Black fire

HolyWrath24 describes what he believed to have been a near death experience (NDE):

Sure. I am on antiphycicotics [antipsychotics] and several years back when I first started taking the medicine I had a day where I drank to many energy drinks. Essentially what happens is that when you sleep you have to maintain a certain body temperature, if you overheat while on these drugs you can die. So I have insomnia as a symptom. I fell asleep but I started to over heat while I was asleep and the excess caffeine in my system was pushing my heart way too hard. I found myself in a large casem [chasm] sort of like the inside of a volcano. There were little wooden shacks all over the walls and it was insainly hot. I found myself inside one of these shacks. There were little black Spirit children that looked like they were on fire with this black fire and they had these evil smiles. They were in these shacks and they controlled these little black wolf creatures. They were chopping people’s bodies up with cleavers. I was in this space but I must have been able to crawl off the chop table and onto the floor but I looked back and my legs had been chopped off up to my knees. So I was crawling away and these wolf’s were barking at me while the kids just smiled and laughed. I saw the door to exit the room it was pink but as I was crawling toward it I started to pray oh Lord I’m so sorry for all that I have done please forgive me don’t leave me here. At that moment the door busted open and a white flash so bright it blinded me came speeding into the room I was picked up and my very essence was carried out into the casem [chasm] and I could feel us flying out so fast I could feel the skin on my face being pressed in by the speed. We flew out of that place with the ominous noise slowly fadeing away. I woke up briefly and called for help, I live with my parents. And then I blacked out again. I woke up briefly again with my mom dragging me to the bathroom. Then I passed out. Then I woke up again in the shower with cold water raining down on me and my mom was slapping me in the face and crying uncontrollably to try to wake me up. Eventually I woke up and was able to move around again. That was the night I gave my life to Christ.

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Sleep paralysis

I’ve transcribed some comments on sleep paralysis made by sleep physician Raj Dasgupta (approximately 34:30 to 36:30):

Dasgupta: Sleep paralysis, it’s scary. There’s a disconnect between the mind and the body. Someone asked me, “why does it happen?”. It’s because your mind is awake, but your body is still stuck in REM sleep. What makes REM sleep so unique than any other stage of sleep is you lose muscle tone. Is that a good thing that happens? Of course. It’s a protective mechanism.

Ian: So you don’t act out your dreams?

Dasgupta: You got it. There are disorders out there that I see where patients are re-enacting their dreams. It’s called REM movement disorder. So it’s the opposite. You know, when you ask someone about sleep paralysis, they have these feelings like someone is sitting on their chest, someone is standing in the room, like an ominous figure sometimes. And you know why? What stage of sleep do we see sleep apnea in the most? REM! That’s why you feel that closure of the airway, your breathing becomes shallow.

Ian: So you’re conscious, but your body is still paralyzed?

Dasgupta: You got it. That’s why they feel someone sitting on their chest, and why they think people are in the room, because your mind becomes in this hyper-aroused state. Kind of a protective state. And you get these hallucinations.

1. As a point of clarity, I think the term “sleep paralysis” is a bit misleading, for neither the real concern of the patient nor the primary issue in the disease is the “paralysis” during sleep. Rather, the real concern and the primary issue is what the patient sees or experiences: the presence of an “ominous” entity. Hence traditional terms like “night hag” or “old hag” or “ghost on body” (Chinese) seem more appropriate.

2. Sure, the cause of sleep paralysis could be due to normal sleep physiology in some or many cases. However, I don’t see how normal sleep physiology is necessarily the cause in all cases.

3. If this is always the case, then wouldn’t people with sleep apnea typically experience sleep paralysis? Yet many if not most people with sleep apnea don’t experience sleep paralysis. Not in the sense of an “ominous figure”. Otherwise one is making an equivocation between literal “sleep paralysis” and the night hag.

4. Similarly, there are people in a “hyper-aroused state” who don’t get any “ominous” types of hallucinations. Suppose a drug abuser gets hallucinations. That doesn’t mean the hallucinations will be of a nefarious sort. They could be quite pleasurable.

On the flipside, perhaps there are people who experience the old hag but aren’t necessarily in a “hyper-aroused state”. That might take sleep studies to determine. Granted, there may be slight hiccups in conducting such an experiment. For instance, if the cause is a personal agent, say a demonic entity, then it might be more akin to trying to catch a tiger. The tiger may or may not show up!

5. I may do a separate post on the medical science in the future.

Possession states and allied syndromes

Here is an intriguing article:

The Psychiatrist Who Believed People Could Tell the Future

The article’s primary focus is a British psychiatrist named John Barker and his work. In addition, Barker’s patients Kathleen Lorna Middleton and Alan Hencher both stand out as well.

At the same time, the article mentions a psychiatric colleague of Barker’s named David Enoch. Among other accomplishments, Enoch wrote a “minor classic” of a book titled Uncommon Psychiatric Syndromes.

Below is an excerpt from the 4th edition of Uncommon Psychiatric Syndromes (pp 224-244). The co-authors of Uncommon Psychiatric Syndromes are both British physicians (psychiatrists) – David Enoch and Hadrian Ball.

Continue reading

A heart attacked

heart

I’d like to briefly comment on the medical or surgical aspects of a story about a man named Carlos Suzuki from Brazil found in this paper:

Pedro replied that his brother had been suffering with a serious heart condition. He had undergone an aborted surgery a short time before in Sāo Paulo where they lived. The medical team explained that Carlos’ arteries were extremely clogged and that his body was very debilitated. Fearing for his life, the doctors decided not to complete the planned surgery. Instead, they advised him to enjoy the few months of life he had remaining as best as he was able since there was little more they could do to help him.

Sounds like Carlos may have had severe coronary artery disease (CAD) and needed coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. (Presumably percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) with stenting wasn’t a viable option in Brazil at the time.)

A few minutes later Antonio, dressed in a white coat, walked rapidly out of the building onto the porch pushing a cart laden with “surgical” instruments. Without saying a word he reached across the cart and picked up an electric saw with a serrated circular blade. Rapidly he attached the tool to an extension cord handed to him through a window from inside the building. Carlos, wide-awake, continued his conversation with Pedro and seemed to pay little attention to the approaching man with the saw in his hand. Antonio methodically turned on the tool and still not addressing or interacting with Carlos, drove the spinning blade into the left side of the patient’s chest. As it spun, the skin parted and blood spurted out. The onlookers gasped. The patient did not cry out or move, but he did continue his conversation with his brother. After withdrawing and reinserting the blade several times, Antonio removed it and, with his fingers, picked up a strip of flesh from near the patient’s heart, the same piece Carlos showed me the next day in the airport. The procedure took but a few minutes. The saw blade had not been cleaned before it was used and no effort was made to sterilize it afterwards when the healer turned it on his next patient. Carlos did not received any anesthesia and was wide-awake as the blade severed his flesh and the healer removed the tissue. Without uttering a word to the man whose body he had violated in this extreme manner, Antonio unplugged the saw and walked away, pushing the cart in the direction of his next patient. A few minutes later a woman, also dressed in white, holding what looked like an ordinary sewing needle and thread, closed and bandaged Carlos’ wound. She then helped the patient from the cot and escorted him back into the building where he was given a glass of “specially prepared water.” After drinking the liquid, he was chaperoned to yet another room where he was told to rest quietly.

1. So yeah, bottom line, if anyone operated on another person in this manner, it would’ve very likely resulted in their death!

2. A CABG would normally begin with harvesting the long saphenous vein from the leg and/or the radial artery from the arm. That’s because these blood vessels are grafted in and around the heart’s blocked blood vessels to circumvent the blockage. Given Carlos had “extremely clogged” blood vessels, if this healing truly worked, then are there additional blood vessels present in Carlos’ cardiac anatomy which weren’t present before?

The alternative is something like a PCI or PTCA where a stent is used to unblock blocked arteries. To clear the blockage. If the healing worked by clearing blockage, so that all we see is unblocked or clear blood vessels, that would be more economic. It would not “multiply entities” like having extra blood vessels appear as above.

3. Normally, in a CABG, Carlos would have been given an anticoagulant (heparin) and placed on cardiopulmonary bypass. That’s because the surgery would’ve required the heart and lungs to be temporarily stopped so their function would need to be artificially replaced. However, Carlos was fully conscious for all this. That’s interesting because Carlos had a gaping wound in his heart with blood spurting out and he didn’t crash but quite the opposite. That seems physiologically impossible.

4. Antonio “drove the spinning blade into the left side of [Carlos’] chest”. I presume that’d be a left anterolateral thoracotomy. It is possible to use an anterolateral thoracotomy for a CABG. However, to my knowledge, that’s typically reserved for trauma patients with cardiac wounds such as gunshot wounds or knife wounds. Yet Carlos was not in extremis.

Contrary to popular belief, the heart isn’t normally located on the left side, but the heart is normally located in the middle of our bodies, i.e., middle mediastinum. It’s just that the left ventricle of the heart is usually slightly shifted toward our left side, hence we feel the left ventricle beating most on our left side. Given this, the heart is normally accessed via a median sternotomy.

5. For a median sternotomy, either a pneumatic sternal saw or an oscillating saw is used. However, neither saws have “a serrated circular blade”. These saws look more like this for example.

For a left anterolateral thoracotomy, it’s usually either trauma shears or a Gigli saw. Neither involve “a serrated circular blade”.

6. Wire sutures are typically used for a sternotomy closure, sometimes with titanium plates or kryptonite bone cement, but certainly not “ordinary sewing needle and thread”. That wouldn’t keep things closed, not for long anyway!

[Carlos] explained to Pedro that it had not been Antonio who had operated on him. Antonio, the bricklayer with a first grade education, was a medium whose body at the time of the surgery was inhabited by a spirit, the spirit of a Dr. Ricardo Stans, a German national who received his medical education in Italy during the 19th century. Sometime after his death he is reported to have returned to “our world” to treat living patients using the bodies of mediums like Antonio. When operating, Carlos informed his brother, Dr. Stans was assisted by a number of other spirits who had been trained in various aspects of medicine, or in other healing traditions, in previous lives. He was told that they brought with them “advanced” medical techniques from the spirit world. It was these spirits who had cleaned the instruments and provided the anesthesia for Carlos and the other patients.

I don’t know how surgical operations worked in the 19th century. However, at a minimum, even back then, surgeons would’ve known where the heart is located. Would surgeons back then have approached the heart on the left side?

Although I don’t know if they had anything like a saw with a serrated circular blade back then.

Idols

At the time an agnostic/atheist, Ian McCormack writes:

I befriended some Tamil people in Colombo who welcomed me into their home and family life. One time while I was staying with them we all travelled to the hidden city of Kataragama. While I was at this sacred city I had my first supernatural experience. As I was looking at a carved idol I actually saw its lips move. I was deeply disturbed by this experience and I wanted to get out of that place as soon as I could!

As I continued to live with my Tamil friends, I observed that each day they would offer food to their household idol, the elephant god Garnesh. Some days they would clothe it, other days bath it in milk or water. It seemed strange to me that a person could believe a stone idol could be a god, as some one had obviously made it with their own hands. But looking at that stone statue one day I felt an evil yet powerful presence emanating from it. It surprised and intimidated me.

Witchcraft

A Christian friend (whom I have no good reason to doubt) recently told me the following stories. Make of them what you will.

1. His wife’s grandfather used to be a witch doctor in a developing nation. One late night he stumbled and fell into a deep ditch. There, in the ditch, he claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus. The grandfather just knew it was Jesus. After he got out of the ditch, he became a Christian. He went on to start a church in their town. Led many to Jesus.

2. His wife’s father was a Christian but passed away early. Another relative used a well-known medium in the area to try to contact the father via a séance. The medium reported the Christian father responded to the medium, but he rebuked the medium, and the medium could go no further. The Christian father told the medium something like it was wrong or forbidden to contact him.

3. His wife has a pair of friends: one is a Christian while the other is not. The non-Christian friend convinced the Christian friend to go along with her to a fortune teller. At first, the Christian friend didn’t want to, but the non-Christian friend kept insisting, and the Christian friend finally gave in and went. The fortune teller was able to read the fortune of the non-Christian friend. However, when the fortune teller tried to read the Christian friend, the fortune teller couldn’t, and eventually gave up, reporting that all the fortune teller could see was a thick and impenetrable cloud around the Christian friend. The Christian friend believes the cloud was the Holy Spirit protecting her.

Mrs. Kwo

John Livingstone Nevius (1829-1893) was an American Presbyterian missionary to China and Korea.

Below is an excerpt taken from chapter 3 of his book Demon Possession and Allied Themes.

A picture of John Nevius:

johnnevius

Early in the summer of 1879 I heard from the native assistant, Leng, of a case of supposed “possession,” in which he had failed to afford relief. This failure he attributed to want of faith. At my request he gave me an account of the case, which, in his own words, is as follows:

“This spring when I was at Tse-kia chwang, in the district of Shiu-kwang, I was giving the Christians there an account of the case of Mr. Kwo at Hing-kia, when an enquirer present said: ‘We have a similar case here.’ It was that of a woman, also named Kwo. She was thirty-two years of age, and had suffered from this infliction eight years. It happened that at the time of my visit the woman was suffering more than usual. Her husband, in the hope that the demon would not disturb his wife in the house of a Christian, had brought her to the home of his brother-in-law, Mr. Sen, who had lately professed Christianity. On my arrival they said to me: ‘She is here, on the opposite side of the court,’ and they begged me to cast out the spirit; as they had tried every method they knew of without effect. Then without waiting for my assent, they brought the woman into the room where I was. I said: *I have no power to do anything of myself. We must ask God to help us.’ While we knelt in prayer the woman was lying on the k’ang [the earthen bed of North China], apparently unconscious. When the prayer was finished she was sitting up, her eyes closed, with a fluttering motion of the eyelids, her countenance like one weeping, and the fingers of both hands tightly clenched. She would allow no one to straighten her closed fingers. I then, hardly expecting an answer, as the woman had hitherto been speechless, said to the demon: ‘Have you no fear of God. Why do you come here to affiict this woman?’ To this I received instantly the following reply:

‘Tien-fu Yia-su puh kwan an.
Wo tsai che-li tsih pa nian,
Ni iao nien wo, nan shang nan,
Pi iao keh wo pa-shin ngan.’

[Translation]:

‘God and Christ will not interfere. I have been here seven or eight years; and I claim this as my resting-place. You cannot get rid of me.’

She continued for some time uttering a succession of rhymes similar to the above, without the slightest pause; the purport of them all being: ‘I want a resting-place, and I’ll not leave this one.’ The utterances were so rapid that the verse given above was the only one I could remember perfectly. I can recall another line: ‘You are men, but I am shien,’ (i. e. one of the genii). After repeating these verses, evidently extemporized for the occasion, a person present dragged her back to her apartments—the demon not having been exorcised.

Mr. Leng revisited this regon in the month of August. His further, and more satisfactory experiences in connection with this case, I also give in his own words:

“I was attending service one Sunday at a village called Wu-kia-miao-ts, two miles from Tse-kia chwang, and Mr. Sen from the latter village was present. Noticing in Mr. Sen’s hand a paper parcel I enquired what it contained, and was told that it contained cinnabar. This is a medicine which is much used for the purpose of expelling evil spirits. Mr. Sen said he had procured it to administer to the possessed woman, Mrs. Kwo, who was suffering from her malady very severely. I then spoke to the Christians present as follows: ‘We are worshipers of the true God. We ought not to use the world’s methods for exorcising demons, but rather appeal to God only. The reason why we did pot succeed before was our want of faith. This is our sin.’ I went on to tell them how willing God is to answer prayer, referring to my own experience in the famine region, when, reduced almost to starvation, I prayed to God for help, and was heard and rescued. I asked those present if they would join me in prayer for Mrs. Kwo, and they all did so. After this I set out for Tse-kia chwang in company with two other Christians.

“While this was transpiring at Wu-kia-miao-ts the Christians at Tse-kia chwang were attempting to hold their customary Sunday service; but Mrs. Kwo (or the demon possessing her) was determined to prevent it. She raved wildly, and springing upon the table threw the Bibles and hymn-books on the floor. The wife of a younger Mr. Sen, who was a Christian, then became similarly affected; and the two women were raving together. They were heard saying to each other: ‘Those three men are coming here, and have got as far as the stream.’ Someone asked: ‘Who are coming?’ The woman replied with great emphasis: ‘One of them is that man Leng.’ As I was not expected to visit that place until a few days later, a daughter of the family said: ‘He will not be here today.’ To which the demon replied: ‘If he does not come here today, then I am no shien [demon]. They are now crossing the stream, and will reach here when the sun is about so high,’ and she pointed to the west. No one could have known, in the ordinary way, that we were coming, as our visit was not thought of until just before starting. Moreover the two men who went with me were from different villages, at a considerable distance in opposite directions, and had had no previous intention of accompanying me. When we arrived at the village a large company were assembled at Mr. Sen’s house, attracted by the disturbance, and curious to see the result of it. After a time I went into the north building where the two raving women were sitting together on the k’ang. I addressed the demon possessing them as follows: ‘Do you not know that the members of this family are believers in the true God, and that this is a place used for his worship? You are not only disturbing the peace of this house, but you are fighting against God. If you do not leave, we will immediately call upon God to drive you out.’ The younger of the two women then said to the other: ‘Let us go-let us go!’ The other drew back on the k’ang angrily saying: “I’ll not go! I’ll stay and be the death of this woman!’ I then said with great vehemence: ‘You evil, malignant spirit! You have not the power of life and death; and you cannot intimidate us by your vain threats. We will now call upon God to drive you out.’ So the Christians all nelt to pray. The bystanders say that during the prayer the two possessed persons, awakening as if from sleep, looked about, and seeing us kneeling, quietly got down from the k’ang and knelt beside us. When we rose from prayer we saw the women still kneeling; and soon after Mrs. Kwo arose and came forward greeting us naturally and politely, evidently quite restored.” Here ends Mr. Leng’s narrative.

I myself visited the place in the month of October in company with Rev. J. A. Leyenberger, at which time Mrs. Kwo asked for baptism. As she gave evidence of sincerity and faith in Christ, she was baptized, together with thirteen others. As far as I know she has had no return of her malady.

The statements of Mr. Leng, as given above, were confirmed by minute examinations of all the parties concerned, and their testimony was clear and consistent. No one in the village or neighborhood doubts the truth of the story; nor do they regard it as anything specially strange or remarkable.

Mrs. Kwo is highly esteemed in her neighborhood, and has, since her baptism, been regarded by all who know her as an intelligent and consistent Christian. She is a woman of pleasing manners, and a retiring disposition, apparently in good health, and there is nothing unnatural or peculiar in her appearance. For nearly two years after her baptism, threatened returns ofher old malady gave her and her friends no little anxiety. She says that she was frequently conscious of the presence of the evil spirit seeking to gain his former control over her, and was almost powerless to resist the unseen influence which she felt threatening her. At such times she at once fell on her knees and appealed to Christ for help, which she never failed to receive. She says that these returns of the demon became less and less frequent and persistent, and after a time ceased altogether. Mrs. Kwo has never in her normal condition shown any aptitude for improvising verses; and I presume could not now compose a single stanza.

Transportation in China mid-to-late 1800s:

johnnevius1

Several Chinese in John Nevius’ day:

johnnevius2