Is demonic possession real?

Brain >> Is demonic possession real?


Ancient view

The History of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology states: “It is important to keep in mind that throughout the centuries of antiquity, there was a more or less unspoken assumption that the universe is peopled with a great variety of agencies, personages, deities, and deity-like forces, some helpful, some malevolent, some both, and these agents and agencies played an important part in human welfare, illness, and also in severe emotional distress. Daimones, guardian spirits, Keres, Furies, and Larvae are among the many names for particular agents … The assumption was “popular” … [and] it pervaded ancient cults, philosophies, religions, and healing practices.

Concomitant with the multiplicity of the external agencies, there was another assumption, less clearly articulated, of the divisibility or “fractionability” of the person or the psyche and of the ability of the psyche to leave the person and migrate. These two interwoven views constitute the framework for the deeply held belief that illnesses, whether benign or grave, including unusual or disturbed mental and emotional states, were caused by a demon or possessing spirit.” (Wallace IV & Gach, 2008, p. 183)

Modern view

The Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion states: “Mild cases of demonic possession were referred to by the Catholic Church as obsession as far back as the fifteenth-century, and psychotherapists still use that diagnostic term today. Or we refer to “multiple personality disorder” (dissociative identity disorder) in which one or more so-called subpersonalities temporarily take total possession of the person against his or her will. Or we diagnose bipolar disorder in those possessed by mania, irritability or melancholy; and intermittent explosive disorder to describe someone possessed or overtaken by uncontrollable rage. Indeed, the subjective experience of possession – being influenced by some foreign, alien force beyond the ego’s ken or control – can be considered more or less a phenomenological aspect of most psychiatric disorders. Today this “possession syndrome” (Diamond, 2006) is seen by psychiatrists and psychologists as a mental disorder more often than not caused by some underlying neurological or biochemical aberration.” (Leeming, Madden, & Marlan, 2010, p. 691)

Mental disorders in India



“The tragedy is that in India, many people simply don’t understand that mental illness is treatable, and the drugs are relatively cheap here.” (Sara, 2011)



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