Demonic possession: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Demonic possession is often the term used to describe the control over a human form by a demon. Descriptions of demonic possessions often include: erased memories or personalities, convulsions, “fits” and fainting as if one were dying.[1] Unlike in channeling or other 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. Other descriptions include access to hidden knowledge and foreign languages, drastic changes in vocal intonation and facial structure, sudden appearance of injury (scratches, bite marks) or lesions, and superhuman strength.

Many cultures and religions contain some concept of demonic possession, but the details vary considerably. 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 [2]. The priests who practiced exorcisms in these nations were called ashipu (sorcerer) as opposed to an asu (physician) who applied bandages and salves[3]. 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, sadistic-looking or tormented-looking beings with a human likeness. Demons are often referenced as familiars. Witches would provide shelter and nourishment via the witches' teat in exchange for the valuable services of familiars.[4]

Shamanic cultures also believe in demon possession and shamans perform exorcisms too; in these cultures often diseases are attributed to the presence of a vengeful spirit or (loosely termed) demon in the body of the patient. These spirits are more often the spectres of animals or people wronged by the bearer, the exorcism rites usually consisting of respectful offerings or sacrificial offerings.

The Malleus Maleficarum speaks about some exorcisms that can be done in different cases. Depending on the severity of the alleged possession, solutions range from prayers of deliverance to the Solemn Rite of Exorcism as practiced by the Catholic Church.


Demonic possession in The Bible

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: Demonical Possession:

"In the Old Testament we have only one instance, and even that is not very certain. We are told that "an evil spirit from the Lord troubled" Saul (1 Samuel 16:14). The Hebrew rûah need not imply a personal influence, though, if we may judge from Josephus (Ant. Jud., VI, viii, 2; ii, 2), the Jews were inclined to give the word that meaning in this very case. In New-Testament times, however, the phenomenon had become very common."

According to the American Standard Bible, King Saul requested that the deceased prophet Samuel be summoned by channeling, even though he had been admonished by God not to allow such practices in his kingdom. He used a woman possessed by a "familiar spirit" - the Witch of Endor - for this purpose (1 Samuel ch. 28).

The New Testament mentions several opportunities in which Jesus drove out demons from persons, believing these to be the entities responsible for those mental and physical illnesses.

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.

In Christianity

Despite an English language translation tradition, the Bible never refers to people as being possessed by demons. The main New Testament expressions referred to demonic influence are:

  1. 'to be demonized' (daimonizomai) - this is the most frequent expression.
  2. 'having a demon' (echon daimonion) - note it is the person who possesses the demon, not the demon who possesses the person.[5]

Certainly the language of "possession", like other mistranslations, has gained a life of its own, as is reflected in the title of this article. Murphy comments on the traditional language of "possession": "Fortunately, the practice of using these terms is now in the process of correction because of renewed historical-contextual studies of Scripture and renewed experience with the demonized."[6] Some allow the term "possession" but restrict its use only for the most extreme cases, which are thought to be extremely rare. [7] In most cases where a demon is believed to be involved, it tends to (1) influence the individual towards sinful or violent behavior or (2) cause physical or mental ailments that prove resistant to medical or psychiatric intervention.

The literal view of demonization is still held by a number of Christian denominations. Official Catholic doctrine affirms that demonic oppression can occur as distinguished from mental illness, but stresses that cases of mental illness should not be misdiagnosed as demonic influence. Catholic exorcisms can occur only under the authority of a bishop and in accordance with strict rules; a simple exorcism also occurs during Baptism (CCC 1673). In charismatic Christianity, deliverance ministries are activities carried out by individuals or groups aimed at solving problems related to demons and spirits, especially possession.

A great deal of controversy surrounds the book War on the Saints originally published in 1912 as a resource to the Christian faced with combating demon influences.

The concept of demon influence in Christianity was similar to that of Jewish belief. In the New Testament Jesus is reported to have encountered people who were demonized and to have driven the "evil spirits" out of these demoniacs. In the 4th century, St. Hillary asserted that demons entered the bodies of humans to use them as if they were theirs, and also proposed that the same could happen with animals.

The New Testament's description of people who had evil spirits includes a capacity for hidden knowledge (e.g., future events, innermost thoughts of the people around them) (Acts 16:16) and great strength (Act 19:16), among others, and shows those with evil spirits can speak of Christ (Acts 19:16, Mark 3:11). According to Catholic theologians, demonic assault can be involuntary and allowed by God to test a person (for more details about God's tests on persons see Job). Involuntary demonic assault, according to these theologians, cannot be denied because this would imply the negation of the cases mentioned in the New Testament (12, some of them repeated in more than one Gospel). However, in the overwhelming majority of cases of alleged demonic possession in modern times, the victim can suffer due to any of a number of personal initiatives: occult practices, mortal sin, loss of faith, or psychological trauma, among others.

In previous centuries, the Christian church offered suggestions on safeguarding 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.[8]

In medicine

Demonic possession is recognized as a psychiatric or medical diagnosis by either the DSM-IV as the Religious or Spiritual Problem V62.89 or the ICD-10as F44.3 Trance and possession disorders . There are many psychological ailments commonly misunderstood as demonic possession, particularly dissociative identity disorder. In the early- to mid-20 Century, "mania" or "hysteria" were common diagnoses, but such terminology has generally fallen out of favor. 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.[9] However doctors see this as a mental disease called demonomania or demonopathy, a monomania in which the patient believes that he or she is possessed by one or more demons.[citation needed]

In fiction


  • A well-known work on the subject is the 1973 film The Exorcist, based on the book of the same name, which portrays a typical medieval case of demonic possession in which the victim shows all required characteristics to confirm the status of possessed. This was continued in the 1990 sequel The Exorcist III, and the prequel, Exorcist: The Beginning from 2004 and the original cut of the film, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist which was released on DVD in 2005.
  • The original Exorcist film was satirised by the 1987 Warner Bros. cartoon spoof The Duxorcist (starring Daffy Duck), as well as the 1990 comedy film Repossessed which starred Leslie Nielsen and Exorcist actress Linda Blair.
  • The 1974 blaxploitation film Abby dealt with a woman who is possessed by an African sex demon.
  • In the famous Evil Dead trilogy films from 1981, 1987 and 1993, many of the protagonists are possessed by "Kandarian" demons who when resurrected, are given "license to possess the living". This form of possession was heavily based on The Exorcist, because the protagonists physically mutate when possessed, and develop abilities to read minds, crawl up walls, and breathe fire.

In the 1972 film "she waits" Patty Duke plays a young Newlywed who gets possessed by her husband's dead first wife.


  • The American sitcom Soap featured a second season storyline in which Corinne Tate's baby was possessed by the Devil.
  • The 1980s horror series Friday the 13th: The Series featured a second season finale/third season premiere storyline in which the main character of Ryan Dallion was possessed by the Devil.
  • During late 1994 and the first half of 1995, the daytime soap opera Days of our Lives dealt with the demonic possession of one of its star characters, Dr. Marlena Evans. This storyline, written by the late James E. Reilly, was controversial at the time, but did bring the show a huge spike in ratings when most other soaps were dying in the wake of the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Longtime character John Black, a priest at the time, exorcised the demon along with the help of other such characters as Father Francis, Kristen Blake Dimera, Caroline Brady, and Dr. Mike Horton.
  • In "Die Hand Die Verletzt", a 1995 episode from the second season of the X-Files, a substitute teacher named Mrs. Paddock (played by Susan Blommaert) kills a teenage girl by possessing her, while dissecting a pig fetus after class. The teacher also possesses a snake which eats and digests a human being in less than 5 minutes (despite Agent Dana Scully knowing that it would take hours or even days to digest a human being). Early in the episode, it was revealed that the school board members were devil worshippers themselves.
  • The series Buffy the Vampire Slayer often dealt with demons and possession.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess featured a few episodes that involved demonic possession of humans, but in a more fantasy-oriented manner given the nature of the show.
  • Possession (taken seriously) is central to the British TV series Hex.
  • The series Supernatural has also explored themes of demonic possession. Demons play a major part in the plots of the second and third seasons. They are portrayed as incorporeal beings, where they need to possess a body to carry out their actions.
  • In the episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit" of Series 2 of the current Doctor Who series, the Doctor and companion Rose Tyler encounter an ancient demonic entity known as the Beast, who has taken possession of a space mining crew member Toby Zed, as well as the crew's alien Ood servants.
  • The main character of the 2008 BBC1 television drama series Apparitions is a priest who performs exorcisms.[10]
  • In Family Guy episode Boys Do Cry, the town thinks Stewie Griffin is possessed by the devil after he vomits the blood and body of Christ.

Video games

Novels, comic books, etc.

  • In the 1970's book The Amityville Horror, the house at 112 Ocean Avenue is portrayed as demoniacally possessed.
  • The 1971 novel The Exorcist by William Blatty drew its inspiration on a 1949 exorcism Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University, a Jesuit and Catholic school. Blatty wrote Legion, a sequel to the original novel in 1983.
  • The DC Comics character The Demon is a normal human named Jason Blood whose soul was bonded to a demon named Etrigan, and literally transforms into Etrigan in order to fight evil.
  • The concept behind the Marvel Comics superhero Ghost Rider involves motorcycle stunt daredevil Johnny Blaze being bonded with a demon named Zarathos by another demon, Mephisto. When necessary, Blaze is transformed and possessed by Zarathos to become the Ghost Rider character.
  • A Marvel Comics storyline from the 1980s involving the Avengers superhero team featured the Scarlet Witch being physically possessed by the demon Chthon.
  • The 2007 novel A Good and Happy Child deals largely with the possible subject of demonic possession.
  • The X-Man Rogue has the ability to absorb the minds and the powers of the people she touches; sometimes it happens that she is possessed by the minds of the people she has just touched.
  • Karma of the New Mutants the power to mentally possess other people.
  • At least three enemies of the X-Men have the ability to possess other people: Shadow King must use host bodies to enter the physical plane, and a Marauder, Malice, is a psychic entity who can possess other people. (Her most famous host is Polaris); Proteus has possessed a lot of bodies before being killed by Colossus.

See also


  1. ^ Ferber, Sarah, Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern France(London, Routledge, 2004, 25, 116).
  2. ^ Sumerian "gidim"
  4. ^ Willis, Deborah, Malevolent Nurture: Witch-Hunting and Maternal Power in Early Modern England (New York, Cornell University Press, 1995)
  5. ^ Murphy, Ed. 1996.The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Rev. Ed., p.51
  6. ^ Murphy, Ed. 1996. The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Rev. Ed., p.50
  7. ^ MacNutt, Francis. 1995. Deliverance from evil Spirits: a practical manual. Grand Rapids: Chosen Books. p.71
  8. ^ Broedel, Hans Peter, The Malleus Malfeicarum and the Construction of Witchcraft (Great Britain, Manchester University Press, 2003, 32-33), Barajo, Caro, World of the Witches, (Great Britain, University of Chicago Press, 1964, 73)
  9. ^ Microsoft Word - Haraldur Erlendsson 1.6.03 Multiple Personality
  10. ^ Martin Shaw has a devil of a job in Apparitions, The Times. November 8, 2008


  • Castaneda, Carlos. 1998. The Active side of Infinity. NYC HarperCollins.

External links

Simple English

Demonic possession is a term used to describe a situation when a demon (a devil) controls a human being. In many cultures and religions people often used to believe that a devil could enter the body of a person and control them. They often thought this was happening when a person seemed to be mad, or when they had a fit, or when they fainted.

See also

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