidence presented to me in my career has led me to believe that certain extremely uncommon cases can be explained no other way.

FULL TEXT: As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession.

(For more on the relationship — and distinction — between possession and mental illness, check your local library or any online bookseller for my Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies, which contains separate entries on possession and exorcism. Also see relevant entries in editor Joe Laycock’s excellent Spirit Possession around the World: Possession, Communion, and Demon Expulsion across Cultures.)

 

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on July 3, 2016, in Paranormal, Psychology & Consciousness, Religion & Philosophy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I have a problem with demonic possession after having an interest in mysticism and needing to stop. The sensations of energy in my body never went away and are weaker than they would if I was still practicing, something like yoga. I experience some glossolalia when I try to speak and hear thoughts that aren’t mine. It’s hard to read and I have been experiencing some reference (the sensation that the television or radio for instance, refers to me in some magical way). I’ve been making an effort to try hitching my wagon to some other guru in order to do the same thing with someone else. Right now I’m in the process of interests in G I Gurdjieff. (and will be meeting and practicing with them, maybe) . I was turned onto this with the realization that Whitley Strieber has been a Gurdjieff practitioner for many years. And wrote some excellent horror novels.

    I went to a couple churches about my problem – Started doing something like yoga but now can’t stop – but they had no clue or desire to help me. I read that yoga is the leading cause of the Catholic church desiring to hire more exorcists. I firmly believe in this stuff but am not sure if exorcism is possible or not.

  2. I don’t believe that the forces possessing me are evil. I don’t believe in evil. I believe in “sin” and impurity the way Rudolf Otto thinks of it – as numinous. I believe engaging with the demonic, or priests/monks, is the way to purifying yourself. I’m very open minded about eastern religions that engage with the demonic.

  3. But besides all of that, my effort to unplug myself from mysticism has left me feeling empty and the forces I had formerly communed with are seemingly beyond my own control. I have to embrace those forces and succumb to them or I lose their power. This is the best talk I’ve ever heard on the subject of yoga and the numinous or the demonic.

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