Over the last few years as my tics have become increasingly obvious to other people, I’ve found myself on the receiving end of a lot of well-meaning advice about what I should do to help myself. Suggestions have ranged from taking various illegal substances to sniffing shoes, via experimental dentistry and acupuncture. Generally speaking I welcome advice from friends, family and strangers because I know, however odd, it’s well-intended at the very least.
What always takes me by surprise, and often upsets me, is the assertion that I’m possessed by evil spirits and in urgent need of exorcism. You may find it difficult to believe but that suggestion’s been made on several occasions (usually by cab drivers).
Whenever something new appears in the media about me I’m inundated with emails from people discovering the site for the first time. Most of these messages ask interesting questions, offer encouragement, or share thoughts and experiences. Others offer well-meaning advice about what I should do about helping myself.
The recent publication of my new book, Welcome to Biscuit Land, has offered me a chance to reach a far wider audience than usual thanks to various TV, radio and newspaper features. The response had been like it usually is, until the other day when I got an email telling me that I was in urgent need of exorcism.
I’m going to share this message with you, not because it made me particularly upset, or because I found it particularly funny, but because it perfectly captures a specific attitude towards disability – one that attributes blame and casts judgement on the person with the condition. You might find it disturbing, you might find yourself in agreement – either way, please read it with an open mind and make of it what you will. I’m presenting it exactly as it was received:
“I watched the Sunday Night program on your Sin-drome. I read part of your website, and some of the FAQ. If you want to survive and exist in denial and ignorance, this is your choice. If you don’t want to have any control over your mind, mouth, or body, this is your right. But this is not freedom, or living a life worth living. Every person with Tourettes Sin-drome is possessed by a spirit or spirits of satan, and demons of the devil. – And as soon as Jesus got out of the boat, there met Him out of the tombs a man [under the power] of an an unclean spirit, [who was possessed by demons]. See if the following has a ring of familiarity. – Night and day he was always shrieking and screaming and beating his chest and bruising and cutting himself with stones. You may not be shrieking or screaming; but do you have no control over your mouth, and are you constantly beating your chest? – Jesus was already commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Jesus then asked him (the unclean spirit), What is your name? And he answered Legion; for many demons had entered him. – And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits [demons] and diseases; Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had been expelled. – But when the unclean spirt has been cast out of a person, it roams through dry [arid] places in search of rest, but it does not find any. Then it says, I will go back to my house (your body) from which I was cast out. And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept, put in order, and decorated. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits (of satan) more wicked than itself, and they go in and make their home there. And the last condition of that person becomes worse than the first. So also shall it be with this wicked generation. – And people went out to see what had occurred, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right (sound) mind; and they were seized with alarm and fear. And those [also] who had seen it told them how he who had been possessed with demons was restored [to health]. Then all the people of the country surrounding the Gerasenes’ district asked Jesus to depart from them, for they were possessed [by satan’s spirits and the devil’s demons] and suffering with dread and terror. *Spirits of satan and the devil’s demons do not want to be dispossessed of the bodies they possess via Tourettes; this includes yours.*
Do you have to believe anything you have read? This is for you to decide. To anyone with cancer I have a simple question:
“Do you want to be correct your ways, and have your cancer kill you? Or, do you want to become correctable, so you can be cured?” Apply this same question to your Tourettes Sin-drome.
– And these attesting signs will accompany him who believes: In My name he will drive out demons; he will speak in new languages (tongues); he will lay his hands on the sick, and they will get well.
– Do you and every other Tourettes Sin-drome suffereer want to go to your grave, possessed and controlled by the spirits of satan and the demons of the devil, who control your mind, mouth, and body! Or, do you want to get well?
If secular psychiatrists have Tourettes cures, why haven’t they published their findings? Ignorance! You won’t cure a spiritual disease, Tourettes, using psychiatric science.”
I’d avoided looking at the entire message when it first arrived, but when Leftwing Idiot saw it he read it out with me and Poppy listening. I was worried that I’d find it too upsetting, but as it went on I felt more concern for the person who wrote it than I did for myself.
Tourettes is an emotive condition and, shocking as they may seem, reactions like this are not uncommon. Now I’ve had a chance to reflect on it, I’m not upset, because it demonstrates that my mission to change the world one tic at a time is spreading far and wide – even if there’s still a long way to go.
There are way too many quotes in that message for me to take it seriously. Have a laugh. Interesting spelling of Syndrome too.
Yes, if there’s one thing God hates it’s people quoting stuff without an ounce of love in them. These sufferers need compassion, not condemnation. God did not commission this person to say such things. He does not endorse criticism and arrogance.
The writer is the one who’s possessed – by arrogance and a mean spirit. You are the one who’s going to have some explaining to do when you face your creator.
What will you think, writer, if you develop Tourettes or cancer some day? Will that mean that you are evil?
You are right Martha. Some Tourettes sufferers are demonically oppressed but so is this accuser if he thinks it is fine to speak so hatefully. He has quoted much bible but forgotten that the bible warns against using the tongue in the wrong way, saying that our words can bring either death or life. This so called Christian is bringing death with his toxic words and like you say, he must be possessed himself if he thinks he can talk in this way and still call himself a follower of Jesus.
I’m glad our family hasn’t run into people like that yet. What a sad way to view the world. My sons and husband are not possessed, nor are they sinners. The writer has a very strange world view.
I used to laugh at people like this. They’re not funny anymore, though–they’re just sad. Sad because they believe in ancient stories as a handbook for modern life, sad because they think problems are self-caused, sad because they think exorcism is a valid answer to a real problem. And very often if they ever DO develop problems themselves (mental illness, neurological disorders, cancers, anything long-term at all), they WILL blame themselves and think THEY, too, need to be exorcised. And the blame and stress can make problems worse.
Just shake your head, and be grateful you don’t suffer the same delusions.
I’m particularly struck by it being called ‘sin-drome’ – it’s just a word!
I don’t remember ever having genuine exorcism offers for my TS. I do however have a bracelet/anklet which came with a claim that it warded off bad spirits, and yet I have Tourette’s. Methinks it didn’t works, or at least the bad spirits are external rather than internal….
That’s the thing that make Jesus cringe the most. How dare this person be so judgemental. We are all sinners but in God’s eyes, pride, hatred, harsh speech and judgementalism is just as bad as rape & murder. God grieves for the sick and mentally ill and it has NEVER been his will for others to use their tongues to wound the wounded.
I feel sad for the person who wrote this and can only assume that they live a sad, lonely, cocooned life. If they feel they have done all they can to meet their maker but taken nothing positive from all the vast different encounters we as people have through our journey of life, they may find their maker refuses them entry for not making the most of life whilst they could. Don’t ever be upset Jessica by someone’s point of view, that’s all it is, just one person’s point of view.
Super D mummy says:
You have to love these "so called experts" who have the "cure". Thank goodness no one listens to them.
I heard you on R4 Woman’s Hour, as I normally always listen to R4 when I am in the car, as I started reading the piece of scripture in the email you received, I realised that I had heard it somewhere before, at first I thought it was something that you had mentioned in your interview on Woman’s Hour, and then it dawned on me that, on the way to work Sunday morning, the preacher person had read out the same thing as part of their sermon on Sunday Worship. I really like coincidences like that, I had never came across that verse b4, and then to exposed to it twice in 2 days, praise Jebus.
That person is an idiot. I genuinely feel sorry for them. The level of stupid one has to be to lie to themselves, to deny reality to themselves, to wrap themselves up in the blanket of ignorance so deep they don’t know how unintelligent they are is almost painful to see.
Like you Jess, I too would worry about this person, particularly their mental health and how they have reached these conclusions.
I was brought up Catholic and as you know I’m a fellow ticcer, as part of my OCD I have had dark, dark grave concerns for friends and family, where in a maths lesson I would apear to be having a pleasant daydream but in reality an awful hellish tragedy had struck my family in my mind and these thoughts will go around and around all day. Put these awful thoughts into the mind of a Catholic kid who is led to believe that God knows your thoughts you feel pretty guilty. Now I know that these thoughts are part and parcel of my TS I don’t feel so bad and the vast majority of Catholics are well rounded people who would beleive that a neurologist would be better suited to treat TS.
my gilly golly gippy gosh
i finks the guy has got an ocd themself
im sure if the big motivator jc were in this time he would talk with no force of spirit in a calm matter and ease our crashing waters inside,fear not the fearmungers of this world they aim to control instead of navigate through our wonderfull journey i am free and at ease because i have this extra nervous energy and my music is positive and the waters of my soul are calm and not lonely anymore,he can shove his deminic fantasys up his smartie tube,jesus he knows me and he knows im right i been talking to jesus all my life
the guy needs to excorcise his isms and remember contempt prior to investigation only displays grandious ignorance,you guys know what im getting at right lol,i type like a fish out of water x j
There’s not much I can really say that hasn’t already been said in the previous comments.
I find this a narrow minded and disturbing viewpoint.
Have you ever considered going ahead and having an exorcism if only to tell the fanatics that it didn’t work?
That said, I suppose they would find some excuse or another. The beauty of blind faith is that you can alter the world around you to fit your philosophy.
Now *this* I really must respond to…Having being through my ‘fear-wracked, bible-bashing, insanely-zealous’ phase in the mid to late 90’s. Dear writer!…what bible are you using? The Ladybird Bible?…or ‘God…for Dummies’…’cos I happen to have my (pretty authentic) bible here…published in 1946, no less…and I feel like giving it a good Bash! 😉
The passage which I assume you are referring to is as follows:
LUKE 8:26 "So they came to land in the country of the Gerasenes, which is on the coast opposite Galilee; and as he went ashore he was met by a possessed man who for a long time had gone naked, and lived homeless among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him, and cried with a loud voice, "Why dost thou meddle with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?" I pray thee, do not torment me. (For he was bidding the unclean spirit come out of the man). Often, at times when it had seized upon him, the man had been bound, under guard, with chains and fetters, but still he would break his bonds *(Can you do that Jess?…Cool!! ;)* and the devil would drive him out into the wilderness. Then Jesus asked him, "What is thy name?" and he said "Legion"; for there were many devils that had entered into him. And they entreated him not to bid them go back to the abyss. There was a great herd of swine feeding on the mountain side, and the devils besought his leave to go into these instead; this leave he granted them. So the devils left the man and entered into the swine; whereupon the herd rushed down the cliff into the lake, and were drowned." *The Dude was Cured*
"Then all the common folk of the country around Gerasa asked Jesus to leave them, such fear had gripped them; and He embarked on the boat and returned."
* – My own comments…not…er…not St Luke’s
Bottom Line: Demonic Possession is extremely rare today, just as it was when Jesus walked this Earth, and in any case…God is Love and Compassion…not Ignorance, Fear, and Judgement!
And what’s THIS? (from the author of the original Bad-Ass Comment) "Then all the people of the country surrounding the Gerasenes’ district asked Jesus to depart from them, for they were possessed [by satan’s spirits and the devil’s demons] and suffering with dread and terror."
He just made that bit (in square brackets) up himself!
Zealot-Boy! Let me remind you of APOCALYPSE (St John) 22:18-19
"To all who hears the words of prophecy this book contains, I give this warning. If anyone adds to them, God will add to his punishment the plagues which this book threatens; "
Jess…feel free to forward this message to the original sender…I can bash a bible as well as the next man 😉
When I was in hospital recently due to the tics I had an older gent who turned out to be from my town in the bed next to me for a while. Chatted to him a little bit and then he turned around and said something like:
"Well, you know who to blame for your Tourette’s don’t you?"
I said I wasn’t following him having a funny feeling that I knew where this was going.
"Open your bedside table, it’s all in the book, blame Satan."
I then explained to him that I had absolutely no interest in religion (politely) and tried to end the conversation – in the end I just ignored him. Turned out he was a member of the clergy… >_< haha
I have been told multiple times in the comments to my youtube vids that I am possessed by demons….that I need exorcism…..that I need to find God.
I rarely know what to think exactly, though it doesnt upset me. Its more like moments where I shake my head at ignorance and let it go.
I was contacted by someone, where in his country….it is common belief that those with tourettes are possessed. Even doctors teach it there which I find shocking.
I’m so sorry you have had to listen to this harsh rebuke. I am a Christian and find it disturbing that someone else claiming to be a Christian should think it is okay to talk to you in such an unloving, accusing way. Other commentors are right when they say that Jesus would not have spoken to you in this way. Also the bit about Cancer – has this person no heart? It’s people like that who give Christians a bad name and ultimately make God look like an uncaring dictator. Yes it is true that Tourettes can sometimes be the cause og demonic oppression but not in every case. And even if this was the case, that doesn’t make you evil nor does it mean you have done anything wrong. Babies are born with mental illness and other afflictions – is this person claiming that they did witchcraft while in the womb? How ridiculous. Don’t let hateful people put you off the real God who loves you very much and does not look down on you with scorn or disdain, like this fool is so unjustly claiming. I wish you all the best in your search for a cure.
i cured my Tourette’s by just forgetting about it completely and it just left me, took a while because there were so many things and people who reminded me of it because it’s like people just expect you to do it. I never went to the doctor cos I didn’t want to get put on pills, I’ve always been a bit crazy in my thought process but one thing I can’t stand is being labelled or identified with labels etc and I think that gave me the belief in myself to beat it. I just thought to myself, how have I got over problems before, and the answer was so simple, just forget about it so that’s the mentality I used paired with an unbreakable belief in myself. It’s hard when you have lots of friends and family because they like to project their belief onto you I’ve noticed, obviously they mean well but lucky for me I was able to put myself in a situation where I could escape their projective brain waves. It took 3 days completely to myself no contact with anybody for my brain to calm down and by day 2 I felt like something completely changed in me my heart rate slowed down and mind completely went blank, racing thoughts and tics stopped. Not sure if it will work for anyone else but it’s definitly possible if you believe it, now I exercise eat well and my mind is a lot stronger. I’m no longer being driven I’m driving. I wish you all the best, I know how hard it is to walk down the street wishing you could just blend in and trust me you can and you will. Peace and love
If you doubt yourself just remember, something inside us more powerful than we can imagine grew us from a tiny spec not even visible to the naked eye and we didn’t even have to think about it, anything’s possible.