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Exorcism (from Late Latin exorcismus, from Greek ἐξορκισμός, exorkismos - binding by oath) is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed. Depending on the spiritual beliefs of the exorcist, this may be done by causing the entity to swear an oath, performing an elaborate ritual, or simply by commanding it to depart in the name of a higher power. The practice is quite ancient and part of the belief system of many cultures and religions.


Abrahamic religionsEdit

[edit]ChristianityEdit

Main articles: Exorcism in Christianity and Exorcism in the Catholic Church

In Christianity, exorcisms are ostensibly performed in the name of Jesus Christ or through prayer.[citation needed]

In Christian practice the person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is often a member of the church, or an individual thought to be graced with special powers or skills. The exorcist may use prayers, and religious material, such as set formulas, gestures, symbols,icons, amulets, etc. The exorcist often invokes God, Jesus and/or several different angels and archangels to intervene with the exorcism.

In general, possessed persons are not regarded as evil in themselves, nor wholly responsible for their actions. Therefore, practitioners regard exorcism as more of a cure than a punishment. The mainstream rituals usually take this into account, making sure that there is no violence to the possessed, only that they be tied down if there is potential for violence.[1]

[edit]IslamEdit

In Islam, exorcism is called ruqya. It is used to repair the damage caused by sihr or witchcraft. It consists of reciting some specific verses from the Quran which glorify God (e.g The Throne Verse (Arabic: آية الكرسيAyatul Kursi), and invoke God's help. In some cases, the adhan(the call for daily prayers) is also read, as this has the effect of repelling non-angelic unseen beings or the jinn.

The Prophet Muhammad taught his followers to read the last three suras from the Quran, Surat al-Ikhlas (The Fidelity), Surat al-Falaq (The Dawn) and Surat al-Nas (Mankind).

[edit]JudaismEdit

Josephus reports exorcisms performed by administering poisonous root extracts and others by making sacrifices.[2] They[who?] mention that exorcisms were done by the Essene branch of Judaism (Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran).

In more recent times, Rabbi Yehuda Fetaya authored the book Minchat Yahuda, which deals extensively with exorcism, his experience with possessed people, and other subjects of Jewish thought. The book is written in Hebrew and was translated into English.

[edit]Indian religionsEdit

[edit]HinduismEdit

Beliefs and practices pertaining to the practice of exorcism are prominently connected with Hindus. Of the four Vedas (holy books of theHindus), the Atharva Veda is said to contain the secrets related to magic and alchemy.[3][4] Possession is one the siddhis (laghima) or psychic powers acquired with austerity, chastity or yogic sadhana in tantric tradition.

The basic means of exorcism are the mantra and the yajna used in both Vedic and Tantric traditions. Vaishnava traditions also employ a recitation of names of Narasimha and reading scriptures, notably the Bhagavata Purana aloud. According to Gita Mahatmya of Padma Purana, reading the 3rd, 7th and 8th chapter of Bhagavad Gita and mentally offering the result to departed persons helps them to get released from their ghostly situation. Kirtan, continuous playing of mantras, keeping scriptures and holy pictures of the deities (Shiva,Vishnu, Brahma, Shakti, etc.) (especially of Narasimha) in the house, burning incense offered during a puja, sprinkling water from holy rivers, and blowing conches used in puja are other effective practices.[citation needed]

The main puranic resource on ghost and death-related information is Garuda Purana.[citation needed]

[edit]BuddhismEdit

In Buddhism, exorcism exists depending on the Buddhist sect. Each differs from the others: some view it as metaphorical, some esoteric, and some even literal. Some Tibetan Buddhists view exorcism as being nothing more than a metaphor for expelling negative thoughts and transforming them into enlightened mind.

Certain Buddhists believe in blessings rather than exorcisms to rid themselves or property of negative thoughts and/or negative spirits.

In Mahayana Buddhism (or rather Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism) evil spirits are rather conversed, and turned into becoming serving, especially wrathful protecting spirits of the Dharma. The tantra (lineage of spiritual craftsmanship) of exorcism in Buddhism may be identified with Vajrakilaya tantra (see Kila (Buddhism)).

[edit]Scientific viewEdit

Demonic possession is not a valid psychiatric or medical diagnosis recognized by either the DSM-IV or the ICD-10. Those who profess a belief in demonic possession have sometimes ascribed the symptoms associated with mental illnesses, such as hysteria, mania,psychosis, Tourette's syndrome, epilepsy, schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder, to possession.[5][6][7] In cases of dissociative identity disorder in which the alter personality is questioned as to its identity, 29% are reported to identify themselves as demons.[8]Additionally, there is a form of monomania called demonomania or demonopathy in which the patient believes that he or she is possessed by one or more demons.

The illusion that exorcism works on people experiencing symptoms of possession is attributed by some to placebo effect and the power ofsuggestion.[9] Some supposedly possessed persons are actually narcissists or are suffering from low self-esteem and act like a "demon possessed person" in order to gain attention.[5]

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck researched exorcisms and claimed to have conducted two himself. He concluded that the Christian concept of possession was a genuine phenomenon. He derived diagnostic criteria somewhat different from those used by the Roman Catholic Church. He also claimed to see differences in exorcism procedures and progression. After his experiences, and in an attempt to get his research validated, he attempted but failed to get the psychiatric community to add the definition of "Evil" to the DSM-IV.[10] Although Peck's earlier work was met with widespread popular acceptance, his work on the topics of evil and possession generated significant debate and derision. Much was made of his association with (and admiration for) the controversial Malachi Martin, a Roman Catholic priest and a former Jesuit, despite the fact that Peck consistently called Martin a liar and manipulator.[11][12] Other criticisms leveled against Peck included misdiagnoses based upon a lack of knowledge regarding dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), and claims that he had transgressed the boundaries of professional ethics by attempting to persuade his patients to accept Christianity.[11]

[edit]Notable exorcismsEdit

  • Salvador Dalí is reputed to have received an exorcism from Italian friar, Gabriele Maria Berardi, while he was in France in 1947. Dali created a sculpture of Christ on the cross that he gave the friar in thanks.[13]
  • Anneliese Michel was a Catholic woman from Germany who was said to be possessed by six or more demons and subsequently underwent an exorcism in 1975. Two motion pictures, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Requiem are loosely based on Anneliese's story. There is also a documentary movie Exorcism of Anneliese Michel [14] (in Polish, but the English subtitles are also available) featuring the original audio tapes from the proceedings of exorcism.
  • George Lukins
  • A boy identified as Robbie Mannheim,[15][16] was the subject of an exorcism in 1949, which became the chief inspiration for The Exorcist, a horror novel and film written by William Peter Blatty, who heard about the case while he was a student in the class of 1950 atGeorgetown University. Robbie was taken into the care of Rev. Luther Miles Schulze, the boy's Lutheran pastor, after psychiatric andmedical doctors were unable to explain the disturbing events associated with the teen; the minister then referred the boy to Rev. Edward Hughes, who performed the first exorcism on the teen.[17] The subsequent exorcism was partially performed in both Cottage City, Maryland and Bel-Nor, Missouri[18] by Father William S. Bowdern, S.J., Father Raymond Bishop S.J. and a then Jesuit scholastic Fr.Walter Halloran, S.J.[19]
  • Clara Germana Cele
  • Michael Taylor
  • Mother Teresa allegedly underwent an exorcism late in life under the direction of the Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry D'Souza, after he noticed she seemed to be extremely agitated in her sleep and feared she "might be under the attack of the evil one."[20]
  • An October 2007 mākutu lifting in the Wellington, New Zealand suburb of Wainuiomata led to the death of a woman and the hospitalization of a teen. After a long trial, five family members were convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences.[21]
  • Johann Blumhardt performed the exorcism of Gottliebin Dittus over a two year period in Möttlingen, Germany from 1842-1844. Pastor Blumhardt's parish subsequently experienced growth marked by confession and healing, which he attributed to the successful exorcism.[22][23]

See also: Louviers possessions, Aix-en-Provence possessions, and Loudun possessions==[edit]Cultural references==

Exorcism has been a popular subject in fiction, especially horror.

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