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Exorcism as Psychotherapy

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posted on Aug, 25 2018 @ 04:37 PM
Mods: Please move is this is not the appropriate forum for this thread please!

So I am continuing what my "better half" began last night by introducing topics that are non-political in nature (as a lot of us are immensely sick and tired of it).

I have always been intrigued by the subject of exorcism ever since my dad took my then 7 year old self to the opening night of the movie "The Exorcist" at our local drive-in theater. About 6 years ago I had my own personal encounter with an attempted possession, however even now I am not quite ready to delve into that particular incident with anyone other than my nearest and dearest- but hopefully one day I will find the words to describe that terrifying experience.

For now I would like to discuss exorcism from a mental health professional point of view.

A definition of possession: pos·ses·sion
the state of having, owning, or controlling something.
"are you in possession of any items over $500 in value?"
synonyms: ownership, control, hands, keeping, care, custody, charge, hold, title, guardianship
"the estate came into their possession"
seize, appropriate, impound, expropriate, sequestrate, sequester, confiscate;
take, get, acquire, obtain, procure, possess oneself of, get hold of, get one's hands on;
capture, commandeer, requisition;
informalget one's mitts on
"they were under orders to take possession of the house and all of its contents"

When people believe they are "possessed" they hold the belief that an unseen force or entity (such as a spirit, ghost, angel, demon or inter/extra dimensional being) is inhabiting their minds or bodies and to some level controlling their thought, feelings, actions, words... or all of the above. Whether this is a delusion brought on by mental illness or an actual occurrence is highly debatable, and my intent is not to prove or disprove either opinion.

There are many forms of mental illness that can present the believed symptoms of possession. Multiple Personality, Schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress, even Bi-Polar Disorder can under certain conditions be mistaken by some for possession- as well as other mental conditions. However there are also people who have never been diagnosed with or displayed any signs of mental illness who have also displayed abrupt behavior and symptoms of possession- and that's where it gets tricky.

The majority of the psychiatric community is vehement in their opinions that possession is completely a mental illness issue although there are some dissenters from this opinion. What IS interesting is that while most psychiatrists believe the condition is psychological ONLY and not spiritual in nature many do agree that ritual exorcism in many cases can be used as a method of psychotherapeutic treatment.

Sometimes the best approach can be to go with where they are and use the patient's belief system to the treatment's advantage. Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck correctly pointed out that, unlike psychotherapy, exorcism makes more use of power in waging war against the patient's sickness, and is usually conducted by a team of exorcists who attempt to overpower the patient's efforts to resist treatment. He further notes that, unlike time-limited psychotherapy sessions, exorcisms can extend far beyond forty-five minutes, and often involve forcible physical restraint of the patient during these intense and typically angry confrontations.

Exorcism as Psychotherapy: A Clinical Psychologist Examines So-Called Demonic Possession
^^^From Psychology Today^^^

While not many psychiatrists or psychotherapists are willing to put their own religious beliefs on the subject of possession iut in the public for scrutiny the number that are willing to say that exorcism CAN be a valuable tool for treating some cases is growing. Take for example Dr, Richard Gallagher. Richard Gallagher is a board-certified psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College.

Ignorance and superstition have often surrounded stories of demonic possession in various cultures, and surely many alleged episodes can be explained by fraud, chicanery or mental pathology. But anthropologists agree that nearly all cultures have believed in spirits, and the vast majority of societies (including our own) have recorded dramatic stories of spirit possession. Despite varying interpretations, multiple depictions of the same phenomena in astonishingly consistent ways offer cumulative evidence of their credibility.

As a psychiatrist I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession.
^^^ From The Washington Post^^^

For contrast I will add an article that offers a differing opinion on the subject.

In Western societies demonology survived as an explanation of mental health problems right up until the eighteenth century, when witchcraft and demonic possession were common explanations for psychopathology. Nevertheless, as I have described above, demonic or spirit possession is still a common explanation for mental health problems in some less developed areas of the world – especially where witchcraft and voodoo are still important features of the local culture such as Haiti and some areas of Western Africa (). The continued adoption of demonic possession as an explanation of mental health problems (especially in relation to psychotic symptoms) is often linked to local religious beliefs (Ng, 2007; Hanwella, de Silva, Yoosuf, Karunaratne & de Silva, 2012), and may often be accompanied by exorcism as an attempted treatment – even in individuals with a known history of diagnosed psychotic symptoms (e.g. Tajima-Pozo, Zambrano-Enriquez, de Anta, Moron et al., 2011).

"Spiritual Possession" and Mental Health
^^^From Psychology Today^^^

My personal opinion is that possession can be absolutely real but that also it can be a delusional state brought on by psychosis. It is my belief that there are cases on both sides of the equation, but I am an open minded person who knows that while science is an absolutely wonderful thing it cannot provide answers in every situation. I also believe that in some instances exorcism can be an extremely helpful ritual but that when used inappropriately it has the potential for causing more harm than good.

So fellow ATSers: What do you think about ritual exorcism being used as a treatment for psychotherapy? As a religious person I have mixed feelings about this. If someone is actually possessed (all other medical and psychiatric causes ruled out) in my opinion it is the ONLY thing to do. But I am unsure about using the ritual on people who only BELIEVE they are possessed as a last ditch effort when other treatments have failed because I fear they will be further traumatized.

posted on Aug, 25 2018 @ 05:01 PM
a reply to: GeauxHomeYoureDrunk

Great thread! Thanks for the fascinating topic.

I think your last paragraph sums it up very well and I agree with you.

I recently heard a podcast- being interviewed were two women who have a different take on "possession ." They say that in MANY cases, the afflicted are sufferers of Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID) or MPD, whichever label you prefer. And that further, THESE people are often victims of occult abuse or other abuse where they have been purposely programmed to have multiple personalities. So their approach is not to treat as a demon possession, but to address each personality as it comes up and acknowledge it as a valid person.

Their reasoning is that the person had to create that part of themselves (a new personality/a compartmented personality) to live through the traumatic scenarios, so when you yell at it like its a demon or something bad or evil, that it makes it worse, really. Because to that child (when the personalities are usually created or "programmed"), that new person is what saves them through some traumas, and so condemning it feels to them like you are condemning them themselves.

To make things more complicated, they say they actually DO run across some entities at times, since often the occult was involve with this whole situation in the first place, so there's that. When they DO run across an entity, they say it's distinctly different (in their perception) than the different personalities, and then all they do is say "God rebuke you, Watcher" and apparently that will do it.

If you're interested in listening to the podcast, it's three or four episodes under the podcast called "The Naked Bible" podcast. There are like 200 episodes, so you want to look for the ones entitled "Fern and Audrey." Those are the names of the women who have this practice where they work with these DID folks . (And if you're into biblical scripture, the rest of the podcast episodes are PHENOMENAL as well).
edit on 25-8-2018 by KansasGirl because: Parenthesis for clarity

edit on 25-8-2018 by KansasGirl because: Autocorrect being NOT correct again

posted on Aug, 25 2018 @ 05:08 PM
a reply to: KansasGirl

Thank you for the wonderful response and especially for the podcast info! I will definitely be checking it out some time tomorrow!

posted on Aug, 25 2018 @ 05:12 PM
a reply to: GeauxHomeYoureDrunk

All I know is that belief is a powerful thing, a exorcism might just be what some people need to snap out of it.

On the flip side it might make the person worse.

If it is a dimensional being the Bible verses won't work, I have no clue about a voodoo exorcism but evil aliens have different rules... prolly

What I know for sure is that medication does wonders.

posted on Aug, 25 2018 @ 05:13 PM

originally posted by: GeauxHomeYoureDrunk
a reply to: KansasGirl

Thank you for the wonderful response and especially for the podcast info! I will definitely be checking it out some time tomorrow!

I can barely get a regular post up, or else I would put a link. Sorry for my lameness. But further info: the podcast author is Dr. Michael S. Heiser. If you Google his name plus "naked bible podcast" the first hit is a link to the archives (well it is on Duck Duck Go, anyway....EFF Google)

posted on Aug, 26 2018 @ 04:39 PM
If possession is a mental illness wouldn't that also make the guy who thinks he can drive away demons with some religious mumbo-jumbo also a looney?

posted on Aug, 26 2018 @ 04:49 PM

originally posted by: skunkape23
If possession is a mental illness wouldn't that also make the guy who thinks he can drive away demons with some religious mumbo-jumbo also a looney?

It depends on whether or not you believe possession is real, and if you do believe that possession is real do you also understand that sometimes certain mental illnesses can display the same supposed symptoms as possession. I would think that if the person really and truly BELIEVES that they are possessed (regardless of whether they actually ARE possessed) and if all other treatments have been tried and failed that maybe ritual exorcism may actually offer them some relief, and some psychiatrists believe this. The mind is an extremely complex organ that even the experts do not fully understand. So maybe the person performing the exorcism isn't as looney as one might think in some cases.

posted on Aug, 26 2018 @ 07:55 PM
Some demons need the exercise, while others need to be eternal FLAME!!!

posted on Sep, 1 2018 @ 04:50 PM

“There are many other psychiatrists and mental health care professionals who do what I do – perhaps not to the scope that I do – who seem hesitant to speak out,” Dr. Gallagher says. “That’s what gives my work some singularity. That I have had so much experience and that I am willing to speak out. I feel an obligation to speak out. I think that I should.” At the same time, Dr. Gallagher warns that it’s important to determine without any doubt that a person actually has a real demon before recommending that he or she visit an exorcist. “There is very strict criteria for determining the person’s problem,” he warns. “I am not just intuiting. I’m dealing with it from a very scientific point of view.”

Demons are really possessing people warns psychiatrist, as pure evil sweeps over humanity

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