Wednesday, September 20, 2006
…And Speaking of the Voodoo Priests of Medicine…
These are a few excerpts from the series, “Great Mysteries: Opposing Viewpoints”
By Erik Belgum and Don Nardo
A Powerful Drug (1)
‘In 1981, Heinz Lehman, a professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal , Canada , and New York psychiatrist Dr. Nathan Kline discussed the Narcisse case.(2) They also examined many other cases of supposed zombies as well as stories of how bokors claimed to create zombies. Lehman and Kline were intrigued by zombie powders and poisons and suggested a theory to explain zombification. (3)They agreed there was a possibility the ‘magical’ powders might contain a powerful drug. The drug might somehow slow down the victim’s body functions so much that he or she would appear dead. (4)Friends and relatives would bury the victim, and later, the bokor who concocted the drug might dig up the victim and administer an antidote. According to this theory, the victim never really dies. The bokor or person who hired him continues to feed the victim powerful drugs that keep him or her disoriented and helpless. (5)The victim remains a zombie for as long is its (sic) master administers the drug.(6)'
'Lehman and Kline realized their theory could not be true unless drugs like the one their theory depended on actually exist. In fact, this was what had drawn them to the zombie phenomenon in the first place. They wanted to find new drugs that could be used as anesthetics in surgery. (7)The anesthetics now used to render patients unconscious usually work well but sometimes anesthetics kill patients. Said, Kline, “If we could find a new drug which made the patient utterly insensible to pain, and paralyzed, and another which harmlessly returned him to normal consciousness, it could revolutionized modern surgery.” (8)'
'According to Kline, such drugs would have other beneficial uses. “Anesthesia is only the beginning,” he said. (9) “NASA once asked me to consider the possible application of psychoactive [mind-altering] drugs in the space program….They…were concerned with how they were going to keep the restless astronauts occupied during extended interplanetary missions. The zombie poison could provide a fascinating model for experiments in artificial hibernation.’ (10)'
The Search for the Zombie Poison (11)
'Lehman and Kline were convinced that the zombie poison was real because drugs with some of the zombifying properties were already known. (12)They were familiar with the work of several experts on plant drugs, including famed Harvard anthropologist and botanist Richard Evans Schultes. In the 1940’s Schultes had investigated thousands of plant in the Amazon rain forests of South America . The local natives used some of these plants for medicinal purposes. During his research, Schultes discovered curare, a powerful plant poison that natives used on the tips of their arrows and darts. When they fired an arrow at a monkey, the animal lost all muscular control, collapsed, and became completely helpless. (13)Usually, the poison did not kill. Schultes brought curare back to the Untied States, and chemists analyzed it.'
“…He (Clarvius Narcisse) underwent this terrifying process and served in the fields for two years. (14)When his master was killed, Narcisse no longer received the regular doses of the drug that kept him under control. The drug wore off. Although the poison and drugs had done some permanent damage, he regained most of his memory and other normal functions and reentered society. (15)This, through scientific and historical research, modern scholars confirmed the existence of zombies….'
The Mysteries of Voodoo (16)
'Scientists have not been so successful, however, in explaining away some of the other mysteries of Voodoo. Chief among the mysteries is a person being possessed by a spirit. The object of most Voodoo rituals is possession. …Many nonbelievers think Voodoo ceremonial possessions must be phony. Yet researchers who have observed Voodoo ceremonies insist that people undergoing possession do not act in a normal way. …In the early 1900’s American and British observers tried to explain away this voice change as ventriloquism…Later researchers rejected this idea, since it did not explain how the priest [presumed to be the ventriloquist] could create a voice completely different from his or her own.'
A Powerful Drug
'Modern anthropologists and other researchers do not believe Voodoo possession can be explained as trickery. …Some psychologists such as E. Fuller Torrey have suggested that possession is accomplished through the power of suggestion. This is a mental process in which a person believes so strongly in an idea that it becomes real in his or her mind. (17)…The act of working oneself into a frenzy then becomes a form of self-hypnosis. (18)The man or woman eventually clears the conscious mind of all normal thoughts, inducing a trancelike state. (19)Now the possessed person plays the role of the spirit, basing the personality details on models already accepted by society….(20) …Torrey emphasizes that the possessed person is not aware that he or she is creating the personality out of his or her own mind. (21)'
(1) Page 62
(2) Paranoid Patty is thinking out loud. Pay attention to this part now. My ‘thinking’ while reading this will be included in my footnotes here, all marked PPTOL.
(3) PPTOL:Hmmmm…I said to myself, in that special way I have, “intrigued’ by the magic powders were they?
(4) PPTOL: How many times have I heard psychiatric patients complain that they feel like the walking dead? I myself said almost the same thing as the effects of even a tiny amount of haloperidol made me feel just like that. What a coincidence THIS is.
(5) PPTOL: Why…isn’t this the very feelings many of us ‘nuts’ claim to have?
(6) PPTOL: Yes master. I hear and obey doctor…oops! I mean ‘master.’
(7) PPTOL: You know. I might be more inclined to swallow that one if we were talking about two surgeons or anesthetists here. But why would PSYCHIATRISTS be so concerned about surgery?
(8) PPTOL: Say what? Psychiatrists are trying to revolutionize ‘surgery’?
(9) PPTOL: “Other” uses. I see.
(10) PPTOL: We always seem to be ‘fascinating’ don’t we?
(11) Page 63
(12) PPTOL: Many psychiatric patients can attest to that.
(13) PPTOL: In my role as one of the monkeys being brought under control, I can actually relate to that. Of course, my empathy tends to rest with the monkey.
(14) PPTOL: Always making g a big deal out of an helpful intervention and being expected to do a little work! Those zombies are just lazy if you ask me!
(15) PPTOL: I can’t help but see an eerie parallel to psychiatry’s practices here. I guess that must be because I suffer from those ‘ideas of reference’ huh? Even though the ‘zombies’ stated it was the most terrifying experience of their lives, it would appear that the idea of doing the same sort of things to ‘patients’ caught the psychiatrists interest. A lot of selective hearing seems to exist in this doesn’t it?
(16) Page 78
(17) PPTOL; So, if say, the idea that a disease existed was a strongly held belief, it would become ‘real’ in the believers mind, whether it was reality or not?
(18) PPTOL: So it would be form self hypnosis then. Isn’t it funny how some people, myself included, call psychiatrists; ‘The Voodoo Priests of the Psychiatric Faith’? Funny all the coincidences in this isn’t it?
(19) PPTOL: I can see that.
(20) Kind of like channeling the spirit of Sigmund Freud or something HUH?
(21) So he or she would have good intentions but just be delusional then. I see. I think I understand the Voodoo priests much better now.