By Keith Graves
Ghosts possess people for thier
own secret reasons. They can often possess anyone
who has a mental weakness or vulnerability.
But on understanding this we are all at risk
if we hunt for ghosts or not. Those that might
seek out a Ghost Hunter or openly admit publically
that they are being haunted should be put up
a red flag . Warning the rest of us that these
mental supernatural tale overs are going on
and happening around us all the time.
Spirit possession is a concept
of paranormal, supernatural and/or superstitious
belief in which spirits, gods, daemons, demons,
animas, or other disincarnate entities may take
control of a human body, resulting in noticeable
changes in behavior. The term " spiritual
addiction" is used in many contexts to
describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive
physical dependence or psychological dependence,
such as: drug addiction, alcoholism, compulsive
overeating, problem gambling, computer addiction,
etc. Many are begining to belive that ghosts
imprint these problems on individuals.
Heaven and Hell (Allan Kardec)
Heaven and Hell (Le Ciel et l'Enfer in the original
French) is a book published in 1865 by Allan
Kardec, the fourth tome of the fundamental works
of Spiritism. Its name was intentionally taken
from a previous book by Swedenborg, it was also
subtitled "Divine Justice According to
It is divided into two parts named "The
Doctrine" and "The Examples".
The first part explains the different view
Spiritism has on the subject, stating that both
"Heaven" (happiness in the after-life)
and "Hell" (punishment in the after-life)
are misconcepts, that the state of the spirits
after their death is not definitive and that
there is always hope, even for the crudest criminal.
This is also where Kardec explains in detail
why and how "good people" are doomed
to suffer and why one should not take one's
The second part is a series of interview with
spirits of deceased people, thus exemplifying
the working truth of the doctrine previously
detailed. Most of the examples cited are of
people now long forgotten and have become quite
useless. The books is most cherished, however,
for the profound morality expressed in the first
Spiritism is a philosophical doctrine, established
in France in the mid-nineteenth century.
Spiritism, or French spiritualism, is based
on books written by French educator Hypolite
Léon Denizard Rivail under the pseudonym
Allan Kardec reporting séances in which
he observed a series of phenomena that could
be only attributed to incorporeal intelligence
(spirits). His assumption of spirit communication
was validated by many contemporaries, among
them many scientists and philosophers who attended
séances and studied the phenomena. His
work was later extended by writers like Leon
Denis, Arthur Conan Doyle, Camille Flammarion,
Ernesto Bozzano, Chico Xavier, Divaldo Pereira
Franco, Waldo Vieira, Johannes Greber and others.
Spiritism has adherents in many countries throughout
the world, including Spain, United States, Japan,
Germany, France, England, Argentina, Portugal
and especially Brazil, which has the largest
proportion and the greatest number of followers.
In his introduction to The Spirits Book (the
first volume of the Spiritist Codification series)
Allan Kardec claimed to have coined the term
"Spiritism" to name the movement he
was initiating because "new things deserve
new names". However, much like the word
daemon (which in Greek mythology merely designated
supernatural beings and spirits, and had no
negative connotation), the word Spiritism was
eventually appropriated by non-Spiritists as
a derogatory term for the various movements
and religions that practiced mediumship attributing
to them an evil concept, in an attempt to "demonize"
Spiritism and the other religions. Religions
that were at one time called "Spiritism"
are Candomblé, Umbanda, Cao Dai, Santería,
Quimbanda, Santo Daime and a host of African
Diasporic and animist traditions. Such confusion
is less common today, as the followers of various
religions tend to emphasize the use of their
own proper names. Spiritism can legitimately
refer to High Kardecism, Low Kardecism, Native
Spirituality, African Spirituality, Taoism and
many other religious groups and practices -
the basis definition being a belief in the Spirit
World and the further belief that the Spirit
World interacts in an ongoing way with the Material
Spiritism began as part of the Spiritualist
movement that emerged in the mid 1800s. In its
broad sense, Spiritualism is any philosophical
or religious movement that opposes materialism.
In its narrower sense, it is any movement that
believes that spirit entities exist and that
human beings can engage in spirit communication
and mediumship. Therefore, Spiritism is Spiritualist.
Spiritualist Churches, however, differ from
Spiritist groups or Churches (see below) in
that Spiritualism as a religious denomination
doesn't stress Reincarnation as a basic tenet
of belief (some Spiritualists believe in Reincarnation
and some don't, whereas Spiritists believe in
Reincarnation as a basic tenet of their belief
Kardec reaffirmed that on the cover of his
groundbreaking work "The Spirit's Book".
Another famous author in the Spiritualist movement,
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle included a chapter about
Spiritism in his book "History of Spiritualism"
confirming that Spiritism is Spiritualist (but
not vice-versa). As consequence, many Spiritualist
works are widely accepted in Spiritism, particularly
the works of scientists Sir William Crookes,
Sir Oliver Lodge and other intellectuals.
In the early 20th century, the broad Spiritualist
movement faded and the surviving ones in America
and England reorganized themselves in a religious
movement, incorporating many aspects of a church
organization (mass, pastoral leadership, chants,
donation baskets). In the USA the name Spiritualism
has sometimes been used to address this group
In 1911, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a School
which had its basis on spiritism was born. Its
founder, Joaquin Trincado Matheo, conceived
a spiritism far beyond from a simple practice,
but as a life philosophy. His thesis was that
as certain as we all have spirit, spirit is
essence of life, therefore spirit is the basic
and essential part of human life. To spread
its philosophy, Joaquin Trincado founded EMECU,
Escuela Magnetico Espiritual de la Comuna Universal
(Spiritual Magnetical School of Universal Commune),
a school which would have the purpose of propagating
his philosophy through time. Mainly stablished
through america and Spain, It makes high emphasis
that spiritism is not spiritualism, which are
different terms to different points of view.
The communication between the spiritual world
and the material world happens all the time,
but to various degrees. Some people barely sense
what the spirits tell them, in an entirely instinctive
way, while others have greater cognizance of
their guidance. The so-called mediums have these
natural abilities highly developed, and are
able to communicate with the spirits and interact
with them by several means: listening, seeing,
or writing through spiritual command (also known
by Kardecists as automatic writing). Direct
manipulation of physical objects by spirits
is also possible; however, for it to happen
the spirits need the help (voluntary or not)
of mediums with particular abilities for physical
Heaven and Hell is the second most popular
book among the Fundamental Works of Spiritism.
Symptoms Of Possession By A
Some paranormal investigators who research
such persons have reported changes in behavior,
agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts
or actions when attempting to lead their normal
lives. If either you, your Paranormal team,
family notice agitation, depressed mood, or
changes in behavior that are not typical for
yourself or a fellow member, or if you develop
suicidal thoughts or actions, stop ghost hunting
right away. and calling another team or researcher
to investigate the person or persons. Also tell
your doctor about any history of depression
or other mental health problems before taking
any actions, as these symptoms may worsen as
the ghost or ghosts take hold of an individual.
The most common side effects of possession
can also include nausea, dizziness, fainting
sleep problems, constipation, gas, and/or vomiting.
If you have side effects that bother you or
don't go away, tell your doctor.
You may have trouble sleeping, vivid, unusual,
or strange dreams while possessed after hunting
for ghosts. You should use caution driving or
operating machinery until you know how a real
ghost haunting you may affect you.
Before begining any paranormal
research or ghost hunting with a group tell
them if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant,
or if you take insulin, asthma medicines, or
Obsession is one of the cornerstones
of the religious activity within Spiritism.
It is defined by Allan Kardec as the interference
of a subjugating spirit on a weaker one and,
although usually taken for granted as meaning
the negative influence of the spirit of an evil
deceased person on the mind of another one that
is alive, can occur either way.
It is discussed by Spiritists as the major
danger that the unprepared medium will have
to face and is believed to be one of the most
frequent causes of mental diseases and criminal
behaviour. It is "treated" at Spiritist
Centres by means of praying and teaching.
Technically, "obsession" is any unwanted
influence of a spirit, when it alters or suppresses
the normal manifestation of the personality
of the subject. It can occur when:
a spirit influences a living person,
a living person influences someone else,
a living person influences a spirit,
a spirit influences another spirit.
In the first case the victim suffers but does
not know whence his suffering comes. The obsessed
may be lead to behave abnormally without apparent
reason and will not be able to explain his deeds/crimes.
In the second case the victim knows he is being
influenced and usually reacts, but is unable
to resist the will of the obsessor. The victim
may resort to violence.
The third case mostly occurs when the spirit
of a deceased person is not able to break his
bonds with the living and hangs around, suffering
as they suffer.
The fourth case is mostly like the second.
Kardec proposed a classification of obsessions
into three levels (of severity):
Simple : the spirit(s) influencing the medium
cannot disguise his presence: the medium knows
that he is being obsessed and, therefore, can
resist it easier. This type of obsession disturbs
greatly, especially because the medium may let
slip random sentences due to influence of the
obsessor(s), much to the surprise of those present.
Uncontrolled, may cause the medium to be seen
as mental and will at least ridicule him and
destroy his self-esteem.
Fascination : the spirit influencing the medium
do not bother to disguise (or intentionally
reveals himself), but subjugates the medium
by cunning and ardilous means, so that the victim
will see whatever the spirit dictates as the
purest expression of truth. The obsessing spirit
will stop communications from any other sources,
so that the medium depends solely on him and
will produce a large output of communication,
Subjugation : the spirit overcomes the medium's
will to the extent of controlling his body as
his own. During the obsession crisis, the victim
will not act as himself and will pursue whatever
agenda the obsessor has in mind. After the crisis
the victim may not remember anything, or remember
everything with great regret.
Obsession has the same kinds of motivation
argued by criminals in any terrene crime (envy,
revenge, prejudice, sadism) plus some new ones,
specific to each type.
The lust for pleasures that the spirit, without
a body of its own, cannot experience will lead
him to obsess a living person to share her emotions,
eventually leading her to do things so that
the spirit can partake on her feelings.
The unconscious desire to punish or cause suffering
to someone one hates or envies may lead the
spirit of a living person to use its relative
freedom during sleep to attempt to obsess.
The prolonged grief for the deceased loved
ones may keep strong bonds between the living
and the dead, preventing the later from leaving
the world and going on with their missions.
Simple Obsession is usually the result of the
action of low spirits devoted to evil that take
pleasure from the suffering imposed on the medium.
This type of obsession is usually linked to
revenge (the spirit wants the victim to know
who he is and why he is doing so).
Fascination maybe plotted to destroy someone's
life or as an instrument to spred worthless
theories that will hinder the progress of mankind.
Some spirits also take pleasure from seeing
the nonsensical things the mediums will do and
preach following their advice.
Subjugation, however, is of utmost danger because
it reveals murderous designs on the part of
the obsessor. The victim is often used as instrument
to inflict pain on others or commit crimes.
Sometimes the obsessor wants do destroy the
victim's life, but it maybe the case that the
victim is merely the instrument of revenge against
the real target of the obsessor.
The Book on Mediums dedicates its entire XXIII
chapter to the subject, mostly with the intention
of warning newbie mediums for the dangers and
According to Spiritism anyone who suffers from
obsession has developed his mediumship to some
extent (we are all born with mediumship, but
only a minority of mankind does keep it). However,
most people who are mediums are not aware of
their condition and do not know how to deal
Not all mental perturbations have spiritual
origin. It is necessary to rule out any psychological
or psychiatric causes prior to any spiritual
treatment. "To hear voices" may be
a case of obsession, but is usually a simple
case of psychosis.
Prevention of obsession is achieved by means
of three precautions:
Learning and developing one's mediumship, if
it is strong enough to be used as an instrument
by obsessors (one may want to develop his mediumship
for other reasons as well).
Living according to the commandments of God
so that one's moral stature can act as a wall
between him and the "inferior" would-be
Praying for God's protection and guidance whenever
one's will is weakened.
The cure is a lengthy process that involves
all of the above, but also:
Participation on mediunic meetings to assess
the reasons why the obsessor is acting.
Forgiving and asking forgiveness by means of
praying the Lord's Prayer.
Befriend the obsessors (with the help of a Spiritist
Centre) so that he understands his condition
and how his behaviour is hampering his progress
towards his own happiness.
In overall, the solution to problem of obsession
Learning the doctrine of the law of cause and
Living according to the doctrine of Christ (Faith,
Hope and Charity)
Loving each other as Christ taught, forgiving
and asking forgiveness
The proceedings used to treat obsession are
termed disobsession in Kardecist spiritism and
involve mostly the principles mentioned above.
Although obsession is usually understood as
an undesirable "side effect" of practicing
spiritism, some proponents accept that some
cases are intended to be "show cases"
to attract the public interest towards spiritism.
The victims in such cases may be either people
who chose to suffer obsession to purge their
guilt for being obsessors in previous incarnations
or people who accepted to suffer for altruism,
so that more people could find evidence of the
existence of spirits.
Psychological dependency is a
dependency of the mind, and leads to psychological
withdrawal symptoms (such as cravings, irritability,
insomnia, depression, anorexia, etc). Addiction
can in theory be derived from any rewarding
behaviour, and is believed to be strongly associated
with the dopaminergic system of the brain's
reward system (as in the case of cocaine and
amphetamines). Some claim that it is a habitual
means to avoid undesired activity, but typically
it is only so to a clinical level in individuals
who have emotional, social, or psychological
dysfunctions (psychological addiction is defined
as such), replacing normal positive stimuli
not otherwise attained (see Rat Park).
It is considered possible to be both psychologically
and physically dependent at the same time. Some
doctors, and especially scientists in related
fields, make little or no distinction between
the two types of addiction, since the result,
substance abuse, is the same, and in terms of
scientific as opposed to magical thinking, the
"psychological" dependence is entirely
due to physical effects of the drug on the brain.
Psychological dependence does not have to be
limited only to substances; even activities
and behavioural patterns can be considered addictions,
if they become uncontrollable, e.g. gambling,
Internet addiction, computer addiction, sexual
addiction / pornography addiction, reading,
eating, self-harm, vandalism, drug addiction
or work addiction.
The lost infividuals does not
necessarily have to be a person that believes
in ghosts. Causes of addictive behaviours according
to modern science.
What is the modern science view of the causes
of addictive behaviours?
There is no consensus as to the aetiology (cause),
prevention and treatment of addictive disorders.
A United States government publication, ‘Theories
on Drug Abuse: Selected Contemporary Perspectives,’
came up with no less than forty-three theories
for chemical addiction and at least fifteen
methods of treatment!
As an example of this confusion,
Many people consider addictive behaviours such
as gambling and alcoholism as ‘diseases,’
But others consider them to be behaviours learned
in response to the complex interplay between
heredity and environmental factors.
Still others argue in favour of a genetic cause.
Some researchers point out that, unlike most
common diseases such as tuberculosis, which
has a definite cause (a microbe) and a definite
treatment model to which everyone agrees, there
is no conclusive cause or definite treatment
method to which everyone agrees for most of
the addictive behaviours.
This lack of agreement among experts causes
problems with prevention and treatment approaches
for many addictive behaviours. (Ref: Department
of Applied Health Science, Indiana University,
So on one hand, we have billion dollar budgets
to reduce substance abuse and on the other hand,
we have no consensus as to the cause of addictions.
The SSRF suggests that if the governments of
the world were to focus on the spiritual causes
and spiritual treatment of addictions in their
research, they would have a greater amount of
success in curbing addictions. http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org/
In Haitian Vodou and African
One way that those who participate or practice
Haitian Vodou and related traditions can have
a spiritual experience is by being possessed
by the lwa. When the lwa descends upon a practitioner,
the practitioner's body is being used by the
spirit, according to the tradition. Some spirits
are believed to be able to give prophecies of
upcoming events or situations pertaining to
the possessed one, also called "Chwal"
or the "Horse of the Spirit." Practitioners
experience this as being a beautiful but very
tiring experience. Most people who are possessed
by the spirit get a feeling of blackness or
energy flowing through their body as if they
were being electrocuted. According to Vodou
believers, when this occurs, it is a sign that
a possession is in the works. The practitioner
has no recollection of the possession and in
fact when the possessing spirit leaves the body,
the possessed one is tired and wonders what
has happened during the possession. Not all
practitioners have the ability to become possessed,
but practitioners who do generally prefer not
to make excessive use of it because it drains
immense energy from them. It is said that only
the spirit/lwa can choose who it wants to possess,
for the spirit may have a mission that it can
carry out spiritually. Also, it is believed
in Haitian Vodou and related traditions that
those possessed by the lwa probably are at a
very high spiritual level such that their soul
is mature and at an advanced level.
It is also believed in Haitian Vodou and related
traditions that there are those who feign possessions
because they want attention or a feeling of
importance, because those who are possessed
carry a high importance in ceremony. Often,
a "chwal" will undergo some form of
trial or testing to make sure that the possession
is indeed genuine. As an example, someone possessed
by one of the Guédé spirits may
be offered piment, a liqueur made by steeping
twenty-one chili peppers in kleren, a potent
alcoholic beverage. If the "chwal"
consumes the piment without showing any evidence
of pain or discomfort, the possession is regarded
In Sudan and certain other East African cultures
exists the Zar Cult, a ethnomedical healing
ceremony involving possession typically of Muslim
women by a Zar spirit.
Demonic possession, belief in the control of
a person by the Devil or other malevolent spirit.
Demonic possession is often the term used to
describe the control over a human form by Satan
himself or one of his assigned advocates. Descriptions
of demonic possessions often include: erased
memories or personalities, convulsions, “fits”
and fainting as if one were dying. Unlike in
channelling or other benign forms of possession,
the subject has no control over the possessing
entity and so it will persist until forced to
leave the victim, usually through a form of
exorcism. Many cultures and religions contain
some concept of demonic possession, but the
details vary considerably. Some cultures, in
particular the Roma people believe that demons
can also possess animals, plants, deceased persons
or inanimate objects.
The oldest references to demonic possession
are from the Sumerians, who believed that all
diseases of the body and mind were caused by
"sickness demons" called gidim or
gid-dim. The priests who practiced exorcisms
in these nations were called ashipu (sorcerer)
as opposed to an asu (physician) who applied
bandages and salves The New Testament mentions
several opportunities in which Jesus drove out
demons from diseased persons, believed to be
these entities responsible for those illnesses.
Matthew 4:23-25: Demon-possessed persons are
healed by Jesus (also Luke 6:17-19).
Matthew 7:21-23: Many will drive out demons
in Jesus' name (also Mark 16:17; Luke 10:17;
Acts 5:16; 8:7).
Matthew 8:14-17: Jesus healed many demon-possessed
(also Mark 1:29-39; Luke 4:33-41).
Matthew 8:28-34: Jesus sent a herd of demons
from two men into a herd of about two thousand
pigs (also Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39, both referring
to only one man).
Matthew 9:32-34: Jesus made a demon-possessed
and mute man speak, the Pharisees said it was
by the power of Beelzebub (also Mark 3:20-22).
Matthew 10:1-8: The Twelve Apostles given the
authority to drive out evil spirits (also Mark
3:15; 6:7; 6:13; Luke 9:1; 10:17).
Matthew 11:16-19: "this generation"
said that John the Baptist was possessed by
a demon (also Luke 7:31-35).
Matthew 12:22-32: Jesus healed a demon-possessed
blind and dumb man (also Luke 11:14-23; 12:10;
Matthew 12:43-45: Jesus told an allegory of
nasty spirits coming back home, that is to the
human body where they have lived before (also
Matthew 15:21-28: Jesus expelled a demon from
the body of the daughter of a Canaanite woman
(also Mark 7:24-30).
Matthew 17:14-21: Jesus healed a lunatic by
driving out a demon from him (also Mark 9:14-29;
Mark 1:21-28: Jesus expelled a nasty spirit
from a man (also Luke 4:31-37).
Mark 9:38-40: A non-Christian is seen driving
out demons in Jesus' name (also Luke 9:49-50).
Mark 16:9: Jesus had driven seven demons out
of Mary Magdalene (also Luke 8:2).
Luke 7:21: Many people are cleansed from evil
spirits by Jesus.
Luke 13:10-17: Jesus expelled a spirit of disease
from the body of a woman on the Sabbath.
Luke 13:31-32: Jesus continued to cast out demons
even though Herod Antipas wanted to kill him.
Luke 22:3: Satan entered into Judas Iscariot
(also John 13:27).
John 7:20: A "crowd of Jews" that
wanted to kill Jesus said he was demon-possessed.
John 8:48-52: "The Jews" said Jesus
was a Samaritan and demon-possessed.
John 10:20-21: Many Jews said Jesus was raving
mad and demon-possessed, others said he was
Acts 5:3: Satan filled the heart of Ananias.
Acts 5:16: The Apostles healed those tormented
by evil spirits.
Acts 8:6-8: At the teaching of Philip the Evangelist
in Samaria, evil spirits came out of many.
Acts 8:18-19: Simon Magus offered to buy the
power of Laying on of hands.
Acts 10:38: St. Peter said Jesus healed all
who were under the power of the devil.
Acts 16:16-24: Paul and Silas were imprisoned
for driving a future-telling spirit out of a
Acts 19:11-12: Handkerchiefs and aprons touched
by Paul cured illness and drove out evil spirits.
Acts 19:13-20: Seven sons of Sceva attempted
to drive out evil spirits by saying: "In
the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command
you to come out." But because they did
not have faith in Jesus, they were unsuccessful
and were actually driven from that house by
Revelation 18:2: The Whore of Babylon is a home
for demons, evil spirits and unclean birds.
Acts of the Apostles contains also a number
of references to people coming under the influence
of the Holy Spirit (1:8, 2:4, 2:17-18, 2:38,
4:8, 4:31, 6:3-5, 7:55, 8:15-19, 8:39, 9:17,
10:19, 11:12-16, 11:28, 13:9, 16:6-7, 19:2-6,
20:23, 21:11, 23:8-9) which is believed to be
a good thing in contrast to demonic influence.
. Many cuneiform tablets contain prayers to
certain gods asking for protection from demons,
while others ask the gods to expel the demons
that have invaded their bodies.
Most illustrations portray these spirits as
small, gruesome characters with inhuman distinctiveness.
Often referenced as a witch’s “familiars”
demons and other evil-spirits employed by witches
are also displayed as society’s cast-offs
or those beings incapable of caring for themselves
thus seeking refuge with a witch. Witches would
provide shelter and nourishment via the “witch’s
teat” in exchange for the valuable services
of the familiars in addition to spells, potions
and other attempts by a witch to cause evil
or “maleficium” over another.
Nevertheless there are no descriptions of specific
punishments against possessed persons as it
happened later many times in Christian societies.
Shamanic cultures also believe in demon possession
and shamans perform exorcisms too; in these
cultures often diseases are attributed to the
presence of an evil spirit or demon in the body
of the patient.
Demon possession became a plague among Christians;
exorcisms and executions were performed on persons
allegedly possessed; many mentally ill people
were accused of being demon-possessed and were
killed. The Malleus Maleficarum speaks about
some exorcisms that can be done in different
cases. In Christianity, animals were also believed
to be able of being possessed; during the Middle
Ages, hundreds of cats, goats, and other animals
were slain because of the idea that they were
either an incarnation of a demon or possessed
Later, in the Middle Ages, a list of symptoms
required to confirm demonic oppression was carefully
The ability to curse/blaspheme in languages
unknown to the person.
The ability to find secret things, read the
mind, and divine future happenings.
The ability to make physical efforts abnormal
for that person.
The act of spitting or vomiting every object
the demons would have made the person swallow.
Other symptoms occasionally listed include:
Fear and/or hatred of holy objects.
The inability to say the word "Christ".
Normally, only one of these symptoms was enough
to determine demonization. It was said by people
of that time that oppressed persons had an ugly
and terrible aspect, wrathful eyes, bluish lips,
foam coming off their mouth; their body was
almost permanently shaking, when they spoke
their tongue came abnormally out, their speech
consisted mainly in curses and blasphemies,
and they were able to imitate animal sounds
as well as to speak with human-like voices with
a strange sound and a different pitch of theirs.
However, these symptoms as described are not
always in accordance with scripture. The New
Testament's description of people who had evil
spirits includes ability of divination (Acts
16:16)and great strength (Act 19:16), among
others, but shows those with evil spirits can
speak of Christ (Acts 19:16, Mark 3:11). According
to Catholic theologians demonization is involuntary
and allowed by God to test a person (for more
details about God's tests on persons see Job).
Involuntary demonization according to these
theologians, cannot be negated because this
would imply the negation of the cases mentioned
in the New Testament (12, some of them repeated
in more than one Gospel) and, by extension,
the veracity of it. Voluntary demonization can
be also mentioned, favored by drugs, alcohol
and/or frantic dances, like those of certain
ancient cults (i.e. the Bacchanals), still practiced
in some Shamanic societies, and alleged to be
also practiced by witches during their Sabbaths.
Another form of voluntary oppression is that
in which a person offers his/her body to be
influenced by a demon to serve as a medium among
him/her and the other attendants to the reunion.
The Churches led an active role in the campaign
against witchcraft as it distributed pamphlets
and other material identifying the various components
of a witch, witchcraft, sorcery and demonology.
This information included what “signs”
to use to identify possible possessions and
even information regarding one’s safety
around certain areas of their countryside during
the night. The Church offered suggestions or
a how-to on safe-guarding one’s home.
Suggestions ranged from, “dousing a household
with Holy water...,” placing wax and herbs
on thresholds to “ward off witches occult,”
and avoiding certain areas of townships known
to be frequented by witches and Devil worshippers
Demonic possession is not a valid psychiatric
or medical diagnosis recognized by either the
DSM-IV or the ICD-10. This is because one of
the tenets of science is that there must be
natural causes for natural phenomena and thus
does not look outside of the physical or natural
realm. Those who profess a belief in demonic
possession have sometimes ascribed the symptoms
associated with mental illnesses such as hysteria,
mania, psychosis, or dissociative identity disorder
to possession. In cases of dissociative identity
disorder in which the alter personality is questioned
as to its identity, 29% are reported to identify
themselves as demons. There is, however,
a mental disease called demonomania or demonopathy.
This is a monomania in which the patient believes
that he or she is possessed by one or more demons.
From another point of view, those who accuse
others of being demon-possessed have to be mentioned
too. In cases like those of the witches of Salem,
Massachusetts, or the nuns who accused father
Urbain Grandier, a collective hysteria takes
place, involving more than one person "contagiously"
convinced of that "truth". In particular
cases (sometimes a small number of persons,
e.g., some members of a family or a small group
of friends, but generally one person) the accusation
of demon possession is caused because of the
diseases above-mentioned or the phenomenon of
collective hysteria. Another case that is necessary
to mention is that of simulation; simulation
is generally considered a psychological alteration
of the human behaviour rather than a psychiatric
disease, but there are in Medicine cases of
simulators mentally ill that act by compulsion.
It was common the case of children and teenagers
accusing people of having bewitched them and
feigning to be demon-possessed, and later apologising
for that; unfortunately, due to the processes
carried out by the religious tribunals, generally
those innocents had already lost their lives,
and that was the cause of many of those apologies:
the feeling of being guilty, or remorse. There
were several cases of simulation in England,
most of them between 1533 and 1697, until accusations
made by children were prohibited in 1718; there
were cases of simulation in France and America
too; it is thought that the collective hysteria
that generated the accusation against Urbain
Grandier was started by a case of simulation.
It rests to say that a person easy to influence
can be convinced by third parties of being demon-possessed.
Medicine can explain some aspects of the "symptoms"
shown by those persons allegedly possessed;
it is known that "supernatural strength"
is common in some cases of insanity (mania,