The Devil Within

Marc Cramer. The Devil Within. W H Allen, 1980.
A study of demonic possession from the viewpoint of Jungian psychology, in which Cramer sees the demons which possess individuals as symbols of the Shadow archetype in the collective unconscious. The general thesis seems sound , but several caveats must be entered. There is little case-history actually presented to back up the author's claim for a specific possession syndrome; his account of medieval witchcraft takes the long-exploded theories of Margaret Murray seriously; his account of Mexican mythology bears little relationship to that in generally accepted sources; and he falls in to the usual Jungian error of assuming that there are radical differences between 'primitive' and 'modern' mentality.

If Cramer 's claim for a possession syndrome can be substantiated, it suggests a drama in which the ‘demons ' of ultimate wilderness reject the core belief systems of the host culture, as radically anti-cultural agents. The alleged 'feral look' of demoniacs, the wallowing in excrement, and even the alleged PK abilities all look like a symbolic 'return to chaos', in which everything that the community rejects launches itself back at society.

It is a pity that Cramer makes no attempt to assess the sociological significance of films such as The Exorcist, in which the symbolic 're turn to chaos' of an innocent schoolgirl obviously raises echoes of the dilemma of Middle American parents who saw their clean-cut offspring transformed into 'long-haired wierdos or 'howling mobs', hurling bricks and obscenities at all-American (or all-British) police. Finally, it is quite clear that the struggle between exorcist and demoniac is a ritual struggle between order and chaos (or 'habitat' and 'wilderness') rather than between good and evil. After all, while demoniacs may throw a lot of verbal and physical dung , they do not build and stockpile nuclear weapons, or organise a world order based on man's terror, murder and repression. – Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 3, Spring 1980.

No comments: