The Exquisite Corpse home archives submit black market comrads hot sites search
The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
ec chair poetick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
new economics of late capitalism
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
working class sweat
the corpse reads classics letters the book of revelations and epiphanies
the making and unmaking of person
The New Economics of Late Capitalism

Copulating with Devils: Cacodemonomania
by David Brizer

In the February 1987 number of Psychiatry, a journal for the trade held at least at the time in high esteem by not a few of my colleagues, there is a paper on the seemingly obscure yet nonetheless burningly relevant subject of intercourse with demons. 'Cacodemonomania', both the title of the paper , written by Salmons and Clarke(1) and the term given to the practice, reviews the subject and even provides the reader with several case studies of more than passing interest.
     Implicit in the citation from the Mallelus Maleficarum (the Inquisitors' handbook for diagnosis and spiritual treatment of demonic possession) at the very head of the piece is a supposition that can hardly be denied. Namely, the subject matter is grave, disputatious, dangerous, and not in the least trivial. Countless thousands have lost their standing as respected citizens in the community--not to mention their heads, their lives, perhaps their souls-- as a direct result of prosecution for demonic coniunctio.
     Before proceeding I would like to offer the briefest sketch of a case I recently encountered. The patient (victim? rube? schlemiel?), a 50 year old physician otherwise successful in his professional and personal dealings, arrived at my office in a near-terminal state of duress. He was unhappy with his wife.

     The patient, Hector P., was like a rodent,
     very much like one of those illicit creatures
     skulking on a canvas by Hieronymus Bosch.
     This, he asked, this was the girl he married?
     This was the virginal jewel, the Ophelia he had
     wrested from the flowing Stygian waters?
     All of the crimes, every form of violence, had
     been committed in the name of consanguinity
     against him.
     Perhaps the reader can determine the extent
     to which this patient's bore the stamp
     of the paranoiac?
     'Defamation, deforestation, moral defloration,
     derogation, rupture of limbic hymen
     [men have these too], slander, libel, verbal abuse,
     taunting, mockery, belittlement, emasculation,
     strangulation, vagina dentata, character assassination,
     devaluation, ball-churning, betrayal, poor diction,
     bad taste, negligence and cruelty beyond words.'
     I reminded him that his statement thus far was
     a dangling clause. 'Finish the thought,' I said.
     P. felt he had suffered each and every one of these
     abrogations of decency.
     P. then continued much in the same vein.
     'This harridan, this monstrous eruption from her
      mother's cursed cloaca, from that doomed stoma
      that should have been sewn and oversewn at
      least a thousand times, this hideous belch from the
      dyspeptic pouch of Satan, whose rantings whose 'words'
      are fecal bastinadoes, has robbed
      me of my self, my dignity, my moral valence. Yet still
      she walks the earth. Still she breathes God's pure air.'

     There are those among both the professional and lay community who still subscribe to a belief in witchcraft. Heaven help those to whom they offer help. I personally have seen several tragic examples of common mental diseases misdiagnosed as demonic possession and have witnessed the pitiable outcomes of professional intervention--well-intended or not--with the same.
     Salmons and Clarke do an adequate job reviewing some of the extant literature on modern demonology. Appropriately enough they cite Vinchon's(2) paradigm of possession, and are further to be commended for their mention of Yap's series of 66 cases in Hong Kong.(3)
     Cacodemonomania has even been described in children. I worked with a pediatrician who when the mood was upon him would deliver a diagnosis of satanic stomatitis or inform expectant already distraught parents that their baby's delivery would not only be breech but what he called Beelzebub breech. A spiritual leader in Kew Gardens, after determining that I could be trusted with the potentially damning information, informed me that his kabbalistic congregation routinely held exorcisms, along with the more customary and less alarming bake sales and bingo tournaments.
     What, as V. I. Lenin once asked the non-psychiatric Soviet community, is to be done?
     First, the diagnosis of cacodemonomania must never be made casually. Recognize too that parallel psychic anomalies exist. Unwonted incursions by werewolves, vampires, salamanders [the alchemical, metaphorical variety], gnomes, sylphs, faeries and wendigoes are rare but by no means unheard of.
     The most insidious form taken by these invaders from the other side is what is usually and mistakenly I might add considered as secular. That is, 'routine' marital conflict, 'routine' friction between personalities at war at work and at home, may be far indeed from routine. We are taught, regardless of our tradition of faith, that we are here to seek happiness, garner wisdom, and to give of ourselves freely to the poor, the infirm, the lost. Those who are saddled with spouses, colleagues, grocers and pets who constantly inveigle them, who burden them with sorrow, grief, and worry, may in fact be targets of a far darker, far more remote diocese. Do not accept the advent let alone persistence of such troubles without help. Recognize the devils for what and whom they are. Avoid pre-nuptial agreements with these creatures at all cost or you will find yourself signing decrees weightier and more ponderous than those tacked to the walls and doors of Wittenberg by Martin Luther himself.
     And by all means stock up on garlic at the greengrocer's. The efficacy of the so-called 'elephant' variety--a genetically modulated variant of the vegetable that has otherwise adorned tables rich and poor for centuries--remains to be proven.

1. Salmons PH, Clarke, DJ: Cacodemonomania. Psychiatry (50)5-54, 1987
2. Vinchon J, in Laignel-Lavastine (ed). The Concentric Method in the Diagnosis of Psychoneuroticism. London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1931.
3. Yap, PM: The possession syndrome: a comparison of Hong Kong and French findings. J Mental Science (106): 114-137, 1960. About the author: David Brizer's fiction has been published in Kit-Cat Review, Pindeldyboz, and in He practiced psychiatry in Connecticut but as this piece shows, 'I [the author] now longer can tell the difference between what's real and what's not.'  




home archives submit black market comrads hot sites search ec chair peotick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
new economics of late capitalism gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
the book of revelations and epiphanies working class sweat
the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

©1999-2004 Exquisite Corpse.
Site design by Compulsive Creations.