A Plague of Possessions

The Discover Magazine blog discusses an unusual paper. This quote amused me:

The Babylonians were remarkable observers and documentalists of human illness and behavior. However, their knowledge of anatomy was limited and superficial. Some diseases were thought to have a physical basis, such as worms, snake bites and trauma. Much else was the result of evil forces that required driving out… many, perhaps most diseases required the attention of a priest or exorcist, known as an asipu, to drive out evil demons or spirits.

Back in the ancient days of the mid-1990s, I spent several summers in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. It is part of the Bible Belt and sometimes it is referred to as the Buckle. There are a lot of fundamentalists there, more than I ever met in South Carolina or Iowa.

There was one shocking incident that I still have a hard time believing. I was riding with a friend along some winding mountain road. We passed by a billboard. It was an official public health message. It stated that epileptic seizures aren’t caused by demonic possession and that people should seek the help of a doctor.

From the earliest civilizations millennia ago to modern America, there has been a continuous belief in demon-caused mental illness and health conditions. When will it ever end?

I told my friend about this and his half-humorous response was that maybe there is something to it when it’s lasted that long. Considering that, someone really needs to take care of this demonic and spirit infestation. Imagine all that we humans could have accomplished by now, if not for evil beings keeping us down.

4 thoughts on “A Plague of Possessions

    • I’ve come to think that the failure of American (pseudo-)democracy is competition.

      Democracy can only function through cooperation, which requires a strong culture of trust and immense social capital. Competition is the complete opposite of what democracy requires.

      The American political system is anti-democratic by design. It is almost incomprehensible to many Americans and most politicians, this concept of cooperation. Try to bring up the notion of a common good and you are sure to be called a communist.

      Whichever politician and party wins thinks they can do whatever they want. American politicians represent their cronies and big money donors, i.e., the winners. They don’t represent the losers. The idea of politicians representing all citizens is an alien concept in this country.

      Maybe they are demon possessed. Or else maybe they are the demons possessing us.

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