Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Exorcism--Demonic Possession or Psychological Illness?

When I was younger I would say maybe around 11 or 12 I first watched the movie the Exorcist from 1973. It was creepy and I was digusted by the green pea soup coming out of the possessed girls mouth. However, when the movie was over I got over it and moved on but I remember my dad looking frightened. I asked him what his problem was and he said that he is not scared of many things but from the very first time he saw that movie in 1973, it still to this day scares him. How is that my father is scared of a horror movie and I just shrug it off. This continues to spark an interest in me. I want to know what exorcism is; why does it occur, in whom does it occur. To me these possessions are similar to schizophrenia or another mental illness.

So this is the deal, an evil spirit enters your body and possesses you. You contort your body in different ways and the voice of the devil comes out of your mouth, or you are just so overcomed by the devil that your just as his will. The movie, Exorcism of Emily Rose tells the story of a smart country girl who one night gets taken over by the devil. She sees evil demons everyone and she scares animals with her own demonic presence. Now I will admit that it did scare me, could this really happen? Exorcism is a ritual done by the catholic church through prayer. I found on youtube a 20/20 special done in 2007 about exorcism and they explored the idea of possession. The topic of psychological illness was brought up but the family who experienced their own mother going through a possession claimed that their mother had no trace of psychosis. The demons transformed their kind mother into a monster.

Can a person gain super human strength and scream out in strange tones?! There are many youtube videos proving yes! Could someone just be playing a joke and this is all fake?http://science.howstuffworks.com/exorcism1.htm. Some agrue mental illness while others faithfully believe that their is a demon possessing their friends and family. Exorcism for profit is another reason why these exorcisms may be occuring. "The rise of money-making "exorcism ministries" around the world leads many people who might otherwise reserve judgment to outright reject the validity of the Catholic view of possession and exorcism, even though the exorcisms performed by these unofficial exorcists are not in any way connected to the Catholic Church. " http://science.howstuffworks.com/exorcism5.htm. This link also talks about other reasons why a person might be 'putting on a possession'.

In my opinion it all boils down to what a person believes. Personally, I have been studying psychology during my four years in college and I have heard and seen examples of people who have similar outbursts as these people claiming to be possessed. There are people who trust logic and their are people who trust instincts. There are people who are going to say that in order to cover up evil, some will use the excuse of psychological illness while others will say that some people are using exorcism as a way of getting attention and money.

Who knows what really is going on. Logically I feel there must be another reason why this is occuring but I will admit it does scare me!


  1. from what i remember the church still does exorcisms but its not as common as the early days when every solution was a demon was inside of your body. Its something that boils down to faith and what some believe and others refuse or try to dis prove. no matter what no one will ever know what happens until its their time.

  2. This is an interesting post. I actually was going to talk about exorcism for my final post, but decided to go with psychics. This semester I am taking a course called "Exploring The Dying Process". A few weeks ago we watched a video on exorcism. I thought it was interesting to watch, but I am a skeptic when it comes to exorism. For me it seems the minister is putting on a show. People say they feel better after an exorcism session. But who wouldn't after yelling, punching, kicking, and screaming? It's just another way of getting out frustrations. Instead of going to a psychologist's office for psychotherapy or going to the gym to relieve stress, these people are going to a church.

  3. I feel like more research needs to be done on this, to be perfectly honest. Way back in the day before we had any sort of grasp on the concept of mental illness, people used to perform exorcisms on those displaying signs of paranoid schizophrenia. They would also drill holes in the skull to "help the demon escape." Because schizophrenia is actually a biological disease and eats away at the brain slowly (like syphilis! except there's no cure.) that can develop later in life, it's possible to think of the change in a person as "sudden" and "demonic."

    But then that leaves the problem of when exorcisms work, because you sure as hell can't get rid of schizophrenia with 100 words in Latin.

  4. I completely agree with you father, that movie Exorcist, scared me to my very core. I have mixed feelings about a devil or demon possessing your body, but I believe from my vague research on this topic that exorcisms, and being possessed is believed and exercised in almost every religion.

    I don't feel comfortable to go on further about this discuss because to be honest it still frightens me.