3 ADDENDUMS TO THE BOOK SINCE PUBLICATION
1. DEMONS AND DELIVERANCE?
In Breakdowns are good for you we deal with the subject of demonic possession and influence (pp. 179-182), proposing that this is not as prevalent as most Christians believe. It is possible that these highly charged occasions when a person is "delivered" or "exorcised" from demons may have a quite different cause.
In 1957 Dr. William Sargant wrote Battle for the Mind (Heinemann) in which he described his work in dealing with members of the armed forces who had experienced a traumatic event that had affected them psychologically. He found that the best cure was to inject them with a hypnotic drug and tell them that they are reliving the event. They would go through all the emotions of "terror, alarm and excitement" as if they were experiencing it at that time, to the point of collapse. They would then stop the treatment, and the patient would be able to live a normal life. The whole process was called "abreaction" which is defined as "the removal of an emotional repression by facing it in a vivid form in imagination and reliving the original experience."
[We would, incidentally, note that Sargant's main theme is to quite unjustifiably extrapolate this effect to explain dramatic Christian conversions. He examines Peter's speech at Pentecost, Paul's conversion on the Damascus Road and John Wesley's "technique" of manipulating the crowds to produce fear of hell and then their "conversion". Sargant's view of conversion experiences was totally demolished by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his booklet Conversions: Psychological and Spiritual (IVF 1959). He shows the weaknesses in Sargant's arguments, his ignoring of contrary evidence and the forcing of events to fit his particular interpretation.]
In our book, we have suggested on page 180, that when both the counsellor and counsellee accept that demonic possession may be the cause of the problem, then both will be mentally ready, and indeed fully expectant, for any sudden outpouring of demonic behaviour by the counsellee. This does not necessarily mean that demonic forces are at work, as secular counsellors may have been able to treat such cases without recourse to accepting that any demonic forces were involved.
It is possible that where a counsellee has dabbled in the occult - Ouija boards, seances, etc. - that there may be some degree of demonic influence in their lives, but when this is absent, then there is no real reason to assume that they may be influenced by demonic forces.
We would suggest that in a counselling situation, the counsellee may have serious feelings of guilt or other "skeletons in the cupboard" which they have hidden from the counsellor. However, when they are expecting a dramatic "deliverance" by a counsellor or are in any other situation of a highly emotional event or crisis, they may suddenly confront themselves with their past sins and only then allow it to all bubble to the surface; i.e. "deliverance" may be a form of "abreaction" effect.
We would put this as one possible explanation of dramatic "demonic deliverances" that does not actually involve any demonic influences, but the surfacing of past events at a time of an emotional crisis in the counsellees life.
We would also mention that in their book How to Counsel from Scripture, the Bobgans accept that demons can be cast out of people but specifically warned against the overuse of this approach by some, who label people as having demons of "fear", "depression", and other similar problems. They have had to counsel those who have been "delivered" from demons by other counsellees but have only found they soon return to the same situation. We would simply extend this warning of the Bobgans against too much "demonising" to apply to virtually all cases that are classed as due to demonic forces.
We would therefore suggest that actual demonic possession and/or influence is far less likely to be the root of a counsellees problem that is usually accepted by Christian counsellors, and that the basic problem remains in the pride, attention-seeking, self-centredness and self-pity of the counsellee.
2. A NOTE ON PANIC AND PHOBIAS.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones rightly criticised Sargant's extrapolation of "abreaction" to cover spiritual conversions, but we have no quibble with his effective treatment of seriously traumatised soldiers by this method. We would point out that this is completely in line with the way we suggest people deal with their panic or phobia (p. 128 in Breakdowns are good for you). This is to face up to the problem and try to make themselves very frightened of it. It will be found that it will lose its hold on them. This can be considered as a simple form of self-induced abreaction.
3. “MANUFACTURING VICTIMS” by Tana Dineen (Constable 1999)
This book completely confirms all that we have said in “Breakdowns
are good for you” about the way in which psychologists (and we would
add psychiatrists although the book does not) persuade their clients
that they are suffering from a range of problems either due to abuse
when they were children, traumas in the past, “multiple personalities”
- or anything else that the counsellor can claim as the cause. Generally
these diagnoses generate long periods of lucrative treatment by psychologists.
She clearly exposes the corruption of much of professional counselling,
mainly in the private practice area, that we have stated at several
points in the book - e.g. pp. 64.
She points out (as we do also) that (1) “trauma counselling” is a fast growing “industry” that can actually make the patient worse (our p.122), (2) courts are wrongly persuaded by so-called “experts” that the criminal is suffering from some “illness” and therefore cannot be held responsible for his actions (our p.52) (3) governments are continually bombarded to pay for more “trauma counselling” for people, even though they may be unaware that they are “suffering” from any “experience”, no matter how remote or undramatic it may have been. Although first written in the light of American practices, this edition for the UK says that much the same is happening here.
This book is rather large and as it deals with one specific subject tends to be a little repetitive. She proves beyond doubt that the existence - at all levels - of even a small degree of vested interest in dealing with people’s problems can have a grossly distorting effect that results in treatments that may be far from being beneficial to the patients themselves.
RL and MB.
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