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Brad and Sherry Steiger

Please Visit his Official Web Site ~ edwardshanahan.com

Conscious Channeler Edward Shanahan





The Possessed


The Possessed

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 Spiritism".

Heaven and Hell (Le Ciel et l'Enfer in the original French)

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 own life.

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 part.

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 World.

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 system)

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 only.

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 effects.

Heaven and Hell is the second most popular book among the Fundamental Works of Spiritism.

Symptoms Of Possession By A Real Ghost

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.

The Possessed Before begining any paranormal research with a group tell them iif you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or if you take insulin, asthma medicines, or blood thinners.

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 blood thinners.

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, mostly worthless.
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 responsibilities involved.

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 with it.

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 obsessors.
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 is threefold:

Learning the doctrine of the law of cause and effect
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, 2003)

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 traditions

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.

The  Voodoo Possessed

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 as genuine.

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

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; Mark 3:20-30).
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 Luke 11:24-26).
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; Luke 9:37-49).
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 not.
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 slave girl.
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 the possessed.
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 by one.

Later, in the Middle Ages, a list of symptoms required to confirm demonic oppression was carefully prepared:

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 after dark.

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.[10] 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, energumens, etc.).