The Stigma of Possession in Huntington's Disease

It may be 2018, and we may live in an age where most of us think of demon possession as something from the Dark Ages or at the latest, over a century ago, there are people who still believe in such a thing as being possessed by a demon, and sometimes those stricken with Huntington's Disease are having the finger pointed at them.

It is something we don't want to talk about, a taboo, so to speak. In the HD community there historically have been many taboos but I think this one takes the cake. Maybe it's because I have experienced this first hand, and when it was said to me that my wife Sheila could be possessed or demonized, as they called it, it shook me. I was very angry that someone could be so backward and frankly, stupid and lazy as to use this as a scapegoat for the cause of a disease.

First, let me say this. I am a person of faith. I believe in God Almighty and I believe in Jesus Christ. However, while it is always first in my heart and my mind, I have never had difficulty discerning the difference between science and my belief in a Creator. I also find that the more I study the bible, the more I see how it agrees with science. I also appreciate science and those that work tirelessly to move us forward, increasing our technology, particularly in the medical field.

In regards to medical science, I have very limited ability, but I do know what a disease is, and it certainly has nothing to do with demon possession.

This is a very dangerous way of thinking and many in the world today often fall victim to this diagnosis which inevitably involves an exorcism to get rid of the supposed demon. The act of exorcism usually requires a person to be restrained and is a very traumatizing procedure which often results in injury.

In an article published in 2015 by Hopes, a case study reported that there were 370,000 deaths reported due to exorcism and another 310,000 injuries. They recognize these numbers are low since many of these cases go unreported. Many of the victims were found to be beaten, starved, burned and tortured. Any benefit reported due to exorcism was merely an illusion and due to the placebo effect.

Even in western civilization mental illness still has a social stigma and much work has to be done to educate people. Those who are afflicted with Huntington's Disease, as well as their families and caregivers would be well advised to stay close to mental health professionals who offer real solutions or relief and keep a healthy distance from those that suggest exorcism as a therapy or cure for mental illness or HD.

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