What is Possession?

Trigger Warning: This article contains potentially triggering content surrounding mental health and suicide.

Possession is when a spirit takes its hold inside of a living person. They take control of the mind and body of the person they have latched onto, and their hold only grows stronger with time. Their goal is to cause harm and destroy the host. The spirit does not necessarily have to be considered “demonic” to be involved in possession. An exorcist or skilled ghost hunter are often called in to exorcise or remove the troublesome spirit. Eliminate all possible medical and/or psychological complications (such as depression, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, multiple personality disorder, etc.) prior to pursuing the possibility of possession. Seek medical help first.

There are three basic stages of possession: partial influence, partial possession, and total possession. Possession isn’t particularly detectable at first. Most cases are partial possession, where the victim can function but has to work hard to maintain normalcy. The spirit makes it difficult for the person to think in order to gain their attention. They pretend to be friendly and protective at first. When the person asks them to leave permanently, it agitates the spirit into showing their true, evil selves.

A victim of partial influence will withdraw and isolate to spend more time channeling spirits or using a ouija board. Their free time becomes devoted to the practice. Friends and family may take notice of unusual behavior. It resembles an addiction. Partial possession takes some control over the victim’s mind, speech, and body parts. Their dreams are replaced by intense, vivid nightmares and disturbed sleep. Negative emotions such as anger, hate, and fear intensify. The victim may express agitation through swearing. They will speak out of turn in social situations. They may believe the spirit’s control cannot be stopped. Constant headaches may plague the victim. The victim may start speaking to the spirit out loud, which may look like they’re talking to themself. The victim may hear the voice off the spirit and confuse their normal thinking patterns, hindering their concentration for daily activities. Further isolation occurs. There are frequent uncontrolled thoughts of suicide. If they lose control for a moment, the victim will express faster-than-normal movements of the head, arms, and fingers.

In cases of total possession, the victim is unable to function in life. The spirit has incapacitated them. Suicide is not uncommon. They may be diagnosed with a mental disorder and may require psychiatric care. Take this seriously. The likelihood of the symptoms being truly tied to a possession are unlikely.

Let’s destigmatize mental health. Throughout history, mental health has been stigmatized and unfairly discredited. Many regular disorders were incorrectly referred to as cases of possession. Real medical conditions, such as schizophrenia and personality disorders, were ignored and left untreated because folks were more inclined their souls were taken over by the devil. If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms, call the SAMHSA hotline at 1-800-662-4357

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