Tuesday, October 20, 2015

So Depression is Witchcraft?

No, this isn't one of those articles where I weigh in on the magick-as-psychology debate. It's one of those articles where I weigh in on a clueless fundamentalist Christian who has no idea how magical attacks or psychology work - or in this case, can't tell one from the other.

Recently Jennifer LeClaire of Charisma magazine posted two articles claiming to document "clear signs" of being under "witchcraft attack." Believe it or not, I tried to read them with an open mind, whether or not that's ever a good idea. My experiences as a magician have convinced me that magical attacks are objective things, and that while they are relatively rare they do happen. But both articles disappointed me right away.

See if you can spot the problem:

In my experience, though, there are some practical questions you can ask yourself to help you discern a witchcraft attack:

1. Are you on an emotional roller coaster, rushing from anger to sadness to confusion? You could be under a witchcraft attack.

2. Are you so overwhelmed with your circumstances that you just want to call in sick, stay in bed and feel sorry for yourself? You could be under a witchcraft attack.

3. Do you feel like nobody can possibly understand what you are going through and that nobody even cares anyway? You could be under a witchcraft attack.

4. Do you feel like everything you do is wrong, that nobody appreciates you anyway? You could be under a witchcraft attack.

5. Are you getting offended with people, are you touchy and fretting over what people are doing or saying? You could be under a witchcraft attack.

6. Are people rising up against you with false accusations and angry outbursts without any apparent justification? You could be under a witchcraft attack.

7. Are you reasoning out your life to the point of fear or confusion? You could be under a witchcraft attack.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, every single one of those can be a symptom of clinical depression. So the whole "clear signs" business is basically nonsense. I will grant that, as worded above, those seven things theoretically could be signs of a magical attack, but to immediately jump to that conclusion is quite silly.

Depression affects almost 25% of the population. That's one person in four. The odds of a depressive episode, particularly in response to some sort of life stress, are much higher than those of being under magical attack. Such attacks can trigger depression, but it's safe to say that most of the time something else is at work.

If you aren't sure whether you're depressed or under magical attack, the best tool to to try and sort out what's happening is divination of some sort. And that's a shame for LeClaire's readers, because fundamentalist Christianity essentially bans any form of divination that I can think of as evil. So I guess that means, for them, that there's no reliable way to tell.

Just as with any physical malady, the smart thing to do is rule out every possible conventional cause before jumping to a paranormal one. That's just common sense. Then, use whatever magical method you can to help yourself recover. Maybe that means casting some sort of uncrossing or counter-curse, or doing lots of banishings, or performing a ceremonial operation to help you heal more rapidly.

The key here is that such magical methods should never be treated as a substitute for medical treatment, but rather as complementary techniques that work alongside conventional methods. The vast majority of the time, the latter approach will produce the best results.

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neetwizard said...

So now susceptible people are going to think that they are under magic attack. And then what's next? They'll hire an exorcist. Woah, lots of money to be made!

Scott Stenwick said...

Hey, if that happens to be your business, and people buy this nonsense, I agree 100% that you will have quite the business opportunity on your hands! But the one problem is that you have to compete with the folks out there already doing it, like the Teen Exorcist Squad.

Unknown said...

Kudos to whoever created these witchcraft diagnostic criteria-- they include some depression symptoms that aren't even mentioned in the DSM! But shame for dissuading people from seeking real treatment. SSRIs aren't that great, but they're still better than trying to remove a nonexistent curse. That, and, I'd trust a trained psychotherapist over a pastoral counselor any day, if someone's checking more than a couple of the above symptoms.