Spirit Possession

The History and Psychology of Spirit Possession and Exorcism

By: Mark Bancroft, MA

Note: This writing demonstrates the relative nature between objective and subjective reality. It provides a unique exploration into how the two “realties” can merge to form a singular, event experience.

INTRO: Introduction
PART I: Historical and Cultural Accounts of Spirit Possession & Exorcism
The Psychology of Spirit Possession & Exorcism
Therapeutic Considerations

Exorcism is derived from the Greek word exorkizein which means “to bind by oath”.  Evil spirits (demons) which possess a person are exorcised (compelled to leave) by a higher authority, such as God or Christ.  “Catholic exorcisms begin, Adjure te, spiritus nequissime, per Deum omnipotentem…which means “I adjure thee, most evil spirit, by almighty God…[Lewis, J., p.138, 1995].”  The Catholic Church considers  possession a battle for the victim’s soul, while other cultures embrace spirit possession as an integral part of their spiritual practices.

The word demon originated from the ancient Greek word daimon which referred to beings with special powers which placed them between people and the gods.  The beings could bestow benefit or carry out the punishment of the gods [Microsoft Encarta, 1994].  The questions arise, “Do demons exist?”, “Can they possess a person’s body and cast away the person’s soul?”, “After death do some spirits linger upon the earth plane attaching themselves to the living?”, “Do exorcisms really work?”, “Why do evil spirits want to harm us?”, “Can the living converse with the dead?”

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