In February 2001, a 53-year-old Oklahoma woman who had no history of mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, or domestic strife, began working a Ouija board with her daughter and two granddaughters. Later that night, claiming to be possessed by a spirit from the Ouija board that told her to kill, the woman stabbed to death her son-in-law, who was sleeping in another room, and attempted to kill other members of her family. Police later apprehended the woman, who was hiding in a wooded area, and commented how unbelievable it was that she could have allowed a Ouija board to "consume her life."
International newspapers carried an account in March 2001 describing how demands for exorcisms were soaring in Brazil due to the fact that demonic possession was on the rise. A priest was quoted as saying that he believed the number of evil spirits among the populace could only mean that the Apocalypse would soon be manifesting.
In April 2001, Croatian newspapers reported that the Roman Catholic clergy were desperately looking for exorcists to deal with the large numbers of men and women who gave evidence of being possessed by Satan.
In June 2001, a new Gallup poll of adult Americans indicated that 41 percent believe that people can be possessed by the devil or his minions.
The majority of healthcare professionals discount possession by spirits as superstitious nonsense and believe such claims to be primitive responses to a variety of mental illnesses, and there are few contemporary clergymen who will acknowledge the existence of demons and the possibility of demonic or spirit possession. However, Dr. Morton Kelsey, an Episcopal priest and a noted Notre Dame professor of theology, has this to say to those who protest that demon possession is a superstitious throwback to the Middle Ages: "Most people in the modern world consider themselves too sophisticated and too intelligent to be concerned with demons. But in thirty years of study, I have seen the effect of demons upon humans."
Kelsey maintains that demons are real and can invade the minds of humans. Demons are not the figment of the imagination, but are negative, destructive spiritual forces that seek to destroy the possessed host body and everyone with whom that person comes into contact. The most severe cases of possession can trigger suicide, Kelsey said, because the demon is trying to destroy people any way it can.
Among those traits which the Roman Catholic Church might find indicative of possession, rather than mental illness, are exhibition of superhuman strength; knowledge of languages outside of a person's education or training; demonstration of hidden insights into a person's private life or past indiscretions; and aversion to all things spiritual—holy water, the mass, a crucifix, or the name of Jesus.
While the skeptical might argue that LeBar is a priest, an exorcist, and that his theological training has conditioned him to believe in demons, they may wish to take into serious consideration the comments of Dr. Ralph Allison, senior psychiatrist at the California state prison in San Luis Obispo: "My conclusion after 30 years of observing over one thousand disturbed patients is that some of them act in a bizarre fashion due to possession by spirits. The spirit may be that of a human being who died. Or it may be a spirit entity that has never been a human being and sometimes identifies itself as a demon, an agent of evil."
Dr. Wilson Van Dusen, a university professor who has served as chief psychologist at Mendocino State Hospital, is another health care professional who has stated his opinion that many patients in mental hospitals are possessed by demons.
"I am totally convinced that there are entities that can possess our minds and our bodies," Van Dusen said. "I have even been able to speak directly to demons. I have heard their own guttural, other-world voices."
And all too often, some researchers say, those hellish guttural voices have commanded their possessed hosts to kill, to offer human sacrifice to Satan.
In a recent report released by the American Psychological Evaluation Corporation, Dr. Andrew Blankley, a sociologist, issued statements about the rise in contemporary sacrificial cults, warning that society at large might expect a "serious menace" to come. According to Blankley, human sacrifice constitutes an alarming trend in new religious cults: "Desperate people are seeking dramatic revelation and simplistic answers to complex social problems. They are attracted to fringe groups who provide the ritualistic irrationality that they crave. In the last ten years, fringe rituals often include the sacrifice of a human being."
Dr. Al Carlisle of the Utah State Prison System has estimated that between 40,000 and 60,000 humans are killed through ritual homicides in the United States every year. In the Las Vegas area alone, Carlisle asserts, as many as 600 people may die in demon-inspired ceremonies each year.
Based on a synthesis of the studies of certain clergy and psychical researchers, following is a pattern profile of what may occur when someone has become the unwilling host of an uninvited spirit presence and become possessed:
The possessed may begin to hear voices directing him/her to do antisocial or perverse acts that he/she had never before considered. He/she will claim to see the image of a spirit or demonic presence. In the weeks and months that follow, he/she may fall into states of blacked-out consciousness, times of which he/she later has absolutely no memory. On occasions, he/she will fall into a trance-like state. The possessed will be observed walking and speaking differently, and acting in a strange, irrational manner. He/she will begin doing things that he/she has never done before. In the worst of cases, the possessing spirit or demon will consume the victim's life. It may reach to a climax where the possessed commits murder, suicide, or some violent antisocial act.
Healthcare professionals will point out that many of the above "symptoms" of possession may also indicate the onset of stress, depression, and certain mental illnesses.
Dr. Adam Crabtree, a psychotherapist in Toronto, has stated his view that the spirits of the deceased can possess their living relatives. Crabtree, who is a former priest and Benedictine monk, said that entities from beyond the grave usually seek a living person's mind and body because they have unfinished business on Earth. Crabtree has encountered such cases when emotionally disturbed patients came to him complaining that they seemed to feel a "presence" in them that was different from their usual mental awareness. Crabtree discovered that these people were adopting traits and characteristics that were not their own. They complained of hearing voices that told them what to do, and they saw mental images of dead relatives who were dictating their actions.
While more conventional psychotherapists might provide a different diagnosis from Crabtree's, in his opinion because the spirits were related to the living person and were emotionally tied to them, their physical relationship made possession easier to accomplish. The reasons for such possession vary. According to Crabtree's research, sometimes the dead simply do not realize that they have changed planes of existence and wish to maintain their relationship with their relatives. In other cases, the spirits want to take care of unfinished business and have no compunction about using their living relatives to attain their goals.
Dr. C. Fred Dickason, chairman of the Theology Department at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, relates a number of cases of demonic possession through ancestral lines in his book Demon Possession and the Christian (1987). In one case, a Chicago-area pastor consulted Dickason to receive his advice concerning his father, who had been invaded by demonic spirits because his mother (the pastor's grandmother) had been heavily involved in occult practices. The entities had begun to enter the pastor's young daughter, but alert to possession, he prayed with his wife that the spirits be dismissed from her.
Dickason is of the firm opinion that demons, who are nonmaterial entities that may exist for thousands of years, feel that they have the right to enter any man or woman— regardless of how innocent he or she may be— whose ancestors were involved in occult and demonic activities.
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