A recent article appeared in the ‘Old Times Journal’, discussing a tragedy in which a Catholic priest had been taken to trial because he physically and psychologically harmed a young boy. Apparently, the priest was using an old spiritual ritual called “exorcism”, which tries to expel a ‘demon’ from one’s body. According to the priest, the boy was “possessed”, and the only way to save his soul was to use this ancient ritual.
This type of news has been frequently appearing in most of the social media vehicles, and the problem is that our society’s ignorance is damaging our interpretation of this field. It is thought that we as people are inherently in a state of fear in regards to the spiritual area because we do not fully comprehend this field in all of its dimensions. As a result, the propaganda has disseminated quickly; feeding the basic levels of mythological strata of our society.
Throughout history, thousands of books related to demonic possessions have been published, and exorcisms have been used as a parallel and “healing” element to this controversial topic.
In the same way that “exorcisms” have been shown in films with complex stories on these topics, its popularity is also increasing in all social strata. In this regard, most people know of this advertising phenomenon throughout the folkloric stories passed down by our ancestors.
Not to mention the fruitful business that is excellently being exploited by Hollywood. Remember that much of the popular knowledge on this subject is transmitted majestically throughout the special effects, and creates an incredible neuro-emotional conditioning.Consequently, it is imperative to address this issue in order to acquire an insight into this field.
However, it is absolutely necessary to take several fields that are involved with this dilemma into account, and are the followng: Religion, Mythology, History, Psychology, Medicine, Neuroscience, and Physics.
Now in this article, it is not our intention to find the perfect explanation for this ancient phenomenon, but rather shed light based on current research to explain this ‘disorder’. It is undoubtedly in the opinion of the reader to understand this phenomenon scientifically, or to let reasoning guide them towards a conclusion.
To first understand this field of the spiritual area, we must first understand what the word ‘demon’ means. According to the Oxford Dictionary ‘demon’ is synonymous with the word devil (the prince of the rebelled angels). Although that the word devil appears in the bible several times, its substantiation is not defined in the scripture. Evil, is an abstract concept and is hardly conceivable. Therefore, it is necessary for man to find a materializing idea: “Espiritu that incites to evil.”
Now let us understand what the religion says: The devil challenged God’s kingdom, and its perpetual adversary was defeated by Christ through his offering. However, there is a cape loose in this argument which is the very creation of the devil, Satan.
The devil is defined as a body that must be independent, since by its very nature (evil) could not remain indifferent or associated with God, who is absolute good. Likewise, since God is the creator, it is inconceivable that he would also create evil. Evil is actually a feature of man, and his own finitude. It lies in him and his origin, and we should look at how humans make use of their freedom. We don’t need to look for other existential plots that shield the existence of evil.
Therefore, the devil never existed, but if so, it was a rebel that protested the hierarchical institution who was given the name “demon” that essentially wasn’t. Subsequently, through the centuries, he was demoted to the lowest level that any creature can.
However, if the devil was one, then why use the plural “demons”? Did he have children?
Understanding that neither the Oxford Dictionary nor religion can clarify this concept is crucial, and that they rather expose us to a “theological” interpretation” is certainly questionable. We cannot understand how the “demon” can possess a human. If the devil was the beginning invested with all the ranks gave its creator, and according to religion God is everywhere, even within us.
We can clearly understand that the devil is a physical and nonphysical entity simultaneously (religious fallacy), and perhaps spiritual who was “rebelled”. As Prince (hierarchical title) belonged to an established Hierarchical institution, and also obeyed its own organization rules.
The exorcism word, according to the Oxford Dictionary means incantation against the devil. Religion defines it as expelling the demon, for example, Jesus, who used his invocations to throw evil spirits inside men. Based on this concept, the person performing the exorcism must understand that two “spiritual” bodies cannot occupy the same spiritual space if God is within us. According to the Bible, how allows an inferior into his domain again, if it was already an expelled demon, or has the demon never learned their lesson?
All the popular cultures that are “bad” or “negative” have been given a name because it is in our human nature to identify or associate something we don’t understand with a name to compensate a possible misbalanced emotional process, leading us to a possible pathological symptom.
Formerly, the words devil and demon come from the word ‘Honio’ which was used synonymously. The word devil or Satan or Beelzebub are always used in the singular along with their equivalent denominations (Serpent, the Dragon, etc.). While the word demon appears sometimes in both the singular and plural form.
Satan comes from the Hebrew word meaning ‘adversary’, the Greek word ‘Diabolos’, from the root dia-ballo, meaning Devil who would put division and its derivative sense would slanderer. In Arabic the word Satan means goat.
Belial or Beliar, root Baal means ‘lord’, the symbol of Baal is the bull, against the ferocity of the bull or goat, lamb meekness, Jesus Christ symbol of contrasts.
Another word used is Beelzebub (or Beelzebub) meaning prince of manure, or prince of flies. If we mix the Aramaic word Be’el (meaning lord) to the Hebrew word zebul (meaning home) would then be “master of the house”.
The word Lucifer, (which is not mentioned in the Bible) means morning star. The symbolism would be that the stars represent the angelic natures, from the moon to the Virgin Mary, and that the sun represents God. The first day of creation when the light from the darkness is removed, the light would represent the creation of the angels blessed. As the night progressed, the defection of the rebellious angels, Satan would be Lucifer that is the first star that announces night, the first defection that appeared in the evening sky. Hence the name Lucifer suit you by the beauty of the star corresponding to the angelic nature superior to the other, and for being the first star of twilight. Some mistakenly translate the Latin word Lucifer as the leading light, but that is a mistake since that corresponds to the word meaning ‘luciferarius’.
Asmodeus (daeva Aaesma in Persian) meaning “spirit of anger”: the name of a demon in the book of Tobit.
The name Lilith (Isaiah 34.14) is one who has always been regarded as a demonic figure. In Mesopotamian mythology that name corresponds with a genius with the head and body of a woman, but with wings and lower extremities similar to a bird. His name is likely to be related to “lylh” which means “night”.
In (Is 13, 21 and (Bar 4, 35) shown “seirim” which roughly translates as “furry” is derived from the Hebrew (“Sa’ir” “hairy” or “goat”), Jerome chose translate this word as “satyrs” very fitting, because that Hebrew word was considered to refer to something like demons in the form of goats. This word indicates ancient demoniacal entities to whom worship is taxed, “no longer offer their sacrifices to the satyrs, after which prostituted” (Lev 17.7).
In (Rev 9:11) we are told that the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is named Apollyon Abaddon. The name means “destruction, Apollyon means “destroyer”.
The Greek word demon means genius, but in the New Testament, it is used only to designate evil spirits. With the exception of (I 17, 18), having the generic meaning of “divinities”. In the pagan atmosphere of the classical period, the benchmarks to speak of the devil concept were very different because they considered that there were ghosts, eons, nature spirits, mediators, souls of the dead, good and evil spirits, etc.
Once, the word lunatic (Mt 17, 14) appears in the Gospel. This ancient word could refer to epilepsy and possession, and stems from the belief of the influence of the moon on the states of crisis these people.
Using the phrase Madman is another way of referring to the possessed, and it comes from the word energy, the force deployed in the states of crisis. Extra biblical Lucifer is another way of referring to the Devil.
Mephistopheles is the devil’s name and appears in the work of Goethe’s Faust. This infernal character appears as a companion of Doctor Faustus, and the name Mefostofies in ancient Germanic legends, whose antiquity dates from 1587. The current and common form of this name has been generalized by the influence of Goethe. Its etymology is most likely originating from Megistophiel, Ophiel (Greek Aophis, snake) was a nickname of Hermes Trismegistus that in ancient times was the patron of sorcerers, raised in the literature of s.XVI and classified by it among the seven great princes of hell.
We see that the context of the demon and its expulsion of the human body has a religious as well as mythological history. This concept is due to translation problems as well as mythological and symbolic contamination. From this concept it is easy to infer that the devil and the application of the ‘therapy’ spiritual ‘exorcism’ is a creation of man. Through history, this concept has developed an underlying fear and cannot be understood. Consequently, the ignorance is being used as a constant conditioning that is applied by different churches, who after all are only creations of the human beings as elements of control and manipulation.
But now, that begs the question. What is an exorcism?
When we speak of exorcisms, we must take into account the different physical and psychological manifestations that present the ‘possessed’. Medicine and psychiatry undoubtedly have an important role in this phenomenon. For example, you the dear readers, have seen through films and reading books of exorcisms, that the ‘possessed’ experience strange symptoms, such as words that appear on the skin. This condition is known as “Dermatography Hives” which is a skin disorder in which the skin becomes raised and inflamed when you are petting or rubbed with opaque object. This event may have originated in social, religious, political or identity problems that were not treated or were not fully treated, creating a confusion to later on, then, find the proper trigger, for example when using a game known as the ‘Ouija’.
Another classic symptom of demonic possession are artificial objects expelled through the mouth of the ‘possessed’. The possible explanation for this is a condition known as ‘Allotriophagy’ which is basically “pathologically swallow” or eat / swallow objects such as coins , hair, stones and even glass (yikes!). Generally, objects are pushed out of the mouth because ‘possessed’ get sick, but that does not always happen. In an x-ray of the stomach of a child with this disorder showed he had swallowed many coins his belly looked like an iron man.
Generally, there are popular diagnostic similar to the ‘possession’, which include things like the alien hand syndrome , palsy pseudobulbar, and Capgras syndrome. Demonic possessions are considered an affliction, and are elite in some ancient cultures. It is believed that these people were chosen by the gods to personally exercise divine authority. On the opposite spectrum, people who suffer from things like epilepsy, were very fearful in some cultures before there was a diagnosis. This underscores the idea that the community plays a vital role in validating the anguish of the ‘possessed’ in some cases. – dramatization or falsification of the same. Therefore, we can mention the Hippocratestheory that states that if someone can “instill faith in one who is suffering, then it is a success by any means.”
We can say that Excorcisms exist as a result to the justification of God. People do not want to believe that they are suffering for no reason, and therefore, exorcisms become a trial or punishment of God. We live in a world now where there is moral neutrality, but it was not always so – or you were right with God or Satan. The concept of demonic possessions and exorcisms have been prevalent for centuries, and it seems unlikely that they’ll be going away anytime soon. Science and religion have always had an uneasy coexistence with one another, but it is not our intention to discredit the idea of demonic possession or devalue Exorcisms. Instead, our role is to share ideas and allow you, dear readers, to draw your own conclusions.
It is true that behavioral disturbance and self-scourge, as seen in multiple psychiatric disorders, are present in every society and dissemination is quite broad. Many of the ‘possessed’ that have loss of vision, hearing, and epilepsy that is observed nowadays could have their bases in hysteria, due to neuronal diagnosis. Voices also reported by ‘demons’ could be ‘altered egos’ of multiple personality disorders. We can also mention that could also be schizophrenic pictures, but we need an enhancer that could also have originated from the stress of the environment, psychological or biological vulnerability, and social deprivation. However, this must transpire without the influence of evil spirits… Of course not.
Many psychiatric patients, especially those who are psychotic, behave, talk, and think in ways that we may find difficult to understand. Because of this symptomatology, it has become troubling to find an explanation for these experiences, and science has no convincing answers yet. As a result, there must be broader aspects to these phenomenas. Not only because of these symptoms, but those which we found on the behavior, speech, and thoughts of these patients, something fearful, and in two ways, first by what they can do to us or others, and the other that may be recognized by ‘the grace of God to do so ‘.
Therefore, we must not only say that the problem of the ‘demonic possession’ is the domain of psychiatry, there are other scientific fields that we must explore. In a new world where man is seen as a whole rather than part in the process of suffering, we cannot accelerate a simple differential diagnosis according to certain ‘demonic’ symptoms. We must be more extensive to find the relationship between ‘demonic’ activity and mental illness.
We must recognize that illness psychiatric disorders also called ‘somatic’ are of multifactorial etiology that involved social, psychological and physical components also. So why can we not include spiritual factors that would form part of this disorder? For example if people become depressed because they are afflicted, or because they have a physical illness, then why they are not depressed by a spiritual interference in their lives? We must keep in mind a true holistic perspective on the human condition, involving dimensions in the spiritual as well as psychological and social.
It is clear that when we speak of the spiritual we do not mean ‘evil spirits’ instead ‘human spiritual interrelation’ as individual entities and collective spirituality. The human spirit is not perfect, it is evolving and therefore subject to negative shocks of interaction that expose him to deteriorative or contaminating influences that affect us in everyday life, creating spiritual disease and not ‘demonic possessions’.
The syndrome of demon possession and mental illness, then, are not simply alternative diagnoses to be offered when a person is presented with deliberate self-harm or violent behavior, even though it may be necessary to distinguish in such circumstances, either discernment spiritual or application of basic psychiatric knowledge. It seems reasonable to argue that the syndrome of demonic possession may be an etiologic factor in some cases of mental illness, but may also be a causative factor in some non-psychiatric conditions and in other cases may be found in the absence of psychiatric or medical condition.
Finally, the syndrome of demon possession is essentially a spiritual problem, but mental illnesses are a multifactorial issue in which all spiritual, social, psychological, and physically factors may play an etiological role. The relationship then becomes extremely complex between these concepts. Skills differential diagnosis may have a role to play in providing assistance to people whose problems could be sourced from spiritual impairment or psychiatric doctor. However, spiritual discernment is at least equal, if not of greater importance in such matters.
Horror immobilizes us because it is made of contradictory feelings: fear and seduction, repulsion and attraction. Horror is a fascination…Horror is immobility, the great yawn of empty space, the womb and the hole in the earth, the universal Mother and the great garbage heap…With horror we cannot have recourse to flight or combat, there remains only Adoration or Exorcism.”
– Octavio Paz –