Long term possession

In Catholic circles, you sometimes hear stories about Catholics (or others) who are possessed, not oppressed, but literally possessed, for months and months. Fr Z just posted a story about a possessed woman who was subjected to exorcisms on a weekly basis for 18 months.

My question is…if exorcisms sometimes take months to years, how does the possessed person possibly function in society? If a parent, surely you couldn’t see your children for that 18 month period for fear that the demons will force you to harm them. How could you even go into public for the same reason?

What am I missing? It sounds like the exorcisms happen week after week, but it’s not likely they are locked up in between? If true possession, not just demonic oppression, what stops the demon from going on a mass murder spree? I’m not being glib.

The short answer is that we don’t know.

With cases of possessions the demons don’t seem to have free reign to do whatever they want. They are inhibited in many ways, probably by Providence as was the case with Satan in Job.

1 Like

I think it varies on a case by case. Fr. Ripperger has mentioned that God sets very specific parameters on what the demons are allowed to do. In the worst cases, it probably is the case that the person is completely dysfunctional.

“Possessions” are nothing more than mental illness. Mental health professionals should be consulted for treatment plans.

This is so important. I realize some here will disagree. For those who believe they may be possessed, their first stop should be with their mental health professional. A priest can help them with their spiritual outlook as it relates to their mental health challenges, but unless he is also a medical professional that is the extent of his ability to address the issue.


If that were true why allow demons to do anything at all?

1 Like

Possession happens when a person is not in a state of grace. Getting back into a state of grace is the goal.

And that is how official Diocesean exorcists work. They first rule out every possible mental or physical illness. There is a team for true exorcism, medical persons are involved even then.

Sadly, people are so attracted to the extravagant exorcism stories that some internet famous exorcists do, say, and publicize things that are not “kosher”. Exorcism is a private thing, it is not for a curious public’s entertainment.

As the writer of what our exorcist told me is the most accurate book, “The Rite” (book, not movie), when people hear that the way to combat possession is to stay in a state of grace, receive the sacraments, they are often disappointed.


While I agree with the general direction of your reply, I’m a little unsure about the “nothing more than mental illness” part. We all have our shadows to deal with, and to some degree we can be “possessed” by many “demons” such as our own desires for wealth and status, our own guilt, our own resentment, our own despair.

We all have instances of such possession, at least in the short term.

1 Like

The demon is not in control, ever, God is always in control…always. The demon is subject to God always. The demon is put there, or allowed to be there for our own good, by God. Don’t forget God is all powerful and nothing does anything without his say so. Humanity is so sinful that this is a mercy, to allow us to gain piety that we need. We must practice virtue to get rid of these and so grow closer to God which is good for us. True possession is not that common though but it does take years to free a person. The best way to avoid this is to get in a state of grace and stay there.

1 Like

The Catholic Church always exhausts scientific means of treatment first before concluding there is a spiritual need.


We need to be careful when using language and terms like “demons” and “possession” to be very clear. The Church teaches that Satan and demons are real, spiritual beings; evil personified. The Church teaches that demonic possession is real and offers a remedy in the form of solemn exorcism for those suffering this affliction. Mental illness is also a reality.
When we use language like “demons” to describe someone’s mental illness, or addiction, or personal struggle with ordinary temptation or sin it can be confusing. Demonic possession is rare but it really exists. It is not the same as mental illness and thus requires different treatment.
The original poster was presumably speaking about actual cases of demonic possession diagnosed and being treated by an exorcist working under the authority of his Bishop. The original poster was asking how such individuals function while being possessed by demons, not how someone with a mental illness, who mistakenly believes they are possessed, functions.


Would you show me the Church documents that teach God puts demons in people or that demons are for our own good?

1 Like

God does not cause evil (including the evil of demonic possession) but He can and does permit and use it for good. God can use demonic possession to bring about the conversion of the person afflicted or their family, for example; for the sanctification of the person afflicted etc. Our Lord uses all kinds of suffering (including the suffering caused by demonic possession) to draw souls to Himself. He is in complete control and demons are on a short leash. Demons can do nothing (including possessing a person) without God’s permission. The thing to be most concerned about is not demonic possession but rather mortal sin. Someone can be demonically possessed and in a state of grace.


Can you give an example of how such sanctification can happen? Do you have a story?

Possession and oppression are spiritual matters. There is a discernment phase re such individual to determine which is mental and which is spiritual. They are not mutually exclusive. This process is lengthy and taken very seriously as in most matters that require prayer discernment etc by the Church.

1 Like

Thank you for your response.

It seems @Bluebright has a different belief, I am interested in the genesis of those beliefs.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things . [Isa 45:7]

I form the light, and create the darkness,

I make weal and create woe;*

I, the LORD, do all these things.

  • [45:7] Create woe: God created and controls all aspects of creation (light and darkness, order and chaos).

God never puts a demon in someone. God will also never interfere with our free will: we allow demons to enter or even invite them in by our own actions. Remember, the prayer to St. Michael says “all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls” meaning there are demons out there.

What the USCCB has to say about exorcism: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/sacramentals-blessings/exorcism.cfm

Speaking from personal experience I can say that dealing with demonic oppression caused me to grow in humility, perseverance and to grow in my faith in HUGE ways that never would have happened had I not had to go thru the deliverance process for several years. I’m guessing the same holds true for those that suffer from possession and/or those who love them.

“Jesus permits the spiritual combat as a purification, not as a punishment. The trial is not unto death but unto salvation.”– Padre Pio

“The more you are afflicted, the more you ought to rejoice, because in the fire of tribulation the soul will become pure gold, worthy to be placed and to shine in the heavenly palace.” – Padre Pio

Also, the books by Fr. Amorth are very good too. :slight_smile:


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.