Demons are red-eyed minions of Satan. Maybe their eyes are red because they’re perpetually hung over. That would be sufficiently hellish. I’m pretty sure they’re mythical, because I’ve never seen one and have never met anyone who has. For me, the word conjures up images from the middle ages. Stuff like exorcisms, burning witches, casting spells involving chicken feet, or attempting to predict the future using the fine art of reading animal entrails. ( I hope chicken entrails qualify for this ritual, because just using only the feet would be really wasteful.) Or maybe summoning the spirit of someone who died by using a Ouija board. Oh, wait, that wasn’t the middle ages, it was the 1960’s.
But here we are in 2019, and I still read this phrase in the modern media on a regular basis. Are we really still so childish that we’re still using the same old lame excuse that “the devil made me do it’? There seem to be a lot of demons around. For example, alcoholism and drug addiction are referred to as demons we are supposed to be battling. Wanting to have sex with anyone outside the bonds of holy matrimony is called a “personal demon”, worthy of repeatedly attempting to vanquish. (If nobody wants to marry you, well—bummer for you. You’ll just have to wait to have sex until you get to heaven. That whole “streets paved with gold” in the brochure isn’t about wealth and superior civil engineering, it’s code for shame-free sex. If it isn’t, their advertising department is just stupid.)
If you can’t hold a job because you get angry about being bossed around and insulted, then you’ve got the “demon” of anger to battle before you’re a good acceptable human being. So here you are trying to get through life with no anesthetic and no sex, getting bossed around without being allowed to get angry, and as a result, you get depressed. Then they call depression a demon, too! So then, you have to fight yet another battle when you’re not really even up for getting out of bed.
Now you’re spending just about all the energy you have battling your own humanity—and calling yourself evil being for even having these feelings and urges. Wouldn’t we be better off just admitting and accepting that we sometimes need anesthetic, need and enjoy sex, that some things make us angry and sometimes we feel blue and discouraged? Maybe if we weren’t all so busy fighting imaginary demons, we’d have enough energy to make the world a pleasant place for everybody to live.
I have to agree with the person who stepped up and wrote this article in response to the media calling Robin Williams’ suicide a battle with demons that he lost. It explains the history of the phrase, and warns against how damaging language from the middle ages can be. I don’t agree with their assertion that depression is a mental illness that can be successfully treated with pills that make you want to live. I think it’s a normal human response to having to adapt to permawar and a competitive sadomasochistic society. But the words “mental illness” to describe those unable to adapt to an increasingly inhumane system are a step up from “battling demons”. Psychiatry is trying to become the new religion. I’d prefer a society so healthy and compassionate that it didn’t need one.