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TERMS: Is it Possession or “Attachment”? (Is.10)

An article written by Louise Ireland-Frey which appeared in the Fall 1986 issue of the Journal prompted a letter from George Schwimmer. The topic is an important one and those whom he mentioned in his letter were invited by the Journal to pen a response. We are pleased to share with our readers both Dr. Schwimmer’s letter and the comments of Dr. Ireland-Frey and Dr. Baldwin.

 A letter from George Schwimmer, Ph.D.

To The Editor:

I should like to comment on the Journal article, Clinical Depossession, by Dr. Louise Ireland-Frey, as well as on aspects of spirit therapy in general.

To begin with, I feel that therapists should not use the word “possession.” “Possession” implies that the attached entity actually owns or totally controls the host, and as Dr. Ireland-Frey and others note—this is a fairly rare condition, probably only seen in mental institutions. Also, the word “possession” has too many historical, religious, and emotional connotations attached to it, which people will unconsciously respond to, including the word and practice of “exorcism,” which is not—repeat, not—what clinical depossession is. I note that Dr. Ireland-Frey uses the word “releasement,” which is a useful, non-charged word that I have since adopted.

“Possession” also implies that the host is a victim, and that the “possession” is “accidental” for the host, and often the entity. My experience does not lead me to believe in “accidental” or inadvertent spirit attachment. Through the use of finger signals in hypnosis, the subconscious mind is able to communicate whether there is an attached spirit or not. Since this is so, then the subconscious also must know when a spirit is about to enter an individual’s energy field and can take measures to protect itself—unless there is some underlying reason why the attaching spirit is desired by the host.

So far, in my own work I have found three principal causes for spirit attachment. One is that there is some sort of past-life bond between the host and the entity, and they have decided—outside of ego-consciousness—to resolve what was between them in this manner. A second cause of attachment seems to be that the attaching entity has the same sort of “problem”—alcohol, drugs, power, etc.—as the host does, and the entry of the entity (or entities) greatly intensifies the host’s issue and consequently puts a lot of pressure on the host to look—consciously—at the host’s issue and to try to resolve the host’s issue in this life, thus helping the spirit to resolve his/her issue as well. This does not guarantee, of course, that the host will try to resolve the issue in this life, but the entity does force the host to at least become consciously aware of the issue. We have free will on Earth. A third cause of attachment appears to be a conscious or unconscious invitation by the host, asking for either companionship with or protection from a powerful spirit. For example, I had a client who was severely sexually abused as a child and who had the spirit of a rapist attached to her to give her the power she felt missing in her.

Entities may also say that they have come to “help” the host, though this may be a questionable statement. Yet one very incongruous fact needs to be noted: these so-called “possessing” spirits are usually able and willing to heal their host when they depart for The Light. This argues that there is a symbiotic relationship between the spirit and the host at some level of consciousness.

Often, no specified cause of attachment is given (except for an entity saying things like “she (the host) is comfortable to be in”)—since the entity is speaking through its ego, rather than its Higher Self, and therefore answers about underlying causes of attachment are not normally accessed from a spirit. Dr. Bill Baldwin sometimes uses the pre-birth planning session to find underlying causes. I sometimes contact the Higher Self of the spirit and/or the host to get at the real reason for the attachment, although this technique doesn’t always work.

Further, many persons who come with attached spirits have control issues themselves, so there seems to be a correlation between the “control” of the spirit and the control issue of the host. Perhaps what is sometimes happening—and this is strictly hypothetical—is that Atlantean individuals, who controlled people’s minds in the past, are now having their minds controlled by the spirits of their former victims. There are no accidents.

Next, I was disturbed by Dr. Ireland-Frey’s discussion of “demonic” entities or “evil spirits.” Although I do not specialize in spirit releasement, I have dealt with hundreds of spirits over the past nine years but have never encountered a “demonic” spirit. I note also that Dr. Edith Fiore (The Unquiet Dead) does not report “demonic” spirits in her practice. What I did encounter a few times were some extremely enraged earthbound spirits, who were bent on revenge for perceived wrongs suffered while they were alive and who exhibited a “demonic” attitude. I also came across one spirit who told me dogmatically that he had decided to become “a bad spirit” after he died—but who was, in fact, an irascible old man. I additionally recall that Bill Baldwin in one of his workshops, taped by APRT—quoted a spirit as saying, “I sometimes play the demon game.” It seems accepted that some spirits—as some humans—like to lie and cause trouble and mischief, and just because a spirit says it is a demon, that does not make it one.

As for physical phenomena in exorcism, non-“demonic” spirits cause such phenomena also, as does “poltergeist” activity. It may additionally be noted that no love is lost between an exorcist who tries to force an attached entity to leave, to eject it—and the spirit. How would anyone react to such confrontational therapy if it were called an “unclean spirit” or “devil” or “demon” and told to leave forthwith on the “authority” of the exorcist? If I were a spirit, I’d tell the exorcist to stuff it—and spirits often do. I think we need to get out of the Middle Ages in our view of spirits and also to stop feeling so superior to spirits. I have noted that spirits like to exploit our weaknesses, and I feel that belief in “demons” is such a weakness.

Earthbound spirits, in my experience, are confused or frightened or misguided humans, who—while alive—may themselves have believed in “demons.” Nor should we forget that—spiritually—we are all equal. The attached entity is as much the therapist’s client—probably more so—as the host and should be treated as such—treated with love. I also consciously use as much humor as I can with an attached spirit, along with compassion, to help an entity into The Light. Finally, let’s not ignore that there is very likely a karmic connection between the client, the entity, and the therapist, and that every therapist gets those clients who mirror the therapist’s issues.

The phenomenon of attached spirits is far more complex than simple “possession,” and it would be well for all spirit releasement therapists to keep totally open and inquiring minds about other facets of spirit attachment as this new/old field of spirit releasement therapy develops.

Response from Louise Ireland-Frey, M.D.

 Dear Editor:

In replying to the comments by Dr. George Schwimmer on my article in Vol. I, No. 2, 1986, of The Journal of Regression Therapy, I shall refer to pages in that Journal, so that readers may look up the references if they desire to do so.

I fully agree with Dr. Schwimmer that the terms “exorcism” and “depossession” are less desirable for this work than “releasement,” which was coined by Dr. William Baldwin, unless Dr. Edith Fiore used it first. I prefer it (p. 93) to the other terms, both of which may continue to be used, however, from long habit. Rev. Eugene Maurey’s new book (1988) is entitled simply Exorcism, but the methods he uses and the human entities he deals with are what I mean by the word Releasement. I save the word exorcism for the Catholic methods of dealing with strong demonic entities. Some Protestant sects use similar harsh methods.

In the Journal article, I mention (p. 90) the stages by which my left-brain skepticism gradually changed to include a more right-brain receptivity to concepts like obsession and demonic possession From several sources a sort of classification of the various types of spirit attachment, and their degrees of intensity, have been offered (p. 92), using terms from “shadowing” and “infestation” for mild forms, to “harassment” and “obsession” for intermediate or moderate types, and on to “possession” for the state of complete take-over by the invading entity (e.g., Possession and Exorcism by Naegeli-Osjord, M.D., 1988).

By far the largest percentage of the hundreds of entities that I have released have been those of deceased human beings—all types, all ages, from various historical eras. Though the demonic entities that I have encountered are fewer, they are frequent enough so that when one is contacted in a session I react calmly and after a few questions can diagnose, “Oh, another little No-name,” or else, “Well, this one is a stronger type.” I always invite the Beings of Light to be present at releasement sessions, to offer wisdom, guidance, and protection (p. 100). Having such a strong back-up eliminates any fear. Of course this assumes “belief in” such Bright Beings.

If an entity answers “No” to my question as to whether it ever had a human physical body of its own (a very important question), it helps my doubting mind to accept this answer when I recall that both Buddha and Christ—tremendously intelligent men, and spiritually advanced—accepted matter-of-factly the existence of invisible spiritual beings, both positive and negative. Both these men endured temptations from “Satan” (“Mara”) and overcame this strong demonic being. Whether demonic entities are thought-forms or actual living individual beings does not affect the therapeutic process at all, for thought-forms and even emotional attitudes become personified as we talk to them: “Anger, come out and tell me of yourself.”

A deceased human psyche may indeed be evil, revengeful, morally degraded. However, I believe in the basic decency of the human soul, not in its basic sinfulness. I find that whenever a human psyche exhibits marked negativity, such as saying, “I don’t care what happens to him” (meaning the client), it is almost always a sign that a dark non-human entity is “nested” within that uncaring human psyche. The dark ones do often try to trick and deceive the therapist (p. 96, 99) and pretend to be either more powerful than they really are, or else harmless and weak. Vice versa, Baldwin’s case was of a human entity that boasted, “Sometimes I play the demon game.” A therapist needs to be alert for discrepancies. I may ask, “Do you ever tell lies?” The answer is often illuminating, both in word and in tone of voice.

A few spirit attachments do seem to have been truly accidental (“fortuitous,” Baldwin). By further questioning, however, most can be found to have some cause or reason. The normal aura is strong enough to withstand invasion by outside psyches but any number of conditions may open the aura to invasion (e.g., alcoholism, see Return From Tomorrow by Ritchie, M.D., pp. 60-61). Seldom have I found that the client wanted such an attachment, unless after the death of a loved one whose continuing presence was desired. Nor have I found that the client invited the entity to come in, except in black magic rituals or similar adolescent séances, clients rare in my practice. Once I found that the “strongest entity” in a young woman was her grandmother, who said she had entered to protect her psychic little granddaughter: “But she issued invitations! Why did she do that?” When the girl was nine, she and her sister had “prayed for demons to come and dance for us, but they didn’t.” Invisible demons, however, did come and enter this child, and remained with her until the releasement, finally being persuaded to leave and follow the grandmother into the Light.

When any spirit is willing to go into the Light, it has changed its nature and apologizes for its injurious influence (p. 92) and is willing to assist and heal the former host. Baldwin’s technique of having dark entities seek the light within themselves is a help in this change.

The brief cleansing visualization that I use (suggested in outline by R. Margis, 1978), asking the entity to brush out or throw out all such negatives as hate, anger, rage, jealousy, desire to control others (whether Atlantean or not), is a symbolic clearing (pp. 97, 99) that helps dark entities as well as human psyches to become able to see the Light if previously they have been unaware of it.

The use of finger movements, the pre-birth Planning Stage, and Higher Self contacts all assist in clarifying the times, the reasons, and the Karmic or accidental factors in each case, in addition to direct questioning of the entities themselves as to their nature, motives, and so on. If the entity says it has never been human, I accept that answer, assuming that this is either an “elemental” (in the theosophical sense of an evolving discarnate being of low intelligence), a demonic being (pp. 96, 97), or a thought-form created by one or more human beings: “I was created,” “She let me become.” In two or three of my cases the nonhuman entity has said that its name was “Legion”: “There are many of us and we always stay together.” When I asked for a spokesman to talk with me, the answer was illuminating: “Think of a natural sponge: It is one thing, one creature, yet it is made of many individual beings.” From my background in biology, I understood this analogy perfectly.

In the ten years of my active practice in hypnotherapy I have only once encountered a case of complete possession, and that occurred without warning in my therapy room. Taken by surprise, I first reacted with loud hand-claps and a shouted command to “Get out of her!” This was successful, but was the wrong thing to do at the moment: My possessed co-worker slid unconscious to the floor—and I could not converse with the revengeful entity whom she had expelled earlier from a child. Permitting it to re-enter partially, I talked with it humorously, sometimes gently “kidding” it along, sometimes talking seriously and compassionately, urging it to consider the options, all the while praying softly for assistance from Higher Levels. Suddenly the entity vanished from all contact with us—not into the Light, just gone. This has occurred about three other times. As mentioned in The Journal (p. 97), the first time such a demonic encounter is experienced, it is quite unsettling.

I agree with Dr. Schwimmer, with Anabel Chaplin (The Bright Light of Death), with Edith Fiore, Bill Baldwin, Rev. Maurey, and all others who urge that therapists need to deal compassionately with all entrapped entities, using gentleness and love. Even the hardened human psyches and the minor demonic entities respond to these. As Buddha reminds us, “Hatred ceases at no time by hatred; hatred ceases by love.”

Response from William Baldwin, D.D.S., Ph.D.

 Dear Editor:

Thank you for the invitation to respond to George Schwimmer’s letter regarding Spirit Releasement Therapy. At the outset, let me state that this is not a debate in which each participant presents pertinent facts and rebuttal. The spiritual reality does not lend itself to scientific discovery of facts. This is a forum for expressing opinion and sharing clinical experience.

Dr. Edith Fiore was my inspiration in the work of treating discarnate interference. During a lecture she delivered to the Orange County Society of Clinical Hypnosis in 1979, she mentioned the problem of discarnate spirit interference and mentioned the title of a book, The Bright Light of Death, by Anabel Chaplin. I read the book and the direction of my life and my work was permanently altered. I next read The Demonologist, by Gerald Brittle, followed by Thirty Years Among The Dead, by Dr. Carl Wickland. Many of the techniques of Spirit Releasement Therapy which I have developed are based on Wickland’s work.

As I learned more about the condition of spirit interference, I quickly dropped the terms possession and exorcism. At the time the term depossession was being used, a word which I also found in a volume of the proceedings of the ASPR, written by Dr. James Hyslop in 1919, on MPD and spirit possession. In the Spiritist healing activity of Brazil, the term disobsession is used to describe the release of discarnates. I began to use the term spirit attachment to describe the condition of discarnate interference, and spirit releasement, or releasement therapy, for the process of healing this condition. George Schwimmer suggested that I combine the terms into spirit releasement therapy, which I have done.

Many traditional therapists reject the notion of Past-Life Therapy (PLT), 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 (SRT) because it is based on the objectionable and, to many people, frightening possibility of spirit possession. This rejection is based on belief (read disbelief) and fear, not intelligent opinion and clinical application. An open-minded therapist using the established and proven methods and techniques of PLT or SRT can achieve the same successful results as the many people who have learned and utilized these modalities in the clinical approach to the spiritual reality.

In my article in the Fall 1991 APRT Newsletter (p.4), I outlined five diagnostic keys for differentiating between a past life of the client and an attached entity. These are direct and straightforward techniques which can be used by any therapist conducting past-life regression therapy. I urge the skeptics to read the article and utilize these keys. The results will begin to dissolve skepticism.

I began my work of regression therapy as a wishy-washy agnostic, not firm in any belief about the unseen spiritual reality. My first past-life regression experience in 1977 had a great impact on my belief systems and my reality. I read everything I could find about the subject of past-life therapy. After learning of spirit interference, I read what little had been written on the clinical treatment—not the religious, ritualistic procedures based on superstition—of spirit attachment. With the Spiritualist movement, which began about the middle of the last century, the attached spirits were considered to be departed souls of deceased humans and no longer the “demons” or minions of Lucifer, the fallen angel, as had been the prevailing belief for centuries. The denial of the dark forces has persisted to this day. It is easier for most people to adopt the New Age Polyanna attitude that all spirits are friendly and everything is light and love. This is naive and dangerous for both the therapist and the client.

When I began the practice of past-life therapy in 1981, I had no belief in the philosophy of reincarnation, spirit possession by earthbound spirits or spirits of darkness, the so-called demons of historical religious literature. I approached this work within a logical clinical framework which included the spiritual reality, whatever that might be, separate from philosophy, belief, and superstition. I quickly discovered during clinical sessions that some of the past lives described were not part of the lifestream or timetrack of the client, but the memories of attached earthbound spirits. These lost souls are usually easy to recognize, counsel, and release into the Light. One section in my Technique Manual describes the process and the techniques of overcoming resistance of the earthbounds to the releasement process.

I also learned to recognize the signs of the dark-energy beings and the causes, effects and symptoms of attachment and influence by these intrusive and aggressive entities. These are a separate and distinct type of entity, bearing little resemblance to the earthbound spirit of a deceased human. The characteristics, attitude, and behavior are obvious, typical, and consistent. After a little training, the curious therapist need only learn to listen and recognize these signs which are diagnostic of the dark-energy beings. It does not require guided imagery, imagination, fantasy, superstition, or fear. It does require an open mind, awareness, and acceptance of the possibility that the dark side exists. The condition becomes so totally obvious, it cannot be ignored or denied. More than 300 people have participated in our three day intensive training. They have learned to recognize and treat the dark entities with certainty and compassion. The methods are logical, methodical and will lead to transformation of the demonic spirit which is also a God-created being. The treatment of the demonic is clearly outlined in the Technique Manual.

 As George stated, one entity in a taped session described itself as playing the “demon game.” This is the only such reference I have heard in more than eleven years in practice. It is not worthy of becoming the basis of a belief system. Many humans have made a pact with the dark forces in this life or past lifetimes. These enslaved spirits are often discovered in session, and they are distinct from the true demonic being. The plight of these confused spirits is bleak indeed. The Technique Manual offers a renunciation of the darkness which will free these misguided souls and allow them to return to the Light.

Not everyone who has completed our course chooses to treat the dark-energy beings. For some people, it does stimulate fear. I suggest this is unresolved fear, unfinished business from past lives. Other people choose not to interact with the dark side for valid personal reasons. This cannot be faulted. Edith Fiore and a number of other therapists have referred many people to us for treatment of the dark interference.

The attached earthbound spirit brings its mental, emotional, and physical residue and imposes these conditions on the unsuspecting host. This spirit is often stuck in its death trauma and can inflict a related phobia on a person. Treatment and release of attached earthbound spirits can ease or eliminate many ordinary and mundane symptoms and conditions. The purpose of the dark-energy beings is to create as much chaos, confusion, and destruction to as many humans as possible. They undermine love in any form: self esteem in the individual, compatible relationship in couples, and harmonious connection between family members. They attempt to block individual efforts toward personal and spiritual evolution. They interfere with any institution or project which benefits the human condition on the planet.

Treatment and release of the demonic entities brings amazing results which are immediately apparent, both personally and in family or group situations. The most convincing aspect of this work is the success of remote spirit releasement, or treatment at a distance. This can be done with family members who are not present. Permission is requested from the High Self. Rarely is it denied. The work is often done with children who are too young to participate in a session. The change in behavior is clear and unmistakable, both for children and adults.

Attachment can be completely random. In about half the cases I have treated, there is no connection between the entity and the host in this lifetime or any other. I have probed deeply on this point. 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 is 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.

Because of denial and ignorance, most people do not refuse permission to attach to these non-physical intruders. Individual sovereign beings have the right to deny any violation or intrusion by another being. With limited knowledge and distorted perceptions of the nature of the spirit world, the non-physical reality, many people leave themselves open and unprotected, thereby creating their own vulnerability as part of creating their own reality.

We know there is no absolute certainty about past-life memories, spirit attachment, dark-energy beings, or any of the other manifestations of consciousness we deal with in session. Yet the dark side of the force does exist, at least in clinical presentation. We cannot afford the luxury of denial of unpleasantness. It is not appropriate for the therapist to limit the experience of the client because of ignorance of the reality of the dark side. There is an established, proven, and well developed approach to the treatment of the demonic which can be easily learned and applied. It is available to everyone who is willing to explore this aspect of the spiritual reality.

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Topics on this article

Attached Spirits, Possession, Spirit Releasement Therapy

Keywords on this article

Open discussion, unsuspecting hosts