How Priests Tell Between Demonic Possession And Mental Illness

By Debra Kelly on Friday, January 31, 2014
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“If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.” —Tennessee Williams

In A Nutshell

In 1999, the Vatican revised its guidelines for both performing exorcisms and determining whether a person was actually suffering from a demonic possession or from a form of mental illness. Priests now consult with mental health professionals when assessing a person’s affliction. In order to be declared possessed by a demon, priests look for the ability to speak in foreign tongues previously unknown to the person as well as strength that the person should not be capable of demonstrating, as well as eliminating all other possible causes for the distress.

The Whole Bushel

The performing of exorcisms has been an important part of the Catholic Church for centuries. The practice dates back to the Bible and the stories that are told about Jesus Christ vanquishing the demons who possessed the body of various people. Afterward, he transferred his powers of exorcism to the Apostles. In turn, the priesthood of the Catholic Church is also said to possess powers of exorcism.

In 1999, the Vatican issued an official revision of the guidelines for both performing an exorcism and determining whether or not one needed to be performed at all. In the first revision since 1614, it was the guidelines for determining whether or not a person is possessed that underwent the most change.

Now, the Catholic Church is careful to discern between what they consider to be actual possession by a demonic entity and the manifestation of mental illness. No longer do they simply decide that a person who flinches at the sight of a crucifix is possessed.

Updated rules for declaring someone possessed by demons include consulting with medical and psychiatric professionals to rule out any physical cause for the person’s distress as well as to explore possibilities of the manifestation of mental illness before a diagnosis of demonic possession is even considered.

The things that a priest will look for are things that can’t easily be faked, such as fluently speaking in a language that was previously unknown to the person, and demonstrating an inappropriate strength. According to the church, an afflicted person’s ability to know things that they absolutely should have no knowledge of—such as personal information about the priests and professionals performing the inquiry—is also a sign that they’re dealing with an actual demonic possession.

Also very, very clear in Vatican guidelines is the idea that all of the above criteria can also be faked; although more difficult, they acknowledge that it’s possible and stress the importance of ruling out all other possibilities first.

Previously, it was quite easy for a person to demonstrate symptoms of demonic possession but be suffering from something completely different—or, from nothing at all. At one point, aggression, cursing, self-inflicted injuries, and a demonstrated hatred of religious objects were all considered signs that a person was certainly suffering from what’s now called “genuine possession.” Guidelines like the more recently established speaking in unknown languages were established to help priests and counselors alike differentiate between genuine possession and pseudo-possession: that is, the appearance of symptoms in a person suffering from a mental illness, often schizophrenia and other dissociative disorders.

The Catholic Church has also included in their established guidelines that those individuals who believe they are suffering from a curse or similar affliction are not to undergo an exorcism. Both the church and the medical profession draw the line between demonic evil and human evil, and acknowledge that in some cases, especially in those cases where the afflicted is a true believer, the symptoms can be difficult to sort out.

Much of the doctrine on exorcism has remained unchanged for centuries, including the basis of what it actually entails. The church counts it of the utmost importance that it is not the mind of an individual that is possessed by the demons, but the body, putting the mind in a sort of suspended state while the demon takes control of the body. Fundamentally, the church’s description of what’s happening during a demonic possession is quite different from the psychological issues that develop when a person suffers from mental illness.

Show Me The Proof

Catholic Education Resource Center: Demonic Possession Involves Body, Not Soul
The Guardian: Vatican lays down new rules for exorcism
Exorcism! Driving Out the Nonsense
Psychology Today: Exorcism as Psychotherapy: A Clinical Psychologist Examines So-Called Demonic Possession

  • Marozia

    Some people still think that mental illness IS demonic possession!!

    • Joseph

      Some people think that the new world order is a bunch of reptilian aliens and that Hitler escaped to the US after world war 2 and became Walt Disney. Some people will believe anything. What’s your point?

      • Bennie Tucker

        His point is many people are abused and harmed through ignorance that they are ‘posessed’ when really they need help. Beliefs like this kill people.

        • arto

          And here’s where the Vatican comes in to prevent idiots from killing people with metal illnesses

          • Tomo

            Wouldn’t it be better for them to denounce superstitions in the first place? Then people would perhaps stop believing them and causing harm.

        • Angel

          Obviously you didn’t read the article man. Why do you think they have psychiatrists and doctors with them when they do this? If a psychiatrist doesn’t know what the hells going on, how much help can they be?

          • Tony_HD

            Thus.. priests to rescue? How does that make sense? Lol.

          • Passin’ Through

            I think it’s kind of like the placebo effect for mental illness. It could be a sugar pill that “exorcizes the demon” but in this case, it’s a pedophile in a cassock.

          • Jenny Mulhall

            What a bigoted thing to say!

          • Tony_HD

            Lol.

          • Angel

            What’s the “logical” thing to do when you’ve done them all? If science and medicine aren’t working please tell me what options are left for you?

          • Tony_HD

            You keep studying and applying better knowledge to the situation. Thats the ONLY way to solve problems. What makes u think a priest could be of any assistance? If a cancer is inoperable do u call for magic men to come and whisk it away? Well, believe it or not… people do adhere to this crazy practice (psychic surgery etc) and its destroying lives all over the world.
            Invoking men who claim to have access to knowledge that it seems is denied to the rest of us isnt ever a “logical” choice.

        • Marozia

          That is exactly right Tomo! You hit the nail on the head.
          Even now in this so called ‘enlightened’ age, mental illness is still ‘ demonised’.

      • Marozia

        I never knew that one about Hitler going to the US and being Walt Disney. Tell me more!!

        • Joseph

          I don’t really know anything else about it. My cousin is batshit crazy and talks about all that kind of nonsense 24/7. Stuff about Hitler escaping to the US and taking the identity of Walt Disney, every bombing or shooting ever done was the US government or Israeli black ops (or both, I’m not really sure), and aliens in the white house. A lot of it has to do Jews, especially stuff he says about holocaust denial and the evil Jewish bankers trying to create a one world government (he’s not racist though). I only really see him during the holidays, but it’s kind of interesting what crazy shit some people believe. He basically believes anything that’s on the internet including the tree octopus. Just to be more clear, he’s a racist bastard, he just claims that he isn’t.

  • inconspicuous detective

    very cool. science working with religion — people tend to forget that rift and bitter fighting between the two was always present — it was not. it’s been a thing only recently as far as time goes; something like 300 years when science first started to break down with religion (though for a good while the enlightenment kept them together). by the late 1800s they had split and were at eachother’s throats.

    • Jenny Mulhall

      Yes; I can’t understand who they don’t go hand in hand. I was taught science by an extremely smart, funny and inspirational lady who was also a nun. She took us to the convent garden to explain how Augustinian Friar Gregor Mendel (the father of genetics) discovered this important branch of science from studying sweet peas! 🙂

      • Ghidoran

        The reason they don’t go hand in hand is because plenty of religious people believe things that directly contradict science, evolution being the best example. They actively try to denounce scientific theories and fund the teaching of alternate theories.

        • thunderpunch

          you do realize there still is no definitive proof that evolution is actually true right? Not to mention that even if evolution holds true many people who espouse it as fact won’t admit to something as simple as intelligent design, let alone God or anything of the sort. Science is about exploring abstract concepts. I bet if you told somebody in the 1700’s that man would walk on the moon and went out into space they’d think you were insane.

          • Tony_HD

            You dont understand evolution mate. Simple as. If you did you would understand how stupid your comment about its uncertainty is. Evolution DOES hold true under every scrutiny and people who accept it will reject ID because they understand that life as we know it doesnt require the postulation of a divine creator.

          • thunderpunch

            Why have we not witnessed a changing of SPECIES ever since evolution was theorized? Why are there no birds with gills? Why haven’t we seen animals take on new body parts that perform certain functions to help them adapt to their environment? Surely if macro-evolution holds true we should be able to find a species that is in the process of changing from one species to another. All scientists can find now are variations of species. Birds are birds, fish are fish, snakes are snakes, etc etc. Microevolution is totally true. Hence why people who have lived near the equator for generations and generations have darker skin to protect from excess UV rays. I’m not denying that species can change over time, but I think its absurd to postulate that we came from single celled organisms that just happened to sprout legs and become human over millions of years – let alone developing from non-living materials. It makes no sense. every time science answers a question it raises 10 more.

          • Jenny Mulhall

            Food for thought there, thank you.

          • Tony_HD

            *junk food for thought. IMO

          • Jonathon Hero

            We have never witnessed the dramatic changes you’ve mentioned because we only live for a short time. We have, in our lifetimes, witnessed deliberate proof of concept in the form of new plant hybrids and new dog breeds – rather than geographical or environmental determinism pushing these changes (i.e. “natural selection”), we have used our understanding of genetics to “evolve” these organisms into something other than what they were.

            Evolution has occurred slowly over hundreds of millions of years. In the last few decades, we have been able to “prove” the notion that all organisms evolved from other organisms by examining the genetic material present in all of us. Simply put, you can see the leftover genetic material inside of yourself, verifying that we either evolved from other species, or that whatever created us left genetic material from the exact organisms we were predicted to have evolved from inside of us.

            If you see the theory works in the “micro”, add hundreds of millions of years, stir, and realize that it probably works in the “macro” as well.

          • thunderpunch

            plant hybrids are still plants, and dog breeds are still dogs. They are still the same species. And if it takes millions of years, that means its unobservable. We can find fossils and see similarities between species but what if they weren’t our evolutionary ancestors? what if they’re just an extinct species that had similar characteristics to us? And if macro-evolution is ongoing why can we not see animals that have abnormal characteristics for their species? we can’t see the change but we would at least be seeing animals that are at different stages in the evolutionary process. what sort of environmental change would cause a fish to grow legs over time and walk out onto land? by what necessity would their gills be replaced with lungs? I’m not saying evolution is a stupid theory, theres just lots of holes that people refuse to recognize because atheists follow science like its a religion when science has been wrong time and time again: earth is flat, leeches suck poison from your body, etc etc. when you disagree with it you’re demonized for being a religious whacko who is subhuman and living in the stone age, just like alot of atheists claim that religious people who reject evolution are a bunch of self-righteous dicks. Its ironic really, it just shows that humans are all opinionated and react negatively towards whatever is in disagreement with their worldview

          • Bailey Lawrence

            Excuse me, but science has not been wrong and wrong times again. The people proposing those ideas were wrong at the time until our repeated experiments and excessive amounts of evidence gave us the correct answer. Science is a matter of observing, proposing, testing, and discovering what works. You simply can not do that with religion.

            Evolution is a highly, highly… may I repeat, a “highly” correct theory. There is an AMAZING amount of evidence proving it to be right. The problem comes with gaps in some species’ histories.

            We have witnessed evolution take place in bacteria strains, viruses, and etc. A can of Lysol is a perfect example. Ever noticed the “Kills 99.9% of Germs” label on the bottle? That .1% of germs will go on to reproduce, effectively passing on it’s Lysol resistant genes and multiplying. That’s what evolution is. The process of passing on better and resistant genes for the time period that species lives. It only contradicts that God created our Earth in the past 5,000-10,000 years. It’s a ridiculous thought huh? Religion would have us believe that the Earth was the center of the universe… that is, until a scientist got curious and observed the universe and its patterns. Guess what? His proposal was highly controversial at the time due to religion.

            Education can change everything. Learn one thing at a time and soon all of your faith will crumble.

          • Tony_HD

            MRSA is a prime example of what you are talking about and is the reason, at least in the UK, that we are now heavily encouraging the restriction of the use of antibiotics.

            Evolutionary theory and germ theory are becoming key aspects of pharmacology.

            And it should be pointed out that within evolutionary theory, EVERYTHING is an intermediate species. Humans still have appendix n coccyx.

            A funny way of looking at it is; if we we’re created by a loving god, it stands to reason that man should produce ONE sperm cell a month to coincide with the female reproductive system. Instead evolution has favoured the ‘shag everything ‘ gene, thus increasing aggressive behaviour amongst competing males. Thus fighting n war. Did/would a creator want this?

          • thunderpunch

            yes but “theory” is still the word you use because it hasn’t been completely proven. meaning that in order for you to accept evolution you have to accept the evidence. you put faith in science like i put faith in religion. you react negatively when i put it in question- just like religious people do. Its hilarious to be honest. I never claimed to believe that the earth is only 5 to 10 thousand years old. In the Bible it says “A day is a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day” to God. meaning God could have made the earth forever ago. Religion and science can go very well hand in hand with each other. You’re just so spiteful of religion and blinded by oooo sceince cuz hurrdurrr theres evidence that you dont care to acknowledge both. or even leave people to their own devices about decided where they think origins came from. and science STILL cannot explain the origin of life. so please. Dont tell me that science and evolution will destroy my faith, because where as you see nothing I see God when I learn more about science. Most atheists dont even acknowledge the POSSIBILITY of intelligent design. When nobody can explain to me why the universe has rules, gravity, space and time, etc all that stuff functions within the LAWS of physics. I see God where you see nothing, because everything in the world functions too perfectly to have just started out that way

          • Tony_HD

            Hovind…? Is that you?

            Look pal. Lets keep this to short precise points so u cant get all carried away on me lol.

            1st question.

            How would you define a change in species?

          • thunderpunch

            Basically when a species develops characteristics that categorize it into two different… idk categories? i always get mixed up with the whole kingdom, family, genus, order stuff. But its like, if all of a sudden a frog was warm blooded but still looked like a frog, it couldnt be classified as an amphibian anymore because it would be warm-blooded and amphibians are cold-blooded

          • Tony_HD

            You haven’t been definitive at all. A species “changes” when it can no longer breed with other members of their species. For example, a dog can breed with a wolf so its not technically a new species. There have been controlled studies of both Finches and Fruitflys that can demonstrate this lack of interbreed ability. Evolution is chronological, hence you will never see a memeber of the canine family evole into something that would be considered feline.

            When considering your Frog example; thats the great thing about evolution, I could be so easyily refuted by the most basic discovery for example a warm blooded frog or a fossil rabbit in the cambrian layer. But every discovery falls perfectly within the evolutionary theory hence its overwhelming acceptance. Science can never tell u what is true, only what is likely and what is wrong. The reason you dont see evolution is the same reason you cant see hydrogen becoming helium when you look at the sun. The human perspective is limited.

          • Tony_HD

            You haven’t been definitive at all. A species “changes” when it can no longer breed with other members of their species. For example, a dog can breed with a wolf so its not technically a new species. There have been controlled studies of both Finches and Fruitflys that can demonstrate this lack of interbreed ability. Evolution is chronological, hence you will never see a memeber of the canine family evole into something that would be considered feline.

            When considering your Frog example; thats the great thing about evolution, I could be so easyily refuted by the most basic discovery for example a warm blooded frog or a fossil rabbit in the cambrian layer. But every discovery falls perfectly within the evolutionary theory hence its overwhelming acceptance. Science can never tell u what is true, only what is likely and what is wrong. The reason you dont see evolution is the same reason you cant see hydrogen becoming helium when you look at the sun. The human perspective is limited.

          • thunderpunch

            thats what i’m saying though. if macro-evolution holds true and is ongoing we would be seeing anomalies like that because some species would be in the process of changing

          • Tony_HD

            If macro – evolution holds true..?! you just said u didnt accept evolution…. macro – evolution IS micro – evolution. The theory makes no distinction. Is just considered along a greater time scale. All animals are transitional forms. Why couldn’t you consider a Seal as a transitional form between bovine and aquatic mammals.
            How do u explain whales without evolution?

          • jay

            You don’t understand enough about science to know why your questions are erroneous. . East african naked mole rats are the only cold blooded mammal… no one doubts they are mammals. A platypus lays eggs like a reptile… as well as having a duck bill and a poison spur. If you want a creature with weird appendages it’s the platypus. This is not how species are defined nor would it be indicative of what you think it should.

          • Patriotic Dane

            Evolution takes and extremely long time, the process takes millions of years to happen, it’s not like humans could grow wings in 2,000 years!

          • Eliza Templeton-gouveia

            http://www.wisediaries.com/2016/06/scientist-says-he-found-definitive.html?m=1
            Science is just stumbling upon Gods secrets. What I mean is by studying the world around us we are learning how we were created. Check out my link.

          • Hello

            There is definitive proof for evolution. You can fine it in many sciences books and that why it is now considered absolute fact. The skulls from ape to hominid, from homo erectus to sapien is definitive evidence along with many other fossils, evolution and mutation of DNA and genes from one animal to another. Sorry I don’t usually comment but I saw that satement and thought I might say something, great list by the way

          • Pixie Pie

            Oh, you can “fine” in in many “sciences” books, eh? HAHAHA you’re another one of those fedora totin neckbeards, aren’t ya?

        • inconspicuous detective

          nah mate. that’s why you don’t think one works and the other does — and herein lies the problem. that type of thinking by both is the problem, not “the other guy says…”.

          • Bailey Lawrence

            Faith directly contradicts science. You may have these “best of both world scientists”, but no real scientist in his right mind would believe in all of the faith-required stuff that religion has to offer. You may have scientists who use religious philosophy and stories in their life, but that’s with a lack of faith. Anyone can believe what they want, but science and faith-based religion are two complete opposites. If a scientist of faith exists, I would not want that methodology applied in my lab. Even the existence of it creates a bias in some examples. For example, Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry that supports creationism, blends the two together in the most ridiculous way. Their influence is corrupting our children and teaching them that it is okay to believe in something as important as how our world began with the only evidence and methodology being applied is something out of a 2,000 year old book that spews contradiction on every page. The rest is filled with ramblings and outdated morals.

          • inconspicuous detective

            …well alright. that rant came from left field BUT fortunately there is a cure coming in from home base called healthy knowledge. it’s here to show you where you went wrong. travel back with me here to the late 1700s, during the time of revolution, the birth of a nation, the rise of nationalism, and…the last time science was used to support religion? YES! this is the time of the enlightenment, and boy lemme tell ya it’s topsey turvey compared to what we’re used to.

            ya see, everyone was getting into science around this time. if you weren’t exploring, you were into alchemy, which you might already know grew into chemistry, and biology was a growing field. nature down the the cells was explored — and many of these forefathers of science believed that they were revealing not only truth, but in turn the intricate nature of the divine. that’s right. deism, the grand clockmaker theory of the universe — THIS is where science met religion and birthed the idea of a cruel and apathetic god who created man for his or her own reasons and walked off with no inclination to help the poor sods down below on the mortal plane.

            ya see, this shitstorm fight between religion and science is relatively new — it hadn’t begun in earnest until darwin went out on his stupid beagle and…well finches and such. you know the rest. then the scopes monkey trial and all that funky jazz, but what’s important is this: they don’t contradict eachother. they never really did. the only thing that was at stake was POWER. power of the church, power of the voting public, a power grab is at the core of this problem like EVERYTHING else in this world. you my friend have made the mistake of picking a side in this battle. don’t. take the power back and think for yourself. don’t pretend you’re making that choice but actually make it. please. the world would be better for you if you did.

          • Pixie Pie

            So…You’re a scientist then?

        • Jenny Mulhall

          Plenty of religious people might; but certainly not the vast majority, surely? I promise you that I’ve never met a single person who thought that Evolution was incorrect, nor was I taught so at school. It’s a shame that some people are so small minded that they need to fit God, creation and all of the vast, complex and unmapped universe between the pages of a book they regularly read, but do not understand. I for one see no conflict in religion and science, nor did Gregor Mendel, I’m sure! 🙂

        • iKeepItReal

          oh so only one “theory” should be taught? if any one is a true believer in science, they would support exploring ALL theories. And for your information, less than half of Americans believe in human evolution, much much less than that worldwide. Take your condescending, B.S comments and shove them up your @$$. thanks

          • Tony_HD

            That’s exactly what science is, and does. Can you offer an alternative SCIENTIFIC theory to explain the diversity of life?
            Do you agree that because we dont know how to change water into gold that we should teach alchemy in chemistry lessons?

            The reason evolution is taught is the same reason we teach that the world isn’t flat. Because that is the consensus of our scientific studies. Could it be wrong? Of course. Science isnt about truth… its about what is likely and or evident.

            But please, if u have an alternative theory hidden away that can challenge evolution, present it…

    • Kevin Johnston

      Thank you for writing this. It annoys me to no end when people say ‘scientists’ can’t have religious beliefs. My grandpa is a former nuclear physics professor and the a very religious man (in a cool way, not a nut way)

  • Adam Raspin

    If someone believes people can be possesed.then they have mental illness.

    • Ghidoran

      It’s a shame people are so enthralled by their religion that they can’t see how ridiculous some of their beliefs are.

      • Jenny Mulhall

        It’s a shame to have such a narrow, bigoted opinion of literally Billions of people you do not know, Ghidoran. I can’t imagine being so confident (arrogant?) in anything as to dismiss anyone’s beliefs as ‘ridiculous’. I personally know an agnostic doctor (a very wise and gentle man who feels that neither side has proved their case) who thinks that faith has a large part to play in overcoming illness… Whether it’s faith in the procedure or faith in a healing God; this faith promotes good recovery outcomes. I could debate religion with him for hours, but people like your good self… what would be the use..?

        • Passin’ Through

          When looking at terminal illness survival rates, there is a slightly quicker rate of death in those that pray to (a) god to make them better as opposed to those who accept their fate. So statistically speaking, faith (or whatever) plays no role in real medicine. So in a way, their beliefs are ridiculous.

          • Jenny Mulhall

            Surely a ‘terminal’ illness is by definition, without survivors; if they recover, is it still terminal? I’d love to read that study, if you would post a link? In my (limited) experience of the death bed, faith has helped people to come to terms with their life’s natural end. The Hospice movement recognises the role of faith in preparing one for death. There is more to life, death and the human condition than is dreamt of in your philosophy, Passin’ Through… I may disagree with you but I would never stoop so far as to call anything you hold dear to your heart ridiculous.

          • Tony_HD

            Jenny. I can see your point entirely. I’m a nurse in UK and just this morning I had a man on his death bed and he was so sure that he was going to heaven that it made me stop and have a long think about it. Its not an easy question for when their number is up. So much easier for us to chat casually about here on the old interweb. Hope you dont have me painted the colour as some of the atheists here because trust me when I say I know what it means to have your core beliefs questioned and shaken regularly.

          • Jenny Mulhall

            No, Tony; not at all! I know the difference between an Atheist and a Troll. I care for elderly family members and have served my time at the palliative bed. 🙂 It can teach you so much, and is a huge honour and a terrible burden. I look forward to bantering with you here on LV. 🙂

          • Tony_HD

            Yea I agree. And Ive spent so much time bouncing between atheism, agnosticism and some kinda pan-theism during my career because of the nature of palliative care that I loose track lol. You are absolutely right about faith being important at the end of life aswell. The first approach to a persons ‘Last Offices’ is a spiritual one and this is true for everyone. Even if someone completely non-reglious requested that their organs be donated to science when they die, this is a spiritual act. At least how I understand the word anyways. Because you are basically acting out of a belief system. Almost everyone I work with is agnostic in some sense because of the nature of the work and im hoping to write a book about it in late career. Its a fascinating but dark subject. …

            Hope that all made sense, I don’t speak internet fluently.

          • Jenny Mulhall

            It makes perfect sense, Tony. I for one would read that book with interest!

          • Tony_HD

            I’ll send you a signed copy when iys finished in 30-40years lol

          • Patriotic Dane

            In the early days people told myths and legend that were extremely fantastical and also undeniably fictitious to explain the world around them. Back in the day people didn’t know why birds fly or why earthquakes happen so, to explain the unknown, people created myths and legends to (then again) explain the world around them.

        • Ghidoran

          There is no proof whatsoever of faith or prayer helping the healing process. There is the placebo effect, and if you consider that ‘faith’ then your definition is quite broad. I suppose if you really REALLY believe in a god then your brain can trick your body into healing itself (as it does when you believe that a pill is actually working).

          I’m not really sure what the rest of your jargon is supposed to prove. You don’t provide any evidence suggesting the existence of demons, or possession, which was the entire point of this discussion. Instead you go on an extremely defensive rant about people questioning your beliefs, as if they’re somehow immune to criticism just because you believe in them. Face it, your beliefs have no merit or value. I am allowed to dismiss them just as much as you are allowed to believe in them. The reason I’m so ‘arrogant’ is because I’ve seen time and again how delusional religion makes some people, to the point where they negatively impact others both directly and indirectly (such as, by funding anti-science teachings).

          I’m also not sure why you’re bringing up an anecdote about this agnostic doctor of yours. Is that supposed to be proof of something? Because every doctor knows that the placebo effect is real, in fact you even say that faith in the procedure helps, which is true I suppose, but that’s an entirely different debate. If you’re so worried about healing and recovering then yes, being ignorant will go a long way. You can pretend that you’re being treated by infallible scientists, or a loving God, or hyperintelligent aliens; all of those things will trigger the placebo effect and heal you faster (or so it’s believed). If that’s the kind of existence you want to live, then by all means, go for it. Just don’t get offended when people laugh.

          • My Name, yay

            so what proof would it take to convince you because you could say everything was the placebo effect

      • iKeepItReal

        you again^^^… you are a condescending prick. suck one.

    • Tony_HD

      11 Atheists vs 11 Theists. Lol.

      Lets see who’s winning in an hour.

      • Pixie Pie

        What about the Who-gives-a-fuckists?

  • mo

    so, they tell the difference between possession and mental illness by checking if they have a mental illness. Thanks, captain obvious.

  • Jenny Mulhall

    For Ghidoran, Tony and Passin Through… x 🙂

    • Tony_HD

      Why..? I dont get… are saying religion is poison?

      • Jenny Mulhall

        LOL! Not at all! I’m just having a wee laugh to myself about how every list seems to come down to the topics which are traditionally forbidden in genial company… Religion and Politics. 🙂

        • Tony_HD

          One of the great things about the interweb. IMO.

  • Sweet-Sativa

    Very interesting Ive always wondered how they sort out who’s crazy and who might be chilling with beezlebub

  • Scott

    I believe that there are ancient entities and spirits that exist in our world and elsewhere, but I do not believe that they are anything like the Bible portrays them. There isn’t a devil or a hell, or at least I have never seen anything to make me believe otherwise. I mean, back in high school my friends and I tried to sell our souls to the devil numerous times just to see if it was possible, but nobody ever showed up. It really was a let down. But I’ve seen ghosts and crazy crap like that, so I’m not going to say that possession by spirits (or “demons”) doesn’t happen. I’m not even going to say that Christian exorcism can’t work, because I believe it can. Even if Jesus and God don’t exist, the meaning behind the rituals and the actual faith of the person performing the exorcism very well can be enough to compel a malevolent entity to leave. It’s one of those weird things that I sorta classify under “white magic,” if such a distinction is truly possible. The deities or religion involved don’t matter so much as the purpose and intent of the ritual.

  • Andy West

    Quite an apt list if you’ve seen the story in the papers. Are they all lying, how do people who don’t know each other come to the idea that they’ll play a hoax on the world? That to me is as important as whether the people are mentally ill, in this case and others, not to say I believe any of it as I wasn’t there, but who am I to discredit? A very strange business.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/25943051

  • littlenation

    i’m so tired of human ignorance, cowardice and dishonesty.

    wanna play the ISRAEL game? want to play the NOTREAL game?

    mental illness is the biggest lie and brainwash on this planet. there is a real antichrist, and it is PSYCHIATRY. that is a fact and it can be proven (though, it can’t ever be understood by cowardly, dishonest people… EVER).

    LOOK HERE, both of these entities are NOT FULLY KNOWLEDGEABLE about what constitutes the demonic, demonic possession and human suffering.

    not every case of demonic possession includes speaking in a foreign language.

    • Pinback_Sherman

      This is now the dumbest thing I’ve read all month. Maybe all year.

  • queen tonya bieber

    i might be demon possessed but how can they say it is schizophrenia when the bible doesn’t say anything about schizophrenia mrs. queen tonya bieber 1/30/2015

  • Facebook User

    One of the things most religions have in common is an acceptance of the possibility of diabolical possession, that is, that evil spirits or demons have the power to control the bodies of their victims. Taking over the body would not necessarily mean taking over the person. Exorcism is a form of prayer to which God responds by putting the demons out. Exorcism is expulsion. Some religions say the demons actually take over human beings. Not all religions think possession is curable. Some think that prayer only curtails some of the harm that the demon can do but cannot get rid of it and its leaving is its own decision.

    The Catholic Church for about a hundred years has got more careful with performing exorcisms. Nowadays exorcism is only performed under extreme circumstances and if a supernatural agency is seen to be causing a person’s insanity or dangerous behaviour.

    In the past (it still happens but is hidden better) the Church made many schizophrenics and disturbed people far worse by diagnosing demonic possession and exorcising them! Even today the Church will not perform an exorcism on a person who is insane and whose insanity cannot be traced to anything medical unless that person shows signs of clairvoyance or speaks in languages he or she never learned and can make things float around the room just by thinking about it or whatever. So it needs evidence for the supernatural. Good luck to the Church then for science never found any evidence for the supernatural. And the evidence the Church provides is always hearsay.

    It doesn’t trouble the Church that some force inside the so-called possessed that has nothing to do with demons could be causing the allegedly supernatural effects. Demons could be doing them but it still doesn’t show that the person is really possessed. It could be a simulated possession. Suppose you hear a “possessed” person talking in a language they have never learned. A demon could be getting into your mind to make you think the victim is talking in a language he or she never learned. It could be an illusion. If demons exist and possess people you cannot be sure of what is real.

    There can be no doubt that Jesus Christ’s exorcisms and example has cost many their lives and caused a lot of suffering especially in centuries gone by. The exorcists say that the demon often gets very violent and abusive towards the victim during an exorcism. The demon reacts angrily towards the exorcism and it supposedly tortures the victim with new ferocity in the hope that the priest will discontinue the exorcism. And it takes many exorcisms to get each one out so the victim could be a bloody mass of pulp before it supposedly succeeds. This is nothing more than religion declaring that it has the right to torment people when it cannot prove that demons exist or possess people if they do. Also, people used to be forced to fast and were beaten up to get the demons out and locked up in towers with monks praying over them for weeks. There can be little doubt that Satan might have performed exorcisms through Jesus so that this would happen. If he cast demons out it was worth it to him for it resulted in superstition and worse evil than possessing.

    The Church has one or two priests in every diocese who perform exorcisms. It claims every priest has the power to cast out demons but only a few are selected and trained for the job. But in the Bible we read that Jesus choose his unstable and selfish disciples as exorcists and even protested when they complained that a man outside their group was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus then does not see any need for being cautious and using science and medicine to make sure the person isn’t just suffering from a mental or physical disorder. How could Catholic exorcists have the power to cast out demons in Jesus’ name when they aren’t even obedient and don’t think much of the way he did things? How can they see their job as good when they know that for most of the Church’s history nobody knew how to differentiate between possession and mental illness? And yet exorcism was still practiced, permitted and even commanded by God and Christ and Church! From the way Jesus acted he wanted all mental illnesses seen as possession. Teachings like that only make mental patients suffer more and makes their illness worse. To promote Christianity is to promote something that will disturb people who are mentally ill for a common symptom of mental illness is feeling afflicted by a demon or that a demon is present. The Church will flippantly say that even if it didn’t teach about demons and the Bible didn’t mention exorcisms and Jesus didn’t exorcise people would still be reporting such effects. But at least that would be nobody’s fault. To teach mentally ill people that it is possible for people to be possessed and hurt by demons is to hurt them and harm them. It is religious fanaticism. It is vile for there is no coherent evidence for any religion being true for they all manufacture evidence and the evidence for one religion contradicts the evidence for another religion that is against that religion.

    Only trained high level conjurers not scientists or priests have the right to determine if the events surrounding an apparent victim of possession are really supernatural and not tricks. But even then they will be only able to go as far as to say that the events are inexplicable for just because something cannot be explained doesn’t mean it is a miracle or supernatural. The Catholic Church says that the Lourdes apparitions of Mary are not part of the faith and that because of that no apparition can ask you to do something dangerous. But still it said officially that Mary appeared there though she had people eating dirty infected plants and drinking water from a spring in a diseased dump. That no harm seemed to have happened is not the point. The point is the apparition had no right to seek that trust. The Church just isn’t reliable when it comes to judging if something is from God or Satan or miraculous or not. It is the exorcists themselves who are possessed by evil and fanaticism.

    The victim during an exorcism is often aware of what is going on. The process must be very distressing or her or him. Not only is there a creepy ceremony going on, but it is often being repeated and it builds up hope that the demon will go and that hope is usually dashed. It reinforces the belief that there really is a demon there. And the “demon” may be rampant and crazed during the exorcisms and start tormenting the victim with new ferocity. The victim is put through all that when there is absolutely no evidence that exorcism really benefits. The demon may go in its own time or start to hide in the victim. Exorcism is abuse. When the victim is a child this is heinous abuse.

    A person may claim to be afflicted by a demon and possessed. More often, it is those who know the person who make this claim about them.

    If you say a person has a demon, you might say it is possible that they are witches and lying that they are possessed. In that case, rather than have a demon they are the demon! It would be the ultimate in hate speech to suggest somebody is a demon or a servant of Satan the greatest liar and murderer imaginable (according to Jesus Christ). If you believed that about a person you could be regarded as guilty but insane if you killed them. It would be a crime of passion.

    Once you say a person has a demon you by default show that you think they might be faking and might be the demon. You only assume it is likely that they have a demon so part of you has to be agnostic. In that case, exorcism would be no good. Religious people have no right to say, “We are 100% sure that the person is not evil but possessed.” It is arrogance for it is impossible to know it 100%. And it is a lie.

    If demons control the body, they can pretend to be the person. They may commit murders. If demons control the person and not just the body, it follows that many murderers could be innocent. The Devil made them do it. The concept of demonic possession then is extremely important for it has huge implications if it really happens. The trouble is that if demonic possession is real, then different religions have different opinions about it. The door then is opened for people to think that demons are murdering and that murderers are innocent.

    Exorcism needs to be banned legally because

    # Many exorcisms are performed in secret to avoid ridicule and media attention which endangers the allegedly possessed. The exorcist is protected by this secrecy if he is just a charlatan with a screw loose.

    # Legally permitting it is giving religious people special treatment, special rights, because of their faith in exorcism and demons. They get away with distressing and tormenting the allegedly possessed who imagine that the demon goes berserk during the exorcism. The abuses that take place during exorcism would not be tolerated in any other field. Some atheists believe in memes – ideas that are like computer viruses and infect your mind such as religion. An atheist would not be allowed to upset a victim of possession by religious memes through administering a secular exorcism.

    # Demonic possession is not a recognised mental illness. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not recognise possession by demons as medical diagnosis. It is not therefore a recognised psychiatric disorder. However there is a form of delusion called demonomania or demonopathy in which people think they are demons possessing a body. They mistake themselves for the demons. Those who suffer this illness have dissociative identity disorder. Around 30% of sufferers have demonomania or demonopathy. In possession, the person often claims to be the demon and acts accordingly.

    # There are no peer reviewed medical articles or journals that advocate exorcism.

    # When many parts of the world legally prohibit the teaching of creationism as if it were a scientific theory in schools (it is banned in England and Wales for example) it is mind-boggling how schools can be allowed to teach that demons possess people and exorcism evicts them.

    # Diagnosis is a problem – many people with mental illness have been mistakenly diagnosed as possessed. Some exorcists admit they are not sure if the person is mentally ill or possessed and still proceed with an exorcism. It is accepted that you can be mentally ill and possessed at the same time. Diagnosis in medicine based on what symptoms the person reports and are observed by others only if there is no way to get hard evidence – such as in a poor country. With exorcism, the diagnosis is based purely on what the victims and their friends or family say. Those people are rarely educated the right way or unbiased – they are not great witnesses. And as they will get away with it, they feel they can lie and exaggerate. And if people fear a demon in their midst their imagination will run away with them. Exorcisms were far more common in the past because people did not have the tools for diagnosing anything properly never mind possession or a need for an exorcism. Overall, the belief has hurt and harmed. There is tremendous pressure on people who realise that a family member is not really possessed to say nothing against any exorcisms that are performed on her or him – they don’t want to look like insane fanatics and fools who are responsible for what the family member is suffering as a result of belief in possession and exorcism.

    # Individuals with a known history of diagnosed psychotic and psychiatric symptoms will still be subjected to exorcism if the priest and the Catholic doctor decides that her or his problems are down to some force other than the illness.

    # It is odd that very evil people are not asked to undergo exorcism – it only happens when people act deranged. This is because vulnerable people are targeted by religion for its own ends and because evil people are often too smart to be fooled by religion. Surely if a person was possessed they would be acting evil rather than deranged!

    # Exorcism is fanaticism as is proven by the Church’s opposition to Freudianism and Jungianism and modern psychiatry because of its stress on learning to love yourself so that you can use this learning to love others. The Church claims to co-operate with psychiatry in order to determine if a case may require an exorcist. How can it when it does not even really believe in psychiatry? It claims an infallibility for itself that it does not imagine any medical discipline to have.

    # Unlike medicine which is carefully regulated, each religion invents its own rules about exorcism. It is irresponsible to put mental treatment in the hands of non-professionals as is done when the exorcist steps in.

    # Consent to exorcism raises problems. The demon is thought to simulate the person so if the person objects to exorcism it will be assumed it is the demon talking. Thus the person will be ignored and exorcised against her or his will.

    # Nobody can prove it is a demon at work – if anything paranormal is happening could it be a psychic illness? Treating it as a demon will worsen the problem. If people have psychic ability, then perhaps the entity is part of them. Perhaps the demon is an artificial personality created in the subconscious by psychological and psychic forces. To abuse the demon is to abuse the person. Also, if the problem is the subconscious then merely to assume that it is a real demon at work and to treat the person accordingly is abuse.

    # People with mental health problems may suffer because of belief in demons. If you doubt your sanity, imagine how upsetting it will be if you start to feel you are possessed. Even going to Mass and hearing the readings from the gospel about Jesus’ exorcism can put this terrible suggestion in your mind.

    # Exorcisms sometimes cause a violent reaction in the person – how can you know that it is a demon doing this and not the ritual or the person’s delusion that they have a demon?

    # Exorcism tends to be private which increases the chance of abuse and harm. It prevents regulation.

    # If psychiatry is unable to find out what is wrong with the person, that does not prove that the person is possessed. Arguments such as, “I don’t know what is wrong therefore it is probably a demon”, show that you want to believe the person is possessed – you want to use the victim to make a religious point. No decent or sane psychiatrist would approve of exorcism or facilitate it.

    # Some possessed people have been diagnosed as mentally ill. Their possession is considered to be a separate issue from their illness. Where can the line be drawn? It is hard enough to do that without bringing demons and the supernatural into it.

    # Exorcists believe that somebody cursed the victim or the victim invited the demons in. You need proof before you can say things like that. Exorcism endorses the slander of accusing somebody – even if the identity is unknown – without proof that anybody was to blame.

    # Where do you draw the line with belief in possession and exorcism? You write a poison pen letter. Why not say your pen was possessed and wrote that letter? What about the dangerous doctrine of Cen? Cen is when the spirit of a dead person steals your body and pretends to be you. It can lead to a child being put to death for his father’s crimes.

    # Exorcism can be a very long process bringing great trauma and worry to the victim and her or his family and friends and it does not always succeed. Often a demon is allegedly put out and when the person seems possessed again it is insisted that the demon was put out and returned. That claim is a cop-out. Exorcists cannot be trusted no matter how kindly they seem to be. Fortune-tellers are great charmers too.

    # When the demon “returns” the victim is typically blamed not the exorcist.

    # Exorcists sometimes believe in beating up the victim to get the demon out. Some who believe that the person and not just the body is taken over rationalise this abuse.

    # Your mere belief in possession or exorcism is enabling those who carry out extreme and cruel forms of exorcism. Promoting a religion that believes in exorcism is enabling it too. And so is giving that religion money.

    # Exorcists claim to be performing an act of love for the victim – real love is based on evidence what is best for the person. It is not based on the guess that demons exist and that demons possess the person. It is not based on the guess that some demons though naughty might actually be tolerable. Though Christendom claims to love its neighbour by not accusing without proof it is happy to accuse demons without proof. Those who do not have the guts to hate and abuse the people around them like to target fantasy entities such as demons and fairies and ghosts instead. The bad side of human nature will always out. People regarded as good love God because they think he hurts others and protects them – thus they find peace in the misery of others. People need demons to hate and curse. It unleashes the bad energy they would unleash on other people otherwise. Exorcism is based on the principle: It is okay for me to take beliefs very seriously when there is little or no suitable evidence in their favour. Where do you draw the line with a principle like that? Real love respects principles for principles serve not only truth but us as well.

    # Exorcists deny that you need extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims – but surely they should put more emphasis on evidence that a case of possession is not authentic before deciding that it is? Even the most ardent believer has to confess that there must be cases of possession or miracles which are fraudulent or deceptive but which were never found out or may never be. You never really know 100% if something is supernatural. Many have faked possession usually to get attention. You cannot be as sure that a demon is in a person and to be blamed for what she or he does, as you are that Hitler was evil. And you need to be – accusing on insufficient evidence says something about you.

    # Some victims seem to recover after exorcism by the placebo effect. This effect can be achieved other ways without exorcism. Friendly doctors who listen to their patients are the best catalyst for the placebo effect. Exorcism is about ritual and scary. Any talking or friendliness happens outside of it. The placebo effect in exorcism can backfire – the person might get worse if not better. Doctors telling a white lie to trigger the placebo effect is nothing compared to exorcism which is a big issue and presupposes a whole world view. It is a religious placebo effect not a medical one and should not be tolerated.

    # Exorcists believe that though demons will possess people, they much prefer tempting people to sin. This leads to the evil notion that if temptation comes from a supernatural source then there is nothing we can do about it. Why encourage X to avoid temptation if temptation is not coming from within her or him?

    # Matthew 7:15-20 has Jesus stating clearly that good fruits are unmistakeable. An exorcism that takes time to work is hardly an unmistakable sign from God and a good fruit. Jesus said the false prophets do enough good to pass for sheep but they cannot get grapes from thorns – their followers might be fine people but just not good enough. Catholic exorcisms are not delightful and imply that God prolongs the agony. They are marks of a false religion.

    Conclusion: Ban exorcism. The concept of possession gives evil people a way to avoid being found guilty even if they are caught. If this is unlikely to happen that is not the point – the point is the principle. Violating the principle says yes to it happening. If found guilty, they may still tell themselves that they are not guilty. A person who can lie to themselves like that is going the right way about being a good person who can be still do shockingly evil things.

    • My Name, yay

      # so we should ban it because its in secret that doesnt prove anything
      # because atheists dont have exocrcisms
      # demonic possesion is a Supernatural phenomenon why would it be considered a medical diagnosis
      # humans have a limited view of the world so you cant assume just because something is in a peer review journal it doesnt exist
      #obviously your misrepresenting Jesus’ words, taking time to work doesnt mean anything because didn’t Jonah spend 3 days inside the belly of the whale
      #i dont get your point about temptation

      the problem is you assume that Catholicism is not true, but it is and exorcists and others really do care for the possessed person and I think you have a wrong view of many of these things which shows in your arguments

  • Tolik Panzer

    mental health and obsession study
    Please, have a look at article “Agni-Yoga’s approach to obsession”. Main point is development and strengthening of man’s consciousness in those areas and weak qualities which allow obsessing entities (possessors) to come in.
    Quote: ”It is not wise to proclaim, “Tear out thy corruption.” It is better to say, “Let benevolence fill thy being.”
    Acquaintance with this approach will help people who face the problem of obsession personally or with their loved ones, as well as all who want to prevent such a disaster on their way of spiritual growth. This article is based upon the book “Mediumism – a gift or a trial” by Anatoliy Filozof.
    http://oderzhimost.ucoz.ru/publ/oderzhimost/agni_yoga_approach_to_obsession/1-1-0-65

    Hope, this article will be somehow useful for you.

  • Mark Moore

    What about the ones possessed by Jesus that think they have the god given right to own slaves or that people should be tortured for what they believe? What about those possessed by the Holy Spirit that killed the first born innocents of Egypt that never happened? What about those that are possessed by the imaginary god that drowned imaginary millions?

    How do we determine if these people are sane enough for an exorcism?

    • Reason0verhate

      Go blow an old man, fggot.

    • Patriot

      Get a life, pedophile.