Cetta responded to my recent Bloggers Block post with this request:
I’d really like to see you try to rationalize the supposed power of the occult, without anything to balance it out (like say, Christianity, or even just God in general).
I think this is a really good request–its something I have been mulling around with for quite some time-you see, I experienced a lot of things that most Christians had barely even heard of-very real things that are difficult to reconcile without having some semblance of faith. So here I will attempt to do that.
What Cetta knows, that a lot of my readership will not know, is that I was an exorcist just a few years ago. Without giving away far too much detail, I performed the ritual of exorcism with many clients under a lot of different situations and ailments. Sometimes the event itself was rather dramatic. IE: convulsions, vomiting, hearing the voices of the “evil spirits” speaking etc—almost anything you would see in The Exorcist or The Exorcism of Emily Rose movies. All this, along with my own very radical experiences with the “holy spirit (or ghost as you pantycostals say)” like speaking in tongues, being “slain in the spirit”, visions, dreams, prophesying, and etc. Cetta wants to know; How does one, once he loses his faith, reconcile those events?
Warning: May be triggering past this point-if you have experienced emotional trauma or are undergoing any sort of exorcism or therapy for ritual abuse or other reasons.
The “Gifts of the Spirit”, in most cases, can very easily be dismantled. I’m not saying some very real phenomena do not happen at any point-but the vast majority of the “tongue talking” and being slain in the spirit and such can be reliably connected to ones expectations. Franz Mesmer discovered the trait of Animal Magnetism, for me explaining many of the Benny Hinn figure heads as mangetists and hypnotists. Tongues is often magnetic mimicry rather than a genuine experience—one proof of that is that i still speak in Tongues frequently, as it is one of the few things that calms my nerves–should an unbeliever be able to do such things if they come from the holy spirit alone?
What then of exorcism and possession? Dr. Stephen Diamond has a great article on that very subject here, validating the ideas I have been pondering on this issue since my deconversion:
“But the term possession is seldom mentioned in the psychiatric and psychological literature. Instead, we speak of obsession, which has similar intrusive, involuntary, egodystonic qualities. Or we refer to “multiple personality disorder” (dissociative identity disorder), in which one or more sub-personalities temporarily take possession of the person against his or her will. Or we diagnose bipolar disorder in those possessed by mania, irritability or melancholy, and intermittent explosive disorder to describe someone repeatedly possessed or overtaken by uncontrollable rage. It must be admitted that the archetypal phenomenon known historically as “possession” persists today in differing forms and varying degrees. The only difference is the way in which we now attempt to explain and treat it.”
Many times, possession comes about through trauma—just like Dissociative Identity Disorder—In my experience, the more physically attached the trauma (ie through constant violent rape) is the more likely there is to be a violent Daimon associated with it. The more emotional the trauma, the more likely the exorcism will be accompanied by other emotional blocks (Alter ego’s often do this in the DID patient, preventing the therapist from finding the root of a feeling or emotion by bringing up false personalities or distractions to the therapy session or exorcism). I posit that most of the exorcisms I encountered, most of which were with clients that were deeply connected with the Occult, were only exorcisms because my understanding of the Problem was that it was demonic rather than ego. Either way the problem is the same—but the understanding of the problem determines how one approaches it and therefore comes by ways of fixing it. A person with a spiritualistic background is much more likely to seek exorcism over psychotherapy because of their understanding of the “spiritual” world and the mind. Also, exorcism is going to work better for the spiritually minded individual in most circumstances because they BELIEVE in what is occurring….your mind can be just as easily healed by the act of having a demon expelled as it can by having an ego (alternate identity) reintegrated into the whole mind—in fact it is much easier for those that believe in the demonic.
There is a lot more i could say on this subject–but then I think I would be skirting the lines of reality and comfort for me a bit too much. I would like to open up the comments for comments AND Q&A—please feel free to ask anything you like—make sure you leave an email though.