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Exorcist - Truth or Delusion?
The Ouija Board
Ouija board game is a trademark a board on which are marked the letters of the alphabet. Answers to questions are spelt out by a pointer or glass held by the fingertips of the participants, and are supposedly formed by spiritual forces.— Dictionary.com
The Death of an Aunt and a Ouija Board Seance
Few people know that The Exorcist movie was based on the diary of a Catholic Priest's efforts to "cure" a young teenage boy afflicted by demons.
It all began in 1949 in the small town of Cottage City, Maryland, where a young impressionable boy had the misfortune of experiencing the death of a favored aunt. The boy was described as quiet and studious, what we would call a nerd in today's culture. He was most certainly entering puberty when these events began. He also experienced the death of a family member at the same time.
The game was becoming popular at this time. It was a novelty game for old Houdini fans. The game was marketed as a way to contact the spirits of loved ones that had passed on to the great "beyond". Ouija board
After the seance with the ouija board, the boy experienced some typical poltergeist phenomenon, but this was also a little understood thing during that time.
The family heard unusual sounds, odd scratching, knocking in the walls, marching feet, and shaking of furniture (particularly the bed in which the boy slept). The young man also presented with odd marks on his body, similar to the way some teens cut themselves today.
The boy was examined by a doctor and referred to a psychiatrist who could find nothing untoward in his exams. Eventually, a catholic priest, Father Hughes, was consulted and, according to witnesses, was declared possessed by "Legions" of demons.
The boy was taken to a reclusive area where he was confined and ministered to by Father Hughes and others. He became so violent that he was restrained and eventually managed to harm Father Hughes with a bed spring cut. The good Father referred the boy to a diocese in St. Louis where further "exorcisms" were performed and a diary was kept.
This diary later became the basis of the book, The Exorcist, by William P. Blatty. It was also made into a movie that became quite famous and is still considered the source of the almost instantaneous resurgence of belief in demonic possession.
Eventually, the boy was "cured" of his demon possession when a nun introduced an icon of St. Michael (the patron saint of exorcisms) into his room and the poltergeist activity seemed to disappear.
The boy grew up and later became an employee of NASA.
From The Exorcist Movie Trivia File:
Blatty was asked to rename the movie because at the time, practically no one had ever heard of the word "exorcism", and had no idea of what the Catholic church did during one.
The Exorcist Puppet
The Roman Catholic Church and Exorcism
Oddly, the boy in the original diary on which the movie was made, was not a Catholic at the time of his "possession". His parents asked Father Hughes to convert their son to Catholicism for the purposes of the exorcism.
Even though the Roman Catholic church is considered to be the authority in the matter of demonic exorcisms, they are not the only religion to practice the removal of demons from human beings. In fact, demonic possession, has been allegedly been around even before the birth of Catholicism and Christianity.
The Roman Catholics have established a patron saint specifically for exorcisms, St. Michael, and they have a specific book, written in Latin, that prescribes the litany for compelling the demons out of the possessed soul.
The Catholics have also established procedures and education for priests that give them a "license" to practice official exorcisms within the church. Only trained priests are eligible to perform these rites.
Up until the movie, The Exorcist, came out and became popular, very few exorcisms were performed worldwide. Since the movie came out, interest in the occult (hidden knowledge) has exploded and continues to this day.
Demonic Possession Versus Mental Illnesses and Conditions
Common Symptoms of "Possession"
Scientific or Medical Name
Superhuman strength and muscle spasms
Fear of being punished or experiencing pain and stress can cause high levels.
Speaking in 'tongues' or old languages
Mumbling and repetition of some phrase or language that was overheard and is exclaimed like a hiccup in the brain.
Cursing and twitching
Tourettes is an irritation in a specific area of the brain that produces loud cursing and facial or body tics
Hearing voices and 'seeing' invisible things is a classic symptom of schizophrenia
'Religious' visions and 'sinister' thoughts are particular to right hemisphere brain irritation or damage
Skin eruptions or cuts
Especially in teens. When things become emotionally unbearable, teens often cut, mark or burn themselves to release the 'pain'. Some people cut themselves in Patterns or others perceive patterns in the marks. This is called Pariedolia.
Moving objects and furniture
Excessive kinetic energy
This one and abnormal sounds may be figments of an overactive imagination or hyperactivity syndrome.
Paracusia or auditory hallucinations
Many people experience auditory hallucinations. Sometimes common sounds are perceived as louder than normal or unrecognizable sounds are thought to be caused by 'ghosts'. Usually, there are mundane explanations for odd sounds in the house.
Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern where none actually exists.— Wikipedia definition
Demons in the Flames
Pariedolia - Can you see the 'demons' in the flames above?
One of the most unusual symptoms found in people thought to be possessed is the presence of marks on the patient's body.
Sometimes these marks are quite similar to the cutting marks found on emotionally disturbed teenagers when their young minds cannot cope with family stress or the stress of major hormonal changes in their young bodies.
Teens often have rather severe nightmares and can injure themselves in their sleep. These marks can resemble welts and 'burn' marks.
The idea that these marks form a pattern on a body is the result of pariedolia. Most people have a tendency to see patterns where others do not. This also results in the phenomenon of seeing "Jesus or Mary" patterns in toast or tree trunks or window panes.
Induced in a patient by a physician's activity, manner, or therapy.— The Free Dictionary.com
Iatrogenic Phenomenon in Demonic Possession
Outside observers and impartial investigators often encounter iatrogenic phenomenon in so-called demonic possession.
Since 'demonic possession' is almost exclusively found in the young and mentally ill patients, it is frequent that their treatment is often based on what the 'exorcist' believes he is seeing and hearing.
The power of suggestion is almost immediately apparent when the exorcist asks such questions as:
- is there any speaking of tongues?
- is there any sign of speaking in Latin?
- has there been any strange marks found on the body?
- has the family heard or seen strange occurrences?
These and other suggestive questions are asked almost exclusively of suspected 'possessions'. The answers almost always direct the priest's treatment of the alleged patient.
It's almost as if the family and clergy are 'making the case' for possession and try to present scenarios that may or may not occur. The family and patients are then either consciously or subconsciously trying to fit the behavior of the patient to the symptoms of demonic possession in a kind of self-fulfilling scenario.
The God Helmet
Truth or Delusion
Several medical doctors, psychiatrists, and researchers have tried to find explanations for demonic possession or the symptoms that result from alleged possession. The video above is about these types of studies.
There is evidence to suggest that 'demonic possession' is related more to mental illnesses and strong hormonal disruptions in children than it is to actual spirits and demons.
Some sufferers of possession have been later found to have schizophrenia, other mental illnesses, and even brain tumors.
The case study of the possessed boy in the beginning of this hub just grew out of his so-called possession, and this is typical of teenage possessions. This suggests that they were not demonically possessed at all, but rather simply going through strong hormonal changes in their bodies.
What do you think?
Is demonic possession and exorcism real? or delusion?
© 2015 Lela