Demonic Possession or Mental Illness: How Can You Tell?

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In this article, I use the word ‘demon’ to mean an evil, malevolent, oppressing spiritual entity, which torments, scares, induces negative activities from or burdens an individual. I do not believe ALL disembodied energies and spirits should automatically be considered evil.

Modern Exorcism is More Scientific Than You May Think.

When The Exorcist came out the day after Christmas in 1973, it was a first introduction to Catholic exorcism for many, as well as a first look into manifestations of demonic display. People were afraid of the dark after watching that movie and rushed to churches to devote their full attention to Christ for divine protection. Now society finds itself in a mental health crisis as Chiron traverses through Aries (representing the head with all of its components) and many are asking, “should we call a priest or a psychiatrist?”

Even in the 70s, all requests for exorcism had to be investigated, and if you did not have time for that, you could find a southern COGIC church on Sunday afternoon around 2:30 pm est and they’d take care of it. In fact I have heard stories, from the horses mouth, tell how a good healer could sober up alcoholics and cure drug addiction. However there is no timeframe recorded for how long the process took so nobody knows whether or not the church service was so long that the person actually had time to sober up. The fact that they never again picked up a bottle or pack of cigarettes does give credence to their claim of a miraculous deliverance, even with the issue being listed scientifically as a mental health problem, which usually requires rehab.

In modern times, medical doctors are surely called upon by priests so that physical and mental evaluations can be done prior to and during any rites being performed. This is to ensure that no physical malady is overlooked, which could end in death and lawsuits as in the case of the infamous exorcism of Anneliese Michelle who inspired the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

In the old days, the local villager who exhibited signs of mental illness could easily be named the Shaman within the community — such is not the case in modern times within urban communities. We also know that Christian pastors have battled addictions, depression, suicidal ideations and the like so Christianity is not a guarantee of immunity from mental health issues.

In this brief article, researched processes determining demonic possession vs mental health crisis will be evaluated and presented for your reflection and comments.

Schizophrenia or Dissassociative Identify Disorder Can Look a Lot Like a Possession.

When your loved one stands before you red-eyed, snarling, foaming at the mouth and with veins bulging, you may think this is a sign of demonic possession, however there are some schizophrenics who display these symptoms when they are having a bad day. Likewise, when someone you know cannot remember having had a conversation with you earlier where they used a completely different voice and said mean things, you may think a spirit was operating through them. In both of the aforementioned cases, these symptoms can be explained in the DSM-V, which is a western book of all mental health issues that are currently known.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5


How do you know whether or not you are hallucinating or being tormented by an actual entity? Once I knew a person who swore that something pushed them down a set of stairs and then the invisible energy tore a sofa covering off of a piece of furniture. It scared them so bad that they ran out of the room.

I asked them did they get someone to go with them to see if the furniture cover was still on the floor. They said they did, and it was. Even in this, more investigation is needed to ensure the person did not have a psychotic or amnesiatic episode and pull the covers off themselves. If one or two more people were in the room and witnessed it, there is more credibility to a spirit possession, haunting or oppression. However, there is a such thing as shared psychosis or shared hallucinations so there is a fine line between mental health and spiritual phenomena.

So how does an exorcist and a psychiatrist working for the church tell when a person is actually in need of exorcism?

  1. The client in question may react adversely to holy water, rosary beads, prayer or some other blessed object or script. They typically will be come enraged if you talk about God, the Light or spiritual positivity.
  2. Client may speak a language they have never studied and the language can be verified as an actual tongue.
  3. Client has the ability to tell priest or someone in attendance with priest OR foretell intimate details of their lives that the client has no way of knowing.
  4. Client may exhibit some form of supernatural ability such as levitation. Super human strength would NOT count as this can be exhibited with drug use.
  5. Client expresses in interview they have been playing with items that invoke evil or demonic entities.
  6. Client is unresponsive to medical treatment protocols, or does not have any history (medical, pharmaceutical or otherwise) that could have resulted in mental health issues. This also includes fast onset of symptoms, vs behavioral or psychological changes the occur over time or as side effects of medications.

Caviats to Consider

ALL THINGS, to include incarnate and disembodied energies, can be broken down into chemical equations. Spirit IS Science.

If a person is determined to be demonically possessed, brain scans would still show unusual activity. Also, they may respond to medicine since most demons will usually not use a body that is put to sleep or comatose.

Even if a person has a life pattern or experience that could have led to something like depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc., low energies can feed off of their negative emotions and be present around them. You could have a double whammy, both a mental health issue and a spiritual problem.

In any case there is help for you, however it is usually recommended, that initially you begin with scientific protocols by first getting a psychological eval and medical physical.


Demonic Possession or Mental Illness? Exorcist Explains the Difference – The Christian Post

Differences in Demon possession, Mental illness, Depression (

Published by

Renee Tarot

Chief news curator and Editor.

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