When Are Exorcisms Necessary?

Ghost Woman in Ruins Place

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When you see the word exorcism, you probably think back to the 1973 supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin with its gruesome scenes of death and demonic possession, but what do exorcisms look like in real life and when are they necessary?

It turns out, there are different types of possession that require someone, typically a catholic priest, to intervene. Jojo Wright, host of Paranomalish, dedicated an entire episode of his podcast to finding out what exactly an exorcism looks like off screen. Chad Manis, paranormal researcher for the podcast, shared his findings which included an article from Live Science titled: “Exorcism: Facts and Fiction About Demonic Possession.”

“A quote from the article, ‘While many Americans think of real exorcisms as relics of the Dark Ages, exorcisms continue to be performed, often on people who are emotionally and mentally disturbed,’” Manis read. “Whether those undergoing the exorcisms are truly possessed by spirits or demons is another matter entirely.”

The article argues that exorcisms work through the power of psychology and suggestion, however not everyone shares this view. The Catholic church for example has rules in place regarding exorcisms and even provides priests with the training needed to take on evil possessing spirits. Manis explains that Catholicism separates cases of demonic possession into three separate categories.

“There are simple exorcisms, baptismal exorcisms, and real exorcisms,” he said. “To be honest, as you dig into this it can all get pretty ugly.”

The first two categories are straightforward. Simple exorcism is when a priest blesses a place or thing to rid it of evil influence. Things like the Annabelle doll, or The Amityville Horror house.

Second, baptismal exorcisms happen to babies before they are baptized. Priests bless the children to rid them of “original sin,” which is the idea that every person born has inherited the sin of Adam and Eve.

Finally, there is real exorcism, which is the most well-known. Exorcists use holy water, crucifixes, and pray over the possessed person. Occasionally the afflicted person is restrained so as to not injure the exorcist, themselves, or others. People possessed by evil spirits have been known to have abnormal strength along with other factors.

“According to the church, tell-tale signs of demonic possession include speaking or understanding languages the person never learned, knowing and revealing things the person has no way earthly of knowing, physical strength beyond the person’s natural physical makeup, and a violent aversion to God, the virgin Mary, the cross, and other objects of the Catholic faith,” said Manis. “You’ve identified the signs and you want to take action? Time to call the church.”

Check out “The Exorcism Episode” to hear the full discussion on exorcisms as well as a lineup of social interviews with eyewitnesses and actual exorcists. Find the Paranormalish podcast on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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