Exorcism on the National Health Service? Yep, it’s true.
However, suppose you were mentally very ill indeed and believed your problem was possession. Suppose you believed that only an exorcism could make you better. Suppose you had a health professional – your psychiatrist, say – who wanted you to be cured, had so far hit a brick wall and wanted to try a new kind of “therapy”.
Once you take the quote marks off the word therapy you’ve just about incorporated exorcism into the psychiatrist’s armoury. He or she might wish to call it something else – deliverance therapy, say – but knows the patient will still think of it as exorcism.
So before you condemn exorcism (or whatever you wish to call it) on the NHS, give this article a go.
I’m not in favour or wildly against, but sometimes it comes down to how we frame things in our nomenclature, what we call things, how we categorise things. In the world of mental health, nothing is solid, tangible, operable with a scalpel or a chemical in a capsule or syringe.
All kinds of therapy have been used, be they chemical or talking; electroconvulsive or mild hypnosis; a straitjacket or neurolinguistic programming. And all to get at something in that most elusive of phenomena, the human mind. It may well be the product of electrochemical stuff going on in there, but it’s so damned complex that it’ll never be fully understood.
Sometimes, something unusual must be done.
OK, some people are going to be uncomfortable with the idea of using something that smacks of churches and God and priests and that kind of thing. But our fictitious patient above can be cured of his affliction only by being in that world, smelling the incense, hearing some Latin, perhaps, watching a guy shouting, “In the name of Jesus Christ be gone!” to a nonexistent demon.
And our patient would presumably respond just as well if a psychiatrist – even an atheist one – donned a dog collar and read bits of dramatic text from a prayer book or a bible.
But is this costing the NHS more than can be justified in terms of people cured? That’s another question. And it may be on such grounds that the practice should be accepted or rejected, not just on whether it involves hoodwinking an ill patient that a demon really is being driven out of him.
Perception moves in mysterious ways, and ultimately all is subjective.