Exorcism: Is it Real?
Dear Ali Sina,
I would like you to shed some of your marvelous knowledge on issue regarding spirits, jinns or demon procession in your Alisina.org site.
After reading a lot regarding concept of God in your Alisina.org section i came to view that you are right that we have to search our own light.
It’s hard to deny and accept God, but at the same time this spirits possession issue confuses me. If there is no life after death, how comes there are jinns?
I want to know your idea on this matter. Let me know if you are in doubt about after life or God then how you will face this problem of spirit. Will you then believe there is life after death or God?
If you believe in spirits then for sure there is life after death and God must be there because spirits are like souls. And many people who do exorcisms take bible and Quran’s help and they succeed in curing the patient. If that is true does it mean spirits believe in God and religions, so that proves there is God and religion.
Please shed some light in this matter so we people who are now thinking rationally can answer other people and save them from superstitious beliefs.
The answer to this question is going to be long. I apologize a priori. I can’t shorten it but I will do my best to make it entertaining.
I will break down my answer in four parts.
In Part I, I will discuss the logical absurdity of the belief in demons and will explain why, if God exists, the belief in demon-possession and exorcism is an insult to God and a blasphemy.
In Part II, I will show that exorcism is a sham and exorcists are con artists and swindlers. I will expose one of the most renowned charlatans in this field. You will then have no doubt that his man is lying.
In Part III, I will answer the million dollar question. Why sane people get sucked into this scam, behave like a loony and cooperate with the exorcist to deceive others. The answer to this question is an eye opener and unveils a fascinating and bizarre facet of our human psychology.
In Part IV I will talk about the danger of exorcism. This is not a harmless feel good exercise. It is a serious threat to the well-being and mental health of the victims. This demonic practice (pardon the pun) must be banned and the con artists practicing it must be exposed.
Is exorcism a godly practice?
At this point I am not going to discuss the existence or non-existence of God. Let us assume that God exists. I would like to argue that if God is real, exorcism is blasphemy. It is the biggest insult to God, as it undermines His fairness and His sanity.
I am also not going to argue whether spirits are real or not. This article is about demons and demon possession. My goal is to prove demons don’t exist and demon possession and exorcism is a sham.
Religions tell us that God is the creator of everything and that Satan and demons are also creations of God. As the story goes, God created them good and they rebelled and became fallen angels.
Here is where things get problematic. According to religions Satan and his cohort of demons are left free to deceive people and make them go astray. We are also told that these demons are given the power to snatch the bodies of people, enter them and use them as a vehicle to do their mischief. At the same time we are assured that God is all-knowing, all-wises, benevolent, just, compassionate and merciful. The problem is that these two narratives don’t add up. They are mutually exclusive.
Let us say you have many children. You have also a venomous snake in a cage. Will you let the reptile loose in the house? Will your responsibility end by just telling your children to be careful? If you do such thing you can’t claim to be a good parent. If someone reports you or if one of your children is hurt, you will not only lose the custody of your children, you will be also sent to jail for endangering their lives. This would be a crime.
Those who believe in exorcism and think demons are given the power to possess people, accuse God of this very crime. In fact God is even guiltier than the criminally negligent parent in the above example. God created Lucifer, knowing fully well that he will rebel. Why would he do such thing?
Let us say I manufacture toys for living. My products are not fully guaranteed. Under certain condition, say, when the temperature rises above 40 degree centigrade, they explode causing death. Can I then claim innocence when children are killed while playing with my products? Of course not!
But that is not all. Let us say I receive an order from a hot country where I know the temperature exceeds 40 degrees. I know that my toys will explode and will cause the death of those handling them. In that case I am no longer criminally negligent, but a criminal, period. This is premeditated murder.
The proponents of exorcism who claim they love God accuse Him of this very crime. Didn’t God know that Satan will become a fallen angel? Why He created him? Why did He allow Satan roam on Earth and seduce humans? This is not criminal negligence, it’s crime pure and simple. Does a God like that deserve to be praised?
But wait! Things get even worse. God gave humans a brain and a rational mind. But everything he does is irrational. He then says we should ignore our reason and believe in things that appear as nonsense. If really God is this crazy, He is not worthy of worship. Such a cynical and malevolent god deserves our scorn.
What is the origin of human reason? Does it come from Satan or from God? If from God, why should we be punished for using it and if it comes from Satan, maybe Satan is the real God and this other fellow we call God is the big deceiver. A god that builds a torture chamber and barbeques humans for not just millions or billions or trillions of years, but for eternity is a sick sadist being. He can’t possibly be the real God.
But wait! We have not even scratched the surface. This so called loving god is so evil that he allows demons to enter our body and use us as they wish. Who gave them such power? Who else but God? Why would He do such thing? According to my limited human reason this is very evil. A loving wise God should know better. Well I have only human reason. Can those endowed with divine reason lower themselves and explain to us mortals God’s reason behind this apparent insanity? How can the creator of the world, design us in such a fashion that demons can easily enter our body and take control over us?
Before anyone say, we let it happen by something we did, let me remind you that many victims of this so called demonic possession are children.
I don’t buy this bovine stool. You see! I am afraid that God may actually exist and that I may have to face him one day. How will I answer Him if he asks me, “Ali, why did you attribute insanity to me? Didn’t I give you a brain to distinguish right from wrong and truth from falsehood? Wasn’t this brain the tool you used for your everyday life? Why did you ignore it when it came to the most important thing which is finding me? You shelved your reason, my biggest gift to you, and blindly followed charlatans? That is what I fear. If God asks me these questions, I wouldn’t know how to answer. I would melt in shame and disappear in the cracks of the earth. That would be hell. The pain caused by shame can be far more tormenting than that caused by fire.
The very notion that a loving and wise god would allow evil spirits take control of humans, belies his wisdom and his sanity. It would make Him an unjust and evil God. The belief in demon and/or spirit possession is an insult to God. Those who believe in God must know that attributing evil and insanity to Him is blasphemy.
Is Exorcism Real?
I hope by now you are convinced that the belief in Satan, demons and demon possession is an insult to God’s sanity and omnipotence. Now let us explore whether exorcism is real and whether ghosts exist.
I have not seen an exorcism in live but there are plenty of videos on Youtube. Subjects behave as if they are demon possessed. Grownup people act like crazy. They shout, swear, throw themselves to the ground, make faces, curse, etc. If they are not possessed why would they do such thing? In this part we will see whether what they do is genuine or they are putting up an act. But first you need to watch this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uvU4f07sHE
Bob Larson is a renowned exorcist. He travels all over world performing exorcism and videotaping them. He has made a name for himself and is respected by those who believe in this craft. The woman in the above video, Veronica, is not a paid actress. She believes that she is demon possessed and has come for help.
Larson asks Veronica about her children and after finding out that she has a twin out of wedlock, he announces they are under the curse of illegitimacy.
Really? Does the wise, loving and compassionate God curse innocent children born out of wedlock? What fault they had in this? Could they avoid being conceived? Is this not ascribing injustice to God? What this man is saying is blasphemy. But let us proceed.
Larson asks about the ethnicity of Veronica and when she reveals her Honduran and Mexican background he says, so you have both Aztec and Mayan curses.
Okay. Now we know that anyone with Aztec or Mayan ancestry is under curse. That is only the benign of the list. According to Larson everyone who is born in a religion other than the one he belongs to is under curse. Muslims worship Allah, a false god. They are definitely under curse. Of course if you ask a Muslim exorcist he will tell you that all non-Muslims are under curse. But we don’t want to split hair. The question we’d like to ask Larson is whether this woman had any say in the choice of her parents. Didn’t God make that choice for her? So why would He curse her for what only He is responsible? If being born to non-Christian parents brings the curse of God, shouldn’t God be cursed for making that happen?
Here comes the fun part. Larson orders two persons to hold Veronica and IMMEDIATELY she acts as if she is demon possessed. She was okay until a second ago, acting perfectly normal. There was no sign of demon possession in her. But as soon as Larson tells the folks to hold her, a demon jumps in her, in no time, so Larson can expel it. She becomes hysterical and starts hissing, cursing and shouting. “Get away from me,” she growls. Is she really possessed? She sure acts like it. If not, why is she behaving in this fashion? We will get to that in Part III. In this part we are going to expose the exorcist.
Larson asks one of the ancestors of Veronica to come forward and speak through her. He specifies, “The one who is angry.” As soon as Larson utters the word angry Veronica acts angry. What a rude ancestor! What happened to your manners spirit? Instead of saying, hi, how do you do, I am so and so, what can I do for you, this spirit greets Larson with wild eyes and screams. Oh come on. Take it easy spirit. Larson is here to help your descendant. Don’t you want to thank him?
Veronica has millions of ancestors. Just do the math. She has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents, 32, great great great grandparents. Go back ten generations and you can count over 1000 of her ancestors. Go back 20 generations and you can find over 1,000,000 ancestors. If you go back 30 generations, give or take 700 years, the number of Veronica’s ancestors exceeds one billion. Let us stop here. If we go further we will find that her ancestors are the same ancestor of all of us, including Larson’s. They walked out of Africa some 30-40 thousand years ago and yes they were pagan. Has Larson broken the curse of his own ancestry? If not he better hurry or he may become possessed, if he is not already.
The most extraordinary part of this exorcism is that all Veronica’s ancestors have come to possess her. They are all there ready to jump into her body. As soon as Larson says he wants to talk to the angry one, that ancestor’s spirit snarls. How did this spirit know that he is the angry one of all? Among all the billions of ancestors, was he the only one who had anger problem?
Larson addresses the angry spirit. “What did they do to you?” He asks authoritatively. “I don’t know,” responds Veronica’s ancestor through her.
Come on spirit. You could easily identify yourself among all the billions of ancestors as the angry one and responded in a fraction of second with your rumble and you don’t know what they did to you? Larson will reveal your little secret. He knows everything.
“You don’t know, or you don’t want to tell? What did they do to you?” Larson shouts.
The spirit looks confused. He does not know what to say. He stares at Larson, bewildered. Okay Bob, tell him what they did to him.
“I know what ultimately they wanted to do is sacrifice you,” Larson informs the spirit. “Did they get the job done?” The spirit does not know. It seems this is the first time someone told him what they did to him. “Did they spill your blood?” asks Larson scornfully and then answers his own question. “They took your heart; offered it to the god,” he whispers. The spirit hisses. “First they break you,” explains Larson. “But there is a God in heaven. Stay focused here (pointing at his own eyes), not the god your people worship. He’s in my eyes. He is in me. He wants to help you. Say I want this god.”
Veronica is subdued. She is on the verge of breaking down in tears. She softly repeats I want this god.
But wait a minute. Now it is me who is getting confused. I thought Larson was talking to the spirit of the ancestor. If this ancestor is possessing Veronica’s body, how come she is responding? Or are the spirit and Veronica one and the same?
Larson asks Veronica to repeat after him, “I want peace.” She repeats with her broken voice. Larson then asks her to say I am angry. Suddenly Veronica disappears and the spirit comes in hissing and snarling. This seems to be a bit confusing. Who is who?
The only explanation I can find is that Larson asks Veronica to say I am angry. She misunderstands him and thinks she has to act angry, which leads to believe Veronica and spirit are one and the same.
When Larson asks Veronica to say I am filled with anger and murder, she acts like the angry spirit that possess her and when he asks her to say I want to be at peace she suddenly becomes Veronica, the woman who is pained. She acts out everything Larson says.
Larson makes Veronica to repeat after him, “The God who gave his son to die for me will give me peace, if I forgive those who sacrificed me.”
Okay, now it becomes clear that Larson was talking to the angry spirit of Veronica’s ancestor all along. It was Veronica’s mistake in thinking that he is talking to her. Good. Now everything is clear. The spirit is saved and he is told to go in peace with Jesus to heaven. Jesus must be standing behind the door waiting. He goes happily, finally set free. After so many centuries of torment Larson restores his peace in just two minutes. Neither Jesus could do that nor God. Veronica is also set free. Nothing brings more tears to my eyes than a happy ending.
This poor ancestor was a victim of a barbaric religion. They sacrificed him and took his heart offering it to their god. The ancestor himself did not remember any of that. Larson was kind enough to remind him. How did Larson know about all this? Maybe that is the secret of his trade so we won’t ask. What we want to know is why Veronica’s ancestor was condemned when he was a victim and why was he haunting his descendant? Why he was not given salvation after suffering such a gruesome death? I don’t understand how justice works with God. He punishes innocent people for sins of their parents and ancestors. He sends people born before Jesus to hell. Muhammad said that those born before him will go to hell. But let us ignore him. He was just an impostor. Let us listen to what Larson says. Do people who had no chance to meet Christ because they died before he was born go to hell? Is this justice? How can we reconcile the fact that all the Aztecs, Mayans, Hindus, Buddhist, Taoists, animists and pagans go to hell with the repeated claim that God loves everyone?
Larson then calls Veronica. The spirit has left her and now she is back in her body. He instructs her to say, “The Aztecs and the Mayans, all of them are blood coveters.” Veronica says the first part but reacts angrily when her ancestors are demonized. She howls. Is it she or is the ancestor back? There does not seem to be coordination between the exorcist and the subject. This is an act you improvise as you play it. She is not supposed to act angry as Veronica. Veronica is the victim. It must be that pesky ancestor again. Why did he come back? Wasn’t he saved and didn’t Jesus take him to heaven? Why would he part company with his savior and return to pester his descendant? That must be a crazy ancestor.
Larson bangs the Bible on Veronica’s head. He points his finger menacingly at the spirit possessing her and commands, “I told you to stay out of the way. Go down.”
Go down? But Mr. Larson, I believe you handed him to Jesus to take him up. Did you lie to him? Is that why he came back? Or are you ad libbing and making the whole thing up?
Larson then calls on Veronica to come back and say with him, “I break the curse of the bastard on my children.” Veronica repeats the words, but the spirit jumps back in her and makes menacing faces at Larson. I am not a woman, but if I were and had bastard children and someone said they are cursed I will not make menacing faces at him. I will kick his ass and throw him out of the room. That is when I am not possessed. When I am possessed I will smash his nose and break his balls. How can innocent children born out of wedlock be cursed? What kind of sick god would curse children for a sin they had no part in it? Who assigns souls to fetuses? If it is God then shouldn’t He be cursed? Einstein said two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity; and I am not sure about the universe.
Veronica and the spirit switch their positions back and forth. Veronica is subdued and pained while the spirit is defiant and angry. At one point Veronica says that her grandpa murdered her grandma. But the voice is that of the angry spirit. She is supposed to use her own voice. This tragedy happened to her not to the spirit possessing her. If what she says is true this woman has all the reasons to be haunted. But she is not haunted by demons or spirits. She is haunted by the tragic event that took place in her family. She needs a psychotherapist, not an exorcist, to get over her psychological pain.
Veronica is finally set free from her ancestor. Everyone cheers and Larson glorifies God. He asks Veronica who did this for you, who gets the glory and who has the power to set you free. Veronica responds, Jesus, the Lord and the Lord alone, my God, my great God. This is only the appearance. In reality it is Larson who is claiming all the credit. All this theatrics is false modesty. Remember that he claimed, God “is in my eyes. He is in me.” He is claiming all that glory that comes with being an instrument of God for himself.
The video has more theatrics. Larson has made many other videos that are available on Youtube. Let us study one more. I invite you to watch his other videos and analyze them with the same critical mind. Analyze the videos of other exorcists and you’ll find they are all charlatans.
In the above video a woman named Jennifer, says she feels nothingness and she does not feel God. She then says she does not have any bad memories, except that last year her childhood girlfriend told her that she had memories that her neighbor might have molested her when she was 4 years old. This made Jennifer think that maybe she too had been molested, but she does not remember this happening. She remembered going to her girlfriend’s house playing and the guy, but did not remember anything about being sexually molested. The fact is that if she does remember, it is very likely that it has not happened. Sexual molestation of children leaves a deep scar that cannot be easily forgotten. Some women make such claims even if it is not true. They do it to portray themselves as victims for attention and sympathy.
Larson tries to make Jennifer remember that she was molested. “I want the child who knows the truth to come to me.” He says. What child? That child is now a grown up woman. He says to be an exorcist. His expertise is allegedly in call on the spirits and demons. Split personalities of one individual are all the same individual so there is no spirit of a child in Jennifer. There are no different spirits for each stage or year of our life. “I want the child who knows the truth to come to me,” is sheer nonsense.
Jennifer goes into trance and starts acting like a little girl. Larson hugs her and says, “Come on sweet heart! Who hurt you?” Jennifer becomes hysteric. Larson encourages that behavior. “That is okay,” he says. “I want angry Jennifer.” He grabs Jennifer by her neck. “Look at me. Are you protecting the 4 year old?” Who are you talking to dear Bob? Are you talking to Jenifer or to a ghost that you have met in her?
Jennifer switches from one personality to another – sometimes acting as herself, sometimes as a 4 years old child and sometimes as an angry ghost that growls, snarls and curses. She looks confused as to which personality she should have.
Larson treats Jennifer roughly. He has to treat the bad ghosts roughly, not the poor victims. But Larson knows what he is doing. He wants to shock his subjects so they become angry and start putting up the show for him. Jenifer looks frustrated. She says, “She (the little child) doesn’t know.” This is what she said in the beginning. She said she has no recollection of being molested. But Larson wants her to say that she has been molested. “You know!” he tells her commandingly. “Now tell me what happened. Do you know who did it?” he shouts. Jennifer is angry. “Nothing happened to her,” she shouts back. But Larson is not going to give up. “That is a lie.” He yells. “That is a lie and you know it.”
How do you know this is a lie Bob? Where you there or a ghost inside you has told you about it? How can you be so sure she is lying?
Larson places the Bible on Jennifer’s head and yelps, “Who are you? Who are you? [What is] your name? Your name? Your name spirit? Who are you?” Jennifer growls and wiggles acting as if she is possessed. Finally, she utters a word. It is incomprehensible. Larson recognizes the spirit. He knows all the billions of spirits who have lived in the last hundreds of thousands of years (or is it 6,000 years?) and knows who is who, and recognizes them only by their first name. The occupant of Jennifer happens to be the ghost of someone who lived 150 generations ago (roughly 3500). Larson wants to know how the ghost got into Jenifer. “Witchcraft,” reveals the ghost through Jenifer.
Larson then asks the name of his chief. Jennifer does not know it and therefore her ghost remains silent, sneering at Larson. As usual Larson knows the answer to his question. He puts his face close to the face of Jennifer and derisively says, “Hello Jezebel. We meet again. You know! It gets a little tiresome to see your ugly face.” Only Larson can see Jezebel. We can only see Jenifer, who is not ugly. Jennifer is offended and retorts “me too.”
The cleverest con artists often commit the dumbest mistakes. Here is Larson’s big blunder. He names Jezebel as the spirit possessing Jenifer when we never hear the name Jezebel coming out or Jennifer’s mouth. How did he come to that conclusion? There are only two ways he could have known it. He either has a personal demon that informs him the secrets of the unknown or he is lying. He commits another mistake when he says how he feels about meeting Jezebel’s ugly face. How can he see the ghost’s face when the only way the dead spirits communicate is through the possessed subjects? And ff Jezebel is using Jennifer to communicate, why all information about her comes from Larson and not from the mouth of Jenifer? It is not difficult to spot a conman.
Who the hell is Jezebel anyway? Jezebel is a biblical character from 9th century B.C. She was a princess identified in the Book of Kings as the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre (Phoenicia) and the wife of Ahab, king of north Israel- a very powerful woman. She pertains to the time of the divided kingdom. The Israelites had formed two kingdoms. The northern kingdom was called the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) and the southern kingdom was known as the Kingdom of Judah.
Rivalries between the two kingdoms were rife. Each had its own god and religious book and tried to discredit the god of the other in order to undermine their legitimacy. Jezebel and Ahab glorified Baal. In the Kingdom of Judah, Jehovah was worshiped as god. The fact that Jews worshiped different gods and different religions casts doubt on the authenticity of Moses. Some Biblical scholars have concluded that Moses is a myth. Whether he was a myth or a real person, there is little doubt that the stories attributed to him are mythical and his so called books, the first five chapters in the Bible, are apocryphal, written centuries after his death. (See Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman)
Jezebel was an Arab. This was 15 centuries before Islam when Arabs and Jews intermingled and intermarried. The irreconcilable enmity between these two people starts with Muhammad and will end ONLY when Islam is discredited and eradicated, or as Muslims wish, the Jews are exterminated. Anyone telling you otherwise is too ignorant of Islam.
After Ahab’s death the prophet Elisha plotted to overthrow his house. He killed his two young sons and bribed his officials to murder Jezebel. The corrupted officials threw their queen out of a window and left her corpse to be eaten by dogs. Jezebel became associated with false prophets and false gods. History is written by the victor. Had it been the other way round, Elisha would have been remembered as a false prophet and Baal would have become the chief god of the Jews. Far from being a holy man Elisha was a murderous priest very much like Khomeini. The world knows the truth about Khomeini, but in Iran he is promoted as a holy imam. People go to his grave and pray for their cures. Imagine if the future was only left with the Iranian version of history. Then everyone would have thought that that mass murderer was a holy man.
Baal found worshipers among Arabs and finally became their chief god in Mecca. He was known affectionately by his title, al ilah (the god) or simply allah. His symbol, the crescent, became the symbol of Islam.
Larson now has identified his favorite nemesis, of course without any help from Jenifer who never said anything about Jezebel. What is the point of all these interrogations if Larson knows the answer to his questions? If you watch his videos and pay attention to him and not the the acts of his subjects, you’ll see when he asks a question, he also provides the answer. His subjects play along and put up a show pretending to be possessed. Jezebel seems to be ubiquitous in Larson’s exorcisms. She is in most his female subjects.
At this point Jenifer can no longer hold her laughter. Larson also laughs. This is a very telling moment. They both know they are putting up an act and there is no Jezebel. But they also know that the game must be played. Jezebel is like the emperor’s invisible cloak. Both Larson and Jenifer gain something from this farce. What is in it for Jenifer? That is the subject I will discuss in Part III.
Larson asks, “What is so funny.” “I don’t know what you are doing,” responds the giggling Jenifer. Who is the speaker here? It can’t be Jezebel because, as we learned, the angry she and Larson share a long story together to the extent that they are tired of each other’s ugly faces. Jezebel wouldn’t say “I don’t know what you are doing.” She has been through this with Larson time and time again. So it must be Jennifer. She is the one who is new to this game and confused. Also the voice that utters these words is not the angry voice of a mad spirit. It is the sweet voice of Jenifer. But Larson addresses his imaginary invisible rival.
“O rly? Let’s get this,” responds Larson now looking serious, into Jenifer’s eyes. “You are a demon. I am a real exorcist. This is not the movie.” Come on Bob. Let’s get serious. Jezebel was a human, not a demon. If you know her for such a long time how come you don’t know what she is?
Also can you please tell us what Jezebel has to do with Jennifer’s alleged child molestation? There are billions of dead souls that according to you are going around haunting people. How come you always find Jezebel in most of your female subjects?
More theatrics follow. Larson shouts at the ghost of Jezebel and orders her to get out of the 4 year old child and out of the angry Jenifer. We already discussed that there is only one Jenifer. We don’t have a different spirit for every year or every day of our life. Larson then places the Bible on Jenifer’s head and she shakes and wiggles and screams and screeches and finally releases herself from the claws of the evil Jezebel.
What is really going on? If Jezebel is only a fiction why does Jenifer act in this way? Why she and other Larson’s subjects cooperate with him when apparently they are not paid actors and seem to be genuine? That is the million dollars question that I’ll answer in part III.
Part III: Psychological Disorders Explain Demon Possessions
In part one of this article, I explained why the belief in demons and specially demon possession is denying the wisdom and fairness of God and attributing insanity to the maker of the universe. In part two, I analyzed two cases of exorcism performed by Reverend Bob Larson, one of the leading exorcists in America with ministry in over 100 countries and showed that he is not getting any information from his subjects or the alleged spirits that possess them. The information comes from him. The subjects merely put up a show that validates what he says.
In this part I will explain the mental cases that are misinterpreted as demon possession why people act is such a fashion. The answer to this question is in psychology, not in demonology.
Each case is different. Several psychological disorders can explain the behavior of the so called demons possessed.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
People suffering from this disorder have an excessive need for attention and engage in inappropriate attentions seeking behavior. They feel unappreciated when they are not the center of attention and do everything to draw attention to themselves. They may do something dramatic, exaggerate and create scenes. They can be sexually provocative beyond what is appropriate for a social context. Their emotional expressions, although intense, is shallow. They maybe excessively concerned for their appearance and phish for compliment and are easily upset by critical comments about how they look. Please note in the above video how Jennifer retorts saying “me too” when Bob Larson tells her how he is tired of seeing her ugly face. Another important feature of people with HPD is their high degree of suggestibility. Their opinions and feelings are easily influenced by others and by current fads. They may be overly trusting, especially of strong authority figures whom they see as magically solving their problems. They have a tendency to play hunches and to adopt convictions quickly. Histrionic people often use somatic symptoms (of physical illness) to garner attention.
Those with this disorder suffer from many clinically significant pains that cannot be explained by any known general medical condition and is not a direct effect of a substance. The patient can suffer from a variety of ailments but no cause can be detected through X ray. They seek help from several doctors who can find no cause for their sickness. They can also have hallucination. People suffering from somatization disorder may come to believe that they are possessed.
Psychosis is a broad term to describe severe form of psychiatric disorder, during which the individual may experience hallucinations, delusions and impaired insight. It is a mental state in which the patient loses his or her grip of reality. A psychotic person may go through catatonic experiences of schizophrenia and bipolar 1 disorder. Bipolar 1 disorder differs from Bipolar 2 because of its severity and is generally accompanied with manic episodes.
Catatonia is described by DSM IV (American Diagnostic and Statistics Manual 4th edition) as motoric immobility or excessive motor activity, extreme negativism or mutism, peculiarities of voluntary movement, echolalia (involuntary repetition of either ambient sounds or of vocalizations made by another person), or echopraxia (involuntary repetition or imitation of another person’s action). Catatonia is the direct psychological consequence of a general medical condition. Catatonic sufferers express extreme negativism and resist all instructions or maintenance of rigid posture against attempts to be moved. A typical voluntary movement of the patient is evidenced by posturing, stereotyped movements, prominent mannerisms, or prominent grimacing that are typically behaviors of the so called demon-possessed.
Schizophrenia can count for extreme cases of demon possessions. Schizophrenia is delusional thinking. It involves distortion of perception (hallucination) language and thought process (disorganized speech), along with disorganized and catatonic behavior.
Delusions are erroneous beliefs that involve a misinterpretation of perceptions or experiences. The individual may have persecutory delusions, believing that someone or a group or people are after him to hurt him. Muhammad, for example, was haunted by the delusion that Jews and Christians had found out that he is the promised one in their books and had been after him since he was a child in order to kill him. The absurdity of this delusion is evidence of its schizophrenic nature. Persecutory delusions are most common in schizophrenic patients. The person believes he or she is being tormented, followed, tricked, spied on, or ridiculed. The individual said to be possessed believes he is being watched and controlled. Delusions can be shared. Shared Psychotic Disorder is the presence of a delusion in an individual or a group of individuals who are influenced by someone else who has a longer-standing delusion with similar content. The delusion of being tormented, persecuted, victimized and ridiculed is common among all Muslims. All these riots and demonstrations to demand the world to respect them is the sign of Muslims’ shared psychosis with their prophet. According to DSM IV, “the difference between a delusion and a strongly held idea is sometimes difficult to make and depends in part on the degree of conviction with which the belief is held despite clear contradictory evidence regarding its veracity.”
Hallucinations may be auditory, visual, olfactory, gustatory and tactile. The auditory hallucination is by far the most common. The person can hear voices that are perceived as distinct from the person’s own thoughts. According to DSM IV, certain types of auditory hallucinations (i.e., two or more voices conversing with one another or voices maintaining a running commentary on the person’s thoughts or behavior) have been considered to be particularly characteristic of Schizophrenia. If these types of hallucinations are present, then only this single symptom is needed to satisfy Criterion A.”
Schizophrenia does not account for all those who are said to be possessed. It however explains the severest forms of such cases. In the severest cases of schizophrenia visual hallucination is also present. The patient can see the entity that torments him.
Interestingly, there are a few hadiths that are clear examples of Muhammad’s visual hallucination.
Bukhari (7: 71: 660) reports a hadith from Aisha who narrated,
Magic was worked on Allah’s Apostle so that he used to think that he had sexual relations with his wives while he actually had not (Sufyan said: That is the hardest kind of magic as it has such an effect). Then one day he said, “O ‘Aisha do you know that Allah has instructed me concerning the matter I asked Him about? Two men came to me and one of them sat near my head and the other sat near my feet. The one near my head asked the other. What is wrong with this man?’ The latter replied he is under the effect of magic The first one asked, Who has worked magic on him?’ The other replied Labid bin Al-A’sam, a man from Bani Zuraiq who was an ally of the Jews and was a hypocrite.’ The first one asked, What material did he use?’ The other replied, ‘A comb and the hair stuck to it.’ The first one asked, ‘Where (is that)?’ The other replied. ‘In a skin of pollen of a male date palm tree kept under a stone in the well of Dharwan’
Based on DSM IV, this hadith alone is enough to diagnose Muhammad with schizophrenia or as he himself had originally thought, with demon possession.
Epilepsy is a disease traditionally linked to spirit and demon possessions. It is a neurological disorder (brain illness) characterized by seizures. The causes of such seizures include brain trauma, strokes, brain cancer, and drug and alcohol misuse among others.
Temporal lobe seizures produce complex visual hallucinations of people, scenes, animals, as well as distortions of visual perception.
The horror movie Exorcism of Emily Rose was based on the real story of Anneliese Michel. At the age of 17 Anneliese started having seizures. Her body would tighten and shake and she also heard voices and had visual hallucinations. When she was taken to hospital a neurologist diagnosed her with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. However, an older woman convinced Anneliese’s parents that she was demons possessed. They called a priest who performed exorcism on her for eight months, during which the young girl’s health deteriorated. To get rid of her “demon” Anneliese did not eat or drink for several days. She eventually died of starvation and dehydration.
TLE has no cure but it can be controlled with medication and the patient can live a relatively normal life without seizures.
Tourette syndrome is a tic disorder, characterized by multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic. TS is an urge to exclaim obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks (coprolalia). Tourette is often associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).
Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder DID, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder is defined by DSM IV as the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of behavior. Each personality state may be experienced as if it has a distinct personal history, self-image and identity, including a separate name. Usually there is a primary identity that carries the individual’s given name and is passive, dependent, guilty and depressed. The alternate identities frequently have different names and characteristics that contrast with the primary identity (e.g., are hostile, controlling and self-destructive). Particular identities may emerge in specific circumstances and may differ in reported age and gender, vocabulary, general knowledge, or predominant affect.
A factitious disorder is fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorder. Factitious Disorder differs from Malingering in that the motivation in the symptom production in Malingering is external, such as avoiding school, whereas there are no external incentives in producing and exaggerating sickness in Factitious Disorder. A person with Factitious Disorder may believe to be sick and act that way for a variety of benefits including attention, nurturance and sympathy. I heard of a woman who was bedridden for decades while her aging mother took care of her. When her mother died and there was no one to take care of her she got out of the bed and resumed a normal life.
The above is a short list of some mental disorders and illnesses that ignorant people misinterpret as spirit possession.
In this video we see a woman suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, for being sexually molested by her babysitter, some 50 years ago. She has recurring thoughts of death and suicide. She can be helped by a mental health provider who is familiar with Eye Movement Desensitization and Processing – a simple technique that would take between four to six sessions.
Exorcism does not relieve people from their psychological trauma. At best it gives them false hope. Larson is performing hypnosis on his subjects. Hypnosis works if done properly by a trained procreational. Larson is a con artist, a charlatan who is after money and name. He has not qualifications to perform hypnosis. The feeling of relief in his subjects is a placebo effect and short lived. People suffering from mental disorders need to visit a trained psychologist or a psychiatrist not a demagogue quack.