Brother Bill

(Bill Baldwin, Ph.D.)
On Spirit Releasement Therapy


Spirits invade us through chinks in our natural armor caused by
emotional and physical trauma.


If a person ... strongly indulges the
carnal appetites or succumbs to the lure of occult or spiritualistic
practices, he renders himself vulnerable to infestation by demonic
energies (Basham, 1972, p. 127).


Without the proper awareness of
this condition, continuation of this lifestyle can lead to obsession by
demonic influence, which is seen as quite common, and finally to
full demonic possession, which some people believe to be rare
(Montgomery, 1976)...


In a number of cases, persons whose
condition would ordinarily be described as due to hysteria, dual, or
multiple personality, dementia praecox, paranoia, or some other
form of mental disturbance, showed unmistakable indications of
invasion by foreign and discarnate agencies (Hyslop, 1920, p. 387).




Similarities Between MPD and SPS

The study of Multiple Personality Disorder cannot be complete without a serious examination of the condition known as Spirit Possession Syndrome. Comparison of MPD and SPS reveals some indisputable similarities.


Some signs and symptoms of the two conditions are quite similar, some are distinctly different. Most mental health professionals have considerable skepticism regarding both conditions.

The classic symptoms of MPD may be muted and attenuated in childhood. The condition is often ignored, misunderstood, misinterpreted or misdiagnosed. A child's complaints and behavior are frequently disbelieved or passed off as childhood fantasy, and may lead to punishment.

Recognizable symptoms may begin to manifest in the late teens, but the condition is often not discovered and accurately diagnosed until the mid to late thirties. Approximately 65% of cases are found between the ages of 20 and 40 (Kluft, 1985a, p. 215).


The condition has a natural history from the original traumatic episode(s) to full manifestation of symptoms of MPD. The person with MPD usually holds a poor self-image of mental and physical health. Cases of MPD in the United States may number in the thousands (Putnam, 1989, pp. 54-55).

The earthbound spirit of a deceased human can form an attachment to a living person at any point between conception and death. The mental, emotional and physical health of the host has no bearing on the potential for an attachment. Many cases of SPS are discovered in therapy while searching for the cause of a chronic problem or unexpected new conflict in the life of the client.

Some phases of the treatment of MPD and Spirit Releasement Therapy have a parallel intention, yet the final goal is totally different. For the alter personalities in MPD, the final step is either integration and fusion or at least cooperation and co-consciousness (Braun, 1986). For the condition of spirit attachment, only the release of the spirit can bring relief of the symptoms. (Wickland, 1924; Fiore, 1987a).

William James 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)

In James' day, there was,

"...much alarmist writing in psychopathy about degeneration," and he suggested that "...if there are devils, if there are supernormal powers, it is through the cracked and fragmented self that they enter." (Taylor, 1984, p. 110).

Referring to the spiritualistic activities of Boston and New York in 1896, James states that the diabolic nature of demon possession now,

"...has with us assumed a benign and optimistic form, [in which] changed personality is considered the spirit of a departed being coming to bring messages of comfort from the 'sunny land'."

(Taylor, 1984, p. 94).

James (1966) further stated 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."

James' prescient forecast concerning the "demon-theory" is proving true.


Dr. Ralph Allison (1985), considered a pioneer in the modern treatment of MPD, says bluntly that many of his multiple personality patients have exhibited symptoms of possession. He has described his encounters with aspects of their personalities which were not true alters. He found it difficult to dismiss these bizarre occurrences as delusion.


With no "logical" explanation, he has come to believe in the possibility of spirit possession. (p. 12)

Allison (1980) describes numerous cases of apparent spirit possession in MPD. He has developed a conceptual scheme which distinguishes five levels or types of possession:

  • Simple obsessive compulsive neurosis.

  • Thought forms and created beings.

  • An aspect or fragment of the mind of a living person.

  • The earthbound spirit who once lived as a human being.

  • Full demonic possession.

Dr. Allison states that he has corresponded with many professionals who have come to similar conclusions about the origin and purpose of alter personalities (1985).

Arthur Guirdham (1982), an English psychiatrist who is also psychic, has been in practice more than 50 years and refuses to consider the possibility of MPD as a viable diagnosis. He considers the condition to be possession by one or more spirit entities. He considers psychic influence or spirit possession to be the cause of many kinds of illness, mental and physical and other conditions such as sleepwalking and addictions.

It is interesting to note that the three subjects - hypnosis, spirit possession, and multiple personality disorder - were quite prominent at the turn of the century, then faded almost simultaneously into obscurity. With the publishing of the book, The 3 Faces of Eve, MPD once again came into public awareness (Thigpen and Cleckley, 1957). Hypnosis was accepted by the health professions in mid-century. Treatment of spirit possession never ceased but continued quietly through the years without much publicity.

The connection between spirit possession and MPD was brought back into public and professional awareness by psychiatrist Ralph Allison (1980). Included in his book is a chapter entitled, "Possession and the Spirit World."


He describes the effects of spirit interference and the process of releasing the discarnates. Though considered an expert in the field of MPD, he has been criticized by many of his colleagues for considering the spiritual approach to the clinical treatment of MPD.

Dr. Richard Kluft (1985b) has coined the term co-presence, meaning an alter's ability to influence the experience or behavior of another personality. This describes precisely the effect of an attached earthbound spirit on the host.

Walter Young (1987) described a case of ostensible adult onset of MPD. Duane, a veteran of World War II, began having dissociative episodes after being discharged from the navy. Duane did not drink or use drugs. He described an inner voice that had been present since the war which sometimes advised suicide.

Duane had an unhappy childhood but there were not the usual precipitating factors leading to MPD. Duane and a friend named Max joined the navy together. In a tragic episode, Duane ordered Max to stand Duane's gunnery watch. A Japanese plane strafed the area and Max was fatally wounded. Duane was with Max in the last moments and heard Max promise, "I'll never leave you." Duane felt responsible for the death of his friend.

With Duane under hypnosis, "Max" claimed to have entered Duane because Max held Duane responsible for his death. He claimed that he had a score to settle with Duane because "it wasn't my time to die." He denied the presence of any other alters. He acknowledged that he was the "voice" that Duane heard.


He took control occasionally and Duane was amnesic during these periods. Max lived a hedonistic lifestyle when he was in control of Duane's body, riding motorcycles, having affairs with women, and urging Duane to leave home on repeated trips. This fits the definition of co-presence described above.

Previous psychiatric records revealed that a dissociative condition was suspected. Max revealed that the former psychiatrist knew of his presence and had attempted to "banish" him. He just went away briefly and returned after the psychiatrist was gone. This is the result of inadequate knowledge of the releasement process.

Duane left therapy with Dr. Young after three months. His anxiety increased as hypnotic sessions were pursued with the intention of exploring the war and early life experiences.

In the discussion, Dr. Young suggests several unusual aspects of the case. Adult onset of MPD is little studied, little understood and considered rare. A single alter in a case of MPD is highly unusual. His discussion attempted to explain the case in psychoanalytic terms but without concrete conclusions.

The description of the case of Duane and Max is typical of spirit attachment. There are many specific indications, including the following:

  • There was no history which would indicate the antecedents of MPD.

  • The two were friends.

  • Duane was present at the time of Max's death.

  • Duane felt guilt, Max felt blame. This is an exact fit of emotions.

  • Max promised, "I'll never leave you."

  • Max stated that he had entered Duane. This is a clear description which the therapist must accept as valid.

The voice urged suicide as a way of assuaging the blame and guilt and achieving peace for both. This is typical of the influence of the dark beings exacerbating the feelings of revenge. The idea of achieving peace is a manipulative deception.

With Max in control, Duane was amnesic of the lifestyle adopted by Max. This is a case of occasional complete takeover.

Max knew he was a separate being and resisted the former psychiatrist's efforts to banish him. Max was not at all confused by the situation.

The situation worsened with further inadequate and inappropriate treatment. Psychiatric intervention was obviously the wrong treatment approach for the condition.

Spirit attachment, or possession, is not affected by standard medical treatment, and traditional psychotherapy simply does not apply. Psychiatric intervention, especially the use of mind-altering drugs, can exacerbate the condition. A process of releasing the attached entity is the treatment of choice and indeed the only successful method of alleviating the problem.


The process is gentle, logical, methodical, systematic and grounded in sound psychotherapeutic principles.

Depossession, disobsession, minor exorcism, or spirit releasement procedures are not dangerous or frightening, once a client is aware of the reality of the situation, and the therapist harbors no fear of the subject.


The condition of spirit attachment, if properly treated, can be cleared immediately. However, hypnotic suggestion can mask organically caused symptoms, behavior can be altered by post-hypnotic suggestion, and the placebo effect of any kind of treatment ritual is well known (White, Tursky and Schwartz, 1985).


For these reasons a psychological evaluation is recommended prior to the intervention and a thorough medical examination is necessary if there are physical symptoms.


This treatment cannot be considered as a substitute for appropriate medical or psychological treatment.


Background And History

The first written accounts of the treatment of illness were deciphered from the cuneiform texts of Assyrian tablets dating from about 2500 B.C.


Eloquent incantations and prayers to the tribal gods were interspersed with direct challenges to the demons that imposed disease of every description (Ehrenwald, 1976, pp. 27-29). Through the centuries, mental illness has been attributed to spirits, animal bites, phases of the moon, humors of the body, and many diverse causes.


Transformations of personality, as evidenced in trance mediumship and multiple personality disorder, have occurred throughout history. Dual or multiple personality has been recognized and described only in the last two centuries. The diagnosis of multiple personality disorder is still not widely accepted in the mental health professions.

Through the annals of human experience, people have believed that there was a non-physical existence parallel and coexistent with the physical universe. People considered this world to be filled with spirits. In this belief system, termed animism, everything was imbued with spirits, including the air, earth, water, fire, storms, lightning, earthquakes, plants, animals, the wind, and their own physical bodies.


This belief held that good fortune and bad were under the influence of non-physical intelligence. The ancients believed that most sickness was caused by evil spirits (Hoyt, 1978, p. 6).

The early writings of the Chinese, Egyptians, Hebrews, and Greeks show that they generally attributed mental disorders to demons that had taken possession of an individual. Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.), the great Greek physician, has been called the "father of modern medicine."


He denied the possibility of intervention of deities and demons as the cause of disease.


Further, he insisted that mental disorders stemmed from natural causes and, like other diseases, required more rational treatment. He agreed with the earlier view of Pythagoras that the brain was the central organ of intellectual activity and that brain pathology led to mental disorders. Plato (429-347 B.C.) and Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) studied and wrote about mental disorders. Both considered the cause to be natural, not supernatural.

The physician Galen (130-200 A.D.) studied and described the anatomy of the nervous system. He also elaborated on the Hippocratic tradition, compiling and integrating the existing material on the descriptions of mental disorder. Among the causes of mental disorders he listed the following injuries to the head, alcoholic excess, adolescence, fear, shock, menstrual changes, economic reverses and disappointment in love.

With Galen's death in 200 A.D., the contributions of Hippocrates and later Greek and Roman physicians were lost in a resurgence of popular superstition.


There was a return of the belief in demonology as the source of illness. Not until the sixteenth century did another prominent physician, Paracelsus (1490-1541), reject demonology as the cause of abnormal behavior. He defied the medical and theological traditions of his time, for which he was hounded and persecuted until his death.


Also ahead of his time was Johann Weyer (1515-1588), one of the first physicians to specialize in mental disorders. His progressive views and wide experience in the field led to his reputation as the true founder of modern psychopathology.

The attitude of scientific skepticism developed rapidly in the sixteenth century, as illustrated in the works of Reginald Scot (1538-1599). Oxford educated and the author of a book entitled Discovery of Witchcraft, Scot devoted his life to exposing the fallacies of demonology and witchcraft. None other than King James I of England came to the support of demonology and ordered Scot's book seized and burned.


During this period, a few churchmen were also beginning to question demonology and the practices of the time. St. Vincent de Paul (1576-1660) questioned and openly challenged the belief that spirit forces were the cause of mental illness.

In the face of this ongoing dissent, demonology lost ground. Reason and the scientific method gradually led to the development of modern clinical approaches to mental illness. Even so, the belief in demonology was still widespread. In 1768, the Protestant John Wesley declared that "The giving up of witchcraft is in effect giving up of the Bible."

In 1792, Phillipe Pinel brought reform to La Bicetre, the hospital for the insane in Paris. He was later given charge of the Saltpetriere and established similar reforms in that institution.


Concurrently, William Tuke established the "York Retreat" and ushered in the era of humane treatment of hospitalized mentally ill patients in England.

The success of these more humanitarian methods was reflected in the United States in the work of Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), the founder of American Psychiatry. Rush was associated with the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1783, and encouraged more humane treatment of the mentally ill. Still, the established beliefs of the time affected Rush.


Astrology influenced his medical theory and he used bloodletting and purgatives as his principal remedies. Even so, he is considered an important transitional figure between the old era and the new.

Mental illness and demonology - the study of spirit possession - have been inseparably linked through the tortuous course of history (Coleman, Butcher, & Carlson, 1980, pp. 25-44).




In eighteenth-century Europe, the concepts of possession and exorcism were eclipsed by the rise of rational philosophical and scientific inquiry.


Franz Anton Mesmer, considered by many to be the father of modern hypnosis, was instrumental in this process. Through the application of his theory of animal magnetism, he was able to duplicate the curing feats of the popular and successful healer-exorcist, Johann Gassner (1727-1779), thus undermining religious authority.

Gassner received his ordination into the priesthood in 1750, and carried out his ministry in a small Swiss village beginning in 1758. A few years later, he began to suffer dizziness, violent headaches and other disturbances that worsened during the celebration of Mass. He suspected interference by "the Evil One," and sought relief through the Church's exorcism and prayers.


The disturbances disappeared.


Gassner began to use the practice of exorcism with good results, healing all sorts of ailments. His fame spread.

Though the Church held a firm grip on the lower and middle classes, Europe at this time was swept with the new philosophy of Enlightenment. Reason was expected to prevail over ignorance and superstition. As the result of an inquiry ordered by the Prince Bishop of Regensburg, Gassner was advised to reduce his healing activity and restrict the practice of exorcism to the patients referred by their church ministers.

In Munich, the Prince-Elector Max Joseph of Bavaria also ordered an inquiry, to which he invited Dr. Mesmer.


Mesmer gave demonstrations in which he elicited various symptoms from subjects, and dispelled symptoms and behaviors such as convulsions and epileptic seizures simply by a touch of his finger. He achieved success similar to that evidenced by the exorcism procedures of Gassner, without the attendant ritual and superstitious trappings.

The year was 1775 and the clash between these two men - Gassner, an unselfish man of great and recognized piety, and Mesmer, a son of the Rala, "Enlightenment" - represented the struggle between the forces of tradition and the principles of the new Enlightenment. This triumph of reason over tradition contributed to the rise of dynamic psychiatry, a method of healing that retained no ties with religion.


In Rome, Pope Pius VI looked into Gassner's activities and decreed that the religious, ceremonial, ritualistic approach of exorcism must be performed with discretion and strict adherence to the code of the Roman Ritual.

It seems that healing is not enough. Curing the sick must be accomplished with methods that are acceptable to the community. The spiritual aspects of mental and physical illness were consequently ignored, and spiritually oriented methods of healing were swept into obscurity (Ellenberger, 1970, pp. 53-57).

Though an official committee of inquiry later discredited Mesmer, his theories form the basis of the current form of hypnosis. Today, hypnosis is the primary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of MPD.

After the time of Mesmer, occasional brief reports of multiple personality appeared in the medical literature. In 1791, German physician Eberhardt Gmelin reported a case of "exchanged personality."


In 1811, Erasmus Darwin mentioned a case of a woman "possessed of two minds." Dr. Benjamin Rush described several cases in 1812.


Around 1816, John Mitchell reported a case involving a young woman named Mary Reynolds. In 1840, French physician Despine published the case of successful treatment of Estelle, a young Swiss girl with dual personality. The case of Ansel Bourne, a man who experienced a total change of personality and life circumstances in the beginning months of 1887, was described by William James (1950, pp. 391-393).

The period from 1880 to 1910 was an era of great theoretical contributions to the study of dissociation. Among the foremost investigators of this era were Pierre Janet, Jean Charcot, Etienne Azam and Alfred Binet in France; Frederick W.H. Myers in England; and Morton Prince, Boris Sidis and psychologist William James in the United States (Putnam, 1989, pp. 1-4). Charles Cory of Washington University published an account of a case of alternating personality in 1919 (Crabtree, 1985, pp. 35-44).

Janet first used the term disagregation, then later adopted the word dissociation (the translation used by William James) to describe the symptoms of hysteria. Janet proposed that a system of ideas can be split off from the major personality and exist as a subordinate personality, unconscious yet accessible through hypnosis.


Too, he introduced the term subconscious, referring to a level of cognitive functioning that is out of normal awareness, but can occasionally become conscious. Morton Prince introduced the term co-conscious to indicate the result of splitting of normal consciousness into separate parts (Hilgard, 1986, p. 5).

By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, hypnosis had fallen out of favor and popular usage, hastened by Freud's disenchantment with it. Clinicians, deprived of the use of hypnosis in diagnosing and treating MPD, reported fewer cases and interest waned.


Bleuler introduced the term "schizophrenia" in 1910, replacing the older term "dementia praecox."


This one act may have contributed to the misdiagnosis and consequent mistreatment of MPD for many years. It is well documented that MPD patients are still trying to escape this "schizophrenic net" (Putnam, 1986, p. 178).

Three popular books (the first two of which were made into popular movies) kindled a renewed interest in multiple personality disorder, though professional skepticism has not abated. The Three Faces of Eve (Thigpen & Cleckley, 1954), Sybil (Schreiber, 1973), and The Minds of Billy Milligan (Keyes, 1981) reintroduced the concept to the public. The deliberate exclusion of Dr. Schreiber's eloquent case presentation of Sybil's treatment, delivered at a professional symposium, from publication in the proceedings of that symposium indicates the prevailing attitude (Putnam, 1986, p. 179).

Because the professional journals refused articles on MPD, the modern pioneers in the treatment of the disorder began to disseminate information through workshops, courses and newsletters as the oral literature grew.


The oral tradition was formalized in 1984 by Dr. Bennett Braun, who organized the first annual Conference on Multiple Personality/Dissociative States, sponsored by Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago.


There is a growing literature on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of MPD (Kluft, 1985a; Bliss, 1986; Braun, 1986; Putnam, 1989; Ross, 1989).



Early References

In a cave in southern France is found an Old Stone Age painting of the Horned God.


This God represented all the unknown forces in the universe - some good, some bad (Baskin, 1974, p. 9). Demons and devils were thought of as commonplace in Babylonia and Assyria. In ancient Egypt, the exorcism was performed by a team: a physician to cure the ailment and by a priest to drive out the demon of disease (Hoyt, 1978, pp. 6-10).

In ancient Persia of the sixth century B.C., the religious leader Zoroaster founded the religion which became known as Zoroastrianism. The God of Light was named Ahura-Mazda, the master of darkness was called Ahriman.


Zoroaster, who was considered the first magician, was also an exorcist who used prayer, ritual and the sprinkling of water to drive out the evil spirits (Hoyt, 1978, pp. 11-12).


Tibetan Book of the Dead

This ancient and revered tome outlines the steps of dying, the luminosity and the other states of mind which will await the spirit of those who pass permanently out of the physical body.


It is a guidebook which shows the way beyond the earth plane into the Light (Fremantle and Trungpa, 1975).


The Bible

In the New Testament, fully one fourth of the hearings attributed to Jesus consisted of casting out unclean spirits. He specified more than one type of spirit. The Old Testament also makes reference to interference by evil spirits.


The Bible includes many references to reincarnation, although some are quite obscure and open to interpretation.


The notion of the preexistence of the soul and the basic concept of reincarnation were voted out of the Christian belief system in 553 A.D. at the Second Council of Constantinople (Head & Cranston, 1977, pp. 156-160).


Middle Ages - Demonology and Mental Illness

In the period of the Middle Ages, 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D., there was a revival of the most ancient superstition and demonology, slightly modified to conform to theological demands.


Treatment of mental illness was left largely to the clergy in the belief that it was caused by evil spirits. All sorts of physical pain and scourging were used to drive out the devils (Coleman, Butcher, & Carlson, 1980, pp. 30-33).

In 1484, Dominican monks Kramer and Sprenger produced the Malleus Maleficarum, also known as the Witches' Hammer. This book was used by generations of inquisitors to send thousands of women to be burned at the stake as witches in the belief they had trafficked with the Devil (Ehrenwaid, 1976, p. 105).

Developed over a long period of time, the Roman Ritual continues as the model of exorcism in the Catholic Church. This concept of deliverance is based on the explicit command and example of Jesus to "cast out devils," though the Church to this day fails to differentiate between demons, the minions of Lucifer, and the earthbound spirits of deceased humans.


Development of the Ritual continued through medieval times and reached its present format in the seventeenth century (Nicola, 1974, pp. 91-104; Martin, 1976, pp. 547-566).



Eighteenth Century - The Modern Era Begins

Born in Sweden, Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was the master scientist of his time. He wrote treatises in 17 sciences, several of which he founded and developed.

He may have been the last man to have encompassed everything that was known at that time. Late in life he went on to study psychology and all that was known of the mind. He studied his dreams and developed a scheme of dream analysis that stands equal to any in use in psychology today.


He delved into the inner reaches of his own mind, and found - and described - too much of the spirit world for the comfort of his contemporaries. His explorations led him far beyond the religious teaching of the day (indeed, of today as well), and he was tried as a heretic.

In his inner exploration he discovered many spirit beings, some of higher orders of intelligence, some of a much lower and more vulgar presentation. He described Heaven and Hell and discussed the way in which spirits attach to living persons. He maintained perfect contact with the world of consensus reality and showed no other signs of mental disturbance or illness.

He seemed able to enter the world of spirits, investigate, and return totally safe and protected. He developed considerable clairvoyance during these explorations (Van Dusen, 1974; Swedenborg, 1979).


Nineteenth Century - The Spiritualist View

Modern spiritualism began in America in 1837 in Mount Lebanon, with communications received from spirits. In 1848 two young girls, the Fox sisters, purportedly received spirit communication in the form of knocking sounds.


Spiritualism is concerned with two basic premises: the continuity of personality after death and the powers of communication with the spirits of the deceased. It teaches that death works no miracle, that it is a new birth into a spiritual body (the counterpart of the physical) which is gifted with new powers. Neither punishment nor rewards are meted out. Individuality, character and memory undergo no change. Every spirit is left to discover the truth for itself.


Evil passions or sinful life may chain a spirit to the earth but the road of endless progress opens up even for these as soon as they discover the Light (Fodor, 1966, pp. 360-366).

The possibility of the survival of the human personality after death has intrigued people throughout history. The SPR, the Society for Psychical Research, was established in England in 1882 to study mesmeric, psychical and spiritualistic phenomena. The early work on spiritualism was conducted with trance mediums, people who seem to have the ability to make contact with the " spirit world" in an attempt to communicate with the spirits of deceased persons.


A spirit could apparently incorporate into the medium, taking temporary control or "possession," and would then speak through the medium's voice. Messages and information usually meant for a loved one left behind would come from the "dead" person. This information was often very private, usually something which could only be known by the deceased and the one receiving the message (Myers, 1904; Lodge, 1909).


Mediumship is defined as the phenomenon in which a non-physical intelligence, usually a discarnate human, assumes some degree of control of a physical body in order to communicate something useful and meaningful.


Mediumship is distinguished from the phenomenon of spirit possession in that it occurs only with the deliberate cooperation of the medium and produces a constructive result. The difference is in purpose, duration and effect.

Taken at face value, the initial results seemed to be successful. However an alternative explanation exists which might also account for the apparent contact with the "dead" person. Since clairvoyance (clear seeing), clairaudience (clear hearing), and mental telepathy are all extrasensory perceptions (ESP), these might account for the alleged contact between the medium and the spirits of deceased persons.


The SPR and its U.S. counterpart - the American Society for Psychical Research, formed in Boston in 1885 - eventually switched their research efforts to the study of ESP (Gauld, 1968, pp. 137-149).

Dr. James Hyslop (1854-1920) was professor of Logic and Ethics at Columbia University, New York, from 1889 to 1902. He authored a book on psychology in 1895, and taught the subject at Smith College when the science was in its infancy. The points of connection between psychology and parapsychology were not yet clearly drawn.

Hyslop was elected president of the American Society for Psychical Research in 1906. Explorations of the survival of consciousness, spirit obsession, and multiple personality disorder were high on the Society's priority list under his leadership (Fodor, 1966, pp. 180, 265-266).

As president of ASPR, Hyslop explored the problem of distinguishing obsession from multiple personality. He described his approach:

I take the patient to a psychic under conditions that exclude from the psychic all normal knowledge of the situation and see what happens.


If the same phenomena that occur in the patient are repeated through the medium; if I am able to establish the identity of the personalities affecting the patient; or if I can obtain indubitably supernormal information connecting the patient with the statements made through the psychic, I have reason to regard the mental phenomena observed in the patient as of external origin.


In a number of cases, persons whose condition would ordinarily be described as due to hysteria, dual, or multiple personality, dementia praecox, paranoia, or some other form of mental disturbance, showed unmistakable indications of invasion by foreign and discarnate agencies (Hyslop, 1920, p. 387).

More than a theoretician, Dr. Hyslop was an experimentalist and empiricist.


After he admitted the credibility of the existence of spirits, it required ten years of investigation to convince himself of the possibility of obsession by discarnate beings as a cause of mental illness. In the years that followed, he accumulated the facts that make it scientifically probable (Hyslop, 1920, p. 385). He is the true pioneer in the systematic investigation of spirit obsession and possession as a cause of mental disorder.

Dr. Carl Wickland was an avowed spiritualist. He was also an exorcist.


Wickland graduated from Durham Medical College in 1900, and nine years later became chief psychiatrist at the National Psychopathic Institute in Chicago. In 1918, he moved to Los Angeles and established the National Psychological Institute where he continued the work of healing spirit obsession (Rogo, 1987, pp. 160-163).


His seminal work in the treatment of spirit obsession and possession is chronicled in his two books, Thirty Years Among The Dead (1924) and Gateway to Understanding (1934).

Dr. Wickland first became interested in spirit possession after observing the frequency with which people suffered character changes after engaging in such practices as the ouija board or automatic writing. Many such people required hospitalization for apparent mental illness. Wickland consulted discarnate intelligences through his wife, Anna, who was an excellent and gifted medium.


He was told that possession of the living by the "earthbound" spirits of deceased humans was the cause, and that he could alleviate the symptoms of the victims if he followed their instructions. The work was conducted with the help of a "concentration circle," a small group of people assembled to support this rescue work.

Following guidance from the discarnate intelligence, Wickland built a device called a "Wimhurst" machine that generated static electricity. The charges of static electricity from this machine were applied to the head and spine of the afflicted person with a short wand. Simultaneously, in another room, Mrs. Wickland was in trance, surrounded by the members of the concentration circle.


Mediumistic ability and the trance state are like open doors to a discarnate spirit. The entity would disengage from the patient, then incorporate into Mrs. Wickland and begin to speak. The voice would often complain about the "fire" running up the back, referring to the static electricity, and would express annoyance at the disturbance.

Dr. Wickland would initiate conversation with the discarnate personality, who would often turn out to be some identifiable deceased person. The first task was to convince the spirit that physical death had occurred and they no longer belonged in the earth plane.


Many spirits are oblivious to the fact that they have died, and are extremely confused concerning their whereabouts. Most of the spirits would quickly grasp the nature of their condition, and would willingly go with the guiding spirits who came for them. The guides often turned out to be loved ones who had also died (Wickland, 1924).

Dr. Hyslop was so much impressed with the importance of this type of cure that he established a foundation in his will for the continuance of the work. The James Hyslop Institute was located in New York City, headed by Dr. Titus Bull, a graduate of New York University and Bellevue Medical College.


Bull was the first to suggest that one earthbound spirit could have another earthbound spirit attached to it as the result of being a victim of obsession before its passing (Bull, 1932, p. 19). This describes the nested or layered condition of attached entities often discovered in clinical session.

Spiritualism began losing its popularity in 1888 after the public confession by the Fox sisters that they had faked the spirit rappings. Belief in spirit possession became increasingly suspect, and the decline of belief in possession paralleled the decline of interest in multiple personality disorder.

Hypnosis lost favor in professional circles, multiple personality disorder was no longer diagnosed, and the process of exorcism as a healing technique virtually disappeared among the medical practitioners and the clergy as twentieth-century materialism flourished in America.


Twentieth Century - Possession and Exorcism Today

Max Freedom Long was the man who brought "Huna," the ancient psychospiritual system of the Polynesian peoples, into a form that Westerners could read and understand. In his several books he outlined the secrets of the Kahuna, the priest healer of the Hawaiian Islands.


In the belief system of the Hawaiians, much illness - mental, emotional, and physical - was caused by the invasion and possession by spirits. The Kahuna could get rid of these "eating companions" (so called because they used the energy or food of the host) by delivering a large dose of mana, or life energy (Long, 1948, pp. 269-296; 1953, pp. 222-247).

In Japan, a messianic religion was channeled by a man named Mokichi Okada (1882-1955), respectfully and affectionately known as Meishu-sama. He revealed that a major cause of mental and physical illness and human misery was possession by intrusive spirits. If a person's spiritual body became clouded with impurities and toxins, it was easier for an evil spirit to enter (Okada, 1982, pp. 99-103).

The method of healing or dispersing the clouds of impurity is called Johrei. This is a Japanese word which means the act of purifying the spiritual body by focusing the Divine Light of God. It is prayer in action (Okada, 1982, p xvi). Spirits are forced out by the gentle focusing of this energy through the hands, held palm outward toward the receiver of the healing.

Mahikari is another method of healing and releasing attached discarnate spirits. This is based on the teachings of Yoshikazu Okada (1901-1974), also known as Sukuinushisama.


The kamikumite, or student of Mahikari, channels True Light through the palms toward the forehead of the client, or to any other area of the body which is diseased. The prime focus is releasing attached spirits which are seen as the cause of most mental and physical ailments (Tebecis, 1982).

Spiritual teacher Paramahansa Yogananda identifies some ghosts as the earthbound spirits of deceased humans which he called tramp spirits. They are troubled for some reason and wander aimlessly. In some cases, they cling to living humans, causing mental and physical problems.


Apparently unaware of the extent of the distressing condition of spirit attachment, he makes the statement that God would not allow this interference to be widespread, as living humans have enough problems in the physical world (Yogananda, 1975, p. 270).

Ed and Lorraine Warren have investigated cases of possession for more than 30 years. They have developed a roster of the types of entities which plague mankind, which is quite similar to that of Dr. Ralph Allison. The more ordinary earthbound spirits and haunted houses are quite easily treated.

The Warrens are Catholic and they refer the worst cases involving demonic interference to Church officials. Between 1970 and 1980 in this country, the clergy of the Catholic Church performed over 600 solemn exorcisms (Brittle, 1980, p. 200).

George Ritchie, a psychiatrist in practice in Virginia, was clinically dead for nine minutes as a result of complications of pneumonia. This occurred while he was in Army basic training. During the NDE he was conscious of being out of his body and traveling throughout the universe. Among the experiences he described was an episode in a bar.


As an out-of-body discarnate being he could perceive other discarnate spirits as well as the living people who were the patrons. One drunken patron fell to the floor, either dazed or unconscious. Ritchie observed a discarnate spirit rush into his body, apparently through an alcohol-induced weakness in the aura, the protective energy field surrounding the body. He saw the same phenomenon repeated several times during his observation in this location (Ritchie, 1978).

Possession and Exorcism, the work of Traugott K. Oesterreich, first published in German, is considered the definitive volume on possession and exorcism. He suggests that possession is psychological in spite of massive evidence of inexplicable phenomena. He claims that the instance of possession diminishes in a society as the educational level rises.


Even in his book, this claim is proven inaccurate. He names William James as the greatest American philosopher and psychologist and acknowledges James' enormous influence on his own thinking. But James' work with mediums provides enough valid evidence of paranormally derived information and temporary possession to shake the foundations of Oesterreich's conventional opinions. In the end of the book, these earlier opinions are in part overcome by later opinions forced upon him by the evidence (Oesterreich, 1974).

For 16 years, Wilson Van Dusen worked as a clinical psychologist at Mendocino State Hospital in California. In an attempt to better understand the mentally ill, Van Dusen sought out those patients who could distinguish between their own thoughts and the things heard and seen. He literally struck up a relationship with both the patient and the persons they saw and heard. The patients resented any reference to hallucinations. To them these voices were real beings of some other world or order of beings.

Van Dusen found consistently that the bulk of the other beings which spoke to the patients were of a lower order; vulgar, threatening, malevolent, persistent, intrusive, boastful, anti- religious or non-religious, deceptive, and not very intelligent.

In direct contrast stand the higher-order hallucinations. These made up perhaps one-fifth or less of the patients' experience. They were considerate, respectful of the freedom of the patients, and genuinely instructive. They claimed power over the lower order and showed it at times. The higher-order beings suggested that the usefulness of the lower beings was to illustrate the weaknesses and faults of the patient. Van Dusen suggests that the higher beings represent what Carl Jung called the Archetypes and the lower order most closely resembles the Id, as described by Freud.

Wilson Van Dusen found that the consistency of the hallucinations, or beings, with whom he communicated through his patients matched almost perfectly with the descriptions of the spirit world and its interaction with humans described by Emanuel Swedenborg nearly 200 years earlier. Swedenborg did not know about psychosis, yet he presented a clear picture of what would now be labeled psychotic. (Van Dusen, 1972, 1974).

Van Dusen (1974, pp. 138-139) makes the guess that the spirit world is the unconscious mind; that most mental experience is participated in by spirits who don't know they are anything other than our feelings; and that the only thing left that is really ours is the struggle to choose. If we are not choosing, then we are going the way the spiritual winds blow, and the pitiful condition of the hallucinating psychotic is just an exaggeration of everyone's situation.

Swiss psychiatrist Hans Naegeli-Osjord, in private practice since 1940, has studied cases of possession and the practice of exorcism extensively. He presents a broad philosophical discussion of the demonic as well as case studies.


He also works with earthbound spirit infestation of his clients, and sees mental illness as at least occasionally partially caused by attached spirits. His book was first published in Germany in 1983. He describes his work with exorcism on the mentally ill. In his exploration of the subject, he has discovered the same types of entities which were described by Swedenborg, Van Dusen, and Wickland (Naegeli-Osjord, 1988).

In a landmark case, the application of an exorcism accomplished what was considered impossible. A young man had been under treatment by psychiatrists for several years in preparation for gender-reassignment surgery. Psychotherapy is considered ineffective in reversing the gender dysphoria, the desire for the surgery, the transsexualism.


During the young man's visit to a physician who was also a Christian, an exorcism was performed and the young man's desire for the surgery and a female lifestyle disappeared completely (Barlow, Abel, and Blanchard, 1977).

Anabel Chaplin (1977) was a licensed clinical social worker in Los Angeles, California. She practiced visual imagery techniques and meditation as part of her own growth. Her vivid images seemed somehow true to life. One session in particular involved a female friend who had succumbed to a heart attack only months before.


She seemed to wrap herself around a man whom Ms. Chaplin also knew. In real life, this male friend had been ill for a time with some indefinable malaise. In the internal imagery Ms. Chaplin directed the form of the deceased friend away from the man and up a stairway into a Light. Several days later Ms. Chaplin had reason to visit the gentleman and his wife, only to find out that his illness had suddenly disappeared at about the same time as Ms. Chaplin's personal visual imagery experience.


She was informed that the deceased woman had been somewhat flirtatious with the man prior to her passing. Apparently, this continued after her death.

She continued to do the internal visual imagery work specifically directed toward her clients who came to her for assistance. In her book she recites numerous cases of relief of symptoms typically caused by earthbound spirit interference.

Dr. Edith Fiore (1978) authored one of the first books on past-life therapy, the clinical use of past-life recall. Past-life therapy is a quick and effective approach to many emotional and physical problems. She discovered during the course of her past-life therapy practice that the past lives described often turned out to be the experience of attached earthbound spirits and not at all pertinent to the client.


Release of the attached spirits resolved the presenting problems in many cases where past-life therapy proved ineffective, especially in cases which could normally be expected to respond to past-life recall.

Fiore's second book describes the problem and treatment of spirit possession. She estimates that approximately 70% of the population is so afflicted. She is one of the first therapists to deal with the discarnate spirits directly through the voice of the person afflicted with the possession, instead of working through an intermediary, a trance medium (Fiore, 1987a).

Aloa Starr and Eugene Maurey have achieved success in the release of attached discarnates at a distance through the use of the pendulum and prayer. Maurey suggests that the remote work can be attempted on politicians and world leaders for the betterment of the world situation. Of course, the results cannot be known. This is no more an intrusion than a prayer spoken for these people. Ms. Starr requests a photograph or a signature of the afflicted person.


The work is done, often without notifying the afflicted person of the time of the procedure. In some cases the afflicted person does not know anything of the procedure. The request is forwarded by concerned and loving family members. The results are often quite dramatic (Finch, 1975; Starr, 1987; Maurey, 1988).

In Brazil, remote spirit releasement is conducted routinely at the healing centers run by the Medical Spiritist Association of Sao Paulo. The work is done without charge. A doctor or a family member can send the name and address of an afflicted person. There is no welfare system in Brazil and these centers serve to fill this need for many people. Spiritual healing is performed in addition to standard health care.

The work of disobsession, as it is called, is conducted by a group of six mediums. Four of the people sit in a circle facing a fifth at the center. A sixth person acts as facilitator. The facilitator calls out for the spirit interfering with the identified person.


That spirit incorporates, or enters into, the medium in the center of the circle. Reminiscent of the work of Mesmer, the facilitator makes magnetic passes with the hand over the person, from the head downward, about six inches to a foot from the body.


The spirit is expelled and apparently guided to its appropriate destination (Villoido and Krippner, 1986, pp. 9-25, 39-54; Rogo, 1987, 219-241).




The Theological View

The religious viewpoint holds that possessing spirits are demons and devils.


There is no acknowledgment of earthbound spirits of deceased humans. The Book of Revelation, Chapter 12, gives us the story of Lucifer who rebelled against God, thus becoming Satan (which means adversary) and who was cast out of Heaven along with a third of the heavenly host.


Satan manifests his hatred of God, Jesus Christ, and Man (who was created in God's image) by constant attack on human beings, mostly by the fallen angels of various rank, now called demons. Jesus came into this world to destroy the works of Satan (The Bible).

Spirits invade us through chinks in our natural armor caused by emotional and physical trauma. If a person gives in to temptation and strongly indulges the carnal appetites or succumbs to the lure of occult or spiritualistic practices, he renders himself vulnerable to infestation by demonic energies (Basham, 1972, p. 127).


Without the proper awareness of this condition, continuation of this lifestyle can lead to obsession by demonic influence, which is seen as quite common, and finally to full demonic possession, which some people believe to be rare (Montgomery, 1976).

Dr. Ken McAll is an English psychiatrist and was a medical missionary to China. He used the Eucharist as the vehicle of exorcism and has recorded thousands of cases of healing spirit attachments with individuals and families. He suggests that ancestors may indeed cling to the family and produce a sort of family curse (McAll 1982).

Diabolic possession or possession by the Devil itself is considered rare and is extremely dangerous both for the victim and for the exorcist (Rodewyck, 1975; Martin, 1976; Brittle, 1980, 1983).

Within this century, many people have investigated the phenomenon of spirit possession intelligently and with purpose.


A few have sought an alternative approach to healing the condition. In an attempt to be acceptable to the mainstream Western, materialistic, scientifically oriented society, the Catholic Church seeks to diminish the notion of spirit possession, ignoring or denying the possibility, or referring the cases which come their way to a psychiatrist.


Except in a relatively few secret instances, the Church fathers have abnegated their responsibility for the spiritual health of the people.





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Excerpt from:

Spirit Releasement Therapy: A Technique Manual
1995 by William J. Baldwin, D.D.S., Ph.D.
ISBN 092991516X, Headline Books, Inc.
POB 52, Terra Alta, WV 26764 (800) 570-5951

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