View Full Version : Demonic possession as a metaphor for ADHD

Baal Moom
08-15-13, 04:16 PM
This post isn't going to be as clever as the title might suggest. I just wondered whether anyone else had thought of the analogy. I occasionally meet friends of friends, and inevitably the conversation goes onto the "watcha doing with your life?" route (don't know about other nations, but Israelis are nosy like that sometimes). I'm not a good liar, so I tell the truth, that I'm long term unemployed. Then they ask why, and I feel I have to try and explain. It's always been a struggle to explain what ADHD means, but recently I've come up with the explanation that my ADHD is like being possessed by an evil spirit: as if some greater force bound on my destruction has usurped my mind and body and compels me to act against my best wishes, in a most destructive manner. I also added that had I lived a hundred years ago I'd go to a rabbi and ask him to cast out the "dybbuk" (evil spirit. That's right, Jewish exorcism exists. Though I'm not sure whether every rabbi is qualified to perform it). It seemed to do the trick. On the other hand, the girl I was speaking with seemed to be somewhat more open-minded than usual: she admitted she didn't know much about ADHD, rather than going right into telling me what a silly condition that is.

08-15-13, 09:30 PM
you're not really acting as though possessed though... we just go about things ... uniquely :lol:

your best bet is to learn a good description of what it is and then tailor it to fit your symptoms more. does that make sense? i'm tired, so i may be speaking jibberish at the moment... i'll try to clarify tomorrow

Baal Moom
08-15-13, 11:59 PM
Might be the case in your case. My case is pretty ******* severe to the max. Even on meds I can hardly get out of bed, without them I'm zombified. Seriously feel like an empty shell operating on autopilot, occasionally doing crazy stuff... just because. Mind is blank, except for the desire to beat people up. I don't have creative hobbies, and I'm not at all creative when I'm "sober".

And I do feel compelled to act in ways I definitely don't want to, even when I do take my medicine. I decide to do one thing, but inevitably do something else entirely, over and over again. Also I'm abrasive, domineering and inclined towards violence, even though I don't want to be so at all – but I can't figure out how to get rid of those inclinations. Doesn't that sound like possession? I realise all this probably sound irresponsible. I am making an effort, sometimes an enormous effort to overcome the evil spirit, but it would seem to me self-delusional to claim that there isn't a great force in my mind that tows in a direction opposite to that which "I" would like to take. This monstrosity is there and has to be reckoned with, since beating it by force is impossible. Also, the possession metaphor, I think, amply demonstrates that it is a difficult condition to live with. I doubt clinical or encyclopaedic definitions would be as understandable to most people I know.

You might have noticed that I don't take kindly to living with this life-crushing satanic deformity. I can't in any way see it as an asset. What is good about having to take barely effective drugs so that I don't degenerate into a wild beast?

08-16-13, 06:58 AM
I think generally you want a metaphor to be simpler, clearer.

I think what you try to say is that you have 2 forces; your own will is wanting to go forward, but there is another force that is pulling you in the opposite direction, for example a shear force.

So I'd say a better metaphor, in my opinion, would be that you want to go from A to B, but you're having to climb a much steeper mountain then others. Gravity is working against you.

I think that your metaphor sounds like an excuse - it takes the responsibility away from you, even more, it sounds like you're powerless. It's the demon who is doing all of this bad stuff, not me. If you have this mindset, I can understand that very much, but I would encourage you to challenge it.

I agree that getting forward is much more difficult, but I think in order to get there you need to believe that you can, grow confidence in your abilities, get to know what it is exactly that is working against you (so you can work your way around it) and become responsible for you behavior; that doesn't mean you can't make mistakes, just that you try to solve them right.

Ok, I don't base this on my knowledge of your situation, but on the metaphor.

So, I encourage you to face your demons!

08-16-13, 06:58 AM
I do feel possessed. Not by another entity but by myself. I can't control myself. There seems to be a constant war waged in my brain between the logical part of me and this other self destructive, hedonistic, short term reward seeking part. Unfortunately, the latter is much, much more powerful. I am my own demon.

Baal Moom
08-16-13, 08:45 AM
So I'd say a better metaphor, in my opinion, would be that you want to go from A to B, but you're having to climb a much steeper mountain then others. Gravity is working against you.

I don't think our metaphors are that different. In my case it's a monster, in yours – it's gravity. Both are independent forces standing in our way towards effective functioning. The gravity metaphor can serve as an excuse just like the Dybbuk metaphor, though I can't judge which would be more likely to be used so. On the other hand, as I can fight gravity, so am I able to to put up a fight against the demon; and to be frank, fighting a demon seems to me much more satisfying (this is the proper spelling of the word? Preposterous), and strangely much more real, than struggling against gravity. I need someone to blame – and I need someone to hurt. For me, blaming a construct doesn't seem like a way to avoid responsibility. Of course there is no demon; naturally I am the monster. The demon is a tool by which I give a face to The Adversary, the destructive part of myself. Once he is given a face, The Adversary can be vanquished or (as seems more likely) tamed, because now I know what I'm up against. I don't really "do" abstract concepts. Beating gravity or mental illness means nothing to me, but taming a beast sounds perfectly clear. Also, gravity can't cry in pain when I punch it in it's saggy, wrinkled, maggot filled and slime-oozing belly. It can't beg for it's life. And I want It to beg. I want revenge, and by gum I will have my revenge. I can't go on a crusade against gravity. There is no satisfaction in that, and gravity doesn't seem real to me anyway.

I hope you could figure out anything out of that mess. It hasn't turned out as eloquent as I wanted. In short, the monster doesn't serve to relieve me of the responsibility to figure out my life, but to give me a purpose in my struggle: to make the monster that's ruined my life suffer, throw it into a shining dungeon populated by care bears clones, and maybe even kill it – and that can only be achieved if "I" take control of "me".

I just made that all up. The demon was really initially just a silly story meant to illustrate my problem to the ignorant masses, but I've grown passionate about the idea. I usually don't treat metaphors seriously. They're all fancy anyway.

Edit: But I agree with your fifth paragraph, Jacksper. And of course Fuzzy, you're right as well. We're our own adversaries, and it sucks. But we can also be the Messiah. Or so I would like to hope.

08-16-13, 09:26 AM
I don't like religious metaphors, they "tempt" me to ramble about religion... see what I did there? lol

Just a religious side note, I don't think having a mental disorder necessarily would make you "possessed" by "evil", it all depends on the environments that have influenced them, reaching through the "avenue of the soul" (the five senses).

Also, if you adhere to Pauline theology, you'd see that Romans 7 appears to be saying we're all a little crazy because we all have the intent to do good and yet fail. Likewise, the bad we don't intend to do, we end up doing anyway. The next chapter goes on to explain how the Holy Spirit provides the solution to this problem. I could go on about how grace is more than forgiveness, it comes with the power to overcome evil, but it would be against the forum's rules to discuss religion in this section.

Going back to what I said about environmental factors, my mom is schizoeffective, she grew up SDA, she's a really loving person, and enjoyed handing out Christian literature in the New York subways (oh and she also loves music). She also married my dad, who is very loving and protective of her. Sure that doesn't mean that she never lost her mind, but at least it's not as severe has it could have been for others in a bad environment.

Canadian Mess
08-16-13, 09:31 AM
I don't feel that ADHD feels like demonic possession... since I have the demon/monster called PMDD.

You don't know a demon until you have PMDD. You act like yourself for 3 weeks of your cycle- acting happy, friendly, ADHD-like, creative and able to keep things under your belt or at least orbiting around you since ADHD usually feels like you are falling apart.

Then all of a sudden, out of no where you feel irritated, angry, like you can't cope, you start crying and laughing and then start crying again. Your mood fluctuates more frequently then the weather, you want to stab people and tell people exactly how you feel. You think everyone is a ***hole and want to send rage-filled messages to them to tell them that you do not apprecitate their actions. You think everyone is out to get you, you feel hopeless and like nothing will ever work out. Stress and depression grip you and you can't escape. You may contemplate suicide and think of ways to do it and wonder if you should cut your arm and bleed to death because it doesn't matter anyways. You can't think, can't concentrate, cant seem to do anything.

Then a few days later, your period happens and everything is fine again.

Demons I tell you, my friends tell me I act like a bull dog or possessed or something.

Baal Moom
08-16-13, 09:42 AM
Well, I hope I'm not going overboard by clarifying that I'm an atheist. The demon is a personification of what I struggle against: procrastination, the blank mind, rage, confusion, paralysis, etc. I don't believe I'm actually possessed by anything but my nutty self.

08-16-13, 09:57 AM
Well, I hope I'm not going overboard by clarifying that I'm an atheist. The demon is a personification of what I struggle against: procrastination, the blank mind, rage, confusion, paralysis, etc. I don't believe I'm actually possessed by anything but my nutty self.

That's okay, for a while I've actually been an apatheist and I have considered thinking of ways to explain "spiritual" things with scientific explanations.

My personal opinion is that the purpose of science is to discover how the physical mechanism of the universe works, while religion attempts to tries explain why there's something instead of nothing and the the spiritual side of religion claims that spiritual forces are the ones at work behind the visible mechanism of the universe. In other words, it's not simply "goddidit", that's as simplistic as telling kids that babies came from "mommy and daddy did it". Did what? lol

Mind you, I am well aware of many faulty worded arguments for creationism and much of the ignorance that many Christians have concerning history, science, and even about things in their own bible (if a Christian reads this, please don't take this personally, I didn't say all Christians were this way and I'm a Christian myself).

One example of a faulty worded creationist argument is the saying that "life must come life", but they fail to consider that, according to their general theology, their God is the very essence and source of eternal life. In other words, that would mean life always existed in God and so Christians might as well be saying "all forms of life derive from one original and eternal life source". Now can we prove that the life principle always existed? No, but that's way better than saying "life must come from life".

Many Christians often get so zealous about their core beliefs, they forget to really read into the logic of their own theology and end up making up logic of their own. Their theology would make more sense to them if they really payed attention to those little details, but I'm going to stop here because this is something that really should be at the Christianforums instead of this one...

I did a really major detour here... but just thought I'd get that off my chest... hope I'm not in trouble... lol

08-16-13, 12:24 PM
I really dislike it. ADHD is so often described in moralizing terms, I wouldn't want to give that an extra push.

You don't owe anyone anything explanatiion and it usually comes back to bite you.

08-16-13, 04:19 PM
Just reading the title gave me chills.

Many, many years ago, my sister became a member of a church (in an attempt to fit in somewhere) that had convinced her she didn't need any of those "crazy pills" and that all she needed to do was pray really hard that the demons would exit her body. And if she still struggled, they convinced her that just meant she wasn't praying hard enough.

She ended up hospitalized for a lengthy stay.

Her issues go beyond adhd, but regardless of the symptoms, I feel it's a slippery slope to tread on.

08-16-13, 05:07 PM
I honestly don't think it's a decent metaphor for ADHD.

I get enough crap from my grandparents/parents that there's something wrong with me "morally" and all that crap...

Heck, if they found out about this metaphor they'd probably *BELIEVE* it and think *it's* the cause of this "fake" thing called 'ADHD'. :doh:

Baal Moom
08-17-13, 03:31 AM
I think we should make a distinction between the validity of the metaphor and the implication it might have on one's social life or mental health. I think it illustrates my affliction quite well, in that it demonstrates clearly that I struggle with a very great obstacle to normal functioning, something that drains my energy, that I can't always control, and which does not come from an intention to be difficult. Therefore I think it's a valid metaphor.

As for implications, etc.: as I've said, I find having the image of a creature I can battle encouraging, but evidently not everyone should "adopt" this metaphor and I'm not "propagating" it. I think everyone should stick to the story that keeps them going. I don't think people who find the demon story discouraging should worry their heads with it. It's a tool, not God's word.

It also might not suit those who give too much weight to metaphor (there are people who seem to believe metaphors have an existence independent of anything we put into them and derive conclusions from them which hardly have anything to do with their original premise). I understand there is no demon, I see that I am the problem. Some people I guess might end up feeling AD/HD really is independent from themselves, and therefore think they don't answer for it/can't deal with it which isn't what I meant at all. Not necessarily silly people, either. So I guess that is is a valid concern.

However, I think we should distinguish between telling people a silly fairy tale which is meant as an illustration and a tool to help deal with AD/HD, and trying to lure people into a cult. Unmanagable, what happened to your sister was terrible, but the metaphor is called "metaphor" and not "gospel" exactly because I don't mean for anyone to take it literally. And I hope that I'm not wrong in assuming that the vast majority of people would figure that out, at least if I stress there is no demon.

Of course, you shouldn't walk around telling people about the demon lurking in your mind if you're a member of a community that takes demonic possession seriously. Rest assured, Bella, you grandparents need never know about it :).

I really dislike it. ADHD is so often described in moralizing terms, I wouldn't want to give that an extra push.

You don't owe anyone anything explanatiion and it usually comes back to bite you.I see how it can be a concern. Personally, I can live with people disliking me due to my affliction. The possibility of their dismissing it as fiction is what I find objectionable. I don't think there's much chance my little story becomes the prevalent way to look at AD/HD, either. If there were a viable chance for it, I'd agree it would be a problem, since people have such a propensity for demonising other people. Face to face I might be able to deal with misconceptions, at least part of the time, but nation wide I'm afraid there indeed would be a tendency to see us as sinister beings. I'll have to try this metaphor on some other people and see their reaction to maybe see if I can rely on people understanding it when I explain it.

Also I agree I don't "have" to explain, but I don't feel comfortable not to. It seems to me that not sharing is considered rude in Israeli society. We really like getting into each other's lives.

I hope this post isn't full of gibberish. It took me more than an hour and a half of writing and rewriting to write this much, and I'm well exhausted. Crossing fingers :).

08-17-13, 04:13 AM
I think this kind of metaphor has been haunting people with all sorts of mental illnesses throughout the ages and up to this very day.

Even now, proper appreciation, diagnosis, acceptance and treatment is hindered by them.

08-17-13, 06:14 AM
I've come up with way better metaphor (nudge nudge... lolz). I don't believe the mentally illness is a metaphor for demon possession, rather I think "demonic oppression" or even better "spiritual vulnerability" would be much better metaphors. These "demons" would represent cognitive distortions (maladaptive thoughts) and feelings that accompany them as a result of an activating event. If you haven't noticed, I'm using CBT theory (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).

So setting the metaphor aside, our minds are simply vulnerable to being flooded with negative thoughts.

Tin foil hats everyone! lol jk

08-17-13, 09:53 AM
i dont think its a great metaphor (at least for me)
personally im terrified of even excerpts of horror films
ive left organised religion but such a thought could cross my mind on a bad day.

really i suppose, thats what people literally thought in 1800, about things like epilipsy or tourette's, how awful!

Baal Moom
08-17-13, 03:20 PM
I'm surprised about the overwhelmingly negative reaction my metaphor has received, but I guess I shouldn't be. People probably don't like being associated with demons and monsters. I sometimes forget that. Personally I tend to think there is a monster in everyone, mentally ill or not. But enough about that I wouldn't want to depress anyone (sorry if I have already) :).

Just one thing why has this thread been transferred to the Meditation and Spirituality subforum? There is no demon, people. There is no demon... It's meant to be a practical tool. I don't even believe in a soul; I answer to no deity but Our Lord Darth Vader :D.

08-21-13, 08:30 PM
Personally I tend to think there is a monster in everyone, mentally ill or not. But enough about that – I wouldn't want to depress anyone (sorry if I have already) :).

Just one thing – why has this thread been transferred to the Meditation and Spirituality subforum? There is no demon, people. There is no demon... It's meant to be a practical tool. I don't even believe in a soul; I answer to no deity but Our Lord Darth Vader :D.

LOL I think that's just the point, people don't like thinking about having such "inner monster" because it really would be depressing if all of us ruminated about our own defects and flaws, ya know? (lol, using funny grammar is funny, but on any tangent.... I'm going to go on a tangent... hehe).

Speaking on terms of spirituality, I'm an SDA, so I don't believe we possess inherently self-existent immortal souls, in my opinion that idea doesn't even make any theological sense because that's another way of saying "sinners don't really die", which sounds awkwardly familiar to the words of the serpent in the story about the "fall of man" into sin.

SDAs like me and other similar denominations believe in something that is called conditional mortality (because it's a gift bestowed only on the saved), it's sometimes also nicknamed "soul sleep" because it also accompanies the idea that at death our souls remain in a dreamless sleep until being resurrected, either unto eternal life or to be annihilated (after having their life reviewed first within their minds, which I'd imagine would be more mentally painful than the lake of fire they're said to be put into).

Churches like mine also tend to also explain away the concept of an eternal hell torment with things like "well didn't Jesus say people would only be punished according to their works?" (Luke 12:48) and we so we simply figure that the "eternity" of hell fire is an indefinite duration of time because some souls will be vaporized quickly from existence, while others, especially the religious who should have known better (oh those poor old pedophile priests, lol), antediluvians like Cain who had longer life spans, and even the devil and his angels, would be burning for the longest amount of time.

According to some research I've done on how the "immortal soul" doctrine got into the early church, Athenagoras of Athens was the first Christian writer to teach the idea, which is speculated to have been based on his previous background with the teachings of Plato. This concept was further amplified by Tertulllian and it was Augustine of Hippo who spread the idea with the teaching of eternal hell torment. Personally I think this preaching of eternal torment is counter productive because it only scares people into church and that's a selfish motivation that doesn't really win souls for heaven. It's because of such hell preaching that we end up with people like Yates who drowned her children in a bathtub. Yikes!

Sorry for going off on a doctrinal tangent (I really hope I didn't offend any Christian out there, it's not my intention). I just think that unhealthy thoughts that derive from unsound doctrine is one of the many reasons that people end up going insane in the first place. That's why I'm a big fan of cognitive behavioral therapy because there are so many unhealthy "beliefs" out there (haha, see what I did there? It's a medical/religious pun!).

Personally, I think the doctrine of inherent soul immortality is a "gateway doctrine" into necromancy because if you've ever heard Christian Near Death Experiences before, you'd hear about them talking to dead people, which sounds like something their bible expressly condemns. My opinion of NDEs is that if you were really dead, you wouldn't have had an experience. For if that were so, than I think Jesus would have had to apologize to Lazarus for raising him from the dead. Also the idea that the saved go straight to heaven at death makes Jesus sound like a liar if you read John 14.

08-22-13, 12:18 AM
I think I understand what you are trying to say about ADHD and i relate to it. There is a force that subverts your desires and intentions - I feel that a lot.

But I really REALLY dislike the metaphore. ADHD is definitely not an evil thing - demonic implies a moral character flaw.

I hope I'm not overstepping by referencing your user name. You seem pretty open. If I understand it, Baal Moom, implies a judgement of your worth. "One who is defective"...impaired or "demonic possession" it implies you simply "can't"... I agree with jasper, it deflects responsibility. It also feels myopic and unfair to you.

11-02-16, 12:04 PM
Hello. I came across this post while researching the link between dybbuks (Jewish term for demon/spiritual possession) and Bipolar Disorder. My husband was diagnosed with BP disorder 5 years ago and it has been a major struggle ever since. He went from being a full time attorney to barely being able to work.

Anyhow I joined this site just so I could post a message to Baal Moom. It sounds like you have a dybukk attachment similar to my husband. They take away your ability to function and make good decisions. They can make you go mad. I highly recommend you contact someone with experience in that area. Came across one such person after seeing countless doctors and healers and spending thousands of dollars on treatments. She was legit and was the one who explained the dybukk to us.

I hope this helps. Blessings.

12-03-16, 09:51 PM
not a theory of mind, or even a perfect analogy! I can certainly identify with it...without the least temptation to abdicate responsibility for either my actions or my inaction.

Am I going to propagate it for public consumption? No. But in the privacy of my own skull I quite enjoy it! (And this being merely a chronic demon--not an acute one--I see no reason to bring exorcism into it!)

Two helpful aspects jump out at me. First, the ADHD is not the essential "me." Conceiving of "it" as something separate "trying" to distract me from my goals, standards or values does help remind me that "I" am whole, fully human and well-socialized, though I may often have this perverse burden to resist, work around or ignore.

Second, there is that peculiar anomaly of neurotransmitters somewhere in the pre-frontal cortex that in neurotypical people ramps up when they "try harder" to concentrate, but goes the opposite direction in (most?) ADHD people. When we take stimulants this tends to normalize. Doesn't that feel like some little monkey getting in the way?