Demonic possession has returned … as vaccine injuries

Screaming ghost faces

Everything old is new again and that applies to demonic possession. Only now some people call it “vaccine injuries.”

Demonic possession is believed by some to be the process by which individuals are possessed by malevolent preternatural beings, commonly referred to as demons or devils.

Historically it has been used to explain symptoms and illnesses that otherwise seemed inexplicable, particularly neurological and psychiatric symptoms like seizures and mental illness.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Not surprisingly, cures involve the modern analogue of exorcism: detoxing.[/pullquote]

In some Catholic doctrine demonic possession can take multiple different forms, including:

  • Possession, in which Satan or some demon(s) takes full possession of a person’s body without their knowledge or consent, so the victim is therefore morally blameless.
  • Obsession, which includes sudden attacks of irrationally obsessive thoughts, usually culminating in suicidal ideation, and typically influences dreams.

When we knew very little about the function of the brain, the idea that seizures — with their loss of awareness, involuntary movements and altered mental state in the aftermath — were caused by demons temporarily possessing an individual was quite compelling; the true cause, an electrical storm in the brain, was beyond comprehension.

When we knew very little about psychiatry, the idea that mania, depression and psychosis — profound alterations in behavior of beloved family members and friends — was the result of demons was a lot more believable than the concept of altered levels of neurotransmitters.

Even today, autism — the paradigmatic vaccine “injury” — is both frightening and apparently inexplicable. A previously health toddler, one who has begun to socialize and acquire language, regresses and develops profoundly disturbing behavior, including:

  • Repetitive movements, such as hand flapping, head rolling, or body rocking.
  • Compulsive behaviors … such as placing objects in a specific order, checking things, or hand washing.
  • Resistance to change; for example, insisting that the furniture not be moved or refusing to be interrupted.
  • Ritualistic behavior: Unvarying pattern of daily activities, such as an unchanging menu or a dressing ritual…
  • Interests or fixations that are abnormal in theme or intensity of focus, such as preoccupation with a single television program, toy, or game.
  • Self-injury: Behaviors such as eye-poking, skin-picking, hand-biting and head-banging.

Demonic possession offers an comprehensible explanation, and, importantly, an explanation in which parents bear no responsibility for the bizarre symptoms. But in 2019 most people in industrialized countries recognize that claiming their child is possessed by demons would be considered bizarrely superstitious. So they’ve hit upon a new name for the same phenomenon: vaccine injury. It is a simple, easily understandable explanation that, importantly, places no responsibility for the bizarre symptoms on parents or their genes.

All vaccine “injuries” share common attributes. Anti-vaxxers never claim that a vaccines causes heart disease, gall bladder disease, bone abnormalities or any of the myriad diseases for which causes are already known. They always insist that vaccines cause autism, vague “damage to the immune system” or unspecified neurologic injury.

In “All manner of ills”: The features of serious diseases attributed to vaccination, authors Leask, et al. explain the common features:

Idiopathic nature (unknown cause):

Anti-vaccination writings tend to attribute causal connections between vaccination and diseases with idiopathic origin. Autism, asthma, multiple sclerosis, cancers, diabetes and Gulf War Syndrome have all baffled science and draw intense media interest when new claims about their origin arise. Their power comes from the suggestion that danger lurks in the familiar, with the sub-text that vaccines are modern day Trojan horses, promising prevention but disguising hidden threats.

Apparent rise in incidence:

Along with having idiopathic origin, diseases like autism and asthma appear to have increased in incidence in recent decades. Anti-vaccinationists allege this increase coincides with more vaccination…

Dreaded outcomes:

Many of the ills attributed to vaccination have lethal, insidious or dreaded consequences. SIDS, autoimmune disorders and developmental disability are a few examples. Such qualitative components of dreaded diseases reduce the acceptability of even minute risks…

Temporal relationship to vaccination:

Some of the diseases most often attributed to vaccines become apparent in early childhood when many vaccines are given. In such cases, parents understandably search for an agent of blame, scouring their memories for events shortly before the illness… For parents who may feel guilt, albeit unwarranted, about their child’s problem, vaccination is a graspable external cause…

Not surprisingly, since vaccine injuries are the modern analogue of demonic possession, cures involve modern analogues of exorcism.

Exorcism is the religious or spiritual practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person, or an area, that are believed to be possessed…

Attempts to “cure” autism and other purported vaccine injuries involve bizarre efforts at “detoxifying,” with special diets, supplements or medications.

According to the folks at Body Ecology:

How important is the Body Ecology Principle of Cleansing and detoxification for autism recovery? We believe it’s absolutely essential. Here’s why: children affected with autism often have a build-up of toxicity from exposure to chemicals, metals and environmental poisons, as well as internal bacterial and viral infections, like candida.

The webpage reads as if it were a Saturday Night Live sketch:

It’s liver cleansing season. Doug, can you tell us how important detoxification was to your family during Dougie’s recovery and if you have changed his diet or added detoxification techniques during this time of year to help him cleanse more?

A: Well, it was clear to me very early on that my son, Dougie was filled with poisons. Many parents have different stories. But our son’s health gradually declined as a result of countless ear infections, throat infections, colds, fevers — ­ you name it. At this point, of course, he was also regressing developmentally, but I didn’t link the two right away…

Doug, had he lives a few hundred years earlier, could just as easily ascribed Dougie’s difficulties to demons and embarked on a course of exorcism. Dougie probably would have been better served by being subjected to a useless exorcism, rather than detoxing.

It can get far worse. There are Facebook groups involving thousands of members who force their autistic children to ingest bleach either by drinking it or through enemas. The “theory” is that autism is caused by parasites and the bleach kills them. When children begin to shed their intestinal lining as a result of the “treatment,” the parents believe this is evidence of the parasites leaving their bodies. It’s a chemical exorcism.

Many of us marvel when we consider that people used to believe that demons caused illness. But just like the demon believers, people still seek explanations for behavior of loved ones that otherwise seems inexplicable. So demonic possession has made a comeback among anti-vaxxers; but now they call it vaccine injured.

  • And then there’s ABA, which is essentially abusing the child into “acting normal”. (Like we don’t even treat animals this way.)

    • AnnaPDE

      Can you elaborate please? A somewhat woo-y acquaintance was convinced it’s doing wonders for her ASD kid, and the way she explained it seemed practice and reward based. Did that leave out some important details?

      • Here’s an Autistic adult’s take on ABA.

        unstrangemind[dot]com[slash]aba[slash]

        Just replace the [dot] and [slashes] with appropriate keystrokes.

  • rational thinker

    I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and we ended up talking about arsenic. I said to her that we all have some arsenic in us at any given time it is just a small harmless amount and that mostly everything does. She got a little uppity and started saying “no just no that is impossible I have to google that” and then she said ” well maybe some people have it cause of processed food but I am gonna google that cause I eat healthy and responsibly so that cant be true.” I really wanted to tell her that if you peel an organic banana you have just processed it. I just shut up after that cause she was actually getting worked up over it. I guess in todays world googling passes for education. This is the same friend that breastfed while having hep c and being on methadone and once said that we need laws to make all women breastfeed the first year, and this is coming from her after she herself had 2 abortions. Hypocrite?

    • Alia

      Fun fact – rice bran solubles (promoted on Goop, so nothing more fancy and organic) contain a worrying amount of arsenic: https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Article/2008/08/26/Rice-bran-contains-high-arsenic-levels-study

      • Allie

        Most things rice contain a worrying amount of arsenic, especially brown rice as it is concentrated in the husk. I never buy anything with brown rice syrup in it, which a lot of “natural,” “organic” and “gluten free” items contain.

    • Convert. And converts are always overzealous.

      • Daleth

        A friend of mine converted to Islam many years ago, and when she was a new convert she was super concerned with the correctness of her prayers. She must’ve asked twenty Muslims whether she should do her first prayers of the day at 5AM or 5:30, whether she should pay attention to daylight savings time or not, etc.

        They were all like, dude, Mohammed did not have a watch, ok? Just pray first thing in the morning!

    • mabelcruet

      Processed food has been around as long as humans have-all the methods of food preservation that we’ve done for hundreds of thousands of years such as drying, smoking, pickling, salting, brining, freezing and cooking are all ways of processing. The only people who don’t eat processed food are those on a raw diet-fruitarians, for example. And even then, if they drink tap water, that’s heavily processed. And much of the food we eat today has been genetically modified-over aeons, farmers have chosen crops deliberately for yield, cross bred cereals etc to get robustness against blight, bred specific animals to get bigger and better beasts. Just because it was done by working farmers and animal herders and not by a scientist in a lab, doesn’t mean it’s not genetic manipulation.

      • rational thinker

        Exactly. This is what I cant get her to understand. She goes into a panic mode over facts she doesnt want to accept.

      • Cristina

        I was thinking about this the other day, about how people complain about the salt content in “processed” food. Salting food used to be done to prevent food spoiling before fridges were invented, but today it’s a bad thing? Pretty sure eating fresh fruit and veggies year round is a relatively new thing, especially in colder climates.

        • mabelcruet

          I went on a tour of Hampton Court palace (Henry VIII’s place), and they take you round the royal kitchens. Now I know royalty would have eaten differently to peasants commoners, but it was basically meat, fish and bread. Roasts of all kinds of fish and fowl, but hardly a vegetable in sight. They stewed greens like samphire, had onions and that’s about it.

          There’s a brilliant series called ‘Super-sizers go…’. It’s a comedian (Sue Perkins) and a restaurant critic (Giles Coren) eating their way through history. They do Victorian, Edwardian, second world war rationing, medieval, ancient Roman, Saxon England etc. They live the typical life of a couple from that era and each episode they have a food historian and a celebrity chef who cooks all the meals for that week using original recipes and foodstuff. It’s absolutely fascinating, and very funny. Well worth catching on YouTube.

          • MaineJen

            Yeah, I have some bad news for all the demonizers of Scary Gluten out there

    • StephanieJR

      Bananas are radioactive.

  • mabelcruet

    This post got me looking at the Quackwatch website for the first time in absolutely ages. I love that website-you end up lurching between incredulity that someone could be so gullible to believe in all that crap, and then anger that there are so many mercenary quacks out there making money out of parental and patient desperation and subjecting vulnerable people to what amounts to torture and poisoning.

    • attitude devant

      I love that website too. I was very active on their listserve waaaay back when…..

  • BeatriceC

    You’ll never convince me that the changelings of Celtic folklore weren’t actually autistic kids.

    • Alia

      It’s not only Celtic folklore, Slavs had similar stories about female demons that would steal healthy children and leave sickly ones in their place. But what is the most chilling, is the folk method of regaining your own healthy child – you had to beat the “changeling” until its real demonic mother heard its cry and came to help it. For some reason, sounds just a little like torturing your autistic child with “biomed” therapies and bleach.

      • attitude devant

        ack!

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Well, I’ll just say that I’ve always found the changeling stories oddly familiar.

  • CanDoc

    ARGH.
    Thank you so much for continuing to campaign against misinformation and pseudoscience.
    My fully vaccinated kid is autistic.
    My kid who didn’t get vaccinated early (because we didn’t have a primary care provider)… he’s autistic too. And then he eventually got all his vaccines.
    Clearly my older one got his autism from the vaccines and the younger one caught it from the older one. Only plausible explanation.

    • Mel

      My husband comes from a family where the ratio of ASD (generally high functioning, but not always) to neurotypical in men is around 1:1 and 1:4 in women. This isn’t a new phenomenon; it’s held true for at least 4 generations so far – so we can pretty safely discount childhood vaccines and most toxins of current interest.

      (Not to say that the family wasn’t exposed to toxins; they worked in homebuilding followed by farming so they were exposed to a lot of toxins – just rarely the same toxins in each generation.)