The belief in possession, in which evil spirits take control of a person's body, and in exorcism, in which the spirits are driven out of the victim, has been widespread. Throughout the centuries, the Catholic Church has attempted to differentiate between possession and mental illness. However, Catholic teaching and ritual provide few details on how this is to be done. A multiple case study was conducted, consisting of interviews with three Catholic priest exorcists in order to learn how they make this distinction. Results showed that the exorcists begin with the presumption that the phenomena they observe are rooted in natural rather than supernatural causes. Mental health professionals are routinely consulted, as are other exorcists, to help determine the nature of the problem. Results also showed that the participants look for signs that are not part of the symptomology of mental disorders. Recommendations for therapists, researchers, and exorcists are discussed.
|Commitee:||Drew, Timothy, Hillstrom, Elizabeth|
|Department:||Counselor Education and Supervision|
|School Location:||United States -- Virginia|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religion, Mental health, Pastoral Counseling, Counseling Psychology, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Catholic exorcists, Demonic possession, Dissociative disorder, Possession mental disorders|
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