The Powers Of Darkness -- By: Edward M. Merrins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 063:251 (Jul 1906)
Article: The Powers Of Darkness
Author: Edward M. Merrins

The Powers Of Darkness

Edward M. Merrins


In the preceding paper it has been shown that the mental or spiritual disorder known as demoniacal possession has been common in every land down to recent times; that its manifestations always and everywhere are very similar; and that its principal feature, an alteration or disturbance of the consciousness of personality, is a symptom common to various disorders of the psychopathic temperament, and is not therefore to be regarded as indubitable evidence, in and by itself, of the subject’s being under the influence of an alien evil spirit.

2. Of the other symptoms of possession, involuntary muscular movements ranging in severity from slight tremors to the most violent convulsions probably attracted the most attention. These also are found in the different psychopathies. In the worst forms of hysteria, such as are still to be seen in the French hospitals, convulsive attacks occur for which no better descriptive term has yet been found than “demoniacal.” In the less severe forms of this grande hystérie, the patient falls to the ground, foams at the mouth, the features become distorted, and there are convulsions as in epilepsy. After a brief period of relaxation, hallucinations seize the mind, and the conduct becomes expressive of the coarser passions, wrath, fear, scorn, lust, etc.; or there may be meaningless writhings presenting a hideous aspect. In the worst or “demoniacal” cases,

the convulsions are of exceeding violence, and the horror of the scene is intensified by the accompanying piercing screams, provoked by the physical pain of the extraordinary muscular movements, and by the mental torture of the hallucinations. Men are affected as well as women, and the disorder is generally of long duration.1 The wild outbursts of the Gadarene demoniacs whom it was impossible to tame or bind, may have been somewhat of this nature. To this day in India and other foreign countries, the sight is not uncommon of a frenzied demoniac raving, writhing, tearing, bursting his bonds, until, subdued by the exorcist, he stares and sighs, falls helpless to the ground, and comes to himself.2

The demonic convulsions were very severe and prolonged at the time of deliverance. Of the demoniac of Capernaum we read: “And the unclean spirit, convulsing .him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.”3 So of the deaf and dumb demoniac: the spirit “having cried out and convulsed him much, he came out; and the child became as one dead; insomuch that t...

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