We are already familiar with the Hollywood and local movie caricature of a person possessed by an evil spirit. The stereotypical victim is a woman who is ferocious-looking, uncontrolled, physically strong and foul-mouthed.
She curses people, spits at the crucifix and laughs off prayers of exorcism. She reveals people’s deep secrets, especially their indiscretions and moral lapses.
This stereotype has stuck in the public mind where possession is concerned. What is not so well-known to people is that there is also such a thing as “benign” possession, a term I have coined to distinguish it from the destructive and fearsome “demonic” possession.
In benign spirit possession, the victim or subject is usually not aware that there is a spirit inhabiting or, at least, hovering around him or her. He or she appears normal and is able to function socially and even professionally.
Usually, the possessing spirit is a dead relative or close friend who wants to be with the subject. The spirit means the subject no harm and, on the contrary, wants to protect and help him or her.
How can a person tell if there is a spirit acting through him or her, and often controls his or her thoughts, even actions?
Dr. Edith Fiore, an American psychologist who had dealt with thousands of such cases, enumerates some of the common signs or characteristics of spirit possession in her pioneering book published 25 years ago, “The Unquiet Dead”:
1. Low energy level
2. Character shifts or mood swings
3. Inner voice(s) speaking to the victim
4. Abuse of drugs (including alcohol)
5. Impulsive behavior
6. Memory problems or lapses
7. Poor concentration or attention
8. Sudden onset of anxiety or depression
9. Sudden onset of physical health problems with no obvious cause
10. Emotional and/or physical reactions to reading “The Unquiet Dead.”
(The last characteristic obviously does not apply to those who have not read the book.)
In benign possession, there is no intention on the part of the spirit to harm the victim or subject. In fact, the possessing spirit may even think it is helping. But possession in the long term always has a negative effect on the subject. Therefore, the subject should be released as soon as possible. But how?
Instead of the familiar term “exorcism,” with its religious connotations, Fiore coined a term to describe the liberation of a person possessed by an entity. She calls her process “depossession.”
The difference between exorcism and depossession is: in exorcism, there is usually a battle between good and evil; in depossession there is more of a dialogue between the possessing spirit and the one performing depossession. The spirit is persuaded to move on to a higher level in the spirit world by going with his or her relatives or spirit guides. There is no dramatic casting out of the devil in the name of Christ, wielding of a crucifix and sprinkling of holy water.
Although the intention of a benign spirit may not be evil, the effect on the possessed subject is not necessarily pleasant or beneficial.
I remember a depossession I did on a middle-aged woman in Poznan, Poland, over two years ago. She was a strong-willed psychologist who felt that she was losing control of herself and was blaming her male partner of 11 years for it.
She said she noticed how she had been losing control of herself about three months before she came to me. I tried to trace this either to her childhood or to a past life, but I couldn’t. So I decided to put her in a trance and asked if there was any other spirit in the body of the subject. She replied, “Yes.”
I decided to talk directly to the spirit, telling her that she was no longer on the earth plane and, rather than helping the subject, she was actually ruining her life, her career and her relationship. The spirit realized very quickly her bad effects on the subject and agreed to leave her and head for the light.
I assured her that she would find greater happiness in the spirit world.
The victim felt very relieved after that and thanked me profusely. Her disposition also changed suddenly into a more positive one.
In her book, Fiore made the bold statement that “more than 50 percent of patients confined in mental hospitals in the United States are not insane, they are possessed.”
I wonder what the figure would be in the Philippines, where the people are more sensitive to the spirit world and thus more prone to spirit possession. We can only guess.
For those interested in personal consultancy, individual past life hypnotic regression, scientifically based seminars and other paranormal services, call 8107245 or (0920) 9818962 for details. The Next Practical Mind Dynamics seminar is on June 9-10, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Rm. 308 Prince Plaza I, Legaspi St., Greenbelt Makati.