Exorcism (from Late Latin exorcismus, from Greek exorkizein - to abjure) is the practice of evicting demons or other evil spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed. The practice is quite ancient and part of the belief system of many countries.
The person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is often a member of the clergy, or an individual thought to be graced with special powers or skills. The exorcist may use prayers, and religious material, such as set formulas, gestures, symbols, icons, amulets, etc.. The exorcist often invokes God, Jesus and/or several different angels and archangels to intervene with the exorcism.
In general, possessed persons are not regarded as evil in themselves, nor wholly responsible for their actions. Therefore, practitioners regard exorcism as more of a cure than a punishment. The mainstream rituals usually take this into account, making sure that there is no violence to the possessed, only that they be tied down if there is potential for violence.
The concept of possession by evil spirits and the practice of exorcism are very ancient and widespread, and may have originated in prehistoric Shamanistic beliefs.
The Christian New Testament includes exorcism among the miracles performed by Jesus. Because of this precedent, demonic possession was part of the belief system of Christianity since its beginning, and exorcism is still a recognized practice of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox and some Protestant sects. The Church of England also has an official exorcist in each diocese.
After the Enlightenment, the practice of exorcism has diminished in its importance to most religious groups and its use had decreased, especially in Western society. Generally, in the 20th century, its use was found mainly in Eastern Europe and Africa, with some cases gaining media coverage; Anneliese Michel is perhaps the most recent of these. This is due mainly to the study of psychology and the functioning and structure of the human mind. Many of the cases that, in the past, were candidates for exorcism are often explained to be the products of mental illness, and are handled as such.
However in 1973 the motion picture The Exorcist came out, and the idea of exorcisms became thrust into the limelight. After its release, a very large response came from the public in the United States and Europe, and belief in Demon Possession and exorcisms found a place in contemporary society. Belief in the validity of the practice became less of a radical idea, and more widespread.
Exorcism in Christianity
In Christianity, exorcisms are performed using the "power of Christ" or "in the Name of Jesus." This is founded in the belief that Jesus commanded His followers to expel evil spirits in His name(Matthew 10:1,Matthew 10:8; Mark 6:7; Luke 9:110:17),(Mark 16:17). According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Exorcism: Jesus cast out demons as a sign of his Messiahship and empowered his disciples to do the same..
The Jewish Encyclopedia article on Jesus stated that Jesus "was devoted especially to casting out demons" and also believed that He passed this on to His followers; however, He was superior to them in the exorcisms."
In the time of Jesus, non-New Testament Jewish sources report of exorcisms done by administering drugs with poisonous root extracts or others by making sacrifices. (Josephus, "B. J." vii. 6, § 3; Sanh. 65b). They do not report of Jesus being an exorcist, but do mention that exorcisms were done by the Essene branch of Judaism (Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran).
The belief in Roman Catholicism is that, unlike baptism or confession, exorcism is one ritual that is not a sacrament. Unlike a sacrament, exorcism's "integrity and efficacy do not depend ... on the rigid use of an unchanging formula or on the ordered sequence of prescribed actions. Its efficacy depends on two elements: authorization from valid and licit Church authorities, and the faith of the exorcist." That being said, Catholic exorcism is still one of the most rigid and organized of all existing exorcism rituals. Solemn exorcisms, according to the Canon law of the church, can be exercised only by an ordained priest (or higher prelate), with the express permission of the local bishop, and only after a careful medical examination to exclude the possibility of mental illness. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) enjoined: "Superstition ought not to be confounded with religion, however much their history may be interwoven, nor magic, however white it may be, with a legitimate religious rite." Things listed in the Roman Ritual as being indicators of possible demonic possession include: speaking foreign or ancient languages of which the possessed has no prior knowledge; supernatural abilities and strength; knowledge of hidden or remote things which the possessed has no way of knowing, an aversion to anything holy, profuse blasphemy, or sacrilege.
The Catholic Church revised the Rite of Exorcism in January 1999, though the traditional Rite of Exorcism in Latin is allowed as an option. The act of exorcism is considered to be an incredibly dangerous spiritual task. The ritual assumes that possessed persons retain their free will, though the demon may hold control over their physical body, and involves prayers, blessings, and invocations with the use of the document Of Exorcisms and Certain Supplications. Other formulas may have been used in the past, such as the Benedictine Vade retro satana. In the modern era, the Catholic Church rarely authorizes exorcism, approaching would-be cases with the presumption that mental or physical illness is in play. In mild cases the Chaplet of Saint Michael should be used.
In 1974, the Church of England set up the "Deliverance Ministry". As part of its creation, every diocese in the country was equipped with a team trained in both exorcism and psychiatry. According to its representatives, most cases brought before it have conventional explanations, and actual exorcisms are quite rare; although, blessings are sometimes given to people for psychological reasons.
In The Episcopal Church, the Book of Occasional Services discusses provision for exorcism; but it does not indicate any specific rite, nor does it establish an office of "exorcist". Diocesan exorcists usually continue in their role when they have retired from all other church duties. Anglican priests may not perform an exorcism without permission from the Diocesan bishop. An exorcism is not usually performed unless the bishop and his team of specialists (including a psychiatrist and physician) have approved it.
Some Protestant denominations also recognize possession and exorcism, although the practice is generally less formalized than it is in the Catholic Church. The Methodist Church also has appointed people in place for use in such circumstances. While some denominations perform exorcism very sparingly and cautiously, some may perform it almost routinely, as part of regular religious services.
Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck researched exorcisms (initially in an effort to disprove demonic possession), and claims to have conducted two himself. He concluded that the Christian concept of possession was a genuine phenomenon. He derived diagnostic criteria somewhat different from those used by the Roman Catholic Church. He also claimed to see differences in exorcism procedures and progression. After his experiences, and in an attempt to get his research validated, he has attempted to get the psychiatric community to add the definition of "Evil" to the DSMIV.
In the less formalized sections of Protestant denominations, the ritual can take many forms and belief structures, especially in Charismatic Movement. The most common of these is the deliverance ceremony. This differs from the exorcism ceremony by the fact that the Devil may have gotten a foothold, into a persons life rather than gaining complete control. If complete control has been gained, a full fledged exorcism is necessary. However, a "spirit-filled Christian" cannot be possessed, based on their beliefs. Within this belief structure, the reasons for the devil to get a foothold are usually explained to be some sort of deviation from theological doctrine or because of pre-conversion activities (like dealing with the occult).
The method for determining if a person needs a deliverance is done by having someone present who has the gift of discerning of spirits. This is a gift of the Holy Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12 that allows a person to "sense" in some way an evil presence. While the initial diagnosis is usually uncontested by the congregation, when many people are endowed with this gift in a single congregation, results may vary.
Fr. Gabriele Amorth references these people, calling them "seers and Sensitives," and uses them on many occasions; they have the ability to detect an evil presence. However, he notes that "they are not always right: their 'feelings' must be checked out." In his examples, they are able to detect the events that caused the demon to enter, or are able to discover the evil object that has cursed the individual. He notes that "they are always humble."
Exorcism in Scientology
On Scientology advanced level "OT3", "body thetans" are exorcised using a complicated technique. Body thetan exorcism, with a simpler technique, is revisited on advanced level "OT5", also known as "New Era Dianetics for Operating Thetans." after these levels (which are used to accomplish other goals as well, not just an "exorcism" for Body Thetans) you are supposed to be free from the BT's influence. It should be noted that Scientologists believe that Body thetans possess every person, except for those who have been exorcised.
Exorcism In Sikhism
Exorcism Projects are also carried out in various Gurdwaras, especially in Punjab, healing all the affected patients. The Spiritual Leader(Called Baba), uses the power of Gurbani or spreads the ambrosial nectar(i.e Amrit) on the affected person. They also put a Tabeez called Rakh on hand which contains small slips written Waheguru in it. These Babas communicate directly with the spirit, either good or evil, residing in a person. Sikhism on one side says these are Manmat(Anti Sikh Activities), but Sikhism also promotes recovering or helping the patient.
Salvador Dalí is reputed to have received an exorcism from Italian friar, Gabriele Maria Berardi, while he was in France in 1947. Dali created a sculpture of Christ on the cross which he gave the friar in thanks.
Anneliese Michel was a Catholic woman from Germany who was said to be possessed by six or more demons and subsequently underwent an exorcism in 1975. Two motion pictures, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Requiem are loosely based on Anneliese's story.
A boy identified by the pseudonym "Roland Doe" was the subject of an exorcism in 1949, which became the subject of The Exorcist, a horror novel and later film written by William Peter Blatty. Blatty heard about the case while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University. The exorcism was partially performed in both Cottage City, Maryland and Bel-Nor, Missouri by Father William S. Bowdern, S.J. and a then Jesuit scholastic Fr. Walter Halloran, S.J.
Mother Teresa underwent an exorcism late in life under the direction of the Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry D'Souza, after he noticed she seemed to be extremely agitated in her sleep and feared she "might be under the attack of the evil one."
The Roman Catholic Ritual of exorcism approaches the subject with a procedure of presuming of mental or physical illness and employing mental health and medical professionals to rule out physical or mental causes before authorization of the exorcism ritual. When all possible benign causes of exorcism are ruled out, the case is treated as a malignant demonic possession.
Demonic possession is not a valid psychiatric or medical diagnosis recognized by either the DSM-IV or the ICD-10. Those who profess a belief in demonic possession have sometimes ascribed the symptoms associated with mental illnesses such as hysteria, mania, psychosis, Tourette's syndrome, epilepsy, schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder to possession. In cases of dissociative identity disorder in which the altar personality is questioned as to its identity, 29% are reported to identify themselves as demons. Additionally, there is a form of monomania called demonomania or demonopathy in which the patient believes that he or she is possessed by one or more demons.
The fact that exorcism works on people experiencing symptoms of possession is by some attributed to placebo effect and the power of suggestion. Some supposedly possessed persons are actually narcissists or are suffering from low self-esteem and act a "demon possessed person" in order to gain attention.
Exorcism in popular culture
Exorcism has been a popular subject in fiction, especially horror
- The Dybbuk (1914 play by S. Ansky)
- The Exorcist (1971 novel by William Peter Blatty)
- The Exorcist (1973 and 2000 movies), and its sequels and prequels, were inspired by Catholic exorcism ritual and folklore based on the novels by William Peter Blatty).
- Repossessed (1990 comic movie starring Linda Blair and Leslie Nielsen)
- The Biggest Douche in the Universe (2002 South Park television episode)
- Kya Dark Lineage (2003 video game)
- Constantine (2005 movie) is based on the DC/Vertigo comic book Hellblazer.
- The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005 movie) was inspired by the Anneliese Michel case.
- Requiem (2006 German-language movie by Hans-Christian Schmid) is based on the Anneliese Michel case.
- An American Haunting (2006 movie)
- D.Gray-man (2006 Japanese animation series by Hoshino Katsura)
- A Haunting Shows true stories many involving demons and exorcisms
- Stigmata (1999 film starring Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Bryne)
- Grudge 2 (2006 English movie based on the Japanese Ju-on series)
- El Orfanato (The Orphanage) (2008 movie directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and produced by Guillermo Del Toro)
- 1920 (2008 Bollywood movie)
- True Blood (2008 HBO television series)
- Apparitions (2008 TV series)
- ^ Malachi M. (1976) Hostage to the Devil: the possession and exorcism of five living Americans. San Francisco, Harpercollins p.462 ISBN 0-06-065337-X
- ^ a b Batty, David (2001-05-02). "Exorcism: abuse or cure?", Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved on 29 December 2007.
- ^ Cuneo, M. (2001). American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty. New York, NY, USA: Doubleday. pp. 3-13.
- ^ Exorcism
- ^ JewishEncyclopedia.com - JESUS OF NAZARETH
- ^ Martin M. (1976) Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans. Harper San Francisco. Appendix one "The Roman Ritual of Exorcism" p.459 ISBN 006065337x
- ^ "Concerning Exorcism", Book of Occasional Services, Church Publishing.
- ^ Methodist Conference Statement on Exorcism-1976.
- ^ Peck M. MD(1983)People of the Lie: the Hope for Healing Human Evil. Touchstone: New York
- ^ Poloma M. (1982) The Charismatic Movement: is there a new Pentecost? p97 Isbn. 0805797211
- ^ Cuneo M. (2001) American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty. Doubleday: New York. pp.111-128 isbn. 0385501765
- ^ Poloma M. (1982) The Charismatic Movement: is there a new Pentecost? p60 isbn:0805797211
- ^ Cuneo M. (2001) American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty. Doubleday: New York. pp.118-119 Isbn: 0385501765
- ^ Amorth G. (1990) An Exorcist Tells His Story. tns. MacKenzie N. Ignatius Press: San Francisco. pp157-160 isbn. 0898707102
- ^ Operation Clambake Presents: OT Levels
- ^ Dali's gift to exorcist uncovered Catholic News 14 October 2005
- ^ St. Louis - News - Hell of a House
- ^ Part I - The Haunted Boy: the Inspiration for the Exorcist
- ^ Archbishop: Mother Teresa underwent exorcism CNN 04 September 2001
- ^ a b How Exorcism Works
- ^ J. Goodwin, S. Hill, R. Attias "Historical and folk techniques of exorcism: applications to the treatment of dissociative disorders"
- ^ Journal of Personality Assessment (abstract)
- ^ Microsoft Word - Haraldur Erlendsson 1.6.03 Multiple Personality
- ^ Voice of Reason: Exorcisms, Fictional and Fatal
- William Baldwin, D.D.S., Ph.D., "Spirit Releasement Therapy". ISBN 1-88-265800-0. Practitioner & Instructor of Spirit Releasement Therapy, containing an extensive biliography.
- Shakuntala Modi, M.D., "Remarkable Healings, A Psychiatrist Discovers Unsuspected Roots of Mental and Physical Illness." ISBN 1-57174-079-1 Gives cases, and statistical summaries of the kinds of maladies remedied by this therapy.
- Malachi Martin, Hostage to the Devil. ISBN 0-06-065337-X.
- M. Scott Peck, Glimpses of the Devil : A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption. ISBN 0-7432-5467-8
- Max Heindel, The Web of Destiny (Chapter I - Part III: "The Dweller on the Threshold"--Earth-Bound Spirits, Part IV: The "Sin Body"--Possession by Self-Made Deamons--Elementals, Part V: Obsession of Man and of Animals), ISBN 0-911274-17-0,
- Frederick M Smith, The Self Possessed: Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilization. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. ISBN 0231137486
- Specialized Catholic web about Possession and Exorcism. Spain Exorcist Father Jose Antonio Fortea
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Exorcism
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Exorcism
- Exorcism tradition in Islam and Interviews with Muslim Exorcists Islamic View
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Exorcism
- Diocese of Worcester webpages on Ministry of Deliverance Anglican View
- On ghosts and exorcism in Vedic traditions
- Exorcism in the Orthodox Church
- Exorcism (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese)