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The Infinite Boundary: A Psychic Look at Spirit Possession, Madness, and Multiple Personality Hardcover – 1 Oct 1987
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One case involved a man who had met a local painter a couple of times and ended up painting in the man's style and having mental issues where he felt he was having visions of what this (now deceased) painter had seen and actually felt like part of him had become the painter. The author presented aspects of the case, but it didn't really seem to prove anything since so much of it was subjective. The man who was supposedly painting in the style of the dead painter had his works shown to some experts who said they didn't really see much to back up the story that the two were painting in the same manner or style, other than the choices of subject matter. It really seemed more like the man had some kind of breakdown and focussed his own artistic interests/pursuits around a professional artist he kind of vaguely knew.
Another case involved a man who was a cross-dresser who felt he was really a woman. He went all the way up through setting up surgery for gender change, only to get an exorcism and be "cured." He went back to feeling like a man...at least for a little while. Then he needed more spiritual healing for it to stick, though he apparently still had bouts of feeling like a woman in a man's body. The speculation was that he was possessed by "evil spirits," including that of a woman. This story bugged me since the psychiatrists involved seemed not to know what they were doing...one of them even thought it would be a good idea for this young man to join the navy in 1972 while he still felt like a transsexual. This made no sense. The other was that, even after his apparent "cure," he still had occasional urges to dress like a woman, so one wonders what a follow-up some years later with this man might have shown since you hear so many stories about people apparently "cured" of being gay or transsexual, only to go back to it years later. It also made you wonder why, if you believe he was being possessed by many spirits, did one spirit in particular have so much power over him as to make him feel female?
There are several more cases in this book, but they all pretty much are akin to these two. Basically, the stories mingle mental health issues with psychic powers and religion and how early doctors dabbled around with many methods with these patients in their attempts to cure them. The author indicates that some of this continues up to the present time (the book was written in the 1970's-1980's).
Some of the later chapters talked about mediums and Spiritualism, but it didn't go too much in depth, save for talking about how some early psychiatry played around with these kind of beliefs. Which led into the chapter regarding Dr Peck and his experiments in exorcisms. Honestly, I've read Dr Peck's "People of the Lie" (and reviewed it) and his exorcisms and won't go into detail here, save to say that it was not really a good idea to mix modern psychiatry with demonic exorcisms and that Dr Peck definitely did not prove his point...that modern psychiatry should start doing said exorcisms and even be able to bill for it. Yicks!
Then the author talked a bit about multiple personality disorder/DID and how there is some speculation that it opens people up to spirit possession and how some of the personalities might actually not be from the person, but evil spirits or even demons. Again, he talked about a few cases, including one of a spirit or personality named "Dennis" who didn't seem to be part of the person involved, but had hooked up with her because he was in love with one of her alternate personalities. The author doesn't really come to any conclusions about this sort of thing, at least until near the end of the book, when he basically says the jury is still out and he's not sure that he believes that these people are really possessed, but that their alternate personalities can be easily influenced by the religious beliefs of those treating them and that they also tend to lie.
He did have some interesting things to say about people who have MPD/DID are either rather psychic themselves or some of their alters are, but didn't really draw too many conclusions from that, mostly speculation. Eventually, it began to feel like I was reading what could have been articles in speculative magazines, rather then a serious book exploring possible links between psychiatry, psychic powers, and spirits.
This was the most frustrating part of the book--the author presenting all of this material, and then not really coming to any conclusions, save a vague opinion that he's not sure he believes in what he just presented as a potential theory of how spirit possession and mental health problems interact. What opinion this book left me with was that it seems not a good idea to go and mix modern psychiatry with religious beliefs. Which is a similar opinion I got from reading Dr Peck's work, go figure.
Overall, unless you are interested in this topic, you probably won't much like this book. Even if you are, this one is a bit dated and filled with ancectodal "evidence" that seems pretty unbelieveable at times and even can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth from how these supposed rational doctors mingled psychics and psychiatry. It does contain some interesting historical perspectives on the birth of psychiatry, however, and how so much of it, even today, is still a matter of belief when it comes to how it is practiced.