The Enlightenment Project
“Spooky, suspenseful masterpiece.”— Lee Child
“Superb.”— Publishers Weekly
- Lynn Hightower’s new supernatural thriller, The Enlightenment Project. Published by Severn House / Canongate. Edited by Rachel Slatter.
- Cutting-edge science meets demonic possession: the long-awaited new supernatural thriller from award-winning author Lynn Hightower.
Have you ever known anyone who survived being possessed? You do now. You’ve met me.
That night, late in the OR, exhausted after hours on my feet, topped off with a late night emergency surgery . . .I felt the presence. I stopped for a moment, then, wisely, I ignored it. Wisely, I looked away.
It was the small moments, just like this one, that changed a life. When the crossroad comes, you do not recognize it. You do not know it until afterward, looking back. But this is when it began. Again.
The Enlightenment Projectand the realities of Demonic Possession
Demonic possession is now a recognized psychiatric condition in the DSM; the number of priest exorcists in the US has quadrupled in the last decade.
On top of being a thrilling read, The Enlightenment Project is an intelligent and fascinating view into the complex worlds of both the medical and the supernatural.
The Enlightenment Project shows you what it actually feels like to be possessed. How the professionals determine if someone is really possessed, or oppressed by something demonic. And it gives you a detailed look into how an exorcism really works … how risky it is … for the possessed and for the exorcist.
The Enlightenment Project
I read The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain: A Neurologist’s Search for the God Experience, by Kevin Nelson, M.D. He writes about near death experiences, and the biological basis of religious experience. I was intrigued by his focus on biology of mystical experiences, and how he did not discount the reality of spiritual experience. I was excited and inspired by how open he was.
Also, like many of us, I found The Exorcist riveting. But I wondered what happened to the boy that the novel is based on when he grew up. How do you tell your significant other that you used to be possessed by demons? Or do you keep it a secret? Tell and they’re going to look at you funny if they don’t run for the hills. Keep it a secret and you hide so much of yourself from the person you love.
M. Scott Peck’s book Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist’s Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption really got my attention.
Suddenly, Noah Archer was born. A neurosurgeon … who had been possessed as a child. And because of that, and how helpless he felt then, he creates The Enlightenment Project, a research study using a technique that instantly creates a meditative state in the brains of his patients, and gives them the immediate ability to reap the benefits – helping them manage depression, addictions, the darker sides of their life. I personally think the way people are taught to meditate is convoluted and occasionally useless, and Noah and I agree on that. Seriously, how can you tell people “don’t think” with a straight face? How does it help to set people up to wrestle with their brains—there are so many ways to meditate, and people can’t even define enlightenment in a way that makes sense, but it’s all right there at your fingertips if you can find it. I’m like Noah, I don’t think people actually have to spend twenty five years working to achieve results—I see it as a lifetime of ongoing results. I think most of the advice makes it harder, not easier, herding people in directions that may or may not work. There are a lot of neurologists and neurosurgeons who encourage patients to meditate. It’s just …nobody really has a one-size-fits-all way to do it. Except Noah, of course. He just didn’t figure in the dark side.
I did a lot of research, which astounded me, ran my idea past my agent, and he was utterly fascinated. Now I was off and running.
I discovered that possession is a recognized psychiatric condition in the DSM. That psychiatrists are now working with Exorcists to help people who think they are possessed. That there is a very strict protocol of evaluation … so that physical and mental illness is ruled out.
M Scott Peck said that initially he “did not believe in the devil” but that “… as a psychiatrist, he had been converted from a belief that the devil did not exist to a belief—a certainty—that the devil does exist.” He defines devil this way: “I mean a spirit that is powerful … thoroughly malevolent … capable of taking up a kind of residence within the mind, brain, soul, or body of susceptible and willing human beings …” He worried that his “profession might well seek my excommunication” but was hoping “’demonology’ be made an incipient subspecialty of psychiatry and psychology.”
I was intrigued by the insights of Allan J. Hamilton, M.D., a neurosurgeon who wrote The Scalpel and The Soul. His chapter on his own exorcism, by a Navajo Medicine man, a respected beloved healer, brought to him by a student, also Navaho, to release the spirit of a patient he could not let go of. In his words: “Healing requires that physician and patient enter into partnership, facing dangers together. Medicine was not meant to be a mechanical transaction. It’s a spiritual quest, putting your own soul on the line, along with the patients … . You cannot heal if you cannot feel. Healing isn’t from the brain but the soul.”
Richard Gallagher, MD, author of Demonic Foes, recounts twenty-five years of work consulting on cases of demonic possession and diabolic attack. Gallagher is a professor of psychiatry at New York Medical and a psychoanalyst on the faculty of Columbia University. His book came out after I had written The Enlightenment Project but I found it fascinating. In 2016, he published an essay on possession in The Washington Post. The essay had over one million online hits. In a CNN article Gallagher had this to say, “There was one woman who was like 90 pounds soaking wet. She threw a Lutheran deacon who was about 200 pounds across the room. That’s not psychiatry. That’s beyond psychiatry.” (“When Exorcists Need Help, They Call Him,” by John Blake, CNN, August 17, 2017.)
And the stories continue. Stay tuned for more. Lynn can’t wait to talk about these and other astonishing discoveries when the book is published.
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