Hearing Voices

So much of what was called 'demon possession' in the ancient world resembles what we would today call mental illness. Are they the same thing? Has one category supplanted the other? Are they both valid? Or both just social constructs?

All over the world, you will find 'demon-possession' as an explanation for a whole set of bizarre symptoms and behaviours that, in the modern West, have either been discounted as misdiagnoses based in ignorance, or are simply common mental illness. But if possession is just mental illness, what are we to do with the Gospels in which demonism plays a significant role? Still, why has pharmacology virtually replaced exorcism as effective treatment for symptoms previously thought to be demonic, such as schizophrenia and tourette syndrome? Are we dealing with a single phenomenon under two conflicting paradigms, or do mental illness and demonism represent two distinct kinds of phenomena?

Here is the podcast in two parts