NBC 11Alive - Atlanta, Georgia June 17, 2009
by Marcita Thomas
LILBURN, GA -- Police have charged a Gwinnett County woman for trying to perform an exorcism on her son.
Investigators say 46-year-old Sandra Alfred used handcuffs to restrain her son and withheld food from him for three days while she attempted the exorcism.
The officer who arrested Alfred said she may suffer from schizophrenia and delusions.
Alfred is behind bars with no bond, charged with false imprisonment and cruelty to children.
Her next court appearance is June 26.
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This is a breaking story so we still don't know the religious affiliation, if any, of the mother. However, most exorcisms we hear about are perpetrated by religious believers. This mother may very well suffer from schizophrenia and delusions, but the same can be said for most believers, especially those who perform exorcisms. The distinction between religious extremism like that, and mental illness is so fine as to almost not exist. The similarities are inescapable. For example: hearing God/hearing voices; believing that supernatural beings such as the "holy spirit" or "demons" exist and can enter human bodies; etc. Most religious beliefs are so preposterous that outside the realm of religion, subscribing to such beliefs would certainly lead to the label "mental illness". But dress up those beliefs in religious garb (garbage) and the stigma of mental illness is removed, though the behaviour is the same.