Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Travis Linnemann

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Judah Schept

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Tyler Wall

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


Theories of diabolism have, since antiquity, made manifest societal fears of the unknown. Demonology, as discipline, flourished within the West accordingly; to function, at the inception of early modern science and during the "transition" to capitalism, as a device to translate alterity. At this juncture, theories of the demonic were occulted under scientific methodologies and institutionalized across the structures of modernity. "Evil", as discursive paradigm, was politically incarnated, canonized, and absorbed under the auspices of the state towards the consummation of socio-political "diabolic" enemies of society. In continuity with the past, "evil" continues to operate in the contemporary as a primary thematic frame by which alterity is isolated, cauterized and criminalized. The phenomena of "addiction" is a marked example, which is both affected by and reflective of a "popular demonology" that proliferates throughout the political and the socio-cultural in the justification of systematic repression. By taking one season of the popular anthology, American Horror Story, as heuristic device, this paper intends to trouble the rhetoric of "addiction" and to elucidate its fixity within "long forgotten" theories of "demonic possession". Narratives which horrifically depict "addiction" as demonic tenure, within the popular, not only actively incarnate but politicize the "addict" under a mythology of drug use that reifies their "evil" and underwrites their liminal positionality and perpetual suspension on the axes of sin ∕sickness. As hyperbolic dramatizations of drug use fail to produce, but conversely actively defuse, viable counter-narratives of "addiction" they negate broader structural critique of the phenomena and, in effect, grossly delimit the conditions of possibility for the "addicted" subject- whose outcomes are always and already known.