Exorcisms anyone?

Posted
by EaglesWings21 EaglesWings21, ASN, RN Member Nurse

Specializes in Medical Surgical.

You are reading page 2 of Exorcisms anyone?. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

offlabel

offlabel

1,439 Posts

Offlabel that is what I'm trying to say. It often presents as a mental illness and that is why I posted it under psych nursing. I do not believe that every mental illness is the result of demonic possession. I understand it is rare but I was wondering what everyone's take was on the article I posted and if they had ever seen anything like it.

I have said before and said again I do not like posting here a lot because if you are not in the core group that gets on here all the time you constantly get nitpicked and attacked for what you post. I was absolutely not trying to categorize all mental health patients as demonically possessed but pysch nurses would be the most experienced in seeing this sort of thing.

My uncle was hospitalized in the 80's for schizophrenia and would often go catatonic and make horrifying claims and statements regarding religious situations. My dad said he went to visit him one time and the look in his eyes were pure evil. I love my uncle and treat him just like any other person in my family. I believe being around him my whole life has given me patience and understanding for people with mental illness that is life changing and debilitating.

Yes, religious elements in psychotic episodes are common. Claiming to be possessed or that some type of demonic activity is occuring is not out of the ordinary. Especially when those with mental illness have been exposed to the occult in one way or another.

I think people are dismissive of demonic possession because it is so rare that not many have had any exposure to it and also because it is pretty frightening to think about. It isn't a medically treatable condition and that is a tough nut for medical people.

B52, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Psych, Substance Abuse. Has 11 years experience. 210 Posts

I recall one patient whose behavior was very disturbing, but one dose of Haldol was effective, so I'd rule out demonic possession. ... He couldn't recall the occurrence of events before he was administered the Haldol.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing. 1,790 Posts

EagleWings - I do hope you continue to share information and post on this site. My own response is coming from living in an area that both has a high degree of stigmatizing individuals with mental illness, and belonging to culture that doesn't acknowledge demonic possession. I was not able to read the article you linked, but from the headline it felt like you post was taking a pop-culture concept and then asking psych nurses to legitimize and by into a "oooh spooky psych patients are actually possessed by demons conspiracy theory" from your subsequent post that does not seem to be the case.

I guess one of my questions about demonic possession for those who have witnessed such or believe in the concept is can it be defined as a psychiatric issues or is it a spiritual crisis? Both? How would one go about teasing out demonic possession from mental illness other than "this person seems possessed"? Particularly given hyperreligiosity as a feature of many mental illnesses? What distinguishes treatment of possession from treatment of psychosis? Is it a culture bound syndrome? Who is qualified to make a diagnosis of demonic possession - medical provider? Clergy? Are there distinct diagnostic criteria?

I am quite willing to accept that there is much about this world that I don't know. I am open to spiritual influences on patient physical and mental well-being and have seen religiosity both benefit and harm patients experiencing a variety of health issues, and I am comfortable assessing for spiritual distress in my patients - but demonic possession has never been covered in any educational or work setting as something I should be considering.

pinkpinstripes

pinkpinstripes

Specializes in psych, forensics, corrections, SANE.. 28 Posts

I find your posts very interesting. I have been a psychiatric nurse x 31 years and could write a book about all the bizarre stuff I have seen. Most psych nurses are usually very open-minded to strange activity and behavior which probably explains why your post was directed in that arena.

offlabel

offlabel

1,439 Posts

EagleWings - I do hope you continue to share information and post on this site. My own response is coming from living in an area that both has a high degree of stigmatizing individuals with mental illness, and belonging to culture that doesn't acknowledge demonic possession. I was not able to read the article you linked, but from the headline it felt like you post was taking a pop-culture concept and then asking psych nurses to legitimize and by into a "oooh spooky psych patients are actually possessed by demons conspiracy theory" from your subsequent post that does not seem to be the case.

I guess one of my questions about demonic possession for those who have witnessed such or believe in the concept is can it be defined as a psychiatric issues or is it a spiritual crisis? Both? How would one go about teasing out demonic possession from mental illness other than "this person seems possessed"? Particularly given hyperreligiosity as a feature of many mental illnesses? What distinguishes treatment of possession from treatment of psychosis? Is it a culture bound syndrome? Who is qualified to make a diagnosis of demonic possession - medical provider? Clergy? Are there distinct diagnostic criteria?

I am quite willing to accept that there is much about this world that I don't know. I am open to spiritual influences on patient physical and mental well-being and have seen religiosity both benefit and harm patients experiencing a variety of health issues, and I am comfortable assessing for spiritual distress in my patients - but demonic possession has never been covered in any educational or work setting as something I should be considering.

I'm not an expert in psychiatric care nor exorcism. I just have peripheral experience with each. That said, what determines the extremely rare condition of demonic possession is, at the end of the day, possession of knowledge (foreign language fluency, for example Latin) or ability (defying gravity, telepathy) that is completely outside the realm of what is possible for the individual. There is more to the phenomenon than outright possession as well. Conditions called demonic oppression and infestation are the subject of exorcisms as well. Properly trained clergy are best suited for determining demonic possession simply because they know the right questions to ask.

This conversation is getting pretty out there and is probably getting outside the boundary of psych nursing/ medical intervention, so suffice it to say that there are resources available on line that are credible and measured that would be useful. For all of the trouble it's in right now, I'd nonetheless search Catholic Church exorcism for starters.

This psychiatrist has an interesting story:

As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession. - The Washington Post

EaglesWings21, ASN, RN

Specializes in Medical Surgical. 380 Posts

Thanks for the link. I will check it out. It is disturbing even to me as a Christian to think that demonic possession is possible but I do believe it is and I just wondered what make the chaplain at that hospital in Indiana say we need a priest for this situation. I understand now that it was probably the witnessed walking backwards up the wall and doing a flip/ defying gravity.

elkpark

14,633 Posts

Thanks for the link. I will check it out. It is disturbing even to me as a Christian to think that demonic possession is possible but I do believe it is and I just wondered what make the chaplain at that hospital in Indiana say we need a priest for this situation. I understand now that it was probably the witnessed walking backwards up the wall and doing a flip/ defying gravity.

The chaplain would have said that because the Roman Catholic church is the only denomination that supports the idea of formal exorcisms, and only specific priests within the denomination are "trained" and authorized to identify demonic possession and perform exorcisms. The situation you describe is well outside the scope of your average hospital chaplain.

Trac78

Trac78

Specializes in Operating Room. Has 14 years experience. 3 Posts

First, I think the person who originally posted this meant no harm. Lighten up. If medications aren't working, Therapy isn't working, nothing is helping the patient, why not try an exorcism?

I too have a patient at my Group Home who is a Schizophrenic. When she starts in with her psychosis, you can see real terror in her eyes. Her forehead has sweat pouring off of it, her blood pressure is 160's/100's. She paces, tries to keep opening the front door to get out of our Group Home. She is also a Jevovah's Witness. Believes the higher ups there have disfellowshiped her. She says Armageddon is coming. I watched a documentary on the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses and the documentary listed it as a cult. Which I agree with. And I can see why my patient has so many persecutions and delusions. But, I've often thought about bringing a Psychic Medium to the House to see if maybe, just maybe my patient is seeing spirits?!? We are taught in Nursing school and especially Mental Health to think outside the box. I think this is one of those times. Because with my patient, Medication does not work for her. The psychiatrist at my facility sees 1,200 patients and he says she is his toughest case.

EaglesWings21, ASN, RN

Specializes in Medical Surgical. 380 Posts

Trac78 thanks for sharing. That must be an awful thing for her to suffer from. I agree that thinking outside of the box may be beneficial for some patients that medicine and therapy just doesn't help.

offlabel

offlabel

1,439 Posts

I've often thought about bringing a Psychic Medium to the House to see if maybe, just maybe my patient is seeing spirits?!? We are taught in Nursing school and especially Mental Health to think outside the box. I think this is one of those times.

If there were some kind of preternatural torment that the patient was experiencing, a medium would not have any ability to free her from that, even if he or she could determine that that was the case. Also, there is no way to know if the medium would just make things worse if there was something demonic going on. You should be very careful here.

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Community, Nurse Manager, hospice. Has 6 years experience. 2,071 Posts

Metaphysically speaking, I define psychosis as a concept of reality that is 1. Either disturbing to the individual or disruptive to the social function of the individual and 2. Is not a commonly shared idea of reality.

So if a person hears the voices of angels uplifting him and no one else can hear them and the person is a functioning member of society then it isn't psychosis. If that same person begins plotting to kill the governor because of the angels instructions it's psychosis. If that same person is distressed by an inability to turn off the voices it's psychosis.

Under this philosophy demonic possession is psychosis unless the individual experiencing it has no distress or dysfunction. Then it isn't.

It's important for me to look at it this way because I am not an expert on reality and I don't have to be in order to be an expert psych nurse. I don't know if demons are real and if they possess people. And I don't think the efficacy of a psychiatric intervention proves reality either way. In other words, just because Haldol removes the symptom, doesn't mean that demons were not harassing my patient before the haldol was given. Maybe Haldol atrengthens the will of my patient to resist a demonic possession. I am fine with that, if that is what my patient believes. I am not an authority on reality, I am a steward of people in psychiatric distress, no matter what is causing the psychiatric distress.

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 27 years experience. 2,066 Posts

I think the distinction is being made here that demonic possession is not mental illness and vice versa, but that demonic possession can be confused for mental illness. Sometimes they look exactly the same. Demonic possession is extremely rare so the first assumption of the practitioner when confronted by psychotic behavior is that the patient is mentally ill. Demonic possession should be the last thing on the differential list. The best way to demonstrate that a patient is mentally ill and not demon possessed is to diagnose correctly and treat successfully.

I can't wait to see the diagnostic criteria for this.

I also believe that there are people who rush to attribute to a supernatural cause that for which they cannot find a reasonable explanation.