Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Almightly Pearls. Part 1: Preacher, Doctor, Psychologist, and Exorcist

On the No Greater Joy website, there is a section called “answers” in which Michael Pearl shares his infinite wisdom with his avid followers. It’s set up “Dear Abby” style: people write in with questions and problems and Pearl attempts to answer them to the best of his ability. The advice he gives these poor, sheepish people is horrendous to say the least. I would go so far is to call it criminal. As I browsed through the question and answers, I came across one that made my heart stop.

(add www)nogreaterjoy.org/letters/questions-answered/archive/2007/december/21/babbling-in-the-night/

In this article, a mother writes in, concerned about the behavior of her 3 year old daughter. She believes that it must be something “spiritual.” She begins by saying that she has been following the Pearl method will her children and is pleased at how “REALLY well behaved” they now are. She says that she has slacked a little with the 3 year old and only very recently begun implementing the Pearl method with “consistency.”
She goes on to say:

“there are times she (the 3 year old) wakes up in the middle of the night just babbling - things we don't understand (and I get a sort of scared feeling just listening and being with her). This morning as I read the Word with her, she just started to stare into space and when I asked her a question about the passage, her eyes rolled back and she just said "I don't know." We have also noticed some intense rebellion (openly lying) and bad attitudes especially with her. There also seems to be a rift between her and her father and we don't know why. We both try to encourage the relationship but it is usually "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy." Anyway, anything you could offer us would be greatly appreciated - we would like to hear what you would have to say.”
Shortly after the implementation of a drastic and violent training method, this baby girl begins to show signs of severe emotional distress. The cause and effect here is glaringly obvious to all of us I’m sure. I did a little research on this girl’s symptoms and found them to be remarkably similar to that of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD can occur at any age in any individual who has suffered through some kind of trauma (rape, war, domestic abuse, etc…). Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbing and detachment, lack of interest in normal activities, exaggerated responses, difficulty concentrating, outbursts of anger, avoiding people or situations that remind one of the event, and trouble sleeping.

Maybe the babbling is a nightmare, she’s reliving the horrors of her every day while she sleeps.

Pearl’s response to the question is both ignorant and arrogant. He starts by agreeing that “the behavior of the 3-year-old does sound aberrant.” He also suggests that it could possibly be a health issue. “Without knowing your family I could not diagnose the problem” says Pearl. But then he immediately launches into a list of things the family should do in order to fix their little girl.
1. “The first thing is to heal the relationship with her father. She should spend time with him alone, looking to him to supply all her needs, feeding her, reading to her, playing with her.”

2. “It could be a physical issue. Get her checked for worms. Check all her vitals—sugar levels, blood pressure, oxygen levels, etc.”

3. “if there really is something supernatural about it. I would do a housecleaning spiritually.”

           A. “Make sure she has not been molested. Suspect everyone—male    and female…all ages.”
            B. ” Has she been exposed to any witchcraft? Harry Potter, etc.?”
           C. “Have you allowed her to watch inappropriate things on the TV?”
4. "Pray over her, sing spiritual songs around her, read the bible to her, surround her with the spirit of God and the “devil will have to leave her.”

When I was a kid, and even in my early teen years, I used to struggle to fall asleep at night. I imagined there were demons in my bedroom, just waiting for my heart to invite them in with rebellious thoughts. I woke during the night with loud angry voices in my head. They raged in a language I could not understand and often brought me to tears. I was never molested and we didn’t even have a TV, but Daddy told me they were demons anyway. He prayed over me and “surrounded me with the spirit,” but they always came back; louder and more terrifying than ever. Was I possessed by the devil? Or was I suffering from the trauma that was caused by too many beatings and too many prayers?

According to the US National Library of Medicine, symptoms like this little girl’s are evidence of a chemical imbalance. If she has PTSD, she is at high risk of depression, substance abuse, panic attacks, and suicide. She needs “early diagnosis, prompt treatment, and strong social support.” Michael Pearl fancies himself a Dr, Preacher, Psychologist, and Exorcist all rolled into one. He finishes his excellent bit of advice by assuring the mother that steady “authoritative training” will purge their baby of her “rebellion” in time. Oh and it will also purge her of the sinful habit of clinging to mother.

The Pearls posted this question/answer on their website. It is clear evidence of the negative effects of their training method. Are they really so blind that they can’t see what is so obvious to everyone else? 


  1. Huh. I used to be the same as a kid. I was totally Mommy's girl and hated doing stuff with my Dad. I cried like crazy when my mom tried to leave me with him. I also talked a lot in my sleep ever since I can remember and before as well I've been told. I even stand up at night and do stuff or talk to people and can't remember, but that's rare. Usually, I would only say incoherent things. I still do that my roommate told me.

    The Pearl's advice, as always, tries to come across as responsible by talking about medical conditions and such, but all I really get from it is that they suspect evil energies in that poor child. I hope the family won't be as stupid as to believe she's possessed by the devil. I feel bad for her, especially because I know what it feels like.

  2. Holy cow!! that poor little girl!!! A "sinful habit" of clinging to her mother?!? "Rebellion"?!? this is a THREE YEAR OLD who probably can't talk straight most of the time!!! GAH!!!

  3. I, too, was horribly afraid of demons. And now I have to say I HATE that whole demon thing. This poor mother is worried that her likely quite normal three year old is demon possessed. What the hell? Kids do things like babble! Kids get distracted and say "I don't know" when asked a question. Religion and superstition makes people do and think truly bizarre things, things that have NOTHING to do with reality. And the kids are the ones who bear the consequences.

  4. I would act crazy too if I was abused with a plumbing line. The extreme emphasis on father-daughter relationship makes me very uncomfortable. Based on what I've read about teaching daughters to serve the father in preparation for serving the husband later, the whole idea makes me gag.

  5. Ugh! Their advice is so so awful. And she calls attitude and lying "rebellion". I call it fear and sadness. I heard voices in my head and was bothered by "spirits" too, and since they have dissapeared and I started reading up on the symptoms, I really think I was having panic attacks, not spiritual oppression.

  6. It's entirely possible the girl has a seizure disorder. Zoning out followed by detachment/sleepiness is a classic absence seizure (petit mal), and the midnight babbling could be some sort of partial seizure, which leaves one awake and doesn't involve the thrashing about of a tonic clonic (grand mal) seizure.

    WHy am I not surprised the Pearls hear epilepsy and immediately think demons?