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Wednesday 31 July 2013

The English Werewolf

     "These days" I've heard it frequently said, "we would see demon possession as a form of mental illness." Well, of course we would! If we are not prepared to accept the reality of possession, then we must call it something else. But what does it mean? A lot of mental illnesses are well established, with recognized symptoms and criteria, causes, and treatment. But when the only symptom of the illness is the very condition under consideration, then "mental illness" is simply a label masquerading as an explanation, a way of saying, "We don't know the cause, but it is assumed to be internal," while "demon possession" means, "We don't know the cause, but it is assumed to be external."
     I could write a long dissertation on the sorts of mental aberrations which might be interpreted as possession by demons. Let me just say, I consider it a false dichotomy. After all, except in cartoons, when we talk about being tempted by the Devil, we don't think of one of the little imps sitting on our shoulder, whispering in our ear. The influence of the forces of evil, like the forces of good, are far more subtle. Likewise, we should abolish the idea of some semi-sensual being somehow inhabiting a body. Ultimately, possession implies the taking over of a person by an evil personality, whether it comes from the dark side of the mind, or the dark side of the spiritual world, or both.
     Is this all a rationalisation - an attempt to retain the concept while emptying it of substance? Then let us examine the case of Bill Ramsey, the English werewolf. Now is the appropriate time, because the latest film, The Conjuring is based on the files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, and this is another of their cases.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

An Unusual Cure for a Transsexual

     Transsexualism, said Jan (originally James) Morris in her 1974 memoir, Conundrum "is not a sexual mode or preference. It is not an act of sex at all. It is a passionate, lifelong, ineradicable conviction, and no true trans-sexual has ever been disabused of it."
     Not many psychiatrists would dispute this, least of all the last statement. Although some hope is held out for children suffering from gender identity disorder, no effective treatment has been found, or even proposed, for adult sufferers. Ironically, the option of a sex-change operation has effectively sidetracked any research into a possible cure.
     All this makes the case of "John" even more remarkable.