When are exorcisms warranted?

What are the signs that lead people to request an exorcism? How can you tell the difference between possession and just somebody making really poor choices, falling to temptation? Are mental illnesses attributed to possession, like when people say they have voices in their head? How many people are walking around possessed but never get the benefit of an exorcism because nobody reaches out for them?

Before an exorcism would even be considered the person would have to undergo thorough physical/neurological tests, then thorough testing by psychiatrist.


A very good book was written on this topic by Fr. Driscoll of the Peoria, IL diocese called “Demons, Deliverence, Discernment”. It’s available on Amazon.

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Thanks, I’ll check it out

There are four signs of demonic possession: Knowledge of languages previously unknown/unstudied by the individual; inordinate strength; knowledge of hidden things or things the individual would have no way of knowing; an aversion to the sacred. At least one of these signs must be present in order for an exorcist to diagnose demonic possession.

In cases where demonic possession is suspected, a thorough investigation is conducted by the Church to rule out natural (physical or mental) causes. An exorcist must have moral certitude that a person is suffering from demonic possession before solemn exorcism is performed. An exorcist must have the permission of his Bishop as well.

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