No, not that book. This one: Madness: A Brief History, by Roy Porter (Oxford Univ. Press, 2002), one of those "Gee, that looks interesting" books I found on the New Books rack of my local library. In the post-Enlightenment world, science now explains disease and mental illness through medical science and psychiatry. But fundamentalist religion, Mormonism included, maintains a sporadic and slightly schizophrenic belief in spirit possession. In fact, a literal reading of the New Testament makes it almost impossible not to maintain a latent belief in demons and possession. But that belief runs so counter to modern science that one is apt to tuck it away and pretend it's not there. Is it? Is demonic possession a real threat, or do you not consider that a real part of your world?
In chapter 2, "Gods and Demons," Porter surveys the issue. The idea that madness comes from possession was there at the dawn of history, it seems. Here's a picturesque little quote:
Madness may be as old as mankind. Archaeologists have unearthed skulls datable back to at least 5000 BC which have been trephined or trepanned--small round holes have been bored in them with flint tools. The subject was probably thought to be possessed by devils which the holes would allow to escape (p. 10).Madness as punishment or possession is there in the Old Testament, it's there with the Greeks, it's in the New Testament. Likewise, inspiration was a form of possession too: think of Socrates and his daemon, Greek poets and their muses, and prophets infused by ruach (the wind of God). As the Christian era developed, similar ideas persisted with new Christian terms and references. Such beliefs intensified in the early modern era, as the Reformation stirred partisan religious strife and mutual charges of heresy and Satanic collusion.
King James I of England held an intense belief in witches and demons. In fact, he wrote a short but charming book entitled Demonology while he was still James VI of Scotland. The profuse use of biblical quotes in his book gives an idea why he was so supportive of the King James translation of the Bible a few years later. I wonder whether his beliefs influenced the translators to treat the demonic possession passages more starkly than they otherwise would have? James certainly influenced Shakespeare, who wrote Macbeth, set in the king's native Scotland and featuring three scheming witches, with the tastes of the king in mind. For what it's worth, his Wikipedia bio reminds us that King James was quite actively gay.
Just to remind you there's a Mormon context to this, here's Samuel the Lamanite: "Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls" (Helaman 13:37). And there's always JS-H 1:15-16 to consider. I'd go into more detail, but I know the whole subject makes some people uneasy. I understand--to this day, I've never seen The Exorcist. But this isn't the 17th century, it's the 21st century. Discomfort or even fear is not evidence of the existence of the object of one's anxiety or fear.
As for me, I am deeply skeptical of any story or account of demonic possession, whether a contemporaneous report or an account in a written text. On the other hand, my uncle (not LDS) told some really great ghost stories when I was a kid. Leave-the-light-on-for-a-week kind of stories.