Exorcism, Deliverance, and Neurological Disorders
TRIGGER WARNING – Suicide – EXPLICIT CONTENT
Since her first night home from the hospital, K had kept everyone up nearly every night. V and her mother, who was visiting from out-of-town, were in the living room reminiscing while V lovingly cradled K, her eleven day old daughter. V’s husband, G, had been out most of the morning. He walked in looking pale, saying he was exhausted and wanted to take a nap. G kissed his newborn and wife, smiled, and headed into the hallway towards the bedroom.
Some time had passed when V said: “Mom, what’s that clicking sound?” They looked at each other with bewildered curiosity. Shortly afterwards, what sounded like a muffled explosion reverberated from the hallway.
Startled by the loud sound, V and her mother leaped to their feet and headed down the hallway to investigate. V expected to find her husband investigating too, but he had not emerged from the bedroom. Thinking her partner was sleeping soundly and not awakened by the resounding blast, she entered their bedroom and encountered a scene worse than any horror flick she’d ever watched.
The off-white walls and bed linen were splattered with blood and brain matter. Pieces of skull and teeth were scattered throughout the room. G’s body laid lifeless on the other side of the bed. In utter shock, V cried out, “NO, OH MY GOD, NO”, saying it over and over as she ran to the phone to call an ambulance.
V’s mother tried to feel for a pulse. But with half his head missing, she was certain her son-in-law was dead. Blood was gushing out of his body. The force from the blast was so powerful that half his brain was found lying on the ground just outside the bedroom window. The tragic news spread like a virus as curious neighbors stopped by.
The clicking sound V and her mom had initially heard was the cocking of a double-barrel shotgun G had used on rare occasions for hunting. The cause of death: suicide. V’s profound grief and confusion was compounded by guilt for not recognizing the red flags. At that time, she didn’t know what I’m going to share in the following paragraphs.
My name is Victoria. I am V. It’s taken me over two decades to share my personal experience publicly. But as an advocate for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and seizure disorders, I believe sharing my story may help others and bring awareness about the enormous harm caused by a lack of public awareness regarding symptoms from traumatic brain injuries and neurological disorders. Sadly, because of superstitious beliefs, especially from Christianity, many of these symptoms have been attributed to demon oppression or possession.
“Early and effective treatment is essential, as are efforts to avoid situations that can produce the brain damage that causes seizures in the ﬁrst place.” Source
Oct. 24, 2005 issue – “For the first 22 years of her life, Anneliese Michel was an unremarkable young woman—a teacher in training and part of a devout Roman Catholic family in Germany. She also happened to be an epileptic, and prone to the seizures that often accompany that condition. Somehow, though, her parents convinced themselves that Satan had gotten hold of her soul. They called two local priests, who spent 10 months trying to exorcise the young woman’s demons.
To avoid interfering with the exorcism, the parents even halted her treatment for epilepsy. Michel finally died, in 1975, at the age of 23, withered and weakened to just 31 kilos from being denied food and water during the exorcism. If the story sounds familiar, that’s because it is the premise of Hollywood feature “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”. In the real-life case, all four participants in the exorcism were found guilty of negligent homicide.”
Read more: The Devil in Pictures
“Exorcism is the most dangerous hoax in treating mental illness.” ~Dr. Scott Lilienfield
Just last month, the Catholic Church’s top exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, claiming to have cast out one hundred and sixty thousand ‘demons’, called for all priests to be allowed to conduct the ritual.
From Father Joe’s blog, here’s an excerpt from his post titled “How True Was The Exorcist Story“:
J. de Tonquedec (1886-1962), a psychologist and the official exorcist of the diocese of Paris for over 20 years, doubted that he ever found a real case. He wrote:
“Exorcism is an impressive ceremony, capable of acting effectively on the unconscious of a sick person. The adjurations addressed to the demon, the sprinkling of holy water, the stole passed around the patient’s neck, the repeated signs of the cross and so forth, are very capable of creating a diabolical mythomania in word and deed in a psyche already weak. Call the devil and you will see him; or rather not him, but a portrait made of the sick person’s idea of him. It is for this reason that certain priests, due to their inconsiderate and imprudent practice of exorcising, create, confirm and encourage the very disorders that they want to suppress.”
Extensive investigations on the actual case which spawned a best selling book and one of the highest grossing films of all time, “The Exorcist”, revealed gross exaggerations and misinformation regarding the actual events. Both the book and movie is said to be responsible for the resurgence of exorcism within the Catholic Church, and the global explosion of deliverance ministries within Protestant evangelical denominations. (Google “deliverance ministries”) Many times, serious injury and death has been the result. Here are scriptures cited which have contributed to the untold harm toward those with neurological disorders.
There are neurological conditions (temporal lobe lability) and disorders caused by abnormal bursts of electrical activity that often escape proper diagnosis because the symptoms can be non-convulsive, and the side-effects can manifest as hyper-spirituality and/or a hyper-religiosity. I’m going to focus on one specific neurological disorder because it has become known as the “silent epidemic”.
This disorder has been misunderstood and discriminated against. Superstitions, taboos, abuse, and enormous suffering have been the result throughout history. Today, research on this neurological disorder is still significantly underfunded, even though it is as common as breast cancer and takes as many lives.
The silent epidemic is epilepsy. In this post, I will focus on one type of epilepsy, temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), also known as partial seizures. They’re called partial seizures because the abnormal electrical activity is isolated to one area of the brain, the temporal lobes. There are approximately two-hundred thousand new cases of epilepsy each year in the United States. Temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common form of epilepsy.
“Unfortunately, with epilepsy, the rate of suicide is approximately two to five times that of the general population, and this is further elevated to a 25-fold increase among patients with TLE.” Source
“There is also a rise expected in the incidence of epilepsy among the veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq who have sustained traumatic head injuries. Yet public and private funding for research lag far behind other neurological afflictions, at $35 a patient (compared, for instance, with $129 for Alzheimer’s and $280 for multiple sclerosis). It is time to remedy that gap, and to raise epilepsy to the front ranks of public and medical concern.” Source
Here is a list of other known causes of epilepsy, besides brain injuries.
To give you some background, my partner, Greg, was in a car accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI ). However, doctors told him he would most likely make a full recovery. Instead, he progressively got worse, and experienced bouts of depression. I started noticing behavioral changes. These changes were directly related to his brain injury and temporal lobe seizures, but neither one of us knew this at the time. Then he experienced a sudden religious conversion. At the time of his religious experience, he was not attending church and in fact, had never been religious.
>>Here’s clinical documentation of temporal lobe epilepsy and sudden religious conversions. As a side note, every 15 seconds someone sustains a traumatic brain injury in the United States. Symptoms from brain injuries may take years before they manifest. mTBI (concussion) can cause delusions and other behavioral changes. After Greg’s sudden religious conversion, he became hyper-religious, having a preoccupation with God and the Bible. He also started experiencing religious-type hallucinations.
“Because of these affective, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms, patients with CPS (complex partial seizures) are frequently misdiagnosed. Seizures can include gustatory and olfactory hallucinations; micropsia or macropsia; and intense delusions involving bodily harm, déjà vu, or “out-of-body” experiences. CPS have also been associated with certain personality features including moral rigidity, hyperreligiousity, hypergraphia, and viscosity (or “stickiness,” e.g., difficulty ending conversations).” Source
“Hyperreligiosity is a major feature of mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, temporal-lobe epilepsy and related disorders, in which the ventromedial dopaminergic systems are highly activated and exaggerated attentional or goal-directed behavior toward extrapersonal space occurs.” Source
An excerpt from the article “Neither Gods nor Demons But Misfiring Brains”
People with seizures look like everyone else when they are not having a seizure, and seizures are not contagious. Yet, as far back in history as we know, people with seizure disorders have been viewed with fear. In many civilizations, they have been shunned; in others, they have been thought to have a special ability and be in communication with higher powers—good gods in the case of the Romans, the devil in the case of early Christianity.
The early Greeks called epilepsy “the sacred disease,” but it later became known as “the scourge of Christ,” probably as a result of the passage in the Gospels in which Jesus casts out an unclean spirit from a young boy. The boy’s father says (in the Gospel according to Luke), “Teacher, I implore you, look on my son…Behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it confuses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.”
To this day, many ordinary people still believe patients with epileptic seizures are “possessed,” and a person with seizures is forbidden to take Holy Orders (become a priest) in the Roman Catholic Church. Read more.
To gain a better understanding about this neurological disorder, and the side-effects, e.g., having profound religious experiences, watch these short but quite interesting interviews:
After Greg’s religious conversion, he joined an evangelical church and became increasingly convinced that he was experiencing demonic bondage. Fellow church members fueled his delusions. According to the Pew Research Center, more than two-thirds of Americans believe demons are active in the world.
The day Greg took his life was the same day his pastor insisted he was experiencing ‘spiritual warfare’ and being attacked by demons, quoting the Bible to back up his assertions.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Greg’s pastor advised him to go through a ‘deliverance’, and “break down the strongholds“. My late husband was a well-educated man. But his compromised mental state, exacerbated by a lack of sleep, stress from a recent move and a new baby, made him especially vulnerable to the power of suggestion. His pastor never offered him counsel to seek professional help. Now fully convinced he was tormented by demons, it sent him over the edge and he impulsively ended his life.
The brain is a very fragile and complex organ, at the mercy of the environment, including culture. I firmly believe Greg would be alive today, and a wonderful daddy, had we known then what I know now.
Mother-Infant image (V & K) – © N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ
Exorcism image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Father-Infant image courtesy of Morguefile.com
Header Image on home page courtesy of Morguefile.com – Artist hotblack