Exorcism

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Painting of Saint Francis Borgia performing an exorcism by Goya

Exorcism (from Greek ἐξορκισμός, exorkismos - binding by oath) is the practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or an area they are believed to have possessed.[1] Depending on the spiritual beliefs of the exorcist, this may be done by causing the entity to swear an oath, performing an elaborate ritual, or simply by commanding it to depart in the name of a higher power. The practice is ancient and part of the belief system of many cultures and religions.

Requested and performed exorcisms had begun to decline in the United States by the 18th century and occurred rarely until the latter half of the 20th century when the public saw a sharp rise due to the media attention exorcisms were getting. There was “a 50% increase in the number of exorcisms performed between the early 1960s and the mid-1970s”.[2]

Christianity[edit]

In Catholic Christianity, exorcisms are performed in the name of Jesus Christ.[3] A distinction is made between a formal exorcism, which can only be conducted by a priest during a baptism or with the permission of a Bishop, and "prayers of deliverance" which can be said by anyone.

The Catholic rite for a formal exorcism, called a "Major Exorcism", is given in Section 11 of the Rituale Romanum.[4][5] The Ritual lists guidelines for conducting an exorcism, and for determining when a formal exorcism is required.[6] Priests are instructed to carefully determine that the nature of the affliction is not actually a psychological or physical illness before proceeding.[3]

In Catholic practice the person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is a consecrated priest. The exorcist recites prayers according to the rubrics of the rite, and may make use of religious materials such as icons and sacramentals. The exorcist invokes God—specifically the Name of Jesus—as well as members of the Church Triumphant and the Archangel Michael to intervene with the exorcism. According to Catholic understanding, several weekly exorcisms over many years are sometimes required to expel a deeply entrenched demon.[6][7]

In general, possessed persons are not regarded as evil in themselves, nor wholly responsible for their actions.[8] Therefore, practitioners regard exorcism as a cure and not some kind of punishment. The Catholic rite usually take this into account, ensuring that there is no violence to those possessed, only that they be tied down if deemed necessary for their own protection and that of the practitioners.[9]

Hinduism[edit]

Beliefs and practices pertaining to the practice of exorcism are prominently connected with Hindus. Of the four Vedas (holy books of the Hindus), the Atharva Veda is said to contain the secrets related to magic and alchemy.[10][11] The basic means of exorcism are the mantra and the yajna used in both Vedic and Tantric traditions. Vaishnava traditions also employ a recitation of names of Narasimha and reading scriptures, notably the Bhagavata Purana aloud.

According to Gita Mahatmya of Padma Purana, reading the 3rd, 7th and 9th chapter of Bhagavad Gita and mentally offering the result to departed persons helps them to get released from their ghostly situation. Kirtan, continuous playing of mantras, keeping scriptures and holy pictures of the deities (Shiva, Vishnu, Hanuman, Brahma, Shakti, etc.) (especially of Narasimha) in the house, burning incense offered during a Puja, sprinkling water from holy rivers, and blowing conches used in puja are other effective practices.[citation needed]

The main puranic resource on ghost and death-related information is Garuda Purana.[citation needed]

A complete description of birth and death and also about the human soul are explained in Katō Upanishad, a part of Yajur Veda. A summary of this is also available as a separate scripture called Kāttakaṃ.

Islam[edit]

Main article: Exorcism in Islam

In Islam, exorcism is called ruqya. It is used to repair the damage caused by sihr or black magic. Exorcisms today are part of a wider body of contemporary Islamic alternative medicine called al-Tibb al-Nabawi (Medicine of the Prophet).[12]

Islamic exorcisms consist of the treated person lying down, while a sheikh places a hand on a patient’s head while reciting verses from the Quran.[12] The drinking of holy water (Zamzam Water from Zamzam Well ) may also take place.[13]

Specific verses from the Quran are recited, which glorify God (e.g. The Throne Verse (Arabic: آية الكرسي Ayatul Kursi)), and invoke God's help. In some cases, the adhan/"ah-zan" (the call for daily prayers) is also read, as this has the effect of repelling non-angelic unseen beings or the jinn.

The Islamic prophet Muhammad taught his followers to read the last three suras from the Quran, Surat al-Ikhlas (The Fidelity), Surat al-Falaq (The Dawn) and Surat al-Nas (Mankind).

Judaism[edit]

Josephus reports exorcisms performed by administering poisonous root extracts and others by making sacrifices.[14] The Dead Sea Scrolls mention that exorcisms were done by the Essene branch of Judaism.

In more recent times, Rabbi Yehuda Fetaya authored the book Minchat Yahuda, which deals extensively with exorcism, his experience with possessed people, and other subjects of Jewish thought. The book is written in Hebrew and was translated into English.

Rabbi Gershon Winkler of New Mexico explains that the procedure for a Jewish exorcism is intended not only to drive away the possessing force, but to help both the possessor and the possessed in an act of healing. The Jewish exorcism ritual is performed by a rabbi who has mastered practical Kabbalah. Also present is a minyan (a group of ten adult males), who gather in a circle around the possessed person. The group recites Psalm 91 three times, and then the rabbi blows a shofar (a ram's horn).[15]

The shofar is blown in a certain way, with various notes and tones, in effect to "shatter the body" so that the possessing force will be shaken loose. After it has been shaken loose, the rabbi begins to communicate with it and ask it questions such as why it is possessing the body of the possessed. The minyan may pray for it and perform a ceremony for it in order to enable it to feel safe, and so that it can leave the person's body.[15]

Scientific view[edit]

Demonic possession is not a valid psychiatric or medical diagnosis recognized by either the DSM-V or the ICD-10. Those who profess a belief in demonic possession have sometimes ascribed to possession the symptoms associated with physical or mental illnesses, such as hysteria, mania, psychosis, Tourette's syndrome, epilepsy, schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder.[16][17][18] 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.[19] 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 illusion that exorcism works on people experiencing symptoms of possession is attributed by some to placebo effect and the power of suggestion.[20] Some suggest that supposedly possessed persons are actually narcissists or are suffering from low self-esteem and act like a "demon possessed person" in order to gain attention.[16]

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck researched exorcisms and claimed 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 effort to get his research validated, he attempted but failed to get the psychiatric community to add the definition of "Evil" to the DSM-IV.[21]

Although Peck's earlier work was met with widespread popular acceptance, his work on the topics of evil and possession generated significant debate and derision. Much was made of his association with (and admiration for) the controversial Malachi Martin, a Roman Catholic priest and a former Jesuit, despite the fact that Peck consistently called Martin a liar and manipulator.[22][23] Other criticisms leveled against Peck included claims that he had transgressed the boundaries of professional ethics by attempting to persuade his patients to accept Christianity.[22]

Exorcism and mental illness[edit]

One scholar has described psychosurgery as "Neurosurgical Exorcisms", with trepanation having been widely used to release demons from the brain[24] Meanwhile, another scholar has equated psychotherapy with exorcism[25]

Notable exorcisms[edit]

  • An October 2007 mākutu lifting in the Wellington, New Zealand suburb of Wainuiomata led to the death by drowning of a woman and the hospitalization of a teen. After a long trial, five family members were convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences.[26]
  • Mother Teresa allegedly 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."[27]
  • Anneliese Michel was a Catholic woman from Germany who was said to be possessed by six or more demons and subsequently underwent a secret ten-month-long voluntary exorcism in 1975. Two motion pictures, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Requiem are loosely based on Anneliese's story. The documentary movie Exorcism of Anneliese Michel [28] (in Polish, with English subtitles) features the original audio tapes from the exorcism. The two priests and her parents were convicted of negligent manslaughter for failing to call a medical doctor to address her eating disorder as she died weighing only 68 pounds. The case has been labelled a misidentification of mental illness, negligence, abuse, and religious hysteria.
  • Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, wrote an essay in 1994 about his personal experience of performing an exorcism on an intimate friend named "Susan" while in college.[29]
  • Michael Taylor in 1974.
  • A boy identified as Robbie Mannheim,[30][31] was the subject of an exorcism in 1949, which became the chief inspiration for The Exorcist, a horror novel and film written by William Peter Blatty, who heard about the case while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University. Robbie was taken into the care of Rev. Luther Miles Schulze, the boy's Lutheran pastor, after psychiatric and medical doctors were unable to explain the disturbing events associated with the teen; the minister then referred the boy to Rev. Edward Hughes, who performed the first exorcism on the teen.[32] The subsequent exorcism was partially performed in both Cottage City, Maryland and Bel-Nor, Missouri[33] by Father William S. Bowdern, S.J., Father Raymond Bishop S.J. and a then Jesuit scholastic Fr. Walter Halloran, S.J.[34]
  • Salvador Dalí is reputed to have received an exorcism from Italian friar Gabriele Maria Berardi while he was in France in 1947. Dalí created a sculpture of Christ on the cross that he gave the friar in thanks.[35]
  • Clara Germana Cele was a South African school girl who claimed to be possessed in 1906.
  • Johann Blumhardt performed the exorcism of Gottliebin Dittus over a two-year period in Möttlingen, Germany from 1842-1844. Pastor Blumhardt's parish subsequently experienced growth marked by confession and healing, which he attributed to the successful exorcism.[36][37]
  • George Lukins in 1778.

Cultural references[edit]

Exorcism has been a popular subject in fiction, especially horror.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jacobs, Louis (1999). "Exorcism". Oxford Reference Online (Oxford University Press). Retrieved 24 Jan 2011. 
  2. ^ Martin, M (1992). Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco. p. 120. 
  3. ^ a b Libreria Editrice Vaticana; Pope John Paul II, eds. (April 28, 2000), Article 1: Sacramentals, "Part II: The Celebration of The Christian Mystery, Section II: The Seven Sacraments of The Church, Chapter IV: Other Liturgical Celebrations", Catechism of the Catholic Church (2ND ed.) (Citta del Vaticano: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops): 928, ISBN 978-1-57455-110-5, retrieved Feb 15, 2012 
  4. ^ THE ROMAN RITUAL Translated by PHILIP T. WELLER, S.T.D.
  5. ^ http://www.liturgia.it/ritrom.pdf RITUALE ROMANUM
  6. ^ a b The Rite by Matt Baglio; Doubleday, New York, 2009.
  7. ^ An Exorcist Tells His Story by Fr. Gabriele Amorth; Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1999. Anthropological date collected by Mohr and Royal (2012), in which they surveyed nearly 200 Protestant Christian exorcists, revealed stark contrasts to traditional Catholic practices.
  8. ^ p.33, An Exorcist Tells His Story by Fr. Gabriele Amorth; Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1999.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ Werner 1994, p. 166
  11. ^ Monier-Williams 1974, pp. 25–41
  12. ^ a b http://www.theblaze.com/stories/some-asian-muslims-giving-up-western-meds-for-islamic-exorcisms-treatments/
  13. ^ http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/05/14/214122.html
  14. ^ Josephus, "B. J." vii. 6, § 3; Sanh. 65b.
  15. ^ a b An interview with a Rabbi concerning the Jewish view of possession and exorcism.
  16. ^ a b How Exorcism Works
  17. ^ J. Goodwin, S. Hill, R. Attias "Historical and folk techniques of exorcism: applications to the treatment of dissociative disorders"
  18. ^ Journal of Personality Assessment (abstract)
  19. ^ Microsoft Word - Haraldur Erlendsson 1.6.03 Multiple Personality
  20. ^ Voice of Reason: Exorcisms, Fictional and Fatal
  21. ^ Peck M. MD (1983). People of the Lie: the Hope for Healing Human Evil. New York: Touchstone. 
  22. ^ a b The devil you know, National Catholic Reporter, April 29, 2005, a commentary on Glimpses of the Devil by Richard Woods
  23. ^ The Patient Is the Exorcist, an interview with M. Scott Peck by Laura Sheahen
  24. ^ Silverman, W A. "Neurosurgical Exorcism." Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 15.2 (2001): 98-99.
  25. ^ Gettis, Alan. "Psychotherapy as exorcism." Journal of Religion and Health 15.3 (1976): 188-190.
  26. ^ "Deadly curse verdict: five found guilty". The Dominion Post. 13 June 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  27. ^ Archbishop: Mother Teresa underwent exorcism CNN 04 September 2001
  28. ^ Video on YouTube
  29. ^ http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/05/bobby-jindal-exorcised-his-college-girlfriend
  30. ^ Powers of the mind. TV Books. May 1999. ISBN 978-1-57500-028-2. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "The Reverend Luther Miles Schulze, was called in to help and took Mannheim to his home where he could study the phenomenon at close range;" 
  31. ^ Paranormal Experiences. Unicorn Books. 2009-06-08. ISBN 978-81-7806-166-5. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "A thirteen-year-old American boy named, Robert Mannheim, started using an...The Reverend Luther Miles Schulze, who was called to look into the matter,..." 
  32. ^ A Faraway Ancient Country. Lulu. 2007. ISBN 978-0-615-15801-3. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  33. ^ St. Louis - News - Hell of a House
  34. ^ Part I - The Haunted Boy: the Inspiration for the Exorcist
  35. ^ Dali's gift to exorcist uncovered Catholic News 14 October 2005
  36. ^ "Blumhardt's Battle: A Conflict With Satan". Thomas E. Lowe, LTD. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  37. ^ Friedrich Zuendel. "The Awakening: One Man's Battle With Darkness". The Plough. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Mohr, M. D., & Royal, K. D. (2012). "Investigating the Practice of Christian Exorcism and the Methods Used to Cast out Demons", Journal of Christian Ministry, 4, p. 35. Available at: http://journalofchristianministry.org/article/view/10287/7073.
  • William Baldwin, D.D.S., Ph.D., "Spirit Releasement Therapy". ISBN 1-882658-00-0. Practitioner & Instructor of Spirit Releasement Therapy, containing an extensive bibliography.
  • 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.
  • Bobby Jindal, BEATING A DEMON: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare. (New Oxford Review, December 1994)
  • David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna, The Dark Sacrament : True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2007. ISBN 0-06-123816-3. Ten detailed accounts from the casebooks of two exorcists, one Roman Catholic, the other Anglican. The cases are very recent.
  • Malachi Martin, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Living Americans. ISBN 0-06-065337-X.
  • M. Scott Peck, Glimpses of the Devil : A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption. ISBN
  • 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 Daemons—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 0-231-13748-6
  • Gabriele Amorth, An Exorcist Tells His Story. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999. Vatican's chief exorcist tells about Roman Catholic practice of exorcism with numerous anecdotes from his own experience.
  • G. Paxia, The Devil's Scourge - Exorcism during the Italian Renaissance, Ed. WeiserBooks 2002.
  • J McCarthy The Exorcists Handbook - Approaches the subject of exorcism in a clear non-religious manner. Golem Media Publishers Berkeley CA ISBN 978-1-933993-91-1
  • Piero Cantoni, Demonologia e prassi dell’esorcismo e delle preghiere di liberazione, en Fides Catholica 1 (2006,. [1].
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 391-395; 407.409.414.
  • Don Gino Oliosi, Il demonio come essere personale. Una verità di fede, Fede & Cultura, 2008.

External links[edit]