I sometimes think that the Powers that Be place things in my path to write about for this blog. In the past couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of reading Audrey Brice’s Outer Darkness, a fictional book that deals with the restless spirit of a suicide victim who influences some unbalanced individuals to try to kill the heroine of the story. I also happened to listen to the Into the Fray podcast about serial killer John Patrick Addis who, amongst other things, claimed that he sometimes saw small people running about when he was in the woods. In different ways, both of these pieces of media got me thinking.
How many times, when you have heard of a particularly heinous crime, have you said something along the line of “that person was just nuts” or “he had to be crazy to do that”. I fully agree that people who do terrible things often suffer from mental illness, if we think about the interesting theory that the brain is a signal receiver for consciousness, and not the source of consciousness, then is it not possible that certain influences can create situations where the brain is receiving information other than what we normally perceive in our consensual reality?
I had a friend, many moons ago, who was an exorcist. Not the holy water splattering, cross waving type of individual who charges into a bad situation and can make it worse. No, this person was intimately involved with the spirit world and quite capable of removing the influence of spirits that did not vibrate in harmony with the person they were influencing. This individual also worked in the mental health field so he understood mental illness. He told me, on more than one occasion, that he kept ‘demon traps’ (large chunks of specially programed dravite – a brown tourmaline) at the door to his office and that, on many occasions, a very disturbed client would be brought into his office, past the traps and suddenly become much calmer. He shrugged this off as the client leaving their detritus at the door but I think that he was on to something.
Science has spent a lot of time looking at the neuro-chemical foundations of mental illness and those working in this field have made great strides in discovering what the physical roots of ‘madness’. Part of the intensity of this quest has been the scientific desire to ‘prove’ that mental illness is simply another physical disease and not, as was thought in more ‘superstitious’ times, the result of interference from spirits of various kinds (depending on the culture we could be discussing the djinn, faery, demons, etc.). Mental illness can therefore be treated like physical disease, using the pharmaceutical model of changing the body’s chemistry to produce a healing effect. If, however, we take the position that the brain is a consciousness receiver, a theory that is just as relevant as the idea of brain as consciousness producer, we immediately run into my friend’s assertion that mental illness can be caused and/or exacerbated by spiritual influences.
As with most ideas that I discuss on this blog, I do not think there is any one answer. Some mental illness is certainly the result of brain chemistry imbalance (perhaps that imbalance impedes the normal reception of consciousness?) and can be treated by careful alteration of the chemical balance in the brain to a more ‘normal’ level. Some mental illness, such as forms of schizophrenia, may be caused by the brain’s inability to filter out the myriad sense perceptions that we normally screen to prevent ourselves from being overloaded with input on a moment to moment basis. Interestingly, some of the input that is screened out may be psychic perception so, in some cases, the mentally imbalanced person may be perceiving things outside the realm of ‘normal’ consciousness, thus adding to the notion that they are out of touch with ‘reality’.
Finally, though, we have to consider that some forms of mental illness may be caused by spirit influence, in other words, contact with the spirit may cause the imbalance, or the brain chemistry may already be off and the contact may be exacerbate the issue. We know that an untrained medium basically sends forth a beacon on the astral that attracts spirits and one of the medium’s tasks in life is to learn how to deal with the extra input, screen out ‘undesirables’ and organize the spiritual input in a way that they can deal with. What if certain brain chemistry imbalances draw in beings that have no care for the best interests of humans? I do not think it is a long step to theorize that some of the particularly heinous crimes we read about could come about as a dual process of mental illness and the influence of disharmonic entities, working in synergistic effect.