Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash (not an MRI scan)

MRI Scans and Mad People

Mental Illness vs Possession: A Thought Process

— From Dayo, as she experiences and learns. Welcome to The Mind Palace!

One thought that has lived rent-free in my head:

‘Where is the line between people who are possessed and people who are mad?’

And the second:

‘I wonder what the MRI scans of a mad person look like.’


Lmao. You see, I’m reading the book When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and I’m only starting to appreciate the noble and rigorous profession that is medicine.

But what is even more noteworthy and almost atrocious is the ability of surgeons and medical students to kiss life and death several times and still remain delicately human (for the most part). They either escort one out of life or welcome another into life.

Kalanithi gets it. Peep this:

‘You would think that the first time you cut a dead person, you’d feel a bit funny about it…Everything teethers between pathos and bathos: here you are, violating society’s most fundamental taboos, and yet formaldehyde is a powerful appetite stimulant, so you also crave a burrito.’

Hmm, okay. What does that have to do with mad people and MRI scans? Or whatever other brain scans.

As I read, there was a memory and then a realization in his quest to understand the meaning of life face-to-face that:

‘…brains give rise to our ability to form relationships and make life meaningful. Sometimes, they break.’

Sometimes the brain breaks. That got me thinking; if mental illnesses can be so described physically, are the people who believe mental illnesses are simply cases of possession totally wrong or do doctors and sceptics simply have incomplete views of the same thing?

Wait a minute, most spiritual things have physical manifestations, right? So it is likely that if doctors and sceptics are indeed seeing two sides of the same coin, there should be a similarity or intersection in something that can be seen or felt. A brain scan! If a doctor and a sceptic really are seeing the same picture, there should be a similarity somewhere between the brain scan of a mad person and the brain scan of a possessed person. Hmm, I wonder what the brain scan of a mad person looks like.

Catch my drift now?

Moral lesson: Read When Breathe Becomes Air.

It’s a sad book — it’s an autobiography by a neurosurgeon who died of cancer — but my Lord, it’s a beautiful book.

Till next post (only hours away really),


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Adedayo Adeyanju

Adedayo Adeyanju

I live, I learn, then I write. Welcome to my mind palace! Also on Substack: