This is the definition of the word “exorcism” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Exorcism is (1) the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice; (2) the means employed for this purpose, especially the solemn and authoritative adjuration of the demon, in the name of God, or any of the higher power in which he is subject.
The word, which is not itself biblical, is derived from exorkizo, which is used in the Septuagint (Genesis 24:3 = cause to swear; III(I) Kings 22:16 = adjure), and in Matthew 26:63, by the high priest to Christ, “I adjure thee by the living God. . .” The non-intensive horkizo and the noun exorkistes (exorcist) occur in Acts 19:13, where the latter (in the plural) is applied to certain strolling Jews who professed to be able to cast out demons. Expulsion by adjuration is, therefore, the primary meaning of exorcism, and when, as in Christian usage, this adjuration is in the name of God or of Christ, exorcism is a strictly religious act or rite. But in ethnic religions, and even among the Jews from the time when there is evidence of its being vogue, exorcism as an act of religion is largely replaced by the use of mere magical and superstitious means, to which non-Catholic writers at the present day sometimes quite unfairly assimilate Christian exorcism. 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.
According to Scientists or shall we say skeptics, 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 alter 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 illusion that exorcism works on people experiencing symptoms of possession is attributed by some to placebo effect and the power of suggestion. Some 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.
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 attempt to get his research validated, he attempted but failed to get the psychiatric community to add the definition of “Evil” to the DSM-IV. 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. Other criticisms leveled against Peck included misdiagnoses based upon a lack of knowledge regarding dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), and claims that he had transgressed the boundaries of professional ethics by attempting to persuade his patients to accept Christianity.
Some Examples of Exorcisms
* 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 that 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. There is also a documentary movie Exorcism of Anneliese Michel (in Polish, but the English subtitles are also available) featuring the original audio tapes from the proceedings of exorcism.
* George Lukins
* A boy identified as Robbie Mannheim, 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. The subsequent exorcism was partially performed in both Cottage City, Maryland and Bel-Nor, Missouri by Father William S. Bowdern, S.J., Father Raymond Bishop S.J. and a then Jesuit scholastic Fr. Walter Halloran, S.J.
* Clara Germana Cele
* Michael Taylor
* 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.”
* An October 2007 mākutu lifting in the Wellington, New Zealand suburb of Wainuiomata led to the death of a woman and the hospitalization of a teen. After a long trial, five family members were convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences.
* 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.
I ask all of you. Have you witnessed an exorcism? If you have, feel free to comment.