/ New Atheism / Gentle Reformation

Anathema (Letter One)

[The introduction to this series can be found here]

Letter One

The patient exhibits classic signs of paranoia: fear of God, belief in original sin, belief in a future judgment… But maybe the most striking conviction is the patient’s belief in a Satan figure; and here I’m not speaking merely of a medieval icon of evil, a purely symbolic concept, but an actual being, a spiritual person roaming around the planet “looking for someone to devour,” to use her own language.  It’s very bizarre. 

I must confess that my classroom studies haven’t fully prepared me for the phenomenon face to face.  I suppose that’s to be expected.  A man may read about Africa and look at pictures of its wild animals and majestic sights, but it isn’t until his foot touches the soil and he breathes in the air before he truly understands.  So it is with me. 

It’s hard to say how many times I’ve heard my professors stress the power of memes, urging us, with all diligence, to remember the prominent role they would play in the various patients.  So I shouldn’t be surprised.  My initial exposure to patient 2J-P may have had something to do with it as well, seeing how he has painted a far rosier picture of the rehabilitation process (He is, by the way, still showing signs of improvement.  Dr. Simmons is very hopeful and thinks he will come around shortly). 

As for my other patient, she’s altogether different.  The meme of Christianity runs remarkably deep in her consciousness.  Profoundly so.  I know it hasn’t been long, but if the first week is any indication, she seems hopelessly entrenched in her delusion.

During our initial interview, she was fairly cooperative, even pleasant at times, and I was able to catalog her beliefs and build a profile.  At first I thought she might only be suffering from a type II delusional disorder, but as we continued to talk, and as I continued to ask questions, probing deeper and deeper into her belief structure, it quickly became apparent that the situation was far worse than I first suspected.  I have since classified her as an acute type IV with progressive paranoia, F22.0 generally.  That may seem extreme, and I recognize the limits of my experience, but I cannot justify a lesser diagnosis, not at this juncture, anyway.  Everything is filtered through the lens of Christianity, Dr. Larson.  Everything.  How she views history.  How she views the sciences.  How she views her identity.  Her purpose.  And how she even views me!  That’s what especially threw me.  She not only thinks sin has blinded me to the truth, which is to be expected, but she thinks this “evil one” is controlling me as well- that he has sway over my mind. 

This greatly compounds the task of reorienting her perspective, as you well know.  Nearly everything I say is taken as a kind of test, like she’s being tempted, even if I’m asking her to simply set aside her faith momentarily and think rationally, to but strive towards open-mindedness and entertain a scientific viewpoint. 

Maybe an example would be fruitful.  When asked what aspects of life fall under the authority of her faith, she confidently replied, “All things.”  When I expressed surprise at her answer, she didn’t flinch.  I asked her to consider the mundane, like walking down the street, or brushing one’s teeth, or going to bed, as it’s obvious these activities are trivial.  All that notwithstanding, she continued to maintain that everything was to be done to the glory of God, even simple matters like eating and drinking.  But if even eating and drinking fall under the umbrella of faith, then what doesn’t?  And if it’s true that everything relates back to her worldview, which is ultimately the source of her disorder and paranoia, then great is the delusion indeed.  Like I said, she is nothing like patient 2J-P. 

It’s going to be a challenging case, I have no doubt about that, but I’m eager to tackle it head on and put into practice all that I’ve been taught at the Institute.  My plan is to continue to gather information and proceed with patience.  She is still somewhat distraught and spends an inordinate amount of time in prayer.  In time I hope to gain her confidence and help her see that I’m not a threat, let alone a demon; that I’m actually on her side and looking out for her best interests.  I trust that she can be saved.  I really do. 

One quick question before I go.  Protocol dictates that we introduce the normal regiment of medications on day ten.  I would like to wait until day fourteen, as I want to observe and isolate the meme in its most natural state.  Pharlaslymn would be fine in 5mm doses, but I hesitate to go beyond that for now.  Would that be inadvisable?


C. L. Jones