- The term Demon comes from the Greek noun daimon, which means spirit or god. It was introduced into the biomedical jargon during the early 1970s by the American psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel to denote a visually hallucinated black gauzy curtain with a large human eye in the centre, surrounded by a symmetrical arrangement of smaller eyes. The term Demon, suggested to Siegel by a test person referred to as 'Jim', was inspired by a passage from The Pit and the Pendulum by the American author and poet Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) which runs as follows. "Demon eyes, of a wild and ghastly vivacity, glared upon me in a thousand directions where none had been visible before, and gleamed with the lurid lustre of a fire that I could not force my imagination to regard as unreal." Like the eyes described in Poe's "vision, the hallucinated eyeballs are described as "alive, leering". In Siegel's laboratory they were perceived by various test persons during " cannabis-induced visions, while a more or less similar phenomenon has been described in " hallucinogen-induced visions, and in individuals with a clinical diagnosis of " schizophrenia. Despite Siegel's efforts to fathom the neurophysiological correlate of the Demon (including a trip to a Mexican shaman said to be over a 100 years old) he was unable to find any explanation other than the possibility of a " reperceptive hallucination based on a slide with geometrically arranged eyes that had previously been shown to the test persons. It is unknown whether this mechanism also applies to other manifestations of the Demon phenomenon. The term is also used in religion, demonology, occultism, and parapsychology to denote a supernatural being that is not a deity, i.e. a fallen angel or evil spirit.ReferencesMelton, J.G., ed. (1996). Encyclopedia of occultism and parapsychology. Volume 1. Fourth edition. Detroit, MI: Gale.Siegel, R.K. (1992). Fire in the brain. Clinical tales ofhallucination. New York, NY: Dutton.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.