Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Perhaps the Virgin Mary made her do it?

The small French town of Lourdes is perhaps best known for its masses of pilgrims who go there to seek the supposedly holy waters of a small grotto in search of miraculous healing. Of course, of the hundreds of millions of people who have visited Lourdes (9 million last year alone), there have only been a handful of "confirmed miracles", meaning if Lourdes' history were thought of as a drug trial, the FDA would have condemned miracles long ago.

But now, Lourdes is beginning to get a new reputation. One for a completely different kind of crazy than the usual delusional flocks of faithful: a woman in Lourdes, who thought she was possessed by the devil, stabbed her mother to death using a crucifix (the crucifix scene from The Exorcist comes to mind...).

She apparently told police "I had visions in a dream. I saw that I was the devil, that I was evil," and proceeded to beat her mother senseless with anything within reach before murdering her with a crucifix. She was promptly carted away to the loony bin.

This is what I don't get. Lourdes is filled to the brim with Catholic pilgrims every year. Ask any random assortment of pilgrims, and at least some are sure to tell you that "God has spoken to them" or that their faith is strong because "God had revealed himself" to them. Lourdes itself is a place that became famous after a teenage girl claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary herself. Yet, none of these people are put though psychiatric assessment.

Why is it that when someone claims to see or hear God or Jesus, it's taken as a divine event. Yet when someone claims to hear or see the devil, they're labelled as crazy and institutionalized? It's a complete double standard. Both are controlled by the same psychological phenomena: they're both simply delusions of an imaginary being.

One might make the claim that, as in the case above, those who think themselves under the control of the devil commit violent acts, but that would be ignoring the multitude of times throughout history that masses of people were murdered after some leader believed he had been told by God himself that it was a good idea. (George Bush and Iraq, anyone?)

It's time to stop treating Godly visitations as being sane.

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