An Encounter With ‘The Teenage Exorcists’

Posted: August 13, 2013 in Behaviour, Ethics, Evil, Film, Mental Health, Psychology
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Check out Pastor Bob Larson’s website (http://www.boblarson.org/) and you’ll see that he refers to himself as ‘the world’s foremost expert on cults, the occult, and supernatural phenomena’.  Quite how he makes this assessment is not clear.  Maybe it’s because he travels the world ‘exorcising demons’ in their thousands, embarking on tours around the US, the UK, the Ukraine and beyond.

Wherever Larson goes, it would seem that the methodology is the same – whipping up a frenzy followed by exorcising ‘demons’ from vulnerable people who are struggling with addiction, the aftermath of sexual abuse and myriad other problems. Larson’s simplistic worldview – that such problems are the result of demonic possession – is a persuasive one for those who want a quick-fix.

Enter the scene ‘The Teenage Exorcists’ and the Larson showmanship is complete. Brynne Larson, Tess Scherkenback, and Savannah Scherkenback have happily taken on this moniker and act as an adjunct to the main show.  In their new film, Vice has obtained exclusive access to the girls and Bob on their tour of Ukraine, during which they attempt to save souls by exorcising people’s “sexually transmitted demons.” It’s certainly a film that’s well worth watching.

I have no doubt that the Brynne, Tess and Savannah are sincere in their beliefs; the problem is that their worldview is not only simplistic, it’s dangerous.  To reduce the trauma produced by childhood sexual abuse to a demon that can be exorcised in a matter of minutes is irresponsible. Trauma is almost always complicated and specialist therapy is needed to resolve the psychological issues it creates.

Ever the showman, the film shows Mr. Larson closely directing events and recording the results.  ‘The Teenage Exorcists’ are an excellent marketing tool, but actually play only a limited role in the entire process.

Perhaps the most bizarre moment in the film for me was when the three ‘exorcists’ were asked to name a person who inspired them most; they answered ‘Margaret Thatcher’! But then again the whole film was rather bizarre, so that remark was probably in keeping with the rest of the film.

My own view? Well, whilst I would affirm exorcism’s role in very rare cases that have been thoroughly researched and investigated, I have a strong aversion to its wholesale, and inappropriate, use. Not only does it open up Christianity to ridicule, it offers false hope and can further damage people who are already damaged.

Anyway, you can make up your own mind by watching the film here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk65kdAVNXI

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Comments
  1. cabrogal says:

    I’m too rationalist to buy into the notion of ‘demon possession’, even in ‘very rare cases that have been thoroughly researched and investigated’, unless you’ve seen research of much higher quality and verifiability than have I (links please, if you’ve got ’em).

    But there’s not much in the area of conventional psychiatry that holds up to critical scrutiny either.

    Mostly, effective mental health treatment seems to consist of coming up with a placebo that fits the world view of the patient. If the bizarre rituals of Larson and his girls impresses their ‘patients’ I’d guess they’d be just as effective as the bizarre claims Big Pharma makes for its psychiatric blockbusters – maybe with fewer long term side effects.

    While I can see that encouraging the notion that you can ‘catch’ demons from sexual encounters (how about public toilet seats?) could do lasting harm to vulnerable people I seriously doubt it would be any worse than telling them they will always suffer from a mental illness and must take nasty pills every day for the rest of their lives.

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  2. cabrogal says:

    BTW, I’d guess that the idea that sex workers spread demons is probably based on the same sort of pre-scientific public health warnings that ban followers of some religions from eating pork or shellfish.

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  3. Moe says:

    I’ve been a long time Bob Larson watcher. IMO you were too kind to him ans what he does. Larson is about the attention seeking and exploitation.

    Like

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