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View Poll Results: Is Demonic Possession real or group hysteria?
Absolutely real 10 18.87%
Probably real 2 3.77%
It's real, but you have to invite evil influences into your life 8 15.09%
No, not real; anyone claiming this is a mental case. 28 52.83%
There is a good force and a bad force in our universe-a person has to decide which force they choose to serve 2 3.77%
diamondbruno#9, do you have your own church and gospel? 3 5.66%
diamond you always make the best threads; cutting edge, pushing the intellectual and religious envelope; Bravo 6 11.32%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 53. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:56 PM   #271
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511




no. you conflate things, pull out faith as fact, and present opinion as explanation.

but it's entertaining.
sorry, we as humans conflate faith and fact everyday subconsciously and consciously.

one day i'm faithful you will get it, because you have a certain humility about your demeanor.

others it will take longer, i suspect.

dbs
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Old 03-27-2008, 07:59 PM   #272
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Originally posted by VintagePunk
I've taken an honour's seminar about the mechanisms of memory and perception, and it was fascinating.
I was wondering if by any chance you'd studied anything like what we're discussing here from an ethnopsychiatry or medical anthropology perspective? I know nothing about that, but it's always interested me--basically one of those topics on my armchair-reading wish list that there's never been enough time for.

On one of my trips to India, I was visiting Himachal Pradesh where I met a psychology professor from the University of Chicago, Michael someone-or-other, who was there researching exorcism rituals traditional to the area. The varieties of Hinduism practiced in that region were somewhat more shamanistic in nature than what I was used to seeing; I remember describing to him a Shaivite exorcism that I'd seen a few minutes of at a temple in Tamil Nadu, where a young woman who to my untrained eye appeared mentally and perhaps also neurologically ill (shouting, swaying, bizarre facial expressions and odd-looking muscle constrictions of the face and limbs) was being encouraged by the priests to adopt a particular yoga position and scream vulgar abuse at God--some sort of catharsis, I suppose. I wish I could remember more of what this professor said about his own field research and working hypotheses, but basically the gist of it seemed to be that he'd seen quite a few cases where the 'treatments' administered seemed to be highly effective, that he had no doubt several of said 'patients' were mentally ill on our terms, and that he felt simple 'placebo' explanations were inadequate to explain what exactly it was the priests were recognizing, why they chose the particular 'treatments' they did in response (most of which were administered in stages over a prolonged period), and why those procedures (apparently) helped. He used the analogy of cross-cultural study of systematic traditional medicines, such as traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda--that there are many quite effective procedures and preparations employed in such systems which are based on millennia of careful documentation and can be 'explained' in terms of traditional paradigms, but for which we don't (yet) have satisfactory scientific explanations. It was really all quite fascinating.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:35 PM   #273
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I'm hoping the good professor from Chicago wasn't an unwitting schnook.

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Old 03-27-2008, 08:48 PM   #274
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He didn't believe in demonic possession, if that's what you mean.
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Old 03-27-2008, 11:16 PM   #275
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

I was wondering if by any chance you'd studied anything like what we're discussing here from an ethnopsychiatry or medical anthropology perspective? I know nothing about that, but it's always interested me--basically one of those topics on my armchair-reading wish list that there's never been enough time for.


I've never taken a course that specifically looked at these phenomena, but have picked up bits and pieces along the way that have allowed me to understand from various psychological perspectives (socially, neurologically, clinically) how one could perceive that they are suffering from or witnessing someone suffer from demonic possession. When you have the correct set of circumstances - a type of cultural group with a unique set of mores, a 'victim' with an amenable personality type and the right mix of psychopathologies (i.e. various psychotic or disassociate disorders), along with any corresponding neurological disturbances, people can believe that they are experiencing impossibilities. When you couple that with an environment wherein those around around the victim validate their experience by attending to them, or by providing ritualistic cures, that can serve to exacerbate the situation.

Earlier in the thread, someone likened this to the Salem Witch Trials, and the hysteria experienced within that place and time. I think the two situations are highly analogous.

Re: ethno or cultural psychology, I agree, it's an interesting field, one I'd love to learn more about. I have a bit of general knowledge, but the bulk of cultural psych learning I've done is focused on cross-cultural type studies, somewhat in the field of social psych, but more so in my area, clinical.

Quote:
On one of my trips to India, I was visiting Himachal Pradesh where I met a psychology professor from the University of Chicago, Michael someone-or-other, who was there researching exorcism rituals traditional to the area. The varieties of Hinduism practiced in that region were somewhat more shamanistic in nature than what I was used to seeing; I remember describing to him a Shaivite exorcism that I'd seen a few minutes of at a temple in Tamil Nadu, where a young woman who to my untrained eye appeared mentally and perhaps also neurologically ill (shouting, swaying, bizarre facial expressions and odd-looking muscle constrictions of the face and limbs) was being encouraged by the priests to adopt a particular yoga position and scream vulgar abuse at God--some sort of catharsis, I suppose. I wish I could remember more of what this professor said about his own field research and working hypotheses, but basically the gist of it seemed to be that he'd seen quite a few cases where the 'treatments' administered seemed to be highly effective, that he had no doubt several of said 'patients' were mentally ill on our terms, and that he felt simple 'placebo' explanations were inadequate to explain what exactly it was the priests were recognizing, why they chose the particular 'treatments' they did in response (most of which were administered in stages over a prolonged period), and why those procedures (apparently) helped. He used the analogy of cross-cultural study of systematic traditional medicines, such as traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda--that there are many quite effective procedures and preparations employed in such systems which are based on millennia of careful documentation and can be 'explained' in terms of traditional paradigms, but for which we don't (yet) have satisfactory scientific explanations. It was really all quite fascinating.
I agree, it does sound really fascinating, and it must have been especially so to have witnessed it! I did take an anthro course in magic, witchcraft and ritual, and know from that that there are many cultural and tribal societies that have very unique and intricate systems of belief, allowing for members to become 'stricken,' and for healers to provide some sort of ritualistic cure that inevitably fixes the problem. In particular, I find this part of what you said interesting: ...that he felt simple 'placebo' explanations were inadequate to explain what exactly it was the priests were recognizing, why they chose the particular 'treatments' they did in response (most of which were administered in stages over a prolonged period), and why those procedures (apparently) helped. If you happen to remember what he felt was going on, or if you can recall sources, I'd love to read more about it.
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Old 03-28-2008, 01:13 AM   #276
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Hmmmm...well, honestly, I'm afraid that if I tried to recall any more than that, I'd wind up misrepresenting him completely. This was just someone I met on the train from Shimla to Delhi; we traded horror stories about acquiring scholar-exchange visas, discussed each other's research projects for awhile, then basically that was that and I never encountered him again. He was collaborating with an Indian psychologist on his research, his specializations seemed to be ethnopsychology and psychology of religion, he was maybe in his late fifties and that's about all the rest I remember. And this was several years ago, so even what I've already said is more a lingering impression of a conversation than his exact words. All I can say is that I didn't gather he'd have agreed entirely (at least concerning some of the cases he was studying) with your characterization of "...systems of belief, allowing for members to become 'stricken,' and for healers to provide some sort of ritualistic cure that inevitably fixes the problem". He seemed to be saying: No, some of these people really are mentally ill; the priests mix and match on a case-by-case basis from a large repertory of ritualistic treatments incorporating yoga, meditation, catharsis, herbs, recitations etc. (i.e., there's no One-Size-Fits-All Exorcism Rite that Magically Fixes Everything); and while their explanations for why they chose to address those particular situations in those particular ways don't add up empirically nor do their 'diagnoses,' still, there is something more going on here than mutually reinforcing conceits. He was not, of course, suggesting that all such 'patients' are actually mentally ill, nor that all such 'treatments' actually achieve anything when they are. I couldn't even swear to it that all the 'priests' he worked with were Hindus; some might also have been Buddhists, that wouldn't be surprising given the area.

He couldn't possibly be the only one who's researched such things, though...which is why I was hopefully fishing for references from you, actually. Oh well, that'll teach me to ask for the person's business card next time...
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Old 03-28-2008, 01:51 AM   #277
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You have me wondering, Yolland. I'll do some research tomorrow and see if I can come up with the identity and work of the mysterious researcher on the train. Regardless, I'm sure that I'll be able to pull up something that could offer some insight to the topic, and when I do, I'll let you know.

Two things occurred to me while reading your response. First, I would think that the sample would be too small (at least I hope it would be, otherwise parts of the world would be overrun with mental illness manifesting as demonic possession!) to conduct anything other than case studies. I doubt that even correlational studies would be possible. Secondly, and I'm sure that anyone doing work in the field is well aware of this, including the researcher you met, some mental illnesses are cyclical in nature, and will remiss spontaneously without treatment. I would imagine that sometimes these remissions could occur within the span of an invalid treatment, as well, making it seem as though the treatment worked, in a non-placebo way. However, as I mentioned, I doubt the numbers would be large enough to examine and provide backup for this theory.

I'll definitely look into it though, you've piqued my curiosity.
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Old 03-28-2008, 12:49 PM   #278
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While you two ladies have your side bar, I will be searching for the mother of all posts for this particular thread lest we diviate into any more meshuga, spectulative ideas and or more unprovable theories that seem to change with the seasons.


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Old 03-28-2008, 01:52 PM   #279
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lest we diviate into any more meshuga, spectulative ideas and or more unprovable theories that seem to change with the seasons.



you mean like "demonic possession"?
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Old 03-28-2008, 02:14 PM   #280
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I don't endorse any of the guy's conclusions, nor am I in a position to evaluate them as I'm not qualified to determine whether someone is mentally ill or not...I simply found his research fascinating.

By the way diamond, my folk speak Ladino not Yiddish, so there's no reason to start throwing around words like schnook and meshugge just because I'm posting in the thread.
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Old 03-28-2008, 04:36 PM   #281
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer

the universe doesn't care about you or morality in general.

That's so bleak in it's implications
Quote:
How is it bleak? The facts are always preferable to a lie no matter how dearly people want to cling to them. Recognising that there is no immaterial soul doesn't make the universe bleak and dark, we are just as sentient and just as capable of good and evil as we were before.
Your vision is bleak because the universe DOES seem to care about us. Tell me where I'm wrong.
14 Billion years ago the entire Universe exploded from a point 1000x times smaller than this " . "
It expands with just the correct velocity and mass so as not to recollapse upon itself or spread itself so thin so as not to form matter.
It placed our solar system in just the right location of a spiral galaxy -- too far away and we couldn't inherit the building blocks of life (C, N and O) and heavy metals from long dead stars -- too close to the center and radiation and gravitation excesses would make life or a stable planetary system impossible.
It gave us just one sun. An average, stable sun insuring time enough for planets to form -- planet formation itself a rarity.
It placed our planet at just the correct distance from the Sun with, over time, an appropriate atmosphere so as to allow H2O to exist in all 3 forms; ice, liquid and vapor. An absolute necessity for life to exist.
And finally, gave us just one moon of just the right size to stabilize our rotation and axis.

So either the Universe somehow cares for us or we're just that 1 in a 100 billion trillion oddity that's bound to occur with that many stars around.

Let me ask you this. You deny the existence of the metaphysical or supernatural, do you also deny any possibility at all of extraterrestrial life due to a equally complete lack of credible scientific evidence?
Quote:
Divine moral law is a bad model for human behaviour, it has no mechanism and there are far too many exceptions that always get swept under the rug (why would god create psychopaths?).
Well how many true psychopaths are there compared to sociopaths? Why not ask why God allows any illness including mental? Or for that matter, demon possession?

Secular moral law is the bad model. Who is the arbitrator of "man centered" morality.
The self? How does the self differentiate between good and bad with no external measure?
The State? Well I'm sure you realize the problem with this at either extreme, religious or secular.
Society? Maybe, but then good and bad become the changing preferences of the majority, not absolutes.
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Old 03-28-2008, 04:52 PM   #282
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland


I don't endorse any of the guy's conclusions, nor am I in a position to evaluate them as I'm not qualified to determine whether someone is mentally ill or not...I simply found his research fascinating.

By the way diamond, my folk speak Ladino not Yiddish, so there's no reason to start throwing around words like schnook and meshugge just because I'm posting in the thread.
you were mildly impressed for a nano second nonetheless with my action one would deduce.

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Old 03-28-2008, 04:54 PM   #283
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Originally posted by Irvine511





you mean like "demonic possession"?
they don't change boo boo.

it started in with Cain.

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Old 03-28-2008, 05:04 PM   #284
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Originally posted by diamond
you were mildly impressed for a nano second nonetheless with my action one would deduce.

dbs
There's a certain cachet in some circles to being able to trip out a few Yiddishims, yes...just, y'know, don't get carried away or anything.
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Old 03-28-2008, 05:19 PM   #285
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of course.
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