Is it considered infallible doctrine that demons can possess people?

I personally do not believe that demons can possess people in the way that is portrayed in movies (i.e. thrashing, convulsing, etc.). I believe that demons in the Bible were personifications of the part of us that tempts us to sin and leads us away from God. I doubt that demons possess people bodily because that only causes people to turn towards God. Shouldn’t they want to turn people away from God. Also, all the symptoms of a person being possessed could be explained by that person having an emotional outbreak as a result of believing they are possessed. People say that intense psychological evaluations are done on people before declaring they are possessed. However, I think a person can believe that he or she is possessed without necessarily having a mental disorder. Also, only a small percentage of psychological evaluations are declared to be possessions, but perhaps this could just be the result of an occasional neglectful psychologist :shrug:.

Anyway, I was wondering if there was an infallible doctrine somewhere that shows that the Catholic Church infallibly declares that people can be bodily possessed by demons. For example, is this stated in any doctrine from an ecumenical council?

It is plainly obvious that you don’y have much of a handle on possession and what it entails. Not to worry most people don’t. I cannot tell you definitively if the fact of demonic possession is infallible dogma or if it was taught at an Ecumenical Council.

But I can tell you that almost every Diocese and yes that includes the Vatican, has on staff at least one and many times more than one exorcist. And they stay fairly busy from everything I have learned. Now, there are members of the Clergy, Priests and Bishops, who don’t believe in possession or even in Satan for that matter.

As far as belief, Jesus himself believed in possession by demons and I think his belief alone should be enough for our acceptance.

Not everything in the church has to be infallibly defined. Demon possession is in the Scriptures and the Catholic Church has rites of exorcism that go way back. When a teaching is well attested like this there is no reason for an infallible statement. Maybe if heresy broke out on this issue there would be a need for an infallible definition, but not at this point.

We don’t really need to understand everything about how or why demon possession occurs, but it seems like most religions, including non-Christian religions, have some sort of belief in this. I’ve known a person who seemingly experienced a possession. I can’t say for sure what it was, but I’m glad the Church has a way to deal with these cases.

Demonic possession and exorcism are Gospel truth. This is not something that was proclaimed by some Church Council.

I think that the inquirer either leads a sheltered life and/or knows little about 20th Century History,
There are numerous evil people around us that can only be explained by the fact that they must be possessed by demons. How else could you explain mass murderers? Many times, when these people are apprehended and examined by psychiatrists and other scientists, they were found to be psychically normal.
How else could one explain the horrifying mass murderers, Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung?
And, how could you explain the otherwise normal, banal individuals who carried out their atrocities? Prior to her husband being posted by the SS to the infamous concentration camp of Auschwitz/Belsen, Ilsa Koch was an ordinary Hausfrau. Remember, she was the one who selected prisoners with interesting tattoos, had them put to death so she could make lampshades from their skin. The only explanation that could be would be demonic possession!

It is infallible doctrine defined in the Bible. Can’t be more authoritative than that!
No one would conviene a Council to discuss what is already in the Bible.

When Jesus in Mathew 8:28 cast out the demons out of the 2 men and allowed them to enter the herd of swines, it is plenty clear it is not a metaphore or a parable.
He also gave the Apostles authority to cast out demons in His name.
And even others were able to do so by invoking Jesus name.

Also you need to understand that demons do not posess just any body.
Most of the time there is some active participation from the “victim” that allowed for this to happen.
This is why the Church speaks so strongly against the occult practices so prevalent today. People think they are “games” or entertainment, not realizing what they are really opening the door to.

Forget the movies! Read the scriptures, since the movies are “based on” the scriptural and exorcist accounts of demonic possession. Better than that, read the account of an exorcist:

They are not making things up.

Also, whatever is taught via the “ordinary magisterium” of the Church (basically, the contents of the catechism) may be considered to be infallible teaching, even though it has not been declared to be infallible. Such declarations normally occur in response to heresy.

I once thought as you did once to be honest. However, experience has proven me very wrong as I work in the mental health field. It is a common error for people to not understand the difference between mental health and spiritual issues and sweep everyone under the same roof. For me I have a very strong background in Biology and Psychology and in my earlier years totally ignored the idea the demonic even existed. To be fair I approached life more like a atheistic scientific skeptic.

That changed as I met people who did not quite fit the standard molds. To be fair modern science has a long way to go in understanding of what causes mental problems. We offer pills and various therapies but often are clueless to the causes of the disorders. I feel that there are many biologically and psychologically causes disorders but I have also encountered some strange phenomena.

It is not usually like many of the movies which do no justice to what a possession really is. It can be voices, feelings, things you see (very easy to confuse with schizophrenia) but usually it is thoughts. The end result is similar in that it distorts the person away from the image of God. The result is a person who is more in line with how that particular demon or demons think and act and are thus able to create a “possession”. These are not usually perpetual states but periods where the person is taken over and then they return to normal. They may or may not have memory of the event.

It is very good at hiding and will often try to masquerade as a mental disorder. I found I was dealing with what I originally referred to as something that appeared to be a “sentient disorder” while working with various people. I could easily have done what most other professionals do and continue to recommend a treatment (basically a bunch of pills and maybe a decent counselor) but I decided to dig deeper.

What I discovered was what I called “religious allergies.” Aversion or hostility to holy objects (even hidden ones). Things that I got as wedding presents (like an Icon from a monk) or a old bottle of excised salt collecting dust on my back self. These allergies would occur during the times I was dealing with the “sentient” thought process of the afflicted person. Considering that traditional treatment was not working and talk therapy was revealing a very odd disorder that appeared to be sentient and religiously intolerant I decided to step out of the mold of medical professionals and seek help.

I looked at Medical texts and Psychology journals which generally scoff in a very prideful manner that this stuff does not exists and its just made up. Some protestant friends offered to pray and baptize one person who agreed and then they started getting crippling nausea and headaches. I took them to a friends Jewish temple and the same thing happened on the way there, not during the quorum, but flared up immediately after leaving the temple. Puzzled I started to do more analysis of the person to make sure this was not a grab for attention, or just some other weird ploy or disorder.

A priest I knew growing up recommended putting excised salt in food they like. When offered the food they rejected it even though they asked for that very food. Next he recommended some deliverance prayers for them (they were raised New Age) sure enough some of their symptoms disappeared after praying them. What followed next is a year long saga of me trying to prove to myself this is not real as one thing after another that I dealt with was explained by exorcists (moving headaches and stomach pains, religious aversions, throwing up during rosaries, etc) but science offered some bland explanation like somatoform or multipersonality disorders but no real effective treatment options or causes for these people.

There is MUCH more that I experienced and had to deal with but I gave you a snippet of my life experience to open your eyes. The devil is real and likes to stay hidden. My life is much harder now that I acknowledge this exists thanks to people I have to deal with who think just like I did and you do now. The field of mental health tries to teach us in basic psych courses that demons were once thought to cause mental disorders but “we know better now”. God ultimately proved me wrong and it was a very difficult transition. Now I can be openly mocked and discredited by multitudes of atheists and lukewarm believers in the field.

However, I am here to help heal people even if it means being assaulted for the rest of my life. Science does NOT have many answers in the mental health field. Many doctors confide to me how they feel they are “wasting their talent” in Psychiatry since it is so difficult to treat even basic depression. I have met many people healed though Christ. Psychology can open your eyes to what issues you have, Biology can heal many problems of the body, but Christ is very effective at healing issues of the mind (demonic or not).

I apologize for the long post. You have the freedom to utterly disregard my story but humbly I caution you that you may find out the hard way like I did. Being unprepared for the onslaught of spiritual warfare was not fun or easy. Not every thought that prances into your head is your own.

God Bless:coffeeread:

I think demonic possession can occur–I mean Jesus spoke of it and threw devils out of people so I’m going to just fall back on old blind faith here. Granted, in some cases, a person Jesus healed of demonic possession may simply have suffered from a mental illness–which back then was lumped in with demonic possession–but in several cases, Jesus actually spoke to the demons before He cast them out. So, yes, I don’t see how anyone could not agree that it happens. No, I don’t think there is a specific church doctrine on this however–though if there is one, someone on here will undoubtedly know it right off and share it.

Having said that, I doubt it happens frequently and I totally agree that Satan is far too smart to be running around causing people to vomit green bile or rotate their heads 360 degrees at a whack like on TV–as that would terrify most anyone and drive them directly into the arms of the church and God–which would be self defeating for Satan. I’ve always seen the superior intelligence of Satan exhibited in his very ability to convince people that he doesn’t really exist at all. That is far more frequent today than the stereo-typical movie versions of demons in action and can be seen throughout our society where almost nothing anymore is wrong or a sin. God is removed from everywhere–from government buildings to schools and things like the “right” for gays to marry or for a woman to abort her child are now seen as actual human rights and GOOD–not at all evil or sin! If something is painted with a broad brush of invisibility, so that it appears to be human compassion and respect for the rights of others, instead of allowing in to be shown as what it really is: the exact opposite, it makes sin and evil almost disappear before our eyes–the better to trap souls. Now THAT is one clever old evil angel if you ask me! Who needs to possess simply a single human being when you can so easily possess the entire human race?:shrug:

As for the bolded portion, it is truly unbelievable this is the case. I have met a few myself across a variety of Christian groups.

If the Catholic Church didn’t believe in real demonic possession, they would not have priests training in Exorcism. Pretty simple logic. What is scary is we may never know who the possessed person is or who is not. Sure, there are signs, but I do not believe every possession exhibits those signs.

My wife doesn’t believe in demons. I asked her if she believes in angels and she said she did. I asked if she believed in Satan and she said she did. I asked if she knew Satan was a fallen angel, she said she did. I asked if she knew fallen angels were demons and she replied, “I don’t want to think about that stuff.” So, at least for her, the scary part is why she ignores demons. Pretending they are not there is when they become the most dangerous.

Not infallible but it is part of the Deposit of the Faith that all Catholics must believe ( in my opinion ). The topic is covered in #s 395 and 550 of the Catechism. Although it mentions the exorcisms by Christ during his life time. Nevertheless the Church is supposed to have an exorcist in every diocease.




SinnersAnonymus - I have read with interest your post and agree with the essence of the message. I too have academic as well as spiritual/life experience of the topic.

Indeed, as you state, it is not only your own thoughts that trip across your brain-mind interface - temptation, messages, ‘insights’, ‘inspiration’, ‘justification’ and ‘discernment’ can all originate from extra-cranial sources - good as well as evil.

It is an interesting case of denial when one claims belief in celestial beings such as angels but scoffs at their demonic opposites. Recently in a bible study the more liberal members offered opinions that Mary Magdalene’s possession by seven demons was a result of female complaints or psychological problems which Christ cured through therapy. Evil has gotten very good over the centuries at hiding itself and convincing the general populace into error.
Thank you all for your insights on this topic especially SinnersAnnonymous, Starsmother,JerryZ.

The story of the demonic possession in the movie the Exorcist is based on actual events. Our pastor was the pastor of the church this took place at in DC. The actual possession was of a boy.

I want to add there is a whole spectrum to this stuff. Possession is the far extreme but there other types of afflictions. The problem is we are being taught through media and skeptics to rationalize events that occur around us and throw most afflicted people into mental health. Blood does not pour out of walls, but a simple headache or nausea walking into a church might be a sign. I have found what is worse is many people who are afflicted are reluctant to describe various phenomena they are experiencing out of fear they will be even more medicated (which to be fair is likely to occur).

The problem is most people working in the field have a poor understanding of what it is they are treating. “Mechanism of action unknown” is common for how most psychoactive drugs work. They just appear to work and we call it a day and change dosages until the person “appears stable”. Therapies have difficult times teaching people how to manage their thoughts and the most severe thought disorders like borderline are often avoided by many if not most professionals due to how difficult it is to treat them.

The funny thing is that for almost 2,000 years the Church and especially monastics have being writing and teaching others how to deal with “errant thoughts”. Yet for some reason we feel that a field dominated by pharmaceutical industries (major profit driven machines) and Psychology (which brought us Freud and Humanism) have somehow proven the church wrong?

If you want to know the fruit of this field you should read this article by a Catholic psychologist.

There is a lot of good in modern science but as long as we deny the reality of evil (a recent phenomena since I have texts that show as late as the 1960’s professionals would talk openly about demonic activity in their patients), then our ability to heal people is severely handicapped in the field of mental health.

What a well written and erudite post. Well done for seeking the truth and not letting pride interfere. May God bless you

Do you feel like the sacraments, prayer [including the Rosary], using Holy water and a love of the Father and the Son are adequate defenses of such things? If one felt the need to “circle the wagons” are their specific prayers one can use ?[like St Michael] I was a boy scout, I like to be prepared!

I never actually worked with psychiatric patients except when I rotated through the courses back in school. But I always kind of wondered some of the same things you expressed–I just never put my finger on it as well as you are able to. Some of the people obviously had psychiatric problems and medication helped them. Others–well–they were just different–medicating them slowed them down, but it never really improved them–nor did therapy seem to. And I kinda hate to even turn over this rock–but some kids today who get medicated to the hilt for certain behavioral problems–now not all of them–but some–effect me in the same way–just an odd feeling when I’m around them might be the way I’d describe it-- and I just got to making the connection when I read your posts. Hmmm… something to at least think about…

OMG… Carl Rogers. Do you think all of that had anything to do with recent scandals?

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