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Exorcism: Religious Phenomena Or Medical Diagnosis?

1752 words - 8 pages

“To bind by oath,” does not seem that terrifying. However, this is the definition of exorcism. Exorcism is the expulsion or attempted expulsion of an evil spirit from a person or place. It is when a demon or multiple demons posses a person and have to be exorcised to have the spirits compelled to leave by a higher authority. Demons are evil spirits or the devil tormenting a person. The rites of casting out demons include the use of commands, prayers, fumigations, salt, roses, and holy water. These are used because the uses of these things are precious to the church.
The practice of exorcism can be dated all the way back to the New Testament when Jesus casted out evil spirits. He healed many people, but only a quarter of his miracles were considered exorcisms. The apostles were also exorcists by definition because it was known to be a true sign of discipleship. In ancient cultures, such as Mesopotamia, both physical and psychological sickness was connected to the idea of being possessed. As time passed, others, including Martin Luther who was a German theologian who led a reformation, used this form of casting out of evil spirits. However, by 1600, all Protestants rejected this idea as being superstitious. In the 1900s American evangelicals invigorated exorcism, but it did not catch on until 1970 when the movement swept Protestant and Catholic Churches (Rivenburg).
Every cultural tradition and major religion has formed the idea of possession and has had the need for some form of exorcism. Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Islam’s, Buddhists and scientists all have different views on exorcism. Although these religions believe in the idea of exorcism, science proves to have different explanations to this phenomenon.
Throughout history, the Catholic Church has acknowledged evil spirits in possessed individuals. They have treated these people with full exorcisms. However, it is very difficult to get an exorcism in these modern times because of the strict requirements. An exorcism can only occur from a direct order from a bishop after two careful investigations. Signs of demonic possession in the eyes of the church are: weak belief, deceptions, falsehoods, lies and confusion, speaking or understanding unknown languages, strength beyond one’s ability, and becoming violent when hearing the holy word. Demons are believed to obstruct with lives in two ways: obsession and possession. Obsession is when a demon fills evil thoughts in a person’s head. Possession is when the evil spirit takes over the body physically. In today’s time, science and religion have begun to coexist in some areas of religion. Monsignor Corrado Balducci, the Vatican’s previous chief exorcist, estimated “Only five or six out of every thousand people who seek help from an exorcist are really possessed by evil spirits. The rest need psychiatric help” (Robinson).
Exorcism seems so real to Catholics because their faith believes in the devil. The church believes exorcism is a battle for one’s...

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