Epilepsy and Hysteria, Is Demonic Possession Possible

Demonic Possession Exorcism
Woodcut-1598-witch-trial” by This file is lacking author information. – Pierre Boaistuau, et al., Histoires prodigieuses et memorables, extraictes de plusieurs fameux autheurs, Grecs, & Latins, sacrez & prophanes (Paris, 1598), vol. 1.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Demonic possession is another odd realm of misguided information and superstition. Most symptoms associated with possession have been interpreted by medical and psychiatric professionals as being delusions and hallucinations.

But is Demonic possession possible? According to the world of medicine and psychology, it is nothing more than cases of epilepsy, hysteria and even multiple personality disorders. But the Church most definitely has a different view on demonic possession. As we all know there have been many exorcisms performed over the years, of course they have tried to keep them top secret.

Epilepsy and Demonic Possession

When someone is afflicted with Epilepsy, they may be subject to convulsive seizures. Such seizures may cause them to undergo extreme muscular rigidity, foaming of the mouth and possibly wild, rapid, back and forth head movements.

These seizures can also cause facial distortions as well as bizarre gurgling noises as the throat tightens up with muscle spasms. It is said that right before the onset of one of these seizures, a patient may experience wild auditory and visual hallucinations. Normally seizures will not last more than five minutes or so before the patient rests.

Epileptic Symptoms May be Signs of Demonic Possession

According to the church, all of the previously mentioned symptoms of epilepsy are also signs of a demonic possession. Except for a few distinguishing characteristics.

Firstly, someone diagnosed with being under demonic attack, their symptoms may last for several hours. Not only that, but the victims are quite lively instead of being rigid like someone having an epileptic seizure. As well as the possessed person’s muscular reflexes may be very strong.

The Roman Ritual has described one other major sign of demonic possession:

“the ability to speak with some familiarity in a strange tongue or to understand it when spoken by another; the faculty of divulging future and hidden events; and the display of powers which are beyond the subject’s age and natural condition.”

Hysteria and Demonic Possession

Hysteria is another medical or psychological condition that may produce symptoms closely related to demonic possession.

Many sufferers have been known to contort their bodies into a semicircle. This has been referred to as the hysterical arch. It’s something that is also quite common in cases of demonic possession.

Here is one account Professor Paul Richter witnessed of a patient suffering from hysteria symptoms:

“Suddenly, we heard loud cries and shouting. Her body, which went through a series of elaborate motions, was either in the throes of wild gyrations or catatonically motionless. Her legs became entangled, then disentangled, her arms twisted and disjointed, her wrists bent. Some of her fingers were stretched out straight, while others were twisted. The body was either bent in a semicircle or loose-limbed. Her head was at times thrown to the right or left or, when thrown backward with vehemence, seemed to emerge from a bloated neck. The face alternately mirrored horror, anger, and some times fury; it was bloated and showed shades of violet in its coloration…”

Quite a frightening experience this must of been as you can imagine. So how does the church interpret symptoms of hysteria in relation to demonic possession?

According to the church, the main differences are related to the context in which the symptoms have occurred.

If these symptoms become evident during a heated encounter with religious objects, and are being accompanied by paranormal phenomena, then the church would consider these events works of the Devil. Also the patients ability to detect religious objects that may of been hidden. Or the understanding of foreign languages and possibly levitation would be sure signs of demonic possession.

Multiple Personality Disorders and Demonic Possession

One suffering from multiple personalities is another diagnosis often confused with demonic possession. This is when a patient may unwillingly alternate between 1 or more different personalities. Each personality would have it’s own goals and unique characteristics.

Even stranger, each personality may either like or dislike the other and often times are totally oblivious to the other.

As far as the church is concerned, multiple personality disorders are quite hard to distinguish from a demonic possession as there aren’t many signs confirming it as such. Other than the hatred of religious objects and the context of the symptoms, the church has little to go on in these cases.

So basically in all these examples of medical conditions that may be confused with demonic possession, it boils down to a few factors. The context in which the symptoms occurred, whether or not the incident is accompanied by paranormal manifestations and if there is a hatred toward religion.

What ever the case, I believe each person has to make their own decision on whether or not demonic possession is possible. According to the medical and psychology field, it is not, but if you ask the Roman Church, you will most certainly get a different answer.

If you fear that you or someone you know may be falling victim to demonic possession, then you may want to read the Warning Signs of Demonic Possesion. If you have any more information you would like to add on this subject, feel free to use the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Epilepsy and Hysteria, Is Demonic Possession Possible
  1. Great post again, Robert.
    Of course, Demonic Possession was the answer for anything that we didn’t understand in a religion-dominated world. I wonder what future generations will see as a silly belief system in our modern, plugged in world.

    1. Thanks for checking out the post Oliver. You know, I often wonder that myself. I try to pay attention to this generations beliefs and practices, but truth is, I often hear younger folks today talk about things that were common place for me 30 years ago. And they talk about stuff like it was a million years ago. I suppose it may seem that way to some as fast as things have advanced over the last 40 years or so…

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