July 3, 2005

Religion and mental illness.

The NYT has a long piece on the mentally ill Romanian nun who was killed in a botched attempt at exorcism.
"You can't take the Devil out of people with pills," the 29-year-old priest, Daniel Petre Corogeanu, told a Romanian television station during a four-hour interview taped just before he and the nuns were arrested in June.
Isn't that disturbingly similar to Tom Cruise on the "Today Show"?
All it does is mask the problem, Matt. And if you understand the history of it, it masks the problem. That's what it does. That's all it does. You're not getting to the reason why. There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.

13 comments:

Dave said...

The nun was not "killed." She was "murdered." This is like saying the people in the World Trade Center were "killed." They were "murdered."

"Killed" sounds appropriate when one drives his car into a tree at high speed. Let's call this what it is: a religiously-inspired murder.

ploopusgirl said...

Hey Dave, why don't you get yourself worked up over semantics? The story about the nun who was indeed 'killed,' because the two words mean the same damn thing, was a topic of discussion several weeks ago. This post is about the similarity between the priest and Tom Cruise, which by the way is remarkable, yet you pick out the most insignificant portion of the post to whine about. Bravo!

When I first started reading this blog, I hated Ann. Then she opened her comments up and I found myself liking Ann more and more because in comparison to her readers, she's brilliant and likeable.

Dave said...

Who knew my focus on semantics could provoke such ire from another?

I must be powerful.

Dave said...

More on ploopusgirl's derogation of me, here.

Ann Althouse said...

Dave: Murder is a subcategory of killing. It makes no sense to say a person you think was murdered was not killed. By definition, everyone murdered is killed. It is murder if there are additional elements, and in fact, from what we see in the reports, it wouldn't seem to be first degree murder. It doesn't seem to have been done with an intent to kill. I think murder would be an incorrect word choice, assuming things that we don't know. "Kill" is good usage, absolutely accurate.

There is a deep problem here, having to do with uneducated people in positions of power in a country held back by political oppression.

amba said...

Great analogy, Ann!

amba said...

Another analogy: that priest had the makings of a cult leader a la David . . . oh rats, what was the name of the guy in Waco . . . thanks, Google: David Koresh. The nun may have been schizophrenic but he was clearly afflicted with worsening megalomania. Drunk on the power given to him by the local people.

Doesn't "murder" involve intent to kill? She was killed, but they don't seem to have been trying to kill her.

Ann Althouse said...

Amba: Under American law -- and we have to remember this happened in Romania -- statutes define murder and can go beyond intentional killing, to include extreme negligence (though this would be a lower degree). We also have "felony murder," which requires only intent to commit a felony (like robbery). In moral discourse, "murder" is used to express the wrongness of a killing, as for example, when people call abortion or the death penalty "murder," even though both are legal.

Gerry said...

"Isn't that disturbingly similar to Tom Cruise on the "Today Show"?"

Well, yeah, because the Devil is in all of us.

The woman was sick, not possessed. She needed pills.

The rest of us, by and large, just need to resist our dark impulses.

Ann Althouse said...

Gerry: Excessive pill-prescribers and religionists put our problems beyond ourselves, as an outside force, either the devil or disease. We would do better to deal with our own problems by working through them and taking responsibility for them without pills or religious rites. That said, some people really do have a physiological problem and need drugs.

JohnR said...

I really was never going to post a comment here, simply because I don't have a blogger account, but this line hit too close to home. I just go thome from bringing my wife to the hospital for admittance die to her mental illness. Perhaps the topic is simply too sore for me, but anyone (ala Mr. Cruise) who makes light of (or simply disregards) mental illness should stay way the he** away from me - I am not accountable for my actions if he says anything close to what he said on the Today show near me.

Sorry, Ann, normally I am one of your biggest fans, but my wife has been battling her demons for years and I am really afraid that her demons have finally won.

Ann Althouse said...

JohnR: I am sorry to hear about your wife, but what line are you talking about? Obviously, I think some people have real mental illness and need treatment, and your wife appears to be one of them, but far too many people -- especially children -- are using psychotropic drugs.

Slac said...

Isn't that disturbingly similar to Tom Cruise on the "Today Show"?

Not really. Although I am not familiar with Scientology's pantheon, I could imagine Cruise saying that ascribing our problems to the Devil is masking the problem. Maybe I am giving him too much credit.