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RainyDayNinja
06-03-2010, 07:22 PM
One of my characters suspects that another might be possessed by a demon. He is a trained minister (though not as an exorcist), and a doctor (though not a psychologist), and wants to examine the other character to determine if it is legitimate demon possession, or a "mundane" mental illness. What kind of questions would he ask? What kind of answers would he expect? What would the set-up be like? (Keep in mind that they are all stranded, and can't contact anyone more qualified) Thanks for any help you can give!

DrZoidberg
06-03-2010, 07:41 PM
I don't get it. I thought being possessed by a demon was just a different expression for mental illness?

You could try a more traditional approach.

http://indiana.bilerico.com/HolyGrail028.jpg

veinglory
06-03-2010, 07:51 PM
I think first I would need to know what demon possession is like in your world, to know how (if?) it could be distinguished from all existing mental illness. Rather than excluding all mental illness it would be easier to identify a characteristic specific to possession (ability to spin head 360 degrees or something). Inclusion criteria are much easier to identify than exclusion criteria.

RainyDayNinja
06-03-2010, 08:00 PM
I'm trying to keep this as grounded as possible in the real-life policies and procedures of Vatican exorcists (not because I favor Catholicism, but because they seem to have the most in-depth guidelines). I know that policy is to rule out all natural causes before appealing to a supernatural cause, through medical and psychological examination. I just don't know what that examination looks like.

veinglory
06-03-2010, 08:27 PM
I just don't see how you could rule out psychological illness as a basis for any an all possible behaviours shown by a person.

dirtsider
06-03-2010, 08:46 PM
You might want to go to the Vatican website and see what you can find there.

benbradley
06-03-2010, 09:33 PM
One of my characters suspects that another might be possessed by a demon. He is a trained minister (though not as an exorcist),
If he's Catholic as you imply in your later post, he would be called a priest, not a minister (is Priest capitalized?).
[QUOTE=RainyDayNinja;5015239]and a doctor (though not a psychologist), and wants to examine the other character to determine if it is legitimate demon possession, or a "mundane" mental illness. What kind of questions would he ask? What kind of answers would he expect? What would the set-up be like? (Keep in mind that they are all stranded, and can't contact anyone more qualified) Thanks for any help you can give!
I read The Ultimate Authority On Exorcism at the time, the novel The Exorcist, and don't recall any medical or psychological examination of the patient, though it's been a long time since I read it. There's a Superceding Authority now, though, named Wikipedia.

I'm trying to keep this as grounded as possible in the real-life policies and procedures of Vatican exorcists (not because I favor Catholicism, but because they seem to have the most in-depth guidelines).
Have Protestants or other non-Catholics even DONE exorcisms? Do the witch trials count?

I just don't see how you could rule out psychological illness as a basis for any an all possible behaviours shown by a person.
I agree, but that won't move the story forward...

RainyDayNinja
06-03-2010, 09:50 PM
If he's Catholic as you imply in your later post, he would be called a priest, not a minister (is Priest capitalized?).

He's not Catholic per se, because this story takes place a few hundred years in the future, where contact with alien races and their gospels has caused a new reformation, and old labels don't apply.



Have Protestants or other non-Catholics even DONE exorcisms? Do the witch trials count?

They do, but as far as I know, they don't have nearly as many rules and such governing the practice. And witch trials are something completely different.


I just don't see how you could rule out psychological illness as a basis for any an all possible behaviours shown by a person.

That's the question now, isn't it? :D

I found a website by a Catholic psychologist who does exactly this sort of thing, and I emailed him about it. Hopefully I'll get a useful answer out of it...

veinglory
06-03-2010, 09:51 PM
All I could suggest is diagnosing what mental illness is would be if it was one, and treating for that. If the treatment didn't work, try plan B.

veinglory
06-03-2010, 09:52 PM
Oh, another approach would be to see exorcism as 'complimentary medicine' like homeopathy etc. It might help, it won't hurt, placebo effect is real--just do it :)

backslashbaby
06-03-2010, 10:36 PM
The things that tend to stump shrinks (to include all the paradigms and degrees ;)) are things you might think: speaking Latin fluently, things that appear unexplainable by laws of physics, etc. Or do you mean just what kinds of questions/examinations would they do?

It would generally be schizophrenia or one of many dilusional disorders if not possession. So those would be the focus. Look up oriented x 3, etc. related to delusions or psychosis. And the MMPI is always given, but keep in mind there's a ton more than that :) Medical tests, too, of course. Lots of things can cause delusions and hallucinations, so they'd look for any of them.

GeorgeK
06-04-2010, 03:05 AM
I just don't see how you could rule out psychological illness as a basis for any an all possible behaviours shown by a person.


Displaying supernatural abilities or talents that the host should not have, such as levitation or speaking dead languages or revealing personal information of the exorcist. I'm on vacation right now so I can't go upstairs to check my library but I read the biographies of a few exorcists and one of them had a demon mock him by announcing in vivid detail the priest's sex life prior to the seminary. He knew his girlfriend hadn't told anyone because she died in a car wreck soon after their relationship and it took place back in the 30's or so. The demon claimed that the girlfriend told the demon while being tortured in Hell.

The doctor however will want to rule out stuff like sepsis, hallucinogens, etc.. The most dramatic craziness that I've seen that was purely organic have been from hyperparathyroidism, pancreatitis and brain tumors. Obviously there are some drugs out there that will wack someone out too, but I didn't do OD's. those went to the Internists, whereas I'm a surgeon.

GeorgeK
06-04-2010, 03:13 AM
. It might help, it won't hurt, placebo effect is real--just do it :)


Exorcisms are not benign...unless they're fakes.

veinglory
06-04-2010, 03:24 AM
Nothing from the Catholic ritual should endanger health.

GeorgeK
06-04-2010, 06:34 AM
It's not the fact that it's Catholic that is the problem. The problem is that they only deal with major possessions. Minor possessions can probably be self exorcised. In major possessions the basic question is if the human soul is already almost gone and nearly completely supplanted by the demonic. In cases of major possession it is not uncommon for the host to die at the conclusion of an exorcism. The most recent case even was made into a movie. I don't remember the name of the movie but it plays on the Independent Film Channel about once a month. It's in German but it's subtitled.

veinglory
06-04-2010, 07:11 AM
I am speaking pragmatically of the physical actions of exorcism as a ritual. To speak of the actual realities of having a demon removed from one's soul I would need to believe in demons, and souls. I think at this point we are discussing how exorcism would interact with psychiatry. And I figure if you don't have a demon in you, it will do not harm. If you do have a demon, it is unlikely to do more harm than just leaving the blighter in there. Ergo there is no real reason to hold off on a precautionary exorcism even if psychiatric explanations cannot be entirely ruled out.

mtrenteseau
06-04-2010, 07:25 AM
It would generally be schizophrenia or one of many dilusional disorders if not possession. So those would be the focus. Look up oriented x 3, etc. related to delusions or psychosis. And the MMPI is always given, but keep in mind there's a ton more than that :) Medical tests, too, of course. Lots of things can cause delusions and hallucinations, so they'd look for any of them.

I'd do a Rorschach or TAT to see what the person's mindset is like before trying to sit them down long enough to do an MMPI.

backslashbaby
06-04-2010, 07:33 AM
I'd do a Rorschach or TAT to see what the person's mindset is like before trying to sit them down long enough to do an MMPI.

Yeah, it's going to depend on what school is subscribed to. I figured nearly everyone did the MMPI (it has that nifty malingering scale) when possible, but you are probably right. It could be written many different ways.

ElizaFaith13
06-04-2010, 07:47 AM
I've seen excorsims first hand and some get pretty nasty.Now I'm going to get very spiritual on ya so stay with me! The first thing to know is that the only way a person can tell if someone is truly possessed is if they have discernment which is a spiritual gift and they have to be saved. Then you have to pray and really let the holy spirit guide you and tell you what spirits are possessing the person. If you don't call out the right ones the person will stay in bondage. here is a quick step guide 1) pray the covering of the blood of the lamb on yourself 2) declare the authority you have in Christ Jesus 3) call out the spirits 4) the now free person must accept Christ into their hearts otherwise the spirits will return

hope that helps...there's a book called hostage to the devil that was written by the Pope's excorsit..I heard ts pretty deep. Any more questions feel free to ask away

PS spirits can come out in various forms, most common are coughing, dry heaving

veinglory
06-04-2010, 06:15 PM
Were they conventional Catholic exorcisms? Because, yes, people can even die in exorcism (a woman was drowned in her own living roon last year in NZ) but they are usually ad lib affairs.

veinglory
06-04-2010, 06:17 PM
Yeah, it's going to depend on what school is subscribed to. I figured nearly everyone did the MMPI (it has that nifty malingering scale) when possible, but you are probably right. It could be written many different ways.

I was taught psychometics almost 20 years ago, and that professor said Rorschach was a complete joke and Minnesota Multiphase was close behind. He worked with the categories set out in the DSM and clinical interviews.

backslashbaby
06-04-2010, 09:11 PM
I was taught psychometics almost 20 years ago, and that professor said Rorschach was a complete joke and Minnesota Multiphase was close behind. He worked with the categories set out in the DSM and clinical interviews.

Yeah, I've never had to take it, and I've seen a handful of shrinks in my life. So I should have known it was less common than I was thinking. OTOH, I wasn't being seen for anything touching psychosis.



I would think a deep family background is going to be important with the OP. If a person is brought up to believe certain religious things, that is definitely taken into consideration. Unless they see a very 'medically' type of shrink. They might just have pills pushed on them with hardly an interview.

That makes it nice to write, anyway ;)

mtrenteseau
06-05-2010, 12:53 AM
Yeah, it's going to depend on what school is subscribed to. I figured nearly everyone did the MMPI (it has that nifty malingering scale) when possible, but you are probably right. It could be written many different ways.

My mother's dissertation was on whether the MMPI would show people with spinal cord injuries to be hypochondriacs. SCI can cause all sorts of bathroom issues, tingling or numbness in the extremities and other problems that increase the hypochondriasis score.

This means I've graded a bunch of these things. And yes, she was right.

If the patient has long periods of lucidity punctuated by psychotic episodes, then the MMPI would be good. If they're continually displaying inappropriate behavior, they probably wouldn't have the attention span necessary to complete it.

Wiskel
06-05-2010, 01:25 PM
As a consultant psychiatrist, in about 13 years of practising psychiatry I've never used the MMPI or Rorschach tests. Nor do I even have copies of them in my office. Nor (I think) do any of my 14 strong team (although if anyone did it would be our psychologist.....and in the interests of pedantry, a psychiatrist went to medical school, a psychologist has a psychology degree that grants the academic title of "Dr").

I'd split this into two parts.
1. Evidence
2. Instinct

Pretty much any questionnaire test will be "evidence" based. That means, for example, it's been given to a large test group of subjects and analysed for trends. These "evidence based" tests are easily broken. If you "calibrate" one on a hundred men, then administer it to a woman then you have no evidence base to say that a test designed for men will be any use at all for a woman. It might be, but then you're back to instinct and common sense, not evidence. You could warp this example even more by wondering if a personality test calibrated on english people would be of any use if administered in a poor part of Africa.

If anyone knows what the evidence base is for how a "demon" would answer when given the MMPI then they read far stranger journals than I (but please tell me how to subscribe, I'm sure they're good ones :)) I'd love to sit in on the session though.
"So, are you a demon?"
"No, honest, Gov."
"Any strong feelings about God?"
"Nice chap. I quite like him"
"So, you don't want to vomit at the sound of His name then?"
"Not at all."
"What does this ink blot look like to you?"
"A kitten"
"So not a bloody heart with a knife through it then?"
"No, really, I'm not a demon, but, er, could you move the holy water a bit further away please, this is a new shirt and I really don't want to get it wet.""



So, if I had any evidence based tests on me, I'd throw them away in this situation.

I think you're on instinct alone here. If your priest / doctor has any experience with mental illness they'd use it.....but here your question becomes too broad for an easy answer. You're basicallly asking "how do you diagnose mental illness". There are lots and they can be very different.

To give you a structure to start from. Think of things as being either "positive" symptoms or "negative" ones.

Positive symptoms are things that happen to people with mental illness that people who are well don't typically experience....like hallucinations, delusions etc.

Negative symptoms are abilities that everyone has that are impaired...like the inability to concentrate or think clearly.

Then you need to make a list of "positive" symptoms of possession, compare it to your list of symptoms of mental illness and cross out any symptoms that are on both lists....they can't help you tell the difference.

Your priest will be focusing on symptoms that are only on one of your lists. They're your genuinely helpful ways of telling one thing from another if you don't have actual experience or instinct to fall back on....so your priest will talk to the patient and focus on those.

Craig

mtrenteseau
06-05-2010, 07:18 PM
If anyone knows what the evidence base is for how a "demon" would answer when given the MMPI then they read far stranger journals than I (but please tell me how to subscribe, I'm sure they're good ones :)) I'd love to sit in on the session though.

The Demonic Possession Scale focuses on questions like:

"I am troubled by attacks of nausea and vomiting"
"At times I feel like swearing"
"I have had very peculiar and strange experiences"
"My soul sometimes leaves my body"

And of course:

"Evil spirits possess me at times"

The question, of course, is whether a genuine demonic possession would answer more or less honestly than someone who was faking it. The Hypochondriasis scale could be used to see if they're in the habit of exaggerating health complaints (for some reason the MMPI has a fixation on bowel movements).

RainyDayNinja
06-05-2010, 07:24 PM
The situation I had in mind would be far more severe, a full-blown possession rather than just oppression (unless of course it's just a psychotic break). He would be belligerent and antagonistic, with lots of screaming and thrashing about, violent aversion to holy symbols, etc. So a questionnaire is right out, and any interview would be less than polite.

Wiskel
06-05-2010, 07:51 PM
The situation I had in mind would be far more severe, a full-blown possession rather than just oppression (unless of course it's just a psychotic break). He would be belligerent and antagonistic, with lots of screaming and thrashing about, violent aversion to holy symbols, etc. So a questionnaire is right out, and any interview would be less than polite.

This actually makes your job easier and more dramatic.

There is no way of getting information from someone that unco-operative and unless their head is spinning around and their eyes are glowing you can just about forget about making much sense of their internal thoughts and experiences.

I'd be tempted to give your priest the moral dilemma and anguish of making the choice wihtout being sure. That will be much more dramatic than figuring out which questions he might ask when he won't get an answer anyway.

Craig

Wiskel
06-05-2010, 07:54 PM
The Demonic Possession Scale focuses on questions like:

"I am troubled by attacks of nausea and vomiting"
"At times I feel like swearing"
"I have had very peculiar and strange experiences"
"My soul sometimes leaves my body"

And of course:

"Evil spirits possess me at times"



I want it on record that I almost managed to walk away without making any jokes about hormonal states.

Craig

backslashbaby
06-05-2010, 09:51 PM
I want it on record that I almost managed to walk away without making any jokes about hormonal states.

Craig

I :ROFL: 'ed at your questionairre :D I was thinking of the Lying scale, y'all... for telling if someone is making up symptoms. Y'all know what I mean! :D Then they come up histrionic, etc. and that could be helpful. It could :D

But he's too gone for that, eh? That'll be a more fun interview to read, certainly :D

psykoterapi
11-02-2011, 02:55 PM
Yeah, it's going to depend on what school is subscribed to. I figured nearly everyone did the MMPI (it has that nifty malingering scale) when possible, but you are probably right. It could be written many different ways.
-------------------------
Psykolog i Stockholm (http://www.psykoterapicenter.se)

veinglory
11-02-2011, 08:23 PM
A doctor isn't going to know all that much about mental illness beyond commonly occurring conditions such as depression. The would recognize symptoms such as mania, psychotic states and paranoia but refer for a diagnosis--most likely to a psychiatrist not a psychologist.

I don't see why anyone would be doing a personality test, let alone one normed on rural Americans fifty years ago (arguably being normal on that test would make you pretty crazy as a modern urban American). That doesn't diagnose mental illness at the best of times even if you think it has much validity.

Honestly, I don't know what the differential between mental illness and possession would be. Basically everything up to and including thinking you are possessed would be the same problem as explained by different paradigms. Even a psychiatrist who believes in possession would try conventional treatment first, then try exorcism if it is ineffective.