Grand Mal epilepsy, combined with psychological disorders and chemical imbalance, is one of those identifiable medical and psychological phenomena which, primarily because of its strangeness and unexplainable manifestations in a person’s body, horrify people to the point of calling it the work of the devil. Although some rare types are incurable by normal medicinal methods, doctors and therapists know what to do exactly in whatever case and can prescribe treatment for the disease.
Normally, an epileptic goes into a state of unconsciousness and experiences involuntary, jerky movements. The muscles become stiff, the heart beats faster, skin turns pale white or loses color, and pupils become dilated—eyes rolling back to the head, gnashing teeth, frothing at the mouth and so on (Chang, 2007). The epileptic recovers immediately with no memory of what just happened. Moreover, he or she feels exhausted and depressed after every seizure.
Thus, it is likely that an uninitiated person who sees someone suffering a severe epileptic episode for the first time, otherwise known as a grand mal seizure, would mistake the symptoms for something else that borders along dogmatic notions of the supernatural or paranormal. Epilepsy is a manageable and treatable disease. According to recent medical journals on the subject, 80% of those who faithfully take their medications and seek out support from their friends experience little to no disruptions in their lifestyles (Biondo, 2008).
Children who have epilepsy are taught to be responsible for their condition so that it won’t cause harm to anyone including themselves when they grow up (2008). Adults who have been diagnosed with epilepsy are told, apart from piously taking their medications, to avoid known triggers of epilepsy such as lack of sleep, stress, flickering lights, certain sound or motion triggers and so on (2008). The list of triggers varies from person to person. Medical technology improves over time, lessening the side effects more and more while the treatment becomes more effective with respect to epilepsy.
However, some medications may adversely affect the hormonal balance of a person leading to depression, nausea, mood swings and behavioral changes, but such negative effects are outweighed by the positive benefits a person will get for using the medicine (Biondo, 2008). The causes of epilepsy are known and are traced back to the abnormal amount of electrical activity of the brain resulting to a temporary short-circuit of the entire nervous system. However, the possible consequences of recurrent seizure to an individual have yet to be fully understood and documented.
Put differently, although people who suffer from this condition lead relatively normal lives, on rare cases, a case subject, due to the regularity and severity of the seizures, may develop alternate realities or divergent thoughts (Biondo, 2008). Precisely because the condition produces an image of the bizarre and the extraordinary, the epileptic may feel isolated and grow distant from his or her peers. Close relatives may even, for lack of scientific knowledge, attribute the occurrences to metaphysical entities controlling the body of the person.
Out of fear and ignorance, the problem worsens because no timely medical aid are rendered much less are credible advice sought (2008). In this day and age where science and health have become accessible to everyone, the problem of leaving the condition untreated is minimal. Some people, however, due to the depth of their faith, or perhaps the extent of their desperation, turn to alternative methods for a cure. It just so happens that their faith accommodates such hopes and even has special rituals to take the place of standard medical procedures.
Catholics, for instance, in the face of looming death or hopelessness, prostrate themselves before the altar to pray for a miraculous recovery, otherwise, an appointed clergy anoints the sick to prepare one for a peaceful death to follow (Graham, 2005). On really extreme instances, the Catholic Church performs the rite of Exorcism. It is essentially a church sanctioned ministry by a priest, administered to a person suffering the bondages of demonic possession (Graham, 2005).
Since the symptoms and identifications of the medical condition aligns closely with those of the Exorcise-able candidate, there arise opposing claims as to the real causes of the deviant behavior, thus forcing a reasonable and average person to decide for science, religion or for both, on the basis solely of what either his intelligence or faith would allow. The belief on exorcism rituals against demons are based on Christian scriptures. Jesus Christ, as the son of God, have the power to compel the demons to act according to His divine will (Guiley, 1991).
This is seen in the Book of Mark where Jesus Christ meets a deranged man who was said to be possessed. The man was remarkably strong and malicious, no chain or man could stop and bind him (1991). The moment Jesus Christ appeared, the man, perhaps during a lucid interval, ran to Him for help. Suddenly, the demons controlling the man from his soul revealed his name to Jesus Christ as the “legion […] for we are many” (Mark 5: 1-13 cited in Guiley, 1991), and with the authority and power granted to Jesus Christ, He commanded the demons to fly to the pigs and jump of the cliff (1991).
This single incident espoused the doctrine of exorcism: a man whose soul was unimpeachable can invoke the name of Jesus Christ to compel the demons to leave the body of the possessed. Exorcism is a native precedent in Catholic dogma but is likewise shared by Protestant missionaries who regularly perform exorcism even with the mildest of cases (1991). At the present day, exorcism rites are being performed regularly, some even done on the phone (1991).
The Exorcism of Emily Rose, at once, reveals this problem and leaves the questions and decisions to the audience, as extemporaneous juries, in a disturbing yet informative courtroom drama (2005). It is based loosely on the true story life and death of Anneliese Michel, a young and vibrant college girl, who dies under strange, unexplainable albeit questionable circumstances (2005). The movie is primarily set in the courtroom where Father Moore stands in trial for the crime of negligence resulting in homicide (2005).
His defense lawyer, Erin Bruner, pleads the case against the State prosecutor by presenting evidence in favor of a paranormal, religious or cultic explanation to Emily Rose’s experience. This is because her defense is premised on faith and belief, and if the jury finds the ideas supportable by facts and findings, according mainly to their own faith, they may mitigate or totally exculpate the liability of Father Moore (2005).