A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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of the supernatural. The story of Samson in the Book of Judges is the classic illustration of this and the idea has persisted right up to the present day in Eastern folk-lore. When anyone loses his temper he is excused on the ground that he has fallen under the power of an evil spirit (his djin). If he is extraordinarily strong, he is said to have been touched by the devil ; and if he wants to warn another person by frightening him he says, ' Take heed, I have sixty devils \ He may go further and say he has a thousand, or even sixty thousand, devils. In a village near my own home a man who can carry twice as many sacks of wheat as anyone else is known only by his nickname, ' the possessed \ Ultimately the possessing devil is given a name and it then becomes easier to call the man by the name of the devil which is supposed to have gained command over him than, for instance, ' The possessed by So-and-so ', and, finally, in accordance with the law of suggestion, the poor fellow develops a real abnormality. Sometimes, as a result of shock or some other psychological process, a person forgets his own name, language or relatives; while other mental patients have sometimes become obsessed by a fixed idea. One of these latter, a paranoiac who now inhabits a certain mental hospital, was obliged to make that place his residence only because of an irremovable conviction that he is H.M. the King of the Country. He plays his permanent drama without ever making a mistake and those around him who are like-minded are invariably known as Their Excellencies his Ministers ; when he addresses anyone he never forgets to use the royal formula, ' We . . . the King of . . . have declared, thought, or whatever else it may be \ So, too, the Gerasene maniac may have been the victim of the fixed idea that he was a legion of devils. Just as it might be said of any abnormally strong person that he is as strong