Article: Report of a Study: Diagnosis and Treatment of the Spirit Possession Syndrome – William J. Baldwin (Is.10)

by William J. Baldwin, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Dr. Baldwin is no stranger to our readers. The concept of spirit possession is controversial. The term itself can evoke rapid reaction. It is a subject of intense and continuing investigation and exploration by many, including Dr. Baldwin, who shares with us the results of his research. The information contained in this article formed the foundation of his doctoral dissertation in clinical psychology and was submitted in the spirit [No pun intended! Ed.] of sharing both his theories and his research with us, and inviting further comment and investigation.


The ancient concept of spirit possession may be quite valid, though largely ignored in modern, scientifically oriented, materialistic society. Clinicians in various countries claim to have found the condition to be widely prevalent among people at the present time. Methods of spirit releasement can bring profound and often unexpected results, mental and physical, ranging from minor improvement to a total remission of hitherto untreatable symptoms and conditions. The methodology described in this study is straightforward and grounded in sound psychotherapeutic principles.

The steps of the process are as follows:

  1. Discovery and identification of any and all attached discarnate spirits or entities.
  1. Differential diagnosis: different types of spirits require different treatment approaches.
  1. Dialogue with the attached entity to determine the nature of the attachment to the client, and to resolve the emotional conflicts which maintain the attachment.
  1. Release of the attached entity from the client into the Light.
  1. A specific guided imagery of Light for the subject for sealing and preventing further attachments.
  1. Ongoing therapy to clear deeper layers of attached entities, and to heal the vulnerability which first permitted the attachment.

The success of the method tends to validate the hypothesis of a spiritual reality and the condition of spirit influence, obsession, or possession. The validity of the treatment itself was amply demonstrated. Of the original 100 subjects, 62 completed the study. Of those, 12 (19.4%) experienced past-life recall only; 50 (80.6%) showed signs of attached discarnates, and the Spirit Releasement Therapy procedures were followed. Positive change was experienced by 35 of the 50 (70%).

Purpose of the Study

 This was an exploratory study, the purpose being to outline and assess the techniques of Spirit Releasement Therapy (a clinical approach to diagnosis and treatment of the condition labeled spirit possession syndrome or spirit attachment, which is a more accurate descriptive term) in the setting of a professional therapy practice, to establish guidelines for further research and to test the hypotheses presented below. Specific points which were considered included, but were not limited to, the following:

  1. Onset and history of the condition
  2. Causes and effects of spirit attachment
  3. Treatment methods and procedures
  4. Results of treatment

The outcome of this study may indicate some degree of validity of the hypothesis of spirit possession and the efficacy of the described treatment of the condition, Spirit Releasement Therapy, as well as directions for possible future studies.

Selection of Subjects

 The population was selected from the author’s clientele within an eclectic, transpersonally oriented practice with a customary focus on past lives therapy as a primary modality. All first time clients, age 15 and older, seen in individual sessions from January through September, 1987, were invited to participate in the study. Most accepted the invitation, and 100 people completed the initial survey which included informed consent. Specific data on the results of spirit releasement within the first session were extracted for the study. Sixty two participants completed and returned the follow-up survey. Fifty of these participants experienced spirit releasement during their initial session. The data were purposely limited to the results of the spirit releasement as the focus of the study was primarily on Spirit Releasement Therapy, the diagnosis and treatment of the spirit possession syndrome or spirit attachment.

Statement of Hypotheses

 This study is based on the following hypotheses:

  1. Spirit possession is more than a myth or superstition; it is an actual condition which can afflict human beings. A discarnate spirit entity, that is, the surviving personality or consciousness of a deceased human being, can attach itself to a living human in some manner and influence the mental functioning, emotions, behavior, and physical condition of that person.
  1. The possession syndrome is specific in its signs and symptoms, onset and history, and a spirit attachment is differentially diagnosable from a thought form, past-life personality or complex, subpersonality, alter personality in multiple personality disorder, dissociation, hysteria, schizophrenia or other mental disorder.
  1. The condition can be treated with specific appropriate methods. The described intervention, a spirit releasement, depossession, or minor exorcism procedure can separate the discarnate being and its influence from the host/victim, and the associated behavior or condition will immediately cease or significantly diminish.
  1. The method of treatment, Spirit Releasement Therapy, can be accomplished by working directly with the afflicted person. This is the logical next step beyond the traditional approach which consisted of contacting and releasing attached entities remotely through a medium in deep trance (Hyslop, 1920, p. 387; Wickland, 1924, 1934, Villoldo & Krippner, 1986, pp. 9-25, 39-54). The method is based on existing psychotherapeutic theory and technique, set in a larger context, a spiritual reality that extends beyond traditional conceptual boundaries.


 The mysteries of death have frightened and fascinated people throughout the ages. Ancient as well as modern spiritual literature contains numerous references to the afterlife, and the process of what happens to humans after that inevitable transition. There has been extensive study of the “near death experience,” or NDE, in which a person “dies” and is subsequently resuscitated. It seems as if the consciousness separates from the body, remains fully aware and somehow perceives everything in the vicinity in precise detail, usually from a vantage point near the ceiling (Moody, 1975, Ring, 1980). The implication is that the personality survives physical death, fully aware and conscious, as a discrete entity, a spirit.

The concept of spirit possession, that is, full or partial takeover of a living human by a discarnate entity, has been recognized, or at least theorized, in every time and in every culture. In ninety percent of societies worldwide there are records of possession-like phenomena (Foulks, 1985). A comparison of spirit possession and multiple personality disorder, or MPD, reveals some interesting similarities and specific differences. MPD has been recognized, diagnosed and treated only within the last 200 years. Mental illness and demonology, the study of spirit possession, have been inseparably linked through the tortuous course of history (Ellenberger, 1970, pp. 53-57; Coleman, Butcher, & Carlson, 1980, pp. 25-44).

The following brief description of the spirit possession syndrome was developed from information gathered over eight years in the author’s clinical practice. Many thousands of questions were asked of several thousand clients in the altered state of consciousness. Much of the information corresponds to descriptions of other clinicians who have pursued similar knowledge (Wickland, 1924, 1934; Fiore, 1987a).

Extensive clinical evidence suggests that Earthbound Spirits, the surviving consciousness of deceased humans, are the most prevalent possessing, obsessing or attaching entities to be discovered. The disembodied consciousness seems to attach itself and merge fully or partially with the subconscious mind of a living person, exerting some degree of influence on thought processes, emotions, behavior, and the physical body. The entity becomes a parasite in the mind of the host. A victim of this condition can be totally amnesic about episodes of complete takeover.

A spirit can be bound to the earth plane by the emotions and feelings connected with a sudden traumatic death. Anger, fear, jealousy, resentment, guilt, remorse, even strong ties of love, can interfere with the normal transition.

Following death by drug overdose a newly deceased spirit maintains a strong appetite for the drug, and this hunger cannot be satisfied in the non-physical realm. The being must experience the drug through the sensorium of a living person who uses the substance. This can only be accomplished through a parasitic attachment to the person. Many drug users may be controlled by the attached spirit of a deceased drug addict.

Many spirits remain in the earth plane due to a lack of awareness of their death. At the time of death several choices are available for the newly deceased spirit. It can follow the direct path to the Light described in the near death experience (Moody, 1975; Ring, 1980). If there is an attached spirit the process may be more difficult. The newly deceased being can carry the attached earthbound spirit to the Light, thereby rescuing this lost soul. Often, the newly deceased spirit is able to break away from the attached spirit and go to the Light alone. The earthbound can wait for the next incarnation of the former host and reestablish the attachment. It can also attach to another living person.

If the newly deceased spirit cannot break away from the attached spirit or hasn’t strength enough to carry it into the Light, it can become earthbound also, with the original earthbound spirit still attached to it. This pair can then attach to another living person. After death, the spirit of this person also may be prevented from reaching the Light due to the “nested” attached spirits. This newly deceased spirit becomes part of the chain of earthbound spirits that can compound until it numbers in the dozens, even hundreds. This chain of nested entities can attach to still another living person.

An attachment can be benevolent in nature, totally self serving, malevolent in intention, or completely neutral. Attachment to any person may be completely random, even accidental. It can occur simply because of physical proximity to the dying person at the time of the death. In about half the cases encountered it is a random choice with no prior connection in this or any other incarnation. In the other half some connection can be found, some unfinished business from this or another lifetime.

Spirit attachment does not require the permission of the host. This seems to be a violation of free will. It also appears to refute the popular notion that each person is totally responsible for creating his or her reality and that there are no victims. The apparent conflict here stems from the definitions of permission and free will choice. Ignorance and denial of the possibility of spirit interference are no defense against spirit attachment. Belief or lack of belief regarding the existence of intrusive entities has no bearing on the reality of these beings and their behavior. In denial and ignorance, most people do not refuse permission to these non-physical intruders. With limited, if any, knowledge and distorted perceptions of the nature of the spirit world, the non-physical reality, many people leave themselves open and create their own vulnerability as part of creating their own reality.

Most people are vulnerable to spirit attachment on many occasions in the normal course of life. Some investigators in this field estimate that between 70% and 100% of the population are affected or influenced by one or more discarnate spirit entities at some time in their lives (Berg, 1984, p. 50; Fiore, 1987a, 1987b).

Severe stress may cause susceptibility to the influence of an intrusive spirit. Altering the consciousness with alcohol or drugs, especially the hallucinogens, loosens one’s external ego boundaries and opens the subconscious mind to infestation by discarnate beings. The same holds true for the use of strong analgesics and the anesthetic drugs used in surgery. A codeine tablet taken for the relief of the pain of a dental extraction can cause enough alteration of consciousness to allow entry to a spirit.

Physical intrusions such as surgery or blood transfusion can lead to an entity attachment. In the case of an organ transplant the spirit of the organ donor can literally follow the transplanted organ into the new body. Physical trauma from auto collision, accidental falls, beatings or any blow to the head can render a person vulnerable to an intrusive spirit.

A living human can be affected by an attached spirit in many different ways. Following death, the discarnate entity retains the psychic energy pattern of its own ailments and can impose on the host the mental aberrations, emotional disturbances and any symptom of physical illness which it suffered while embodied.

An attached entity can be associated with any emotional track of a living person such as anger, fear, sadness or guilt. The emotional energy of the entity intensifies the expression of a specific emotion, often leading to inappropriate overreactions to many ordinary life situations.

The mental, emotional and physical influence of an attached entity can alter the original path of karmic options and opportunities of the host. It can disrupt the planned life line by hastening death or prolonging life. An entity of the opposite gender can influence the sexual preference and gender orientation. An attached entity can influence the choice of marriage and relationship partners.

Many areas of a person’s life can be influenced by one or more attached entities. In short, spirit attachment can interfere with any aspect of the life of the unsuspecting host. The afflicted person is usually unaware of the presence of attached spirits. The thoughts, desires and behaviors of an attached entity are experienced as the person’s own thoughts, desires and behaviors. However, attached entities always exert some influence ranging from a minor energy drain to a major degree of control or interference.

A newly formed spirit attachment is usually more obvious to the unfortunate host. A newly attached entity can cause any of the following signs and symptoms: sudden onset of drug or alcohol usage; unusual and inappropriate speech and behavior patterns; unfamiliar reactions to familiar situations; unusual physical sensations or symptoms in the absence of a medically sound organic cause; sudden acquisition of facility in a new language; noticeable personality changes, however slight, following surgery, accident, emotional upset, or moving into a new home.

The clinical procedures and interventions of Spirit Releasement Therapy appear to facilitate the release of the attached spirit entity. After successful completion of the process, the imposed symptoms are alleviated partially or fully, often immediately and permanently.

Historically, treatment of spirit possession has been primarily in the hands of the shaman, medicine man, or clergy (Hoyt, 1978). Rituals of many kinds have been used, from verbal incantations and incense to beating with sticks. Jesus commissioned the twelve disciples to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits (The Bible, Luke, 9). Ministers today perform “deliverance” on those afflicted with “demons.” They employ much exhortation and prayer (Basham, 1972; Linn & Linn, 1981).

During the first decades of this century, decline of the belief in possession was paralleled by a decline of interest in multiple personality disorder. In the same period hypnosis lost favor in professional circles. The use of exorcism as a healing technique virtually disappeared among medical practitioners and the clergy as twentieth century materialism flourished in America.


 The methodology stems from no theory of personality; rather, it was empirically developed from the psychospiritual paradigm presented by clients in altered states of consciousness describing their experience. It is partially based on classical exorcism procedures, and yet departs considerably from that archaic, adversarial approach. Belief in reincarnation has been accepted for millennia, belief in spirit possession is at least as old as written history. Healing therapies based on these concepts have been developed only within this century.

Spirit Releasement Therapy (SRT) and Past-Life Therapy (PLT) are closely linked in clinical application. The interaction which led to the spirit attachment is often discovered in a past life of the client. This must be explored through the techniques of past-life therapy. The past-life events described and experienced by a client may not be part of the soul memory of that client, but that of an attached entity. PLT with an attached entity will not benefit the client if the entity is not released. No therapy will produce a change in the presenting problem if an entity is the cause of the problem unless the entity is appropriately released.

Many traditional therapists reject the notion of past-life therapy, partly because it is based on the questionable philosophy of reincarnation. Many traditional therapists and past-life therapists alike reject the notion of Spirit Releasement Therapy because it is based on the objectionable and, to many people, frightening possibility of spirit possession. Yet in clinical practice, the open minded therapist with a working knowledge of these modalities will find evidence of both conditions; past-life recall and spirit attachment.

Spirit Releasement Therapy consists of six distinct steps, and the client may remain awake and aware during the process. Traditional hypnotic techniques are unnecessary, although the consciousness of the client is altered as he or she focuses on the inner feelings and sensations.

  1. The first step is to discover and identify any attached discarnate spirit, or entity. There are many clues which assist the therapist in the discovery of an attached entity. The client will repeat the words of an entity as they seem to pop up into the conscious mind from the subconscious. The attached spirit seems to lodge at the level of the subconscious.
  1. The second step is differential diagnosis. The earthbound spirit of a deceased human is the most common attachment; however, there are many other types of non-physical and non-human entities which interfere with living people. The different types require specific treatment. The following steps apply to the attached earthbound spirit of a deceased human being.
  1. The third step is to engage the spirit in dialogue in order to determine what emotions or physical needs have kept it in the earth plane, and what specifically led to, and presently maintains, the attachment to this person, the client. The therapist assists the entity in resolving these issues only. Therapy on the entity is for the express purpose of effecting its release from the client. Past-life techniques are essential here as the original attachment may have been formed many lifetimes prior to the present incarnation of the client, and may have been re-established in several lifetimes in the interim.
  1. The fourth step is the actual release of the spirit into the Light. The entity is usually greeted by the spirits of family or friends who have already passed on. This phenomenon is similar to that described in the NDE literature. There is often a tearful reunion as the spirits of the deceased loved ones come to welcome the earthbound spirit home.
  1. The fifth step is a specific guided imagery of Light. It is very important and necessary to metaphorically fill the space left by the departing being or beings. The client is asked to imagine a brilliant spark of Light deep in the center of the body, near the solar plexus. It glows and expands to fill the body, then expands outward about an arm’s length all around. It forms a shimmering protective bubble of Light surrounding the person. The client is urged to repeat this visualization several times each day.
  1. The sixth step entails ongoing therapy. Additional layers of attached entities may be discovered and released. The specific conflict or vulnerability of the client which allowed the initial attachment is the focus of ongoing therapy after the release of the attached entities. It is essential to resolve the conflict and to heal the emotional vulnerability to prevent subsequent attachments. Inner child healing and treatment of subpersonalities is effective at this point. Any approach to ego strengthening and enhancement of self image is important.

The results of ongoing therapy (step 6) with the clients who participated in the study are not included in this report. Only the specific results of the releasement procedures are pertinent to the study.

Research Design

 The initial survey requested information on personal spiritual beliefs. This was for the purpose of gaining some background knowledge of the general belief systems of the participants. Subjects were asked to describe the presenting problem or problems, and their goals for the session.

The follow-up survey was sent three to four months after the initial appointment. The survey requested the participant’s subjective assessment of changes in the original presenting problem area or areas, and any other changes. Though personal subjective reporting of experimental results may not be considered rigorous, subjective reporting was the most appropriate way to gather the data required for this exploratory study.

The study focused on any significant change in some aspect of behavior or physical condition after a specific clinical intervention, namely, a spirit releasement, depossession, or minor exorcism, the change being consistent with the content and process of the intervention. In this study no hard and fast categories of change were offered; instead, the categories were developed by the author as the results were studied. The method of assessment and categorization is therefore arbitrary; accordingly, to be fair and consistent, the categorization of the results erred on the side of lesser rather than greater degree of intensity of the change. The changes were assessed as a degree of change or improvement on a differential scale.

Data Analysis

 Sixty two of the subjects completed and returned the follow-up survey. Twelve (19.4%) experienced only past-life recall in the course of therapy, fifty (80.6%) showed signs of attached discarnates, and the spirit releasement procedures were implemented as part of the session. Thirty seven of the fifty (74%) were female, thirteen (26%) were male. Data was analyzed in several ways. Questions which required a yes or no answer were tallied numerically. The subjective replies were summarized, assessed, and rated on the differential scale. The significant questions are listed below along with the results.

Initial Survey


YES: 94/100 (94%)                   NO: 6 (6%)


The replies were categorized generally into problem areas which turned out to be typical for people seeking therapy, such as relationships, jobs, memory problems, money, inner voices, phobias, low self esteem, eating disorders, drive to succeed, fear of success or failure, disorganization in life, and physical ailments.


The replies were summarized. It was generally curiosity or a desire for self improvement.

Follow-up Survey

 Changes reported were assessed according to the following differential scale:

NEGATIVE     NONE     MINOR      MODERATE     MAJOR     TOTAL (remission).

The assessment NEGATIVE was assigned when a subject described feeling worse or more confused in the area of concern.

The assessment NONE was assigned when the subject described no change whatsoever.

The assessment MINOR was assigned when a subject described having a new awareness, a new viewpoint, or having a confirmation of previous beliefs.

The assessment MODERATE was assigned when a subject reported a greater acceptance of life, better communication with a mate or parent, improvement of physical symptoms, opening up to new awareness leading to a change of behavior in some area, significant change in attitude, changes in perceptions of men and less fearful, less hopelessness and depression, understanding of purpose in life and how to achieve it.

The assessment of MAJOR was assigned when a subject reported significant changes such as finding the courage to quit an unwanted job, leaving a bad marriage, opening up to marriage after years of avoiding commitment, reduction in the number of epileptic seizures from one a week to three in eight months, overcoming indecisiveness and moving to Boston to study music, compulsions and conflicts diminished, no longer feeling stuck or not good enough, a major shift in self esteem, an overall lower anxiety level.

The assessment of TOTAL was assigned when a subject reported total change in the specific area of concern or remission of symptoms. The “voices” in the head were gone, recurring headaches gone, compulsions and conflicts resolved, unwanted infatuation or compulsion to be with a person completely gone, condition of bulimia of seven years duration in total recovery.


YES: 37/50 (74%)                     NO: 13 (26%)

NEGATIVE      NONE         MINOR        MODERATE        MAJOR              TOTAL

2/50 (4%)      13 (26%)        3 (6%)          12 (24%)           16 (32%)        4 (8%) 


YES: 33/49 (67.3%)                  NO: 16 (32.7%)

NEGATIVE       NONE        MINOR        MODERATE        MAJOR                 TOTAL

4/49 (8.2%)   16 (32.7%)   7 (14.3%)     15 (30.6%)          6 (12.2%)        1(2%)


Hypothesis Testing

 Test 1. Within the scope of this study, the concept of spirit possession could not be scientifically validated. There was no objective evidence to substantiate the hypothesis of a separate consciousness, or spirit, acting as an interfering agent or causative factor in the presenting symptoms of the participants. However, from the enormous amount of anecdotal data collected in the studies of the NDE, it can be inferred that consciousness can exist separate from the physical body.

In appearance and actual clinical interaction between the therapist and client, the concept of spirit attachment or possession is perhaps the simplest, clearest and most direct explanation of what transpires. This is not the only conclusion which might be derived from the data, and there is extensive speculation and theorizing concerning the multiple facets of the mind and the multiplicity of consciousness (Allison, 1980; Beahrs, 1982; Braun, 1986; Crabtree, 1985; Guirdham, 1982; Hilgard, 1977; Ornstein, 1986).

In the absence of clinically diagnosable dissociative disorder, schizophrenia, hysteria, or outright fabrication, the presentation of different personalities, often numerous, with distinct personal histories, quite different and separate from the client, suggests that separate and discrete consciousness, that is, spirits, are involved. The personalities which emerged fall outside the parameters of the descriptions of sub or alter personalities in MPD (Braun, 1986), Psychosynthesis (Assagioli, 1965; Vargiu, 1974), Transactional Analysis (Berne, 1961), Gestalt therapy (Perls, 1969), Voice Dialogue (Stone & Winkelman, 1985), or past-life personalities or complexes (Woolger, 1987).

Test 2. The clinical presentation of the possession syndrome is consistent in many cases, in this study in particular, in 50 of 62 (80.6%) subjects. The signs and symptoms, onset and history conform to a recognizable and consistent structure which is typical for the condition. Certain signs and symptoms described early in a session almost invariably indicate a spirit attachment. Differential diagnosis is possible, and treatment which is specific and effective for the spirit possession syndrome is ineffective for the other named conditions. Treatment which is effective for the other conditions is ineffective for the spirit possession syndrome. This format of signs and symptoms, onset and history, and differential diagnosis is a systematic, logical, methodical, functional, clinical paradigm and treatment framework.

Test 3. The specific methods, the designed intervention, brought positive change in 35 of 50 (70%) of the subjects in this study. There was change in the behavior, condition, or physical symptoms, ranging from minor to major, including total remission or cessation. Because the intervention is specific in its aim and intention, based on the concept of spirit attachment or possession, and because it proved to be relatively successful in its aim, it can be inferred that, within the hypothetical framework of the study, the concept of spirit attachment, that is, interference by a discarnate or disembodied entity or consciousness, and the treatment, Spirit Releasement Therapy, are valid for the presenting condition of the subject.

Test 4. The changes described above were accomplished almost entirely by working directly with the afflicted person. The method is direct, forthright, and non-threatening. In several of the cases, the treatment methods were extended to other people within the subject’s circle of friends and family. There was reported success in some of these remote spirit releasement procedures. The subject assumed the role of medium in these procedures, in the traditional manner of mediumistic treatment, the subject serving as the connecting link with the distant person.


 A new therapy can be effective just because it is new. This method is new to most people. The entire concept is outside the belief structure of many people. Statistical figures give only an accounting of the results, the assessed degree of change in specific symptoms. The emotions and insights cannot be read in the statistics, nor can the joy of the participants with the experienced changes.

There appears to be a deep and lasting change which occurs as a result of a successful spirit releasement procedure. If the behavior, condition, or symptom of the subject is caused by a separate attached consciousness of another being, a spirit, and that discarnate spirit is released and sent on to the Light, never to return to the subject, the unwanted behavior, condition, or symptom will diminish significantly or cease entirely. There is something which was there before the intervention, and is simply gone afterward.

This was not described by subjects as something missing, which implies a sense of incompleteness, but as something gone, as if they were relieved of a burden, a blockage or interference. They described feeling stronger, lighter, more whole and more able to function normally. Colors seemed brighter. Often even the memory of the old patterns of behavior or emotion are eliminated so completely from the psyche that no comparison can be made by the subject. Several of the subjects reported no change in the problem area, and yet family members described major shifts in behavior of the subject.

This study indicates that something important has been left out of contemporary Western psychology and psychotherapy. That is the transpersonal or spiritual dimension. If the concept of spirit interference, spirit attachment, spirit possession is viewed as actual, and not as a metaphor, and the methodology as literal, functional, and not ritualistic machinations by a deluded or credulous therapist, the entire process takes on a new meaning. It becomes a very necessary tool in the armamentarium of the therapist dealing with the spectrum of the human condition. If a spirit attachment is present, then the methodology is a clear, systematically organized, repeatable, teachable, learnable, consistent process of correcting the condition. It does not depend on any charisma, intuition, or special gifts of the therapist. It is truly a holistic psychotherapy.

William James, considered by many to be the father of modern psychology, spoke on “Demoniacal Possession” in his 1896 Lowell Lectures. Recapitulating his previous lecture, “Multiple Personality,” he mentioned three types of mutations in the sense of self: insane, hysteric, and somnambulistic. The fourth type, he said, is spirit control, or mediumship, which in the past had been equated with devil worship and pathology. He continued:

History shows that mediumship is identical with demon possession. But the obsolescence of public belief in the possession by demons is a very strange thing in Christian lands, when one considers that it is the one most articulately expressed doctrine of both Testaments, and reigned for seventeen hundred years, hardly challenged, in all the churches. Every land and every age has exhibited the facts on which this belief was founded. India, China, Egypt, Africa, Polynesia, Greece, Rome, and all medieval Europe believed that certain nervous disorders were of supernatural origin, inspired by gods and sacred; or by demons—and therefore diabolical. When the pagan gods became demons, all possession became diabolic, and we have the medieval condition (Taylor, 1984, p. 93-94).

James (1966) further explained that:

The refusal of modern “enlightenment” to treat “possession” as a hypothesis to be spoken of as even possible, in spite of the massive human tradition based on concrete experience in its favor, has always seemed to me a curious example of the power of fashion in things scientific. That the demon-theory will have its innings again is to my mind absolutely certain. One has to be “scientific” indeed to be blind and ignorant enough to suspect no such possibility.

Recommendations for Further Research

 The following recommendations involve vital contemporary areas of the human condition. The basis for each project is clinical experience with people who suffer with the problem. Some of these conditions are considered untreatable by any psychotherapeutic approach. Spirit releasement has proven beneficial in many such cases within the author’s practice and for other therapists utilizing the methods of Spirit Releasement Therapy.

  1. Drug and alcohol abuse.
  2. Persons with AIDS.
  3. Vietnam Veterans.
  4. Persons with multiple personality disorder.
  5. Transvestites and preoperative transsexuals.
  6. Organ transplant recipients.
  7. Remote spirit releasement with children with behavioral problems, learning disorders, hyperactivity and autism.


Spirit possession is an ancient concept, largely ignored in our modern, scientifically oriented, materialistic society. However, many competent therapists and physicians have discovered that methods of spirit releasement bring profound and unexpected results, mental and physical, in their clients and patients, often leading to a total remission of hitherto untreatable symptoms and conditions (Allison, 1980; Bull, 1932; Crabtree, 1985; Fiore, 1987a, 1987b; Guirdham, 1982; Hyslop, 1920; McAll, 1982; Naegeli-Osjord, 1988; Wickland, 1924, 1934). The success of the method tends to validate the hypothesis of a spiritual reality above and beyond this physical measurable world. The non-physical reality is beyond the pale of scientific thinking and testing, and as such, is ridiculed and even denied by the scientific, psychological, and medical establishments. This professional ignorance works to the detriment of many who could be helped to more healthy and productive lives through the methods briefly outlined in this study. The validity of the treatment has been amply demonstrated in clinical practice. The methodology is straightforward and grounded in sound psychotherapeutic principles and can be learned and utilized by any open minded therapist.

It is the author’s strong recommendation that this work be studied in depth, subjected to rigorous testing, and applied to every form of mental and physical disorder. Many people would be surprised by the results, and many more would be pleased by the success of this novel, yet ancient, approach to the health and well being of people everywhere.



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