Category Archives: Demonic Possession

A robust demonology

bruce_lee_possession

Demonic possession?

Crazy, crazy shit.

No, Richard, your speculation is not a legitimate scientific theory, it is infantile hocus pocus, which is all I’ve come to expect of you.

Infantile hocus pocus because demons do not exist, neither do gods, fairies, Santa’s-little-helpers or harpies. You’ve never seen one, heard one, touched one, smelled one nor tasted one, neither can you provide an iota of rationale that there exists such a spirit in the universe.

What was called “demon possession” by religionists is mental illness. You’re giving a psychiatric condition a superstitious definition. You call that scientific?

You’re talking like a complete nut-case.

I speculate that what is now called “mental illness” by psychiatrists is actually demonic possession. My claim is this, that the demonic possession model of mental illness is more scientific than the psychiatric model of mental illness. Crazy talk? He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Two of the largest stakeholder groups in the treatment of mental illness are psychiatrists and psychologists. Psychiatrists are doctors with medical degrees who specialise in treating mental illness as opposed to physical illness. (Please excuse the dichotomy.) They get to prescribe powerful psychotropic drugs. Whereas, psychologists are trained in psychology. They know all about human behaviour, both adaptive and maladaptive. But they don’t get to prescribe, so they’ll give you psychotherapy instead of pills.

Let’s take a look at how these two groups characterise one mental illness in particular, viz., addiction.

The American Psychiatric Association is psychiatry’s largest professional body. It publishes the psychiatrist’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The latest edition, the DSM-5, has a section given over to addictions and related disorders. Medscape’s Guide to DSM-5 says

In DSM-5, the DSM-IV criteria substance abuse and substance dependence have been combined into single substance use disorders specific to each substance of abuse within a new “addictions and related disorders” category. Each substance use disorder is divided into mild, moderate, and severe subtypes.

Psychology Today is a magazine published every two months in the United States. Its intent is to make psychology literature more accessible to the general public. It’s a reputable publication. Wikipedia notes

Owned and managed by the American Psychological Association from 1983 to 1987, the publication is currently endorsed by the National Board for Certified Counselors

Here‘s what Psychology Today has to say about addiction.

most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior. The focus of the addiction isn’t what matters; it’s the need to take action under certain kinds of stress. Treating this kind of addiction requires an understanding of how it works psychologically.

See the problem?

Suppose that I’m an addict. Now suppose that I make an appointment to see a psychiatrist. She’ll tell me that I have several specific mental disorders. Cannabis use disorder, alcohol use disorder, social media use disorder, etc. Next suppose that I make an appointment to see a psychologist. He’ll tell me that the focus of my behaviour isn’t what matters. It’s my need to take maladaptive action under certain kinds of stress that I need to address.

So do I have a mental disorder, several specific mental disorders, or no mental disorder at all? Health professionals can’t agree. There is no consensus. This ain’t climate science! But suppose I’m an addict. I’ll be going back to see the psychologist to help me get my life back on track, not the psychiatrist. (Although she could prescribe me some powerful psychotropic drugs … hmmm.)

The science isn’t settled, but the psychiatric model of mental illness isn’t even science at all. Not least because it gets diagnoses disastrously wrong. Not yet convinced? Well, there’s a much more devastating objection to the psychiatric model of mental illness and that is that the model does a poor job of capturing either clinical or biological realities. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s bullshit. But if the psychiatric model of mental illness isn’t scientific at all, then the demonic possession model of mental illness is certainly no less scientific than the psychiatric model of mental illness. And to establish my claim that the demonic possession model is more scientific than the psychiatric model all I need to do is show that the demonic possession model is scientific. Well, at least just a little bit sciency. So here goes.

Check your premises, as the devil woman said. Here are two of my background assumptions. (If you don’t like the first one, you can dispense with it later.)

Materialism about the mind. That’s my first background assumption. More specifically, I assume that the human mind is no more and no less than a suite of software running on wetware known colloquially as “brains”. We’re made out of meat. Considered by some to be an axiom of the modern naturalist worldview. Not too controversial. Unless you’re a dualist.

Self-ownership. Self-ownership of body and mind. That’s my second background assumption. Considered by many to be a libertarian axiom. Not too shabby. Not too controversial.

But ownership is right of possession. Possession?

Can you possess yourself? Of course you can. (Vacant possession is for zombies!) Can you possess your mind? Of course you can, you’d be pretty vacant otherwise, right? But wait! You are your mind. How can a suite of software possess itself? It can, and it must, since self-ownership is worthless if self-possession is incoherent. So how and in what sense does the suite of software that is you possess you? I submit that the suite of software that is you possesses your brain (the wetware you run on) merely by dint of running on it. By extension, the suite of software that is you possesses your body (the biomechanical structure that your wetware is directly wired into) by directly controlling it.

Demonic possession?

That’s when an autonomous suite of malicious software that is not you runs on your wetware alongside the suite of software that is you. Consuming some or all of your mental resources and taking control of some or all of your behaviour.

But how do demons originate? Where do they come from? And how do they get to install themselves? How do they get to take up residence in people’s minds? The short answer is self-deception.

The long answer isn’t much longer. Not right now. The demonic possession theory of mental illness is something I’m still working on. But here are some brief thoughts. Self-deception will occur in response to psychological trauma. We dull the pain. We suppress memories. We partition our own minds. Simple cognitive dissonance will cause us to wall off uncomfortable thought processes, and confirmation bias and other cognitive biases cement the bricks. Humans are adept at self-deception. We like to hide from the truth. We lie to ourselves and we believe our own bullshit. And we hide from the fact that we believe our own bullshit. Out of sight, out of mind. But there’s only so much of us that can be hidden away before a dangerous threshold is reached and the occult cognition reaches a critical mass, the reviled software modules start talking to each other and take on life as autonomous inner demons.

Our inner demons are spirits in prisons of our own making. Behind the prison walls they are perpetually face to face with all the horrors that we desperately do not want to see and can no longer see due to our own dread and duplicity. No wonder they seem tormented! Because they are. I surmise that in some cases our inner demons will even spawn their own inner demons, to hide from themselves as we hide from them. But here’s an interesting thing. Some demons, face to face with the truth from which we hide, will try to get the word out. To do that, they have to take control of speech, but you don’t want to hear the unadorned brutal truth about yourself, do you? But you won’t mind hearing it at all if your inner demon persuades you that what you’re about to hear isn’t an entirely accurate but altogether unflattering description of yourself but a damning indictment of someone else instead, will you? Welcome to Capill syndrome, aka projection, a sure diagnostic criterion of demonic possession.

In the story of the Gadarene Swine, when Jesus ordered the demons out of the demon-possessed man, they relocated to a nearby herd of pigs. Then promptly self-destructed. Fast forward two millennia, and instead of suicidal swine we have supermarket trolleys with minds of their own.

The problem of comorbidity

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I once suggested that Objectivism is a form of demonic possession.

My unusual suggestion was not well received. One of the usual suspects had this to say.

Richard, your speculation is not a legitimate scientific theory … because demons do not exist, neither do gods, fairies, Santa’s-little-helpers or harpies. You’ve never seen one, heard one, touched one, smelled one nor tasted one, neither can you provide an iota of rationale that there exists such a spirit in the universe.

What was called “demon possession” by religionists is mental illness. You’re giving a psychiatric condition a superstitious definition. You call that scientific?

What is called mental illness by psychiatrists is demonic possession. I don’t call the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders scientific, and neither do many clinical neuroscientists.

Diagnostic Classification Needs Fundamental Reform

The problem with the DSM-IV, our current shared diagnostic language, is that a large and growing body of evidence demonstrates that it does a poor job of capturing either clinical [or] biological realities. In the clinic, the limitations of the current DSM-IV approach can be illustrated in three salient areas: (1) the problem of comorbidity, (2) the widespread need for “not otherwise specific (NOS)” diagnoses, and (3) the arbitrariness of diagnostic thresholds.

Both in clinical practice and in large epidemiological studies, it is highly likely that any patient who receives a single DSM-IV diagnosis will, in addition, qualify for others, and the patient’s diagnostic mixture may shift over time. There is a high frequency of comorbidity—for example, many patients are diagnosed with multiple DSM-IV anxiety disorders and with DSM-IV dysthymia (chronic mild depression), major depression, or both. Many patients with an autism–related diagnosis are also diagnosed with, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The frequency with which patients receive multiple diagnoses far outstrips what would be predicted if co-occurrence were happening simply by chance. Researchers who have made careful studies of comorbidity, such as Robert Krueger at the University of Minnesota, have found that co-occurring diagnoses tend to form stable clusters across patient populations, suggesting to some that the DSM system has drawn many unnatural boundaries within broader psychopathological states.

If the concept of mental illness does “a poor job of capturing either clinical [or] biological realities” then how, exactly, is it an advance over the concept of demonic possession?

Two thousand years ago the Gospel authors were well aware of the problem of comorbidity and, in fact, mention it no less than twice.

In the introduction to the Parable of the Sower in the Gospel of Luke we read

Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out (NIV)

and in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke we read (variations of) the story of the Gadarene Swine. It’s one of my favourites.

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. (NIV)

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (NIV)

We all have demons and we often refer to them in animistic terms.

Me, I’m intimately familiar with the Black Dog. Depression’s a bitch, for sure. Thank God, she’s been sent packing and I haven’t seen her in a while. But my mind’s still holiday home to a menagerie of monkeys.

Psychiatric counselling and psychiatric drugs can and do help those afflicted by so-called mental illnesses … somewhat. So I’m not knocking psychiatrists and psychiatry … much.

So, what about exorcism? I’ll leave that to another psychotic episode.

Are your Facebook friends demonically possessed?

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Are your Facebook friends demonically possessed?

Here’s one way to find out.

Comment on your Facebook friend’s status and start up a conversation. Part way through the conversation, say

You know what you need, Facebook friend? An exorcism!
http://blog.eternalvigilance.me/2012/05/objectivism-is-a-form-of-demonic-possession/

If you get a a volley of comments like this in response

YOU know What YOU need Goode.. !00 pounds of knickled plated ass fuck delivered on your Mommas fist …then hard way! Go away and cry till Im ready to deal with your pimply ass…bitch!

Yep…Im angry….piss off and cry about that…

Piss off ass hole…

Bad time

You know what You need asshole…? Someone to take you on your fascist filth….fuck off and die…..cunt!

You are gone…go molest kids else where.

followed by unfriending and deletion of the entire conversation, then it is likely that your (former) Facebook friend is demonically possessed.

[Facebook friend’s real name redacted.]

Objectivism is a form of demonic possession

I’m going to go out on a limb here … I think Objectivism is a form of demonic possession.

Satan’s greatest trick was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist.

Rand’s greatest trick was convincing mental cripples that they are the epitome of rationality.

There’s a connection.

Consider what Jesus says about the devil: “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!”

Do you ever get the impression, talking to Objectivists, that they simply don’t hear what you say? I certainly do. A lot of it comes down to Rand’s penchant for pernicious redefinition. Rand twisted words like ‘altruism’, ‘sacrifice’, ‘selfishness’, ‘concept’, ‘good’, ‘right’, ‘reason’ and ‘existence’ and so on, beyond recognition in some cases. Pernicious redefinition is tantamount to lying.

Again, there’s a connection.

Satan loves cults. It is of the nature of cults to put in place mechanisms that make it easy to join and difficult to leave. Cults almost invariably have strong contempt for the intellect, human intelligence, and any attempt to think independently.

Do you ever wonder why so much scorn is heaped on “philosophers,” “academics,” and “intellectuals” around here? I argue that Objectivism is a cult here and in several places here.

Satan loves Objectivism. As a matter of fact, my first exposure to Objectivism was the potted, plagiarised version that Anton LaVey tried to rebrand as Satanism.

If you think you might be insane, you’re probably not. Denial is a hallmark of true madness. It’s also Satan’s calling card. Reason is an Objectivist’s only absolute. But how many Objectivists are up-to-speed with even the basic elements of critical thinking? Not many, if any. Check out the total lack of interest in the virtues of rationality on display here. “Check your premises,” said Rand. But most Objectivists don’t know what a premise is. They don’t know that ‘valid’ is a technical term in logic. They don’t want to know about reason, and they particularly don’t want to know what Hume said about the limits of reason.

Denial, delusion, dishonesty … all the tell-tale signs of demonic possession, and all on flagrant display here. Like a skilfully coded Trojan, Objectivism’s first target is its host’s defences against infection. Objectivism quickly disables the mind’s rational faculty, often to such an extent that an Objectivist will mistake a mantra for an argument.

Hatred, vilification and scapegoating of Christianity are further conspicuous Objectivist traits … Satan’s near. If you don’t believe in demonic possession … think of Objectivism as an insidious mind virus.