Maybe you missed the headline that the American psychology profession has a new approach for patients who are, or believe they are, possessed by one or more spirits. These clients may need “concurrent treatment protocols” that blend traditional counseling with successful management of “unseen spirits.” Yes.
But there’s a catch. The patient – the human one – must be an indigenous person. Native-American patients, you see, recognize a “permeable boundary between the seen physical world and that of unseen spirits.” Western therapists should try harder to honor this pagan worldview.
This breakthrough approach comes from Suzan McVicker, MA, LPC, in an August 2010 paper published by the American Psychological Association. She tells her readers that among indigenous cultures, a “spirit force” may enter a human and seek to stay. This can be resolved, she explains, by engaging in “spirit depossession.” But far from the “forceful banishment” of an exorcism, here the spirit is safely conducted back to its place of origin, which for most of them has been discovered to be Washington, D.C. (Just kidding – she did not say that.)
Anyway, this gentle exit is accomplished with “skill and compassion” (presumably lacking in Christian exorcisms) and with minimal trauma. Jesus could have learned a lot from the APA! No need to send demons into herds of pigs, none of that teeth-gnashing stuff. All very civilized, indeed.
And this peaceful management applies to two patients because Ms. McVicker believes the spirit is also a patient, and actually another identity. In her séances with Jean Houston, Hillary Clinton’s alternate identity was Eleanor Roosevelt, don’t forget. One is tempted to speculate that perhaps Eleanor’s peaceful departure happened way too soon.
Now, to understand where Suzan McVicker is coming from, one must go to the source of her belief system, and it’s this: We all have a “within direction” where “ancient knowing” can produce healing of body, spirit, mind and energy. Sounds very much like there’s a little god in there, putting us right back at the original Edenic conflict. But McVicker calls it “sacred space” where we can heal ourselves, a big relief for those of us dreading cutbacks under Obamacare.
How does this occur? Trance states, “mindfulness” meditation and accessing the unconscious as in Jungian psychology are key techniques. Ms. McVicker and the pseudo-Christian emergent-network advocates of “contemplative” prayer share a lot in common. Neither fear much in the spirit world and believe it can be accessed quite comfortably, thank you. It’s all about us and our hearts and minds and intentions. And, of course, it’s skillfully orchestrated by the APA-trained counselor, with no heads spinning or green stuff allowed to be puked up anywhere.
I talked about this paper with my friend Dr. Peter Jones, president of TruthXChange and an international scholar tracking trends in the global neopagan revival. Dr. Jones said, “Carl Jung would be deliriously happy to see this turn of events, he who had his own spirit guide, Philemon. In view of his influence in the psychological world, this move is inevitable.”
The recognition of God as the ultimate authoritative Spirit would throw a real monkey-wrench in this self-absorbed dabbling, so apparently a Christian model of the “unseen world” is off the table, yet tribal and folk perceptions are valid and honored. Welcome to the American Left, rediscovering ancient paganism and calling it marvelous progress.
Now, we shouldn’t be too hard on Ms. McVicker, because she is just riding the wave of a trend. A blossoming specialty called “indigenous mental health” takes seriously the notion that animals and even plants are the ancestors of certain people groups. Some Hawaiians, for instance, maintain that the taro plant is an ancestor, and this leads to the claim that separation from certain land areas can result in an “alienation and unmooring of the self.” Far from naming such ideas bizarre and primitive (or conveniently covetous), the culturally sensitive counselor may place this ideology as the cornerstone of mental-health treatment and leave antiquated “Eurocentric” notions in the dustbin.
The APA also takes seriously the notion that homosexuality and gender confusion among tribal groups is what is termed a “two-spirit” phenomenon. These “two-spirit” people were traditionally thought to have special powers. And no, intimidating professing Christians into cowering silence was not originally one of them.
“First peoples” may also suffer from distrust of government (a remnant of “colonization”); historical trauma from genocide and oppression; and may cling stubbornly to tribal notions of wellness, and, no, we are not talking about a day at the gym. “Rituals,” cleansings and the typical practices of folk shamanism, even voodoo, are to be given serious consideration – animal skins, rattles and all.
One can only hope that soon, the APA announces the discovery of fire.
Absent is any consideration of one sizable, worldwide cultural and religious group: biblical Christians. How many believers have sat on cushy couches and suggested to counselors the involvement and presence of “unwanted spirits” and been patronizingly dismissed as Neanderthals?
The new progressive approach can readily become political, and it’s admitted to be a “tricky” problem, yet not dismissed. The nativist Hawaiian movement has a mental-health mandate, apparently, and even a spiritual rationale. Counselors are urged to understand and sympathize. “Empowerment” – meaning, raising fragile personal, ethnic and national self-esteem – is recommended. And what if it means the takeover of the government? Well, so be it. Anything for sound mental health.
The APA has already thrown its support behind some notion of reparations of ethnic or minority groups as a means of repairing group psychological harm.
To oppose the political goals of these First Nations, then, is seen as inherently evil, denying them emotional healing and mental stability. Such a useful platform for revolution, though! Constitutional rights to freedom of religion can be invoked as needed to support intrusive and outrageous political demands. These demons will have everyone running in circles – especially rational defenders of liberty and American patriotism, not to mention authentic diversity and human rights.
One can only hope that a future recommendation to some of these native groups is that they get a sense of perspective and reality. But I’m not sure they’ll be finding that with the American Psychological Association.
Linda Harvey is president of Mission America and hosts a daily radio talk show in Ohio.