Thursday, May 19, 2011


Cam Artists

A certain plexiglass box replete with blinking lights has a bone or two to pick with "complementary and alternative medicine" or "CAM."

He ain't seen nuthin' yet:

Exorcism is experiencing a renaissance in American Catholicism. There are more exorcists in the United States now than at any other time in modern history, according to experts. More than 100 bishops and priests met in Baltimore last November to recruit dozens more. ...

The Roman ritual cautions exorcists to use “extreme circumspection and prudence” and not perform the rite unless they know with “moral certainty” that a person is possessed. It also warns against mistaking mental illness for demonic influence.

“To too readily go to that explanation (of demonic possession) and, therefore, treatment for what can otherwise be explained as mental illness, carries serious risk,” says Father John Cecero, a psychology professor at Fordham University. ...

In deference to those concerns, some priest-exorcists, such as Thomas, employ “exorcism teams” that include psychiatrists, psychologists, and physicians.

Grob breaks mental health professionals down into three categories: Those who believe in exorcism, those who think it could have a placebo effect, and those who think it’s a crock.

Dr. Richard Gallagher, a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College, falls into the first category. The only American on the governing board of the Rome-based International Association of Exorcists, Gallagher has for the last 25 years assisted exorcists throughout the United States by screening people who say they are possessed and evaluating them for mental health afflictions. ...

But possession could, in a way, make it into an upcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, according to Dr. Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, who is part of a team updating the manual.

Lewis-Fernandez, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, proposes including “possession trance” as a category of dissociative identity disorder in the volume. Possession trances, like dissociative identity disorder, are marked by the feeling that one’s usual self has been hijacked by internal or external forces, and afterwards, retaining little memory of the experience.

The entry would not address whether the external forces are “real or unreal” and would distinguish between stressful trance states such as demonic possession and more positive religious experiences, such as being “slain” by the Holy Spirit, Lewis-Fernandez says.

Treating possession trance disorder could include exorcisms. “As long as it’s done by a sensitive human and doesn’t do violence, it could work,” he says.

Gallagher says he has seen exorcisms work in scores of cases. But the church has only anecdotal evidence of the rite’s effectiveness. While it has tried to put responsible limits on the use of exorcism, it has never publicly studied how often it’s performed, where, and by whom.

In previous eras, even suggesting a scientific study of exorcism would get you laughed out of the room. But a growing number of psychiatrists such as Lewis-Fernandez profess a willingness to incorporate religious beliefs in medical treatment. Academics in the mental health professions might some day be tapped by the church to empirically study exorcism’s capacity to heal.
Personally, I think it will be interesting when exorcists start applying for Medicaid and Medicare payments. Are witch doctors far behind?

Well if they do apply for Medicare/Medicaid status, they should probably do so under women's health; because overwhelmingly those who receive exorcism rites are women. Just another reason why we can't be priests, I guess . . . we ladies are just so susceptible to the denomic.

And yes, my irony meter broke a long time ago.

-- pew sitter, so far unexorcised
And we're susceptible to typos, too: that should have read "demonic."

-- sew pitter, I mean -- oh, never mind.
And we're susceptible to typos, too

As long as you're not susceptible to tyke paws. I'm kinda surprised that the hierarchy hasn't claimed that the pedophile priests were demon-possessed. They've tried to blame everyone else.
pew sitter:

keep sitting there and you'll never get any exorcise.

Bob Carroll

Puns like that will never get y'all Raptured.

re the hierarchy, it seems to have excommunicated the human resources department long ago. (I'm not sure exorcism would work with human resources, or for that matter, legal. Come to think of it, the executives are probably immune as well . . . )

Bob Carroll -- no worries. We're Lutherans; we don't believe in pew cushions but we do believe in aerobics: stand up, sit down, kneel, repeat. Then we have to lift and refill all those coffee mugs.

-- pew sitter
Christian Science "healings" got covered in some sort of government health care reimbursement agreement, complements of John Kerry. I don't remember the exact context.
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