Dark Dreams
The Exorcism in Indiana - What in the Hell Happened?

Devan Sagliani | 18 Jun 2014 13:00
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For most people the word itself conjures up images of young Linda Blair tied to the bed between an old priest and a young priest, head spinning while bright green rivers of split pea soup pour out of her mouth, that is when she's not rattling off hair curling obscenities and shockingly personal demonic barbs about your dead relatives. Like it or not The Exorcist is to demonic possession movies what Charlie Manson is to murder - the one that gets all the attention. Sure, Hollywood has made a slew of damn good demonic possession movies since - The Amityville Horror, The Devil Inside, The Possession, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Rite, and The Last Exorcism to name a few - but let's be honest, it's the famous stairs to the house on Prospect Street that come to mind first, if not the image of Linda defiling herself with a crucifix. All the rest are just reflections on what William Peter Blatty started, tributes if you will, to a master storyteller.

But what happens when this lurid idea of unrepentant evil spirits from the wretched bowels of some hot, dark hell taking over the helpless bodies of innocent children leaps right off the big screen and into your life, becoming your reality? How far would you go to protect the ones you love the most from potentially becoming Satan's unwilling lapdogs? Would you be open to let some strange man tie down your child and chant Bible verses at them while dousing their bodies in holy water and invoking Jesus? Turns out there are a lot of Americans who would do just that.

Since the turn of the millennium exorcism has been alive and well in America. Reports documenting the practice reveal that the Archbishop of Calcutta Henry Sebastian D'Souza admits he ordered an exorcism performed on Mother Teresa before she died in 1997 after the famous nun expressed fear she was being attacked by the devil. The newly canonized Saint John Paul the Great supposedly performed one on an Italian girl that didn't take, having previously had success in a similar situation years before on a convulsing child brought to the Vatican.

By and large, Catholics are the reigning world heavyweight champions of demon eviction, but it's not just the guys in the white collars evicting demons in the Age of Aquarius. According to Michael Cuneo, a sociologist at Fordham University and the author of American Exorcism, there as many as 600 evangelical exorcism ministries in operation today. Protestants, Pentecostals, and other flavors of Christians, as well as New Age practitioners are getting in on the act as well.

Historically Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists have all tried their hand at forcing evil spirits out of afflicted living hosts with various results. Even Jesus dabbled in the practice, according to the New Testament, tackling the infamous demonic horde known as Legion and sending them into an unlucky herd of nearby pigs. Yet despite numerous accounts throughout history demonic possession is not currently considered to be a valid medical diagnosis. Instead it's attributed to mental illness, which isn't all that surprising when you consider that almost 30 percent of people with dissociative identity disorder questioned identified themselves as demons when asked who they were. According to modern day science, successful exorcisms are attributed to the placebo effect and the power of suggestion. Still, that hasn't stopped the practice from flourishing.

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